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What is The Rapidian?

Underwriting support from:
Rapidian buttons at our Launch Reporter Orientation

Rapidian buttons at our Launch Reporter Orientation /George Wietor

The Rapidian is an experiment. Not so much about technology, but about community building. The free flow of local information is crucial to community vitality, civic engagement and a functioning democracy. The Rapidian is a project to address this need through citizen generated news and reporting.

It is no secret that traditional models of sustainability in professional journalism are being challenged. Newspapers are shrinking. We have fewer local reporters to spread news from the neighborhoods. And while there are more and more ordinary people blogging, creating videos and using the web to share information, the global e-communication phenomenon doesn't provide adequate coverage from across town. Massive (and often anonymous) video sharing and blogging platforms do little to help us build bridges between our residents and our neighborhoods.

The Rapidian experiment is designed create technology tools, training and distribution platforms to help us organize and support local efforts to fill information gaps. – in other words, find and do what it takes to encourage all of us to document and share all kinds of news in Grand Rapids.

Looking back over the past months, The Rapidian has progressed from idea, to grant proposal, to community discussion, to website. Many community members have volunteered countless hours to hammer out policies, create tools, and spread the word. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation made the funding possible by leveraging national and local resources. Grand Rapids media folks have offered sage advice and have wished us success. And numerous new citizen reporters provided content for this launch. So from that angle, much has been accomplished and celebration is in order.

But the view looking forward provides an entirely different scenario. From this vantage point it's clear we are just at the beginning of this experiment. With the initial Rapidian website in place, we now need the community to step up and give it life. In the coming months there will be expansion of the website and development of regular training workshops. We will spearhead the establishment of four neighborhood news bureaus; physical spaces where residents can access training, equipment and support. At Community Media Center we will take stories from The Rapidian and put them on radio and TV. We will recruit others to host links to The Rapidian on their websites. We will look for innovative models for sustainability. We will strive for inclusiveness, civil debate, and a stronger Grand Rapids through citizen reporting. But to do any of this, we need you.

Ready to get involved? Here are 10 ways you can be “The Rapidian”:

  1. Site Feedback – Help evolve The Rapidian website. Tell us what works, what could be better and what features you would like to see added.

  2. Spotlight Quality – Use the “Vote Up” to give kudos to well presented local content. This will help encourage quality reporting.

  3. Join the Discussion – By signing up for a Rapidian account, you can comment on stories, add perspectives and engage in conversation around local issues.

  4. Report on Your Neighborhood - Write or create a video about things happening in your part of town and then share it through The Rapidian.

  5. Share Nonprofit News – The Nonprofit Neighbors section is specially created so local organizations can promote their causes and showcase their activities.

  6. Identify a Bureau Host – Is there a local gathering place in your neighborhood that might serve as a neighborhood bureau? The Rapidian will offer classes, equipment, and support for up to four locations.

  7. Contribute Community Photos – Upload your “around town” shots to The Rapidian photobank

  8. Post a Link - We'll help you link your website to The Rapidian so you can connect others with local info.

  9. Use Twitter - Tweet to #rapidian to report on “right now” news .

  10. Volunteer - Join a great group of community volunteers who want to see the Rapidian grow.

When all is said and done, the question “What is The Rapidian” is better asked “Who is The Rapidian?” Who is willing to step up and support community conversation? Who will help fill news and information gaps around our community? Who will help others find their voice?

If you live in, work in, care about Grand Rapids, then The Rapidian is you. Join in. This is just the beginning. Let us know how we can help!


The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.