Central to the street paper mission are the vendors. On day three of the 2018 Global Street Paper Summit, the focus was on vendors and everything that is relevant to them.
The day started off with a keynote speech from Suzanne Fitzpatrick, professor of housing and social policy at the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, talking about her research on the what can cause a person to fall into homelessness.
With vendors coming from a range of backgrounds and situations, Fitzpatrick showed delegates that there is, in fact, a connecting thread between vendors across different societies by focusing on what factors can lead to a person, specifically in the UK, to experience poverty, homelessness, and social exclusion. All of these things, and much more, are problems that street paper vendors deal with on a daily basis, and part of the Global Street Paper Summit is bringing together people invested in the empowering nature of street papers to learn about, and understand more, the lives of those vendors.
Crucially, vendors shouldn’t simply be seen as a graph of problems and issues. Vendors are, individually, more often than not, inspiring, driven and creative people themselves. One way in which this is teased out, or if fully on show, given a greater platform, is when vendors are involved not just in selling a street paper, but in its editorial voice and process too.
One of the more popular sessions on day three of the summit was when Poul Struve Nielsen, editor of Denmark’s Hus Forbi, and Jan Stepanek, editor-in-chief of the Czech Republic’s Nový Prostor, gave an insight into how they involve vendors in the editorial process.
Stepanek explained the myriad imaginative ways his paper includes vendors, whether it’s through a VIP interview with a national celebrity, personal writing about their hometown or the people they network with at their pitch, or large scale events.
Nielsen showed off the August 2018 edition of Hus Forbi, which is completely vendor produced – the second time his paper has pulled this off.
He said: “Vendors are human beings, just like you and me, and it’s important that when you open up the magazine, you can read and learn about other human beings.”
The vendor-centric theme continued into the afternoon, with sessions on developing partnerships to increase income, specifically #VendorWeek selling events, and on supporting vendors, making sure the complex needs of the kinds of marginalised people that become vendors are met.