In 1999, Debbie Nichols held a prominent job and was an active member in her community, but an abusive relationship and a drug addiction set her down a troubling path. Luckily, Nichols found street paper Real Change, which she said made a positive impact in helping her find her way back to her normal routines.
King County, home to Seattle’s Real Change, was a key area in the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, some normality is returning for its street paper vendors. Here are some of their stories.
Black lives matter: Protest movement against racism, oppression and police brutality sweeps across America
Since the death of George Floyd, a young black man killed by a white police officer as his colleagues stood idly by, protests have sprung up across the US and other parts of the world calling for an end to systemic racial injustices and police brutality. American street papers were present at many of those protests.
In this instalment of his weekly column, Tim Harris, founding director of Seattle street paper Real Change, wonders why it took the crisis initiated by the spread of coronavirus for city officials to realise that the measures had to be taken to help the homeless population into shelter. In Seattle, as in other parts of the world, the pandemic has shown that the way, if not the will, to help those in need was there all along.
Street Roots executive director Kaia Sand sends a dispatch from Oregon after visiting a small homeless camp housing a handful of the Portland street paper’s vendors who have become proactive about safeguarding themselves and staying healthy as the coronavirus panic sweeps the Pacific Northwest United States.
With coronavirus cases across the world now at well over 100,000, Italy is in lockdown and the US west coast is bearing the brunt of Covid-19’s appearance in America. INSP spoke again with street paper staff about the effect it is having on their organisations and vendors, with particular attention given to how staff are assisting vendors to stay safe and healthy.
#VendorWeek 2020: Seattle street paper Real Change challenges local celebrities to try being vendors for a day
Real Change celebrate #VendorWeek with their third annual Day of Heroes, a chance for local celebrities to partner with Real Change vendors to try for themselves to sell the Seattle papers.
Days before Christmas, communities across the US joined together to memorialise those who had died while homeless that year. INSP North America director Israel Bayer summed up the tragedies that have beset countless homeless Americans, while a group of the country’s street papers collaborated on making sure these remembrances, and the people they were about, were noticed.
James Jenkins sells Real Change from his pitch at the QFC grocery story on Broadway and Pike Street in Capitol Hill. Jenkins has Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a rare neurological disorder that makes working nine-to-five unfeasible for him. He enjoys working as a Real Change vendor because it offers him the flexibility to work on the days that he feels well enough to do so.
INSP turns 25 this year, but so do a number of our street paper members. Real Change in Seattle is just one of them. To mark it, the paper’s reporter Ashley Archibald spoke to its founding director Tim Harris about the past, present and future of the street paper movement.
Reflections from the 2019 Global Street Paper Summit by INSP board member, and Real Change founding director, Tim Harris
After attending the 2019 Global Street Paper Summit, INSP board member, and Real Change founding director, Tim Harris offered some reflections on the state of the street paper movement and what we have to look forward to in the future.
Real Change vendor Joseph was delighted to find community, support and hope when he moved into the new shelter housed at Seattle’s King County Jail. The new shelter initially proved divisive, with some – including Real Change Founding Director Tim Harris – voicing concern about the optics of housing people experiencing homelessness in a jail. For Joseph, the shelter has been a much-needed sanctuary. He explains how staying at the shelter has changed his life for the better.
Seattle street paper Real Change, which turns 25 this year, has put millions of dollars into the pockets of some of the city’s poorest residents — and has no intention of stopping any time soon. Spurred by its 25th anniversary, and its successful forays into solving the problems that an increasingly cashless society poses to street paper vendors, Sandi Doughton, a writer at The Seattle Times’ Pacific NW magazine, spent some time around Real Change’s staff and vendors.
Seattle street paper Real Change celebrated #VendorWeek by putting on a Big Sell event on Wednesday. But there was a twist: Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard was selling street papers with vendor Darrell Wrenn somewhere in the city, but could you follow the clues to find them? The challenge caught the imagination of everyday Seattleites.
From the INSP Archive: Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard talks about how he got involved in homeless advocacy
Last summer, legendary Seattle band Pearl Jam performed shows in their home city to raise awareness of the homelessness crisis. The homecoming was five years in the making, and it was the issue of homelessness that prompted it. At the time, the band’s guitarist Stone Gossard spoke to Darrell Wren, a vendor for Seattle street paper Real Change. INSP is revisiting the interview today after Gossard and Wren captured the attention of the Seattle public during #VendorWeek 2019 by participating in Real Change’s annual selling event.
Glenn Walker has been all over the place, both in his life and as a Real Change vendor. He’s lived in Denver, New York and Chicago, but he’s lived in Seattle for years. As a Real Change vendor, he gets around, too: Issaquah, Bellevue and Bainbridge Island are all on his regular route. Hanna Brooks Olsen spent a day shadowing Glenn to find out about what it’s like to be a Real Change vendor.
Norma has been living in Seattle since 2010 and was introduced to Real Change by her current partner in late 2016. Here, she looks back on her life before moving to Seattle, praises the freedom that she has found by being a vendor and celebrates the resilience that has served her well since childhood.
John has spent the last 40 years working as a handyman all over Washington state. He has been homeless since the age of 18. Here, he talks about his family background, the challenges that he currently faces and the importance of appreciating how lucky you are.
Today, North American street papers will join in with the #VendorWeek celebrations by hosting selling events, some for the first time. This #VendorWeek tradition is a chance for those unfamiliar with the street paper movement to understand better what street paper vendors do.
Emmanuel Salter has travelled all over the USA, driven by his thirst for adventure. Now a Real Change vendor in Seattle, Emmanuel looks back on his life and reflects on the present, in which his is not homeless but ‘home-free’.
Rose moved to the US from the Philippines and she has been through some big changes in her life. But working with Real Change has finally made her life change for the better.
After five years of homelessness, Real Change vendor Lisa Sawyer finally got somewhere to live with her boyfriend. Now it looks like her new home may be slipping away.
Rachel loves her home city of Seattle, but also feels a strong connection to Montana – she named her beloved Chihuahua-terrier puppy after a city there. When she’s not selling Real Change, or advocating for people with disabilities and service dogs, she likes to make balloon animals and even perform as a clown.
Seattle street paper Real Change has made a passionate call-to-arms to its readers and supporters to join them in protesting against hate against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s first days as U.S. president.
Selling the paper helps with the basics like bills and food, but also helps vendor Mellie Kaufman to feel better about herself and her life. “”Before I sold Real Change, I felt like I was nothing. Now, I feel better,” she says.
Becoming homeless came as a shock to Valerie Williams. But thanks to the support of Real Change, she now has her own place and has recently worked as a paid intern with the street paper, helping her fellow vendors.
Real Change News’ Vendor of the Year Awards were scooped by two popular characters committed to putting smiles on the face of their customers.