New Publication Explores U.S. Neighborhoods

Neighborhood demographics in the U.S. continue to fluctuate as many suburbanites take a second look at city life. Janice Ellis, editor of Rise Up, explains how her publication will spotlight both new and evolving interpretations of living the "American Dream."

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CHERYL CORLEY, host:

We're going to shift a bit here to talk about the changing demographic of American communities. Typically, at this time, we look inside the pages of the Washington Post Magazine, but today we're going to peak inside a newspaper supplement that's been tucked inside the Washington Post, instead. That publication is called "RiseUp," and the current issue takes on the phenomenon of how race, culture and economics are transforming many neighborhoods, especially big cities. And joining me to talk about RiseUp is Janice Ellis, the president and executive editor. Welcome to the show.

Ms. JANICE ELLIS (President and Executive Editor, RiseUp): Thank you for having me.

CORLEY: Of course. Well, Janice, what inspired you, first of all, to create RiseUp?

Ms. ELLIS: Well, you know, it's very difficult to say what was the seminal event. After having grown up in Mississippi and my journey - my life's journey from there to Wisconsin and now Kansas City, but I think more importantly, some of the recent incidents like geno-six (ph), where it showed that you had children, young people really dealing with some of our most painful symbols historically. And I thought what - how good it would be if could provide an educational tool around race and ethnicity celebrating all of us.

CORLEY: What audience were you targeting?

Ms. ELLIS: Well, actually, the general newspaper reading audience. I thought we did not necessarily need to talk to the choir, if you will, and that if we had an educational tool by which the general population could look and read in the privacy of their own homes, it would be a good thing.

CORLEY: Well, in the latest issue of RiseUp, your cover story is about the changing face of suburbia, and you have a photo of an Asian family walking down the street as toddler son rides a bike with training wheels, and I was wondering what point you were trying to make?

Ms. ELLIS: Well, the point is, I think we're at the stage where America's becoming so diverse, soon I think we'll be a nation of minorities, you know, and not majority-minority. And so what we're trying to do in the magazine is to show the changing trends, whether they're in the urban core or in the suburban area. And what we're finding is that many suburban areas across America are beginning to look very much like the central cities.

CORLEY: Well, it's interesting. In your publisher's note in the insert, you say, first we need to acknowledge there's really nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. And what did you want to get across? What did you mean by that?

Ms. ELLIS: Well, you know, 50 years ago, or even more recently, we had a lot of flight to suburbia to escape things like crime, poor education, poor housing, and frankly, what we're seeing across the nation is that as the population of suburban areas change, then you see a lot of the same social issues, whether it's homelessness, crime, racial tension. We see suburban areas confronted by those same conditions.

CORLEY: Tell me a little bit more about what we can learn from those changing demographics. You were saying part of it is - of the metropolitan areas, that part of it is that these people in these places are going to face the same sort of problems that urban areas have or inner city areas have faced. What else are we learning from the changing demographics?

Ms. ELLIS: Well, I think what we're seeing, and I think long term, I think we need to be cognizant of the fact that now there seems to be a round trip, you know, from the urban core to suburbia and then back to the urban core, simply because a lot of the central cities across the nation are beginning to address some of those concerns, whether it's poor housing, crime, poor education.

They're trying to change the landscape, if you will, and so in doing so, you see now a lot of suburban nights coming back to the central city. And I think the message is, is that when you have people of different socio-economic levels, different - needing different social services, irrespective of where they're located, whether it's in the central city or the suburbs, we all have a common challenge. And therefore it would behoove us as central cities and suburban areas to begin to look at these issues and try to come up with solutions across the board...

CORLEY: All right.

Ms. ELLIS: Together, not in silos(ph). I'm sorry.

CORLEY: That's fine. Janice Ellis is the president and executive editor of RiseUp, and she joined me from member station KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you so much.

Ms. ELLIS: Thank you.

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