Richland County is a Rust Belt legacy city. And that legacy, often described as unwanted, comes with its problems. In 2018, the Richland Source set out to identify those problems and report on solutions, locally and across the Rust Belt region.
We started by listening to the community. We did this via a series of student surveys, asking students for opinions about their hometowns, by holding pop-up newsrooms at local McDonalds and asking our readers for questions via Hearken.
We learned that the community was especially interested in reading about the job market, blight and revitalization efforts. Some readers asked about specific blighted locations, and others were worried about Mansfield or Richland County as a whole. High school students were worried about finding local jobs and as a result, often didn’t plan to stay in Richland County after graduating.
As a strong believer in solutions journalism, the Richland Source then set out to find solutions and report on them. Some of the responses are right here in Richland County.
As part of the project, the Richland Source will hold at least two Rising From Rust events.
The first, called Student Intersections, took place in July 2018. The Richland Source teamed up with Interlocal, a Mansfield-based nonprofit, after learning that the New York Times Student Journeys program was interested in making a Richland County stop on its “D.C. to Detroit: Politics and Divisions, National and Local” tour.
Determined to design an event beneficial to local students too, three Richland Source staff members and a representative from Interlocal designed and led a half-day program, called Student Intersections, where Richland area and visiting high school students of similar ages could learn about each other’s communities and start meaningful conversations about the Rust Belt’s changing economy, how identity relates to place and what young people can do to create change.