A new way to do ‘social engagement’ with the news

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The Ann loves people stories. Yes, we want to address the important problems, policies and events of the day, but it’s just so much more readable if you can do so through the lens of the people involved in those issues. So, thanks to an idea of photo wizard Benjamin Weatherston, we’re starting a new project: ANNtourage. The idea is simple: Gather a handful of Washtenaw County people, take them to an event — could be a government meeting, a protest, a concert, a tour of a neighborhood — and record their raw reactions and see what we can learn through their fresh eyes.

What do we hope to accomplish? The Ann doesn’t have the resources to send reporters to every planning-board meeting, art opening, pine box derby or church dinner in Washtenaw County, or even a few of them. But those events are crucial to our lives — how can we find some way to approach civic life in a way that brings readers together, encourages their participation and doesn’t lecture them? That was the problem; Ben’s ANNtourage brainstorm is our answer.

During an ANNtourage event, we’ll encourage participants to share their immediate reactions by social media (unless to do so would be rude: say, at a classical music concert.) Follow their adventures with the hashtag #ANNtourage. Plus, we’ll chat them up during dinner before and debrief them after over drinks: What did they notice that a (possibly jaded) reporter might have missed, and vice versa? After, we’ll digest the evening’s doings online and in the pages of The Ann.

Our first outing will be Saturday, with a screening of “All Things Must Pass,” a documentary about the rise and fall of retail powerhouse Tower Records, at the downtown library. The event will include discussion with local former employees of the record store. We’ll treat our foursome to dinner at Mezzevino, then hit the semi finals Poetry Slam at Espresso Royale to find out who will represent Ann Arbor at the nationals in Washington, D.C. Our first sponsor is A2 Fitness Pros, so a huge thanks to Demond Johnson!

Interested in joining in one of our adventures? We want to build up a diverse, social-media-avid group from which to invite. Contact Benjamin Weatherston at ben (at) theannmag.com or Myra Poplin at myra (at) theannmag.com. Or would your business like to sponsor some outings? Email Myra or call her at 734-369-4239. Have an idea for an event or issue that might be right for ANNtourage, or just have general questions? Contact me at jim (at) theannmag.com.

We’ll see you at #ANNtourage!

Jim McBee

Founding partner, creative director and ink-stained wretch with The Ann magazine.

1 Comment

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    Jan Davies McDermott

    July 13, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I too like stories about people. I suggest a story about a retired female teacher who participates in the Senior Olympics in track and field events not traditionally linked to women, i.e. shot put. She is a hoot and would be a great interview. Her name is Joan Berman. She lives on the westside of Ann Arbor. Please contact me if you’d like to connect with her.