Vendor column: Finding a caring community keeps this vendor standing tall

By Marlon Crump, Contributing Writer

“Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”
— Howard Thurman,
American Theologian, clergyman and activist

We all somehow relate to life despite day-to-day activities or hardship.  Be it a mother, a father, single parent, children, passerby, private citizen, prominent figure, public official, a hardworking employee, etc., and anyone in any form of struggle.

Eight months ago, I arrived here from San Francisco, Calif., with a goal and a priority: Peace of mind. Circumstances surrounding my work within the community became too chaotic to withstand any longer. My greatest regret upon my retreat was leaving a very wonderful community of comrades who have more than made a positive difference in my life.

For the sake of my soul and sanity, I moved on to wholeheartedly heal from a darkness that was spearing my spirit.

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today,” goes the Cherokee proverb.
Almost immediately upon my arrival in August last year, I made a startling discovery of love and support from caring communities through Street Roots. As one of its street vendors who sell its paper on a daily basis, I’ve been extremely blessed to venture out into the community and meeting supportive people who’ve embraced me as part of their own.

“Collectively, we can begin to build towards real community change.” Israel Bayer, director of Street Roots explains of the relationship it has with the community. “From a newspaper perspective we are changing the way people think about poverty and contributing to a larger conversation about solutions and hope.”

The communities of Mississippi/Shaver, and employees in the Standard Insurance Building, located on Southwest Fourth Avenue and Taylor Street have become a major lifeline of ongoing support for me. Everyone from all walks of life who smiles genuinely in my direction showing respect equally earns mine, in gratitude. Even to those who quickly look away from me for whatever reason, positive personalities parallel someone in need.

Supporters at times do U-turns after seeing and sensing a positive aura to make a donation, or share words of wisdom. Typically, I’m a human statue with a stance of a symbolic smile, exchanging its genuine energy to everyone who needs it, while holding a stack of Street Roots.

One of the primary perceptions people have of me surrounding ambition and success is in the pride in my appearance — in properly suited attire. Consistent compliments I receive ignite an energetic friendly feeling within me of appreciation for acceptance.

My darkest days are never lifted with a frown, as they stay smothered in my smile. Love is confirmed when people ask me how my day is going: whether the weather chooses to shine or shun us makes no difference, being our own breakfast and easing away any difficult or weary day, exchanging how we relate in some way shape or form through brief and lengthy conversations.
And at the same time, informing every single supporter of the content in the latest edition.

“I have been a reader and supporter of Street Roots for a number of years.” says Mary Anne Joyce, an employee of the Standard Insurance Building. “I read it because the journalism is great, and I read stories I would not read anywhere else.” Joyce interacts with other Street Roots vendors and me in general.
“I especially like Marlon Crump who sells the paper at the building in which I work. He and I are from Cleveland, Ohio, which means we are friendly, and difficult to discourage.”

Another supporter, Mary Hull, also an employee at the Standard Insurance Building, shares Joyce’s similar sentiments. “I like Street Roots because it addresses topics that really matters (or should matter) to people who live or work in this city. There’s nothing shallow in it, no ‘fluff.’ And it tries hard to give everyone a voice.”

Real wealth in spirit is a welcoming community, a true legitimate level of love for everyone to hopefully reach at some point.

Marlon Crump is a Street Roots vendor who sells in downtown Portland near Southwest Fourth Avenue and Taylor Street.

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