COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The columnist, contributing poet, and associate publisher for the Southeast Express are all one and the same.
Patrice Ravenscroft, born and raised in Colorado Springs, joined the team of the city's new newspaper during the pandemic.
“The Southeast Express is a community-driven nonprofit newspaper within one of the most diverse areas in our community,” said Ravenscroft. “We try to uplift the voices of a very vibrant community."
Southeast Express uplifts vibrant community voices
A Colorado Springs newspaper highlights new heroes.
Ravenscroft attended Dohorety High School. From “a family of public service,” she and her twin brother both went into the nonprofit sector. They followed closely in the footsteps of their father, an advocate and community steward who served as Program Director at Hillside Community Center.
Out of college, Ravenscroft had the opportunity to attend a leadership program through El Pomar Foundation.
“That really opened my eyes,” she said. “I saw how nonprofits and philanthropy can really impact our community — whether that be through the arts and humanities, issues like homelessness prevention, or diversity, inclusion, and equity.”
The Southeast Express staff are committed to communicating the area’s opportunities — as well as challenges — to the rest of the city.
“A majority of the stories that you see in the Southeast tend to be about gun violence, or property damage, or some maybe more negative, stigmatized issues,” said Ravenscroft, “while the Southeast Express is really about highlighting new heroes.”
Telling stories through journalism combined with her background in community service has been a “beautiful part in my role here,” said Ravenscroft. “You know, it’s not always easy, but sometimes you’ve got to be the first person through the brick, right? And then more people get to follow you.”
Amy Gillentine, publisher and executive editor for the paper, agrees the culture and community of Southeast Colorado Springs make it an ideal place to center storytelling.
“The Southeast has this vibrant culture, really awesome restaurants, and art and music — and no one was telling their story,” said Gillentine. “If you heard about Southeast, it was ‘If it bleeds it leads’ news. We knew there was more there.”
“Southeast Colorado Springs — the 80910 and 80906 zip codes — are the two most densely populated regions in Colorado Springs,” said Heidi Beedle, reporter for the paper and resident of Southeast Colorado Springs. “If you look at the City Council district, it’s the only majority-minority district in all of Colorado Springs. So it’s a very diverse area. And if you look at news coverage, a lot of it doesn’t necessarily focus on Southeast — which is kind of a big gap.”
Leaders of Colorado Publishing House — home of the Indy, the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the Military Newspaper Group, Pikes Peak Bulletin, and The Transcript — decided they were in a unique position to help change that narrative.
They met with local residents to determine the need for a news outlet. They learned that the community, divided by highways and not very walkable, was in great need of a central information hub.
“The community members are so passionate and so engaged,” Gillentine said. “And there were so many good stories to tell. We felt that was where the opportunity to start a paper was.”
“Our goal here is to highlight different storylines, and different people who are leaders in the community, and doing really great things,” added Ravenscroft. “We’re switching that paradigm. We’re authentically stepping into journalism, but we’re also highlighting the good that’s happening.”
“While also not forgetting that there are challenges in the Southeast,” explained Gillentine. “It’s a food desert; there aren’t a lot of grocery stores. It’s a health care desert; there is no hospital, and there are 86,000 people who live there. So we’re highlighting those challenges, and trying to bring solutions.
Ravenscroft wants the Southeast Express to be a place for people to come to feel empowered.
“There’s something to be said about someone who didn’t have a voice, who is doing incredible things — and now we have this beautiful publication that can elevate that,” she said.
“We’re seeing more women, we’re seeing more strong women of color at the forefront, and we’re seeing more people with very diverse backgrounds,” said Ravenscroft. “That’s really encouraging. People like me are becoming decision-makers and change-makers, and they’re having more opportunity to have a clear running space. And I’m a part of that.”
“I have loved getting to know the residents and the businesses in Southeast,” said Gillentine. “Its a real honor for me. And people are seeing themselves reflected. That’s one of the best things about the Southeast Express.”
Kate Perdoni is a multimedia journalist for Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at email@example.com.