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The pain, cost and stigma of parasites from living on the streets

Portland’s Street Roots has started a periodic column about the parts of homelessness most people don’t talk about. In this instalment, now shared with INSP, vendors describe their experiences of picking up parasites and bugs, such as head lice and scabies, mainly at hostels and shelters, and the effect it has on an already difficult way of living.

A style all his own: Street Sense vendor Franklin Sterling on his poetry

Writing poems since he was a teenager, Street Sense Media artist and vendor Franklin Sterling has developed a unique style based in medieval English and blending other languages to create something all his own.

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

INSP has launched a new initiative to help support street paper members situated in the US, Canada and Mexico. The North American Bureau will be led by the former executive director of Street Roots and backed by Seattle street paper Real Change.

StreetWise vendors turn critics with their opinions on this year’s Oscar nominated films

With the 91st Academy Awards set to be broadcast on Sunday, Chicago’s StreetWise asked its vendors to view all eight movies nominated in the ‘Best Picture’ category and share their thoughts.

#VendorWeek 2019: “Selling the paper is often harder than it looks”

During this year’s #VendorWeek, Tim Harris, founding director of Seattle street paper Real Change, took part in their selling event. Paired with veteran vendor Michael, Tim found the experience challenging, but ultimately educational and rewarding, writing about it in his regular column for the paper.

Seattle street paper Real Change has work highlighted in local media

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.

#VendorWeek 2019: Real Change captures Seattle public’s imagination with #WheresStone challenge

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.

#VendorWeek 2019: A reunion 23 years in the making

An unexpected message on social media brought Jamar Washington back into contact with his birth mother and family in 2018. His mother, Raelene Johnson – a Denver Voice vendor – reluctantly gave him up for foster care when he was three. This is the story of how fate brought them back together and how they are reconnecting with each other after so many years apart.

#VendorWeek 2019: Toledo Streets’ Vendor of the Year, Wanda Boudrie

Wanda Boudrie, a vendor for Toledo, Ohio based street paper Toledo Streets, was recently named its Vendor of the Year, and to celebrate #VendorWeek, INSP is sharing her story. The publication’s director John Keegan reflects on what it is about Wanda’s personality that lights up the lives of Toledo Streets’ staff, vendors and readers.

Vendor City Guide: Chicago

In collaboration with The Big Issue, vendors from street papers across the world have been sharing some insider tips on the cities they live and work in, which we are sharing during #VendorWeek. Here, StreetWise vendor A. Allen talks about Chicago.

Our vendors: Jason Sheer (Street Roots, Portland, USA)

Jason Sheer has been involved with Street Roots for eight years and he credits the magazine with bringing an increased level of stability into his life. Here, he talks about his experience of homelessness and the support that he has received from Street Roots. He is hopeful about what the future will bring.

Homeless in a woman’s body

In the most recent count of the homeless community in Multnomah County, Oregon, 1,355 adult women were identified as homeless, making up 36 per cent of the total homeless population, a 16 per cent rise from the previous survey. Street Roots spoke to five of its vendors about what women living on the streets experience.

Our vendors: Jackie Turner (Street Sense Media, Washington D.C., USA)

Jackie Turner is an artist and Street Sense Media vendor whose experience of homelessness has changed her worldview. She is acutely aware of the fact that homelessness happens for a range of reasons and that being homeless can be a depressing and hopeless experience. For Jackie, learning to love herself and appreciating the beauty around her has helped her to feel a powerful sense of connection to the world.

INSP Vendor Playlist: Chicago’s StreetWise vendors discuss their song choices in depth

This year we asked vendors: if you could give a song as a present this Christmas, what would you choose? The result was the INSP Vendor Playlist, which is now available for your listening pleasure. A bunch of StreetWise vendors in Chicago explained in depth about their contributions.

INSP Vendor Playlist: Street Sense vendors on the songs that stir their emotions

This year we asked vendors: if you could give a song as a present this Christmas, what would you choose? The result was the INSP Vendor Playlist, which is now available for your listening pleasure. Street Sense vendors in Washington DC talk about their song choices, which range from festive classics to T-Pain.

