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#VendorWeek interview: James and John share two sides of North American vendor life

Technology is playing a positive part in allowing street paper vendors share their stories, not just with readers – but also with each other.

To mark #VendorWeek 2017, L’Itinéraire vendor James caught up with John from Portland, who sells Street Roots, over a Skype chat. Theirs is just one of the recent interviews we’ve shared at INSP which highlight the similarities and differences of vendor life across the globe.

James and John pictured during their Skype interview chat to mark #VendorWeek.

Following the chat, James spoke of the benefits of comparing notes with a fellow vendor from another city, “Being able to talk with John was very nice,” he said “Being a respectful, human and true person, he understood my situation, being sometimes frowned upon, feeling isolated when I am out on the street.”

Currently experiencing homelessness, James added, “This is how I live these days and it is difficult. John does well. He found a place, by chance, selling his newspaper. It proves that Street Roots has helped him a lot. I was glad to see him so happy to have a place.”

John agreed that the Portland-based street paper has been supportive, both financially and in terms of advice and support. “Street Roots helps us deal with our drug and consumer problems,” he said. “The community of Street Roots and its itinerants is a good community.

“There is a lot of hospitality and support. There is a lot of solidarity, it’s like a big family. And my clients, my people, and I call them my people, they are great.”

He added, “We, the vendors, are the ambassadors of our newspaper. We give a positive image that helps change people’s eyes.”

Comparing the commonalities of their similar past experiences, James said, “John and I have the same vision of homelessness. We see that people sometimes look at us with an evil eye. When I had a dwelling, I too looked at the homeless with an eye full of prejudices.”

Having heard how John found permanent accommodation with the aid of his Street Roots’ sales, James said, “When I watch him go, I tell myself that it would do me good to have housing too.”

View a video snippet of James and John’s interview here…

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