This award recognises the top contribution to a street paper by current or former street paper vendors. It can be a written piece, photography or art, as long as it has been published in the street paper.
Our top ten, featured below, will now go forward to our editorial shortlisting panel, who will choose the five finalists. These will be announced in early August, and the winner will be revealed at the Global Street Paper Summit in Glasgow.
1. Hus Forbi, Denmark
There is a need for a holistic approach
By Jacob Vang Jacobsen
Hus Forbi said: Vendor Jacob Vang Jacobsen interviewed the Parliamentary speaker on social politics, Carl Holst, at the annual ‘People’s meeting’ at Bornholm – a meeting where the politicians are supposed to meet the people. Our vendors were active and campaigning at the meeting together with the Danish organisation for the homeless. The politician asked Jacob for an interview as part of a project run by a Danish daily. When Hus Forbi’s editor heard this, he said to Jacob: “Do it the other way around. Go interview him!” Jacob didn’t get hold of the politician while the editor was present. But he did it of his own accord the next day, recorded the interview and send it to the editor. It was so well composed that it could be transcribed, an introduction added, and sent directly to print without further editing. The interview was nominated for the Best Vendor Contribution award because: 1) Jacob worked totally on his own interviewing a top politician (Carl Holst is the former Minister for Defence and former Mayor of the Region of Southern Denmark. He is the social parliamentary speaker for the Liberal Party [the Prime Minister’s party]). 2) He uses his own experience and never lets the politician off the hook. 3) It has had a political impact because the politician learned something. He has seen the world from a homeless addict’s perspective and his policy-making has become more qualified.
2. L’Itinéraire, Canada
Conversation With A Paedophile
By Jo Redwitch
L’Itinéraire said: Jo Redwitch has been a vendor since 2015. Actively involved in the magazine, she was part of a small group of vendors who completed an internship at La Presse, Montréal’s most respected daily. Jo’s a news-getter and has a keen sense for human interest stories. She landed a oneon-one interview with a convicted paedophile through the Support and Accountability Circle, offered to sex offenders in a Québec jail. Using a direct and frank approach, Jo delves into the psyche of a repentant child abuser. Her account of such a troubling subject is well-balanced between empathy and critical distance. Rigorously researched, the first part asks: “Are paedophiles salvageable?”. The second part, entitled “Act before it’s too late”, talks about early detection to treat and prevent lifelong damages to young victims. Very powerful – and exclusive – articles. Journalism at its best!
3. Mi Valedor, Mexico
Let the Firemen Come, I’m Burning: Heroic Fire Department
By Alfredo Villena
Mi Valedor said: Alfredo Villena has been selling Mi Valedor since February 2016. He is one of our most sociable and dedicated vendors, and is now a Promotor, accompanying new vendors during their first shifts, and going to soup kitchens to tell people about Mi Valedor. Alfredo’s interview was part of the very first issue produced by the vendors themselves: Volume 13 – Correteando la Chuleta (the ‘survival’ edition). Alfredo took on the ‘documental’ section, where we interview another social initiative working in Mexico City. He had a very clear idea from the outset: he went directly to the fire station of the most famous firefighter in the city, Jefe Vulcano – the boss of the ‘Heroic Body of Firefighters’, who even responds quickly to his 160,000 Twitter followers. Jefe Vulcano gave him the chance to interview him, and Alfredo says he was very nervous, but managed to ask him everything he had planned. In his article, Alfredo vividly portrays the day-to-day life for the firefighters, down to their own emergency exits! The result was a wonderful homage to the firefighters who are keeping us safe at night.
4. Shedia, Greece
This is my life
By Nikos Servos
Shedia said: Nikos Servos’s story had a tremendous impact on our readers. We were flooded with emails of love and support for Nikos. Many offered to pay for him to take creative writing classes, expressing their full admiration for his literary style. And much more.
