In 2016, Texas native Ian Haddock started the Normal Anomaly Initiative with only a blog and a shoe-string budget. Now, his non-profit has a team of five and provides essential health and employment services to Houston’s queer community.
Pocket has teamed up with the American Journalism Project to bring some of the best local journalism from across the country right to you—no matter where you live. Each month we’ll highlight deep dives into local stories with national impact—the kind of journalism that brings nuance and context to the major issues we face on a national scale. Read more about our partnership here and browse past collections to get your local fix.
When you envision the people held up as pillars of their community, the image has long been the same—political leaders, clergy people, doctors—those in well-established professions centered around supporting their fellow citizens. But a new wave of creative entrepreneurship has led industrious people to chart their own paths in ways that benefit and enliven their entire city, from a Dakota artist inviting Minnesotans to view their home from a Native perspective to a Houston-based activist creating support systems for the Black gay community. And with local journalists devoted to bringing inspiring stories to light, we get to learn about these legends-in-the-making alongside icons who continue to shape their cities. Read on to get to know community members across the country who are bringing new forms of joy, support, and justice to their cities.
With a Brush Made of His Own Hair, He Painted to Survive in a Nazi POW Camp. At 100, This Berkeley Houseboat Resident Shares His ArtBerkeleyside
Paul Canin began painting these vivid watercolors after Nazis shot down his B-24. Later a successful architect, he designed the floating Berkeley home he lives in with his wife, Helen.
‘As Natural as Going to a Movie’: Detroit Opera’s New Leader Wants to Break Down Barriers for AttendeesOutlier Media
Roberto Kalb, now at the helm of Detroit Opera as music director, wants to reach new audiences and get them “hooked” on opera
They Built a Skate Park in Nebraska’s Poorest County. Then They Watched Junior Do Something Priceless.Flatwater Free Press
Joe Starita spearheaded the skate park project, raising roughly $450,000 in funds after he learned of a spate of teen and young adult suicides happening on the Omaha Reservation. His sales pitch was simple: Kids are dying. No one is helping them. A skate park will help them. Will you help?
Taylor Bell and Lacy Buynak are practicing a growing profession, with spiked awareness from the high death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bell, a former yoga instructor, said the career is about support and making the conversation and experience around death, frightening for most, more comfortable.
Cameron PajYeeb Yang is a queer, transgender, nonbinary Hmong activist working on issues from police use-of-force to gender-based violence in the Hmong community.
More than 50 years after he lost his life serving as a peacemaker in the South Bronx, the intersection of East 165 Street and Rogers Place in Longwood has been officially renamed Cornell “Black Benjie” Benjamin Way.
Marlena Myles, a self-taught artist who began using computers at age 12, has created site-specific augmented and virtual reality animation as a means of storytelling and for expanding understanding of Native cultures and histories.
Joey Santore and Al Scorch document natural areas and animals in and around Chicago, humorously narrating their videos with heavy Chicago accents. Their social media and YouTube project “Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t,” aims to be a lighthearted approach to education, bringing low-brow humor and blue-collar sensibilities to science in an effort to make it easier for more people to understand and engage with.
Connect with some of the best local journalism from outlets across the country, explore the issues facing our communities, and discover your next favorite story.
American Journalism Project
The American Journalism Project (AJP) is the first venture philanthropy dedicated to local news. AJP makes grants to local nonprofit news organizations to build their revenue and business operations, partner with communities to launch new organizations, and mentor leaders as they grow and sustain their newsrooms. Learn more about the independent, community-driven nonprofit news organizations AJP supports.