The streets and Street Roots

There’s been a wave of press this month on aggressive behavior by panhandlers and canvassers on Portland’s sidewalks, mostly due to the fallout from the sit-lie ordinance being struck down by the local courts.

None of that coverage has included Street Roots vendors.

At Street Roots, we train individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty to sell the newspaper and be polite – treating people like they expect to be treated. And the rhetoric about the problems on the streets have not gone unnoticed among the team. Here is an e-mail one of our vendors sent today to Commissioner Randy Leonard, who has included “magazine” sellers among those to be treated equally in the city’s next approach to the streets:

Mr. Leonard,

I read the article in today’s Willamette Week on your proposal to regulate panhandlers. Like you, and many others, the more aggressive panhandlers – particularly more able-bodied ones who hold cardboard signs when they could be working to make a decent living for themselves – can be a thorn in the backside. While I applaud this, I am concerned about the canvassers and other vendors.

I am a vendor for Street Roots, which I’m sure you’re familiar with.  As the director, Israel Bayer, himself would state, selling Street Roots is a more acceptable alternative to panhandling. The majority of us- 99.99% of us – are courteous, friendly, and do what we can to build community and contribute to the betterment of society. My concern is this regulation could wrongfully target those who are behaving themselves as they canvass for charities and/or selling SR. What I basically ask for is assurance that you only target those who are overtly aggressive and belligerent.

In closing, I want to thank you for your service to the city, and thank you for listening.

In kindest regards, I remain,
Darren W. Alexander

Commissioner Leonard’s response:

I agree with you, Darren.  I have had nothing but positive experiences with Streets Roots vendors.

Thanks for writing….Randy

Which leaves a lot flapping in the wind on how folks like Darren will experience the next generation of street ordinances.

So we want to know: What’s your experience with Street Roots vendors been lately?

2 responses to “The streets and Street Roots

  1. Christina Tigner

    My experience with Street Roots vendows has always been positive and I consider the newspaper to be a service to the community.

  2. The following comments came on the SRs FaceBook page…

    Kathy Mcferrin I moved to Portland 6 years first encounter with a Street Roots vendor was dear Roger Gates…he explained how Street Roots had changed his life around and we became friends..I miss him still…I have never ever had anything but pleasant experiences with Street Roots vendors, and encourage everyone to support these folks who work hard and … Read More
    Yesterday at 6:51pm ·

    Becky L Mullins I think so…dignity and respect are so important in the community of Street Roots/Portland and simply….people!!!
    Yesterday at 6:55pm

    Lyn Kirby I always bought mine from Richard F and Bear. Miss them, tell them hello.
    Yesterday at 6:59pm ·

    Krispin Baker Yes,they are being very respectful!Just living their lives. They don’t pressure people into buying the paper. Plus it’s not a huge commitment which people always like, one dollar for a paper. Given a chance into another view, from the vendor’s voice. The venders are what they sell and the community. Plus it’s local, and you can see where the money is going, which is always nice. people on their feet, instead of supplying money to an idea, with no results.
    Yesterday at 7:04pm · Delet

    Judith Mowry My experience with Street Roots vendors has always been totally positive
    Yesterday at 7:32pm ·

    Lilla K. Elteto Fine for me, always has been.
    Yesterday at 7:38pm ·

    Heidi Snellman always great – wonderful ambassadors!
    Yesterday at 7:44pm ·

    Patrick Nolen they are always polite to me. my father, who is fairly unbending as far as people treating him with respect says he has never had a bad experience with one.
    Yesterday at 7:49pm ·

    Lyn Kirby I have always had great experiences with the vendors. They don’t force themselves on you like the people collecting money for Greenpeace, Mercy Corp, etc.
    Yesterday at 8:03pm ·

    Sandra Campbell Much better than in the past. I’ve ran into a few nasty ones in the past so I’m glad to see you guys represented in a more positive light.
    Yesterday at 8:24pm · Delete

    Ami Savannah They’ve always been very polite and gracious when I speak with the vendors. Hey, try customer service in a grocery store, there is a possibility of rudeness coming out in customers. I want to know what idiot made the comment the customer is always right! What an idiot!
    Yesterday at 8:24pm · Delete

    Phyllis Oster We’ve never had a problem.
    Yesterday at 8:43pm · Delete

    Matthew Charles Davis Damn it, they’re always blocking the sidewalk. I just go out on my lunch break from the law firm and there THEY are! Hoodlums! I’m SHOCKED that the city got rid of the anti-Streetroots vendor ordinance. It ought to be illegal to give my money to one of these people. In fact, I heard that Street Roots vendors are actually trying to kill my Grandmother! In fact, I heard that Street Roots vendors are, in fact, HITLER.

    Yesterday at 9:08pm ·

    Ari Kretschmer Great! “Don’t worry. Be happy” is a welcomed part of my day.
    Yesterday at 9:12pm ·

    Israel BayerYou know I was thinking you might think that Matt…

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