Seattle street paper Real Change has work highlighted in local media

Seattle street paper Real Change has been the subject of a longform feature in The Seattle Times‘ Pacific NW Magazine.

The piece, entitled ‘Real Change: How Seattle’s street newspaper plans to survive in the digital age’, focuses on a day of work at the Real Change offices, shining a spotlight on vendors Susan Russell and William Ellington, as well as the street paper’s founder Tim Harris, who is quoted in the story: “As long as there are people who are economically surplus, there is going to be a place for something like Real Change.”

Vendor Susan Russell is a Real Change sales superstar. Here, she’s picking up her weekly supply of newspapers. (Credit: Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

The impetus for the article by Sandi Doughton, a reporter at The Seattle Times, was the publication’s 25th anniversary which, like INSP, it celebrates this year, and its successful forays into solving the problems that an increasingly cashless society poses to street paper vendors. Real Change has been using the Venmo app, which allows customers to enter a vendor’s badge number and pay with their phones, to bridge this gap, and in 2019 will continue to encourage its use to make payments to vendors.

As well as spending time in Real Change‘s distribution and editorial offices, and hearing about Harris’ plans of activism on behalf of Seattle’s homeless community, Doughton spent time on the streets with vendors established and new, learning about the ups and downs of a day selling street papers.

Real Change vendor William Ellington, 25, stands on a sidewalk near an entrance to the Lower Queen Anne QFC, selling papers in 40-degree weather. He keeps possessions in two plastic bags at his feet. He says he hasn’t made much money yet selling the paper, but is making connections he hopes will help in the future. (Credit: Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Describing vendor William, Doughton writes:

Real Change vendor William Ellington already sees himself as an entrepreneur.

The 25-year-old might be sleeping at the Union Gospel Mission, but his head brims with numbers and stories of successful businesses. He carries pictures of billionaire Warren Buffett and Gilded Age industrialist John D. Rockefeller folded into his pocket-size book of psalms and Bible verses.

He talks about working in real estate or earning a doctorate at Princeton. He can rattle off current mortgage rates and the ZIP code of his elementary school.

‘I haven’t made much money yet,’ Ellington says, holding up copies of the paper outside the QFC at Mercer Street and Fifth Avenue North. ‘But it’s a huge advantage getting my presence out there and trying to make some connections.'”

Read the full story on The Seattle Times website.

Read more coverage of #VendorWeek 2019 here.