Street Journal Gives `Voice And Power' To City's Homeless
It took Joey Doney - a homeless man who used to call "The Jungle" encampment home - 90 minutes to make about $30.
But he wasn't panhandling. He was selling copies of the new tabloid monthly Real Change, Seattle's journal by and for the homeless.
The first issues from a press run of 15,000 hit the street yesterday.
Doney and four other potential vendors, all homeless, had showed up for an orientation meeting in the Real Change office at 2129 Second Ave.
Three left with 10 free copies that hopeful vendors may take on a trial basis. Doney returned and paid 25 cents for each professionally printed paper. He would charge clients $1 per paper and pocket 75 cents on the spot.
The idea is the brainchild of Tim Harris, who started a similar paper, Spare Change, two years ago in Boston. It began with four vendors, had 50 in two weeks, and now has a circulation of 50,000.
Here, he gathered an organizing committee, enlisted support from Pike Market Senior Center/Downtown Food Bank and went to work.
"What this is all about is giving homeless people, and people who work with poverty and homelessness, a voice and power," he said, "as well as an income with dignity. It's also an educational tool for people to learn from the homeless themselves."
His group sold endorsement ads at $35 to $150 to the community, starting in July. Once he got $3,000, he had the first run printed.
He retyped the stories submitted by street people and volunteer helpers, gathered art and poetry, and put them together on his MacIntosh computer.
Harris hopes for foundation support to buy a computer that people can use to do artwork and write stories. He also will use street people for production and editorial decisions.
Seattle had a street paper last year. But it was only four pages, and it was free. Lacking structured support and a professional look, it failed.
"There will be initial skepticism that (readers and vendors) need to get over," Harris said. "But when they see other people succeeding, they will get involved."
Reaction appears good. Several people in Belltown were reading copies. They described the paper as having "nice artwork and layouts," and "interesting" writing.
About noon, a younger homeless man, who asked that his name not be used, also dropped by the newspaper office. He liked the idea that a vendor is not begging, but making an even exchange, product for money. He also would be representing other homeless people, helping them organize and getting their voices heard.
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