The city of Seattle welcomed street paper delegates from around the world tonight to toast the start of INSPired Together: Global Street Paper Summit 2015.
In the magnificent surroundings of City Hall, Seattle Deputy Major Hyeok Kim expressed her admiration for the work of street papers around the world.
“In launching this incredible summit, we’re very honoured to extend to you heartfelt thanks on behalf of our Major for the incredible work that you do,” she said.
Kim explained to the international delegates how, earlier this year, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance that authorised up to three legal homeless encampments in the city and advised around $40m investment in local homeless services, including plans to create 150 new shelter beds.
“All of that would have not been possible if not for the incredible advocacy work of organisations like Real Change and other street papers around the globe, in your efforts to push our level of government to find progressive inroads to help those who have no other options but the streets or underpasses,” Kim added.
“Seattle has more homeless people than ever. We have a lot of work to do here.”
Seattle City Council president Tim Burgess echoed Kim’s praise of street paper delegates, urging them to “remain true to their calling and passion to be advocates for justice for the poor and those that are often forgotten in our societies.”
INSP’s first-ever summit in the U.S. is also its most ambitious yet. The global gathering sees 119 delegates from 44 street papers in 22 countries around the world converge in Seattle to take part in a passionate exchange of ideas and innovation.
INSP chair and CEO of UK street paper Big Issue North, Fay Selvan, praised INSP for what will be a “very special global event”.
“Poverty is an international problem that we are all challenging in different ways,” said Selvan.
“The summit is a network opportunity for us to all get together, talk to each other and look at the innovations in our different street newspapers.”
“We are all very different street papers and have grown in response to the different challenges and experiences we face. We need to value the diversity that is the street paper movement.”
Tim Harris, INSP board member and director of Seattle street paper – and summit co-hosts – Real Change, noted that despite being a city of great innovation and growth, “Seattle has more homeless people than ever. We have a lot of work to do here.”
He also spoke of how the strength of the global street paper movement can inspire change.
“We are here as a movement; committed people from all over the world building that movement for economic justice to create opportunity for everyone,” said Harris.
“There is an amazing group of people in this room and we are here changing the world.”