Creating many ripples: Citizen journalism in 2012


When I looked back at the stories I‘ve written for the Twin Cities Daily Planet this year, I noticed that the stories always seem to have a few things in common: They involve my community. The subject is important in some way and needs to be covered. And it spurs my curiosity.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

People profiles are a favorite of mine because I get to meet the people who are doing great work in my community and write about them.

Dudley Voigt: The Woman behind a Musical is a local theater director who works with Northeast Middle School students. When she works with young people, she is not just teaching them theater but is building community and self-esteem skills. Her work over the years has helped transform Northeast Middle School’s theater productions over the years into a quality program that is supported enthusiastically by the Northeast community.

This past spring, I was curious when several wild turkeys started walking the streets on Johnson in Northeast Minneapolis. The appearance of fox and other urban wildlife prompted Turkeys attack: Urban Wildlife gets bold in Twin Cities, about the increased presence of wildlife in the city. My 12 year old son also joined in exploring this subject and creating a 4H project that landed him a purple (best of show) ribbon at the State Fair. Since then, we continue to hear about wildlife appearing in the city, from opossum near the University campus to bear in the Frogtown area.

Just recently, when I learned about a neighborhood food shelf that closed for a day because it ran out of food, it broke my heart. This was the same food shelf that I had written about that summer (Gleaning Project puts healthy food into the hands of those who need it most) on their mission to provide fresh vegetables and produce to those who needed it most. So when I saw a photo of The Little Kitchen’s empty shelves, writing that story became a priority. Little Kitchen Food Shelf in Minneapolis needs food was posted a week before the holidays and that same day, I received a thank you from the food shelf manager because “Little Kitchen Food Shelf had received literally thousands of dollars in contributions”

Maybe that’s the best part about writing as a citizen journalist. I am writing the stories no one else sees the importance in or has the time for writing about it. The stories provide connections and community. I like to connect the dots.

Some of the most interesting and important things happen right in our own communities. Writing about these stories this year for the Daily Planet has made me see that there are issues, people and events that need attention and I may be the only one who knows about it. Stories that are important to my community and are also important to me. To paraphrase Mother Teresa, although I alone cannot change the world, I can at least make a ripple.


Looking back at 2012: If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

2012: My year with TCDP by Morgan Halaska

Creating many ripples: Citizen journalism in 2012 by Robin Sauerwein

Reporting — to inform, enlighten, entertain and enrage by Charles Hallman

Minnesota State Fair: My most memorable 2012 stories by Barb Teed

Twin Cities movie highlights of 2012: An MSPIFF to remember, new Uptown and Walker theaters, and more by Jim Brunzell