Category Archives: vendors

Sending out an S.O.S.

Police, shelter workers and advocates work to piece together a month long pattern of violence

three-womenBy Rebecca Robinson
Contributing Writer
On a recent Friday afternoon at Sisters of the Road Café on Northwest Davis Street, women shared their stories of sexual assault and domestic violence. One woman, who asked not to be identified by name, said that her 14-year-old daughter was recently gang-raped at a party by three teenage boys who attend her school.

“No one is immune,” the woman said, her forceful voice a stark contrast to the tears flowing down her cheeks. “It’s not a prostitute problem; it’s not a homeless problem; it’s not even just a woman problem.”

In downtown Portland, a recent set of incidents has brought the problem into stark relief for women on the streets.
Portland police, homeless shelter workers, and women’s crisis advocates are working to piece together a month-long pattern of violent sexual assaults by multiple male attackers on young homeless women. But the police are struggling to conduct an investigation because the victims, many of them sex workers, fear that going to the police may lead to their arrest for other unlawful activities.

A former sex worker known as Jasmine contacted Street Roots last month, saying, “I have a story that needs to be told.” It was a story that, for some on the streets, was all too familiar.
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Extra! Extra!

may0109page11Tomorrow is May Day and Street Roots is marking the day and with a package of stories reflecting on the immigrant labor experience during these remarkable times. It’s the perfect read before or after the march, or on Saturday morning over coffee, or Sunday after the morning spin. It’s all waiting for you Friday morning in the welcoming hands of your trusted neighborhood vendor. Here’s a preview of what’s inside:

The Raid: Two years after a devastating raid at the Del Monte plant in Portland, the women who came together to survive the aftermath push for greater understanding of the immigrant experience. Guest writer Robin Schauffler reports, along with featured artwork by Adam Arms.

Immigrant workers face extremes of economic crisis: Some of the lowest-wage workers face being blamed
for the economic downturn as they struggle to survive it. Mara Grunbaum and Joanne Zuhl report.

Squatters rights in the age of foreclosures: Cassandra Koslen interviews Max Rameau while he tours Portland talking about his work in Miami to connect the rising numbers of homeless families with the rising numbers of  empty houses.

Not like the others: An interview with Jay Cowen, a friend of Hunter S. Thompson who has released a new book on the famous writer.

The economics of happiness: It’s not as much about what you have, as what other people don’t have.

Plus, updates on the sit-lie debate in City Council, commentary from Washington County, the Western Regional Advocacy Project, and a great picture of Vance Schweigert, our vendor profile for this edition. A big thank you to all our volunteers who make the paper possible (and awesome!). Stop by your vendor and say hello, toss a smile and pick up the latest Street Roots. As always, we love to hear from you on our blog, or at

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

Extra! Extra!

march2009page11Smile and the whole world smiles with you! Give it a try, starting with your neighborhood vendor who is always happy to see you. The new paper comes out tomorrow, the first day of spring, and a perfect way celebrate is to pick up your copy hot off the press. Here’s a sneak peak:

Bitter blood: Portland residents who survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime document their stories in a new oral history project. Mara Grunbaum reports on this remarkable Portland project to capture the voices of a population that lived through the unspeakable.

Reckoning with poverty in Native America: Stacey Ives recounts the trauma of isolation and poverty through the memories of her own youth. It’s a stirring telling of how bigotry and racism can pull the strings of homelessness and poverty.

Northern exposure: Northeast Portland may never be what it once was, but Maxine Fitzpatrick wants to make sure it can once again be a home for everyone. Joanne Zuhl talks with Fitzpatrick, the executive director of a community development corporation that works to improve the livability of Northeast Portland.

Labor pushes for single-payer plan: Tom Leedham, Portland Teamster and chairman of the Taft-Hartley Health Care Trust, talks about the potential, and necessity, of a single-payer, universal health care plan.

The Murnane Wharf: Is it forgetten? Portland author Michael Munk (The Portland Red Guide) writes about the man behind the long-neglected Murnane Wharf near the Burnside Bridge. Francis J. Murnane was a Portland organizer and activist with the longshoreman; the Wharf was named in his honor. But that memory risks being lost to renovations if the city falls back on its promise.

All that, plus a great profile on vendor Jojo Brittain, comments and essays by people in our community, and the best poetry money can buy. And throw in your two cents on our blog, or by writing to the editor at We always love hearing from you!

Positive Negatives: Women in Portland’s sex industry document the world around them in a new photo exhibit

By Rebecca Robinson
Contributing Writer

compassionBeer bottles reflecting the sunlight off a bar window. A pair of fixed-gear bikes, chained together to a rack, frayed tape on the handlebars. An old diesel Mercedes, parked in a pile of shriveled fallen leaves. A curvaceous woman in a sheer dress, clutching a pole onstage as she throws her head back.

It may seem easy to pinpoint which one of these images doesn’t belong in a thematic photo exhibit. But the pole dancer