A fond farewell and the changing of the guard

Rapid Growth's Publisher Tommy Allen pays tribute to our former Editor Anna Gustafson as he introduces our new Editor Lauren Carlson. Please join us in celebrating these two innovative women of Rapid Growth. 
In the last few months of my first year as Publisher at Rapid Growth, I, along with our team of local writers and photographers, decided to roll the dice by hiring as our Editor, Anna Gustafson, a former-Brooklyn resident who, alongside her husband, landed in Grand Rapids. 

On paper, Gustafson, with her years of community-focused journalism under her belt, had only landed in our city two months prior to applying for our open Rapid Growth editor position. 

My initial fears were at the time real because Gustafson was someone so fresh to our city that I truly wondered if she could navigate our complex labyrinth of people, organizations, and businesses that make up our region.

Looking back, the chance we all took was instead an opportunity for us to apply many of the “shake it up” policies many of our systems and entrepreneurs have been experiencing over the years as they, too, seek to craft a different path through creative disruption. We knew the risks but also knew the rewards could be potentially greater.

Rapid Growth experienced some of our biggest gains under Gustafson that seemed to mirror the growth rate of our city. Under her unofficial “everything is community” lens, we got to see ourselves differently from the many different angles she presented of our city. She even helped us expand our publication’s reach across many diverse lines including the launch of our insightful and award-nominated neighborhood series: On The Ground.

And while she will be moving on to make her home in Muskegon, we, at Rapid Growth, know this is not goodbye but more of a “see you later” as we have no doubts we will hear from her down the road someday. We also are happy to learn that she's selected to live in a city where the original The Cheese Lady store resides and wants to adopt a dog to take on walks along Muskegon Lake between her steady freelance writing gigs. 

We wish her all the best on this next stage of her journey.

Debuting this week is our new Editor Lauren Carlson, who is familiar name to many of our readers as she has been a contributing editor for over three years now. 

Lauren CarlsonCarlson’s credentials in media extend far beyond the pages of Rapid Growth where she created our Trails and Greenways dedicated series—a two-year look at the emerging health and recreational pathways of our region in partnership with the West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition.

This Aquinas College graduate has written for many beloved local publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, BLUE Magazine, as well as re-inventing her alma mater’s AQ Magazine.

Carlson, like Gustafson, is also obsessed with the idea of “place” and spends most of her free time traveling across the state, the country, and the world, making her way to Spanish-speaking locals as often as possible.

Carlson is fluent in English and Spanish—something that I know as publisher (and former C- Spanish student) can appreciate more and more as our publication begins to offer new enhancements like running articles for our Spanish-speaking On The Ground readers. 

With over twenty years living in Grand Rapids, Carlson looks forward to celebrating this place and the variety of communities that call it home.

So as Rapid Growth prepares to begin a new chapter, I invite our readers to wish Gustafson a hearty “see you later” as we extend a warm welcome to Carlson as she takes the reins of our weekly publication that has traveled so many of miles within our community in search of the compelling stories that remind us why Grand Rapids can be truly grand. 

The Future Needs All of Us.

Tommy Allen 
Rapid Growth

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