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From Death Doulas to Opera Directors: The Changing Face of Community Heroes

Meet the creatives and activists bringing new forms of joy, support, and justice to their cities.

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In partnership with
American Journalism Project

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.

BONUS READ: Chonk, An Enormous Snapping Turtle on the Chicago River, Is Stealing City’s Heart

Maia McDonald
Block Club Chicago

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.

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.