5. Speak Up, USA
One Week on the Streets
By Vince Shumate
Speak Up said: Vince Shumate is homeless and wandering. In the last year, he has been in Charlotte (where Speak Up is based), in Virginia, in Florida, and elsewhere. Currently he is in Asheville, NC, where he sometimes sells magazines as a very long-distance independent vendor. He has been connected with Speak Up in various ways since 2016. In late February 2018, he took daily notes and photographs for one week. He delivered the words and photos to Speak Up as a single submission, which were published in entirety in early March as the issue “One Week on the Streets”. In “One Week on the Streets,” all of the words and every photograph is Vince’s own. He writes and shares deeply; his battles with homelessness, ongoing struggle with addiction, and deep wounds from the past all make it into his writings. He writes about jail, about rehab, about the “slippery slope” of alcohol’s lure. As you see from the selfie photo on the first page, Vince is worn and weathered and rough. His writing is thoughtful, honest, self-effacing, funny and humanising. Vince is one of Speak Up’s most beloved authors and this particular issue was a privilege to publish.
6. Street Sense, USA
From the crackhouse to the White House
By Jeffery McNeil
INSP, on behalf of Street Sense, said: The street paper community, and its mission, is such that we often agree with each other, especially on broad political issues, and this likely seeps into the editorial direction many street papers take. However, our vendors are individuals, and they do not have to follow that editorial slant. One such person is Jeff, a vendor in Washington DC, who has polarised readers with his opinion columns praising President Donald Trump. His views may be disagreeable to some, but that does not mean he should be denied an equal platform to air them. Recently, his writing caught the eye of a White House staffer, who invited him to visit the hallowed halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. These are his unfiltered thoughts.
7. Street Sense, USA
Random acts of kindness, reggae style
By Wendell Williams
Street Sense said: This essay and the accompanying photos were contributed by vendor Wendell Williams to recap a recent visit to Jamaica that some of his supporters helped him make. This was the fourth instalment of the “Random Acts of Kindness” series he started writing, shortly after, during a vendor profile interview, he recalled the many random acts of kindness that helped him get to where he is today. This column has a couple signature acts of kindness, but it also touches on the history, culture and landscape of his destination. Several volunteers that regularly help around our office praised this article. One said it was the best piece he’d read in Street Sense all year.
8. StreetWise, USA
How the Tech Industry has Disserviced Women
By Robert Laine
StreetWise said: Robert Laine has been a vendor for 6 years. He was a member of Chicago’s IT community, but had struggled with alcoholism and eventually found himself homeless. Through StreetWise, he has begun to deal with his issues, and now uses the platform to share the knowledge he gained through years of experience through his “TechWise” column. This special edition of the column (which is usually tips on backing up and getting the most out of your hardware or software) came about after a discussion on the #MeToo movement. During his years of work, he noticed a disparity between the sexes in his field. He decided to use his platform to address this.
9. The Curbside Chronicle, USA
At the Movies with Marcos
By Marcos Powell
The Curbside Chronicle said: Marcos was one of the very first vendors we trained at The Curbside Chronicle a little over four years ago when we launched in Oklahoma City. He went on to be the first vendor that we housed with our programme. And after spending two years working with us, we were thrilled to see him transition into a more traditional warehouse job. Marcos has a special place in our hearts and in the history of our street paper. Marcos is an avid cinema fan. He knows more about film than any person we’ve ever met. And we think that Marcos’ passion for film and desire to get others excited about film is an incredible way to humanise vendors, like Marcos, with readers. We talk a lot about the importance of not letting homelessness define our vendors. Marcos’ knowledge and passion for film helps showcase his personality and talents outside of his experience with homelessness. Marcos is a regular contributor with film reviews and many of our readers look forward to watching the films and the genres he suggests. They’ve gotten to know him for more than his situation, and they value his contributions and opinions as a person who is incredibly knowledgeable in film. I think this is the powerful outcome of vendor contributions, no matter what paper or where you are. Our vendors have the ability and the platform to shatter stereotypes and stigmas with their contributions and create a more-educated, understanding, empathetic picture of homelessness and the people who experience it. In this article, Marcos shares his top B Movie films, highlighting the importance of lowbudget films and encouraging everyone to give them a chance.
10. Toledo Streets, USA
Former Marine wrestles with a new Enemy: Silence
By Rex Davis
Toledo Streets said: One of our vendor-writers, Rex Davis, submitted this piece on dealing with PTSD after serving in the military and fighting in Iraq. Rex continues to struggle in the civilian world and is currently awaiting sentencing on an arson charge in the Lucas County court.