Street Roots: Making change, every day

By Israel Bayer, Executive Director

People tell me all the time how great the vendors are in the community and what a community asset they are for local neighborhoods. They also tell me, often with bewilderment, that the vast amount of the vendors represent themselves very well. Yes, people experiencing poverty do have manners.

We also take our fair share of incident reports on vendor altercations and other random inquiries about individuals and families selling the newspaper. We want to make sure that readers know that we have a Vendor Incident and Feedback form on the SR website at go through an hour orientation before becoming a vendor that includes a 35-minute video about SR and selling the newspaper, along with a time for questions and answers. Vendors receive 10 free papers, tips on turf, and are out the door. It’s no easy task to sell a newspaper. It’s even harder when faced with the needs of survival and being constantly exposed to the elements.

Once a vendor goes through orientation, we ask that they abide by some simple rules when out on turf. Beyond the basics, like not smoking or being intoxicated, we ask vendors to not be aggressive in any way. It’s pretty simple. Does it always work? Of course not, but for the vast majority of the people selling SR and the community at-large, it’s a great fit.

Part of what makes SR great is allowing people to find their own voice, either through the sales of the newspaper or being published. Making money is the goal, but allowing for people to build self-confidence and community is something that makes the vendor program special.

We work hard so that vendors can thrive in different environments. Mostly though, it’s readers like you that make it possible. Being able to create community on street corners and in front of businesses throughout the Portland area is something that we can all appreciate.

One vendor recently told me that she enjoys the conversation that naturally unfolds with readers as much as making money when selling Street Roots. Thank you, Portland, for taking the time and helping change people’s lives, one conversation and one newspaper at a time.

Comments are closed as of Dec 17 2012 to prepare for migration of content to our new News site.

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