Last week I joined a cool new initiative with Public Radio International (PRI) and SheKnows Media/BlogHer. PRI, a non-profit international media company that engages in reporting of news worthy journalism, began a campaign called Across Women’s Lives (#womenslives) to further promote news stories related to women on a global scale. PRI in conjunction with SheKnows Media, the parent company of BlogHer (of which I am a member), reached out to the female blogger community to share and discuss a topic of the day related to women’s news/issues around the world. When BlogHer asked bloggers to join this initiative, I signed up.
Over the next six months, female bloggers will share tweets, posts, and photos on all types of social media platforms to raise awareness about women’s issues and articles around the globe. I plan to share specific topics that focus on art, culture, photography, and travel.
At a more local level, I’ve been thinking about a tangentially similar project on Hometown Betty. The concept is quite simple:
1. Find women in my hometown.
2. Photograph them.
3. Share their unique life stories.
I live in the second largest city in Michigan – Grand Rapids. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the greater Grand Rapids population looks like this:
|White alone, percent, 2010 (a)||64.6%|
|Black or African American alone, percent, 2010 (a)||20.9%|
|American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2010 (a)||0.7%|
|Asian alone, percent, 2010 (a)||1.9%|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2010 (a)||0.1%|
|Two or More Races, percent, 2010||4.2%|
|Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010 (b)||15.6%|
|White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010||59.0%|
News reporting in Grand Rapids focuses on positive stories, but sometimes, I wonder if there other stories just as newsworthy that my community could share. For example, categorizing our diversity by race doesn’t capture the true essence our community. I dare say that even within the “white alone” category, there is much diversity that one could explore.
Also, there are those who live in the city who fly under the radar, such as the Russian Orthodox community, the Polish community, and the growing Muslim community in Kentwood and surrounding areas. We have a strong Dutch-American community, a fantastic Vietnamese community, and a very small but quaint Korean immigrant/Korean-American community that I know well. I’m sure there are plenty of other ethnic/racial groups that I have not mentioned that deserve a voice as well.
The tough part about this project will be finding women who would be willing to share their life stories from my community.
Part of this desire to know about other women in Grand Rapids stems from our family abroad experience to the island of Cyprus (2012-2013). I grew to appreciate the majority (Cypriot culture) and the other (expat community), especially when I was taken out of my comfort zone. When I came back to Grand Rapids, I noticed that there are plenty of diverse groups of people that I’d love to get to know.
I don’t know who I’ll connect with, but my hope is that I’ll be able to make one connection that will lead me to another and then another. I hope this project will teach me about the beautiful diversity that my community offers. But most of all, I hope that their voices will demonstrate that Grand Rapids does indeed reflect a diverse and dynamic culture in West Michigan.
If you’d like to keep up with this micro-initiative, I’ll hashtag it as #womenslivesGR.
Wanna come along for the ride?
From my hometown to yours,