INSP launches North American Bureau to give regional support to street papers in the US, Canada and Mexico

INSP has announced a new venture bringing together street papers in the United States, Canada and Mexico, under the umbrella of INSP’s new North American Bureau.

The regional arm of INSP will be guided from the US by Israel Bayer, a veteran of the street paper movement, and backed by Seattle street paper Real Change.

Bayer was the executive director of Street Roots, a weekly street paper in Portland, Oregon, for 15 years, stepping down in late 2017. Prior to that, he worked with Real Change.

Israel Bayer

Discussing the newly established North American Bureau with INSP, he said: “The goal is to support street papers in both North America and throughout the entire network.

“We believe that by acting locally, and thinking globally, we can collectively create capacity for all street papers.”

INSP currently has 29 street paper members situated in the North American region, while many in the US get together annually to work collaboratively on shared editorial content around National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day in the lead up to Christmas.

Just before sunset a group of faith leaders, homeless advocates and formerly homeless people gatthered at the Tree of Life statue remember those who died outside this year. As each of the names were read aloud, the group repeated the phrase "We Remember." (Credit: Matthew S. Browning)

Despite the scale of the country, and the diversity of the street paper publications and organisations within it, US street paper staff and vendors are dealing with many of the same obstacles, as well as sharing common goals and purpose.

The key aim of the project is increasing the impact and sustainability of North American street papers. In addition, it will serve as a pilot model for other regional street paper development projects.

Conversations around the establishment of a North American Bureau date back to the 2015 Global Street Paper Summit held in Seattle.

Real Change is set to act as fiscal sponsor for the project.

Its founding director Tim Harris, who is also an INSP board member, said: “North American papers have talked about how to better support each other for years, but until recently we haven’t had the resources or leadership to make much progress.

“Now, with Real Change offering an administrative home for Israel’s entrepreneurial energy, we’re working with INSP to create new possibilities for all of us.

“I love that INSP and Real Change, as two solid institutions in their twenty-fifth year, can be the ground for powerful member-led visions to grow.”

The North American Bureau is just the next step in INSP’s attempts to enrich and provide support to the disparate regions within the entire network, which will in turn benefit the network as a whole.

This month, street papers in the Asia-Pacific region – from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Australia – met up in Osaka to learn from one another, and share ideas.

Delegates from The Big Issue Taiwan, The Big Issue Japan, The Big Issue Korea, The Big Issue Australia, and INSP, at the recent Asia-Pacific Summit. (Credit: Syo Kawakami)

The large number of German language street papers within the network have been working together for some time now, with a dedicated German language day at the INSP Global Street Paper Summit each year, while those based in the Netherlands are also working closely together towards shared content.

2019 is a special year for INSP, as it will mark the organisation’s 25th anniversary.