As the rest of the country gears up for Christmas, US street papers mark National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Since 1990, communities across the US, while shoppers frantically prepare for Christmas, meet on the first day of winter and longest night of the year to commemorate those who have died while homeless in the last year. This year, 150 such gatherings took place on what is known as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Among them were those attended and organised by US-based street papers, accounts of which are collated here.

INSP Vendor Playlist: Street Roots vendors share the stories behind their selections.

This year we asked vendors: if you could give a song as a present this Christmas, what would you choose? The result was the INSP Vendor Playlist, which is now available for your listening pleasure. Street Roots vendors in Portland, Oregon, run through their choices.

INSP Vendor Playlist: The diverse musical tastes of One Step Away vendors

This year we asked vendors: if you could give a song as a present this Christmas, what would you choose? The result was the INSP Vendor Playlist, which is now available for your listening pleasure. One Step Away vendors in Philadelphia are like a microcosm of the entire street paper network – they have diverse musical tastes.

Our vendors: Larmarques Smith (Denver Voice, Denver, Colorado, USA)

Larmarques Smith moved to Denver two years ago. Haunted by the death of his partner from an over-dose, Larmarques found it impossible to stay in Indiana, despite the fact that he had built a life for himself there. Living on the streets has been tough for him, as those around him have no knowledge of what he has been through. This is precisely what motivates Larmarques to reach out to others: he hopes to provide them with the sort of support that he himself is looking for.

Paws everything: Curbside vendors share what their furry friends mean to them

The editors of The Curbside Chronicle make room in every issue to share personal stories from Curbside vendors, as their goal to document the challenges of homelessness. Homelessness can be an extremely difficult path and going it alone is never easy, which is why readers might notice that some of the magazine’s vendors have pets. In a series of conversations with Curbside vendors, we find out more about the furballs who have wagged their way into vendors hearts and become an integral part of the Curbside community.

“Hairdressing is a social service”

Recently, two street papers in different parts of the world published similar stories celebrating organisations that give free haircuts to homeless people. Dortmund-based magazine bodo told the story of the Barber’s Angels, a group of professional hairdressers from all over the North Rhine-Westphalia region who had come to Bochum to dish out complimentary styling. Across the Atlantic, Nashville’s The Contributor described a day of business for the Nashville Street Barbers.

Our vendors: Chon Gotti (Street Sense, Washington DC, USA)

Chon Gotti, a vendor and salesman, discusses how he found himself without housing and how he moved beyond that point. A former officer, an advocate and parent, Gotti sees life as a matter of pride, confidence and strength. Along with discussing his business strategies, Gotti works to be a reminder that the homeless are not a stereotype, but people just like anyone else.

Our vendors: Gail Marcotte (Street Roots, Portland, USA)

Street Roots vendor Gail talks about her upbringing in New York, moving to Portland with her daughter and using selling the street paper to combat social isolation.

Our vendors: Randolph (The Contributor, Nashville, USA)

Randolph B. has found security through his work selling The Contributor. He knows that he will always be able to sell the magazine, regardless of his work situation, and that he has the support of customers with whom he was forged lasting friendships. Despite having recently taken on paid work with Rock City Mechanical, Randolph still sells The Contributor in the evenings and at the weekend. Here, he speaks of his love for his customers and for his adopted hometown, Nashville.

Vendor voices: Have you felt profiled by police?

This week, the 2018 INSP Global Street Paper Summit has been held in Glasgow, giving street paper staff from countries throughout the network the opportunity to discuss the issues affecting their vendors in our modern world. According to recent news reports in the US state of Portland, 52 per cent of all arrests last year in the Portland area were made against people on the streets, and 86 per cent of those were for non-violent violations. The city’s street paper, Street Roots, surveyed its vendor about their first-hand experience with law enforcement.

Our vendors: Rhonda (The Curbside Chronicle, Oklahoma City, USA)

Rhonda, a vendor for Oklahoma City street paper The Curbside Chronicle, speaks candidly here about her childhood, upbringing, experiences of abuse, marriage and fighting her way back to housing.

“I already have a real job”

Real Change vendor Jen Tibbits rebuts one of the most common criticisms of street paper sellers across our network: “Why don’t you get a real job?”