A specialty coffee invitational at Madcap in January in which MadCap and guest baristas from Minneapolis practiced presentation and creativity in prep for the regional competition.
Trevor has a captivating story as an entrepreneur who dropped out of college with just two semesters to go. He abandoned information systems in favor of coffee. Following diverse retail experience and a few failed startups, GR’s MadCap has become a local and tourist magnet alike and is one of the leaders in the emerging specialty coffee realm. In fact, Trevor flies all over the country to train baristas and edits curriculum for certification programs to elevate the role into a life-long profession.
Two and a half years ago, I uprooted from Portland, Oregon, to embark on an adventure launching a hyperlocal, citizen-authored news source called The Rapidian. Beginning in college and over my career, I’ve been drawn to wise owls who steer participatory media outfits. I have come to believe that media creation has the power to fuse people and their networks to information, and to increase the likelihood they will act in their communities.
(Photo by Chris Apap) Why yes, that is a toilet tricycle I am riding.
This is important. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I saw emerging communitiesmisunderstood and misrepresented by media inside and outside the country. That intensified tension between groups and nipped compassion from outside of the country. As the daughter of immigrants, I saw the link that native language news networks can provide to those who never feel exactly at home. When communities form, the participants are no longer detached individuals swallowed up in the crowd; they can determine what is meaningful within their own communities.
Although written four years ago, my senior project keeps coming back. As part of the graduation requirements for the now transformed (some would say demoted) School of Interdisciplinary Studies – Western College Program at Miami University, seniors were required to synthesize four years of self-directed coursework into either a 40-page paper with a creative component or 80-page analytical work. At its completion, we had to defend it to a panel of faculty from across the university.
I focused my thesis on participatory journalism (one form of which is citizen journalism), which was on my horizon as a journalist in training. Lo and behold, not only did I end up in the field of my major, I have pursued a career so far in exploring forms of participatory media as part of Portland Community Media, The Rapidian and other sideline pursuits.
It’s often the analytical paper that I highlight, but the creative portion was more prescient than I could have realized.
Dusk was setting in, and as I lifted my arms over my head in yoga class, I thought about all the ways to say goodbye. I didn’t have a clear idea of how, so mostly, I nestled into the sound of it.
To say that I worked with The Rapidian for two and a half years would be accurate but, more than that, I breathed it.
I made up my job title: citizen journalism coordinator. Vague, right? That was intentional, and as we grew, I’ve had my hands in everything, from partnerships and collaborations to editorial structure and web strategy to design and outreach. Whew. I was always spinning from the rush and sparkle of more opportunities than we had time to grasp.
After more than two years in a city where I’ve learned (and am still learning) what’s important, I am stepping down to pursue other opportunities. It’s tempting to stay where you are when you’re content, but that’s the best time to push onward and open up.
Sometime earlier this year I was joking with someone about curating a Museum of Fail: All the things that were supposed to save journalism. I shared this idea with Dave Cohn, who was all about it, and this post began as an email to him.
I was reading yet another post about Jobs, but this one caught my eye because it was talking about disabilities. They excerpted from a Wired interview:
Jobs: I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.
These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with other parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that. But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important. (Emphasis mine)
His comment reminded me of when we hail yet another technology as the savior of journalism. Meanwhile, part one of Jobs’ comment brought to mind James W. Carey, who had a similar observation about journalists (and life) in the changing environment:
Life is a conversation. When you enter it, it’s already going on. You try to catch the drift of it. You exit before it’s over. That is the best single definition of human living I have ever encountered. We are born and all these bloody adults are talking. We stand around saying, what the hell are they talking about? And how can I get into the conversation? For years they say, shut up and eat your peas! Then, finally, you catch the drift of it and at some point you say, “Oh my God! When I die the conversation’s going to be all over! It’s going to end!” Then you realize people will pause for one moment and say, “Goodbye!” But the argument won’t stop.
In year two, the Block by Block Community News Summit definitely feels like a homecoming. There’s something distinct—something passionate and fierce yet humble—about this community of born-on-the-web, independent publishers.
Something that moored to my mind this last weekend began with Michael Fourcher of the Chicago Independent Ad Network. The first panel was “avenues for earning revenue,” and Michael talked about the 13 points of contact that lead to the sell. It’s about the impression, not the click-through, and every impression that you can deliver to a company is a point toward that 13, the return of which is a potential customer or word of mouth advertising.
The Right to Be Forgotten has been on my mind since a friend brought it up in regards to a publication that targets the progressive, intellectual swath of a religious community.
As a hub, the publication’s site generates high page views around certain stories that open up critical discussions examining traditions in the church. Some of these stories include a member of the community who cheated on a spouse and a professor at a religiously endowed college who was dismissed after remarrying. Standard practice nowadays is to Google applicants of anything, and the stories always appear as top search results.
It hasn’t jumped the pond yet, but the Right to Be Forgotten represents the tension between a collection of personal rights and Internet privacy sensibilities. Despite how quickly technology evolves, the Internet has yet to cycle through with an entire generation, and as information is instantaneously catalogued, it’s easier and quicker than ever to access archives.
Helping out with not only a community-based news site but a community authored one, I had to wonder about the implications for outlets like The Rapidian. Through the vehicle of news and community information, our goal is to generate civic engagement and open dialogue in Grand Rapids. So say that there was community documentation created about a youth that, 20 or 30 years down the road, is hardly relevant to who s/he will become. Say this story generates a lot of traffic and continues to haunt that individual when it comes to job candidacy because it always bubbles up as a top search result. If that person contacts us and asks for it to be taken down because it’s hurting his/her viability, what is the responsible thing to do as an actor in the community?
Two of the most memorable questions came from Christopher Wink of Technically Philly and Laura Amico of Homicide Watch. How do you know when you’ve failed and it’s time to throw in the towel? How does an entrepreneur’s perception of failure mature with his/her project?
Being from the nonprofit world, I’m sorta cheap, so I go on vacation where I have friends. And I really want to get a glimpse of the city, so I’ll tag along to some of my friend’s volunteer activities. I was visiting a friend once and sat in on a bicycle union meeting. The director was explaining a grant from the city that enabled the group to work with volunteer mechanics at each neighborhood farmers market to fix anyone’s bike who had biked to the market that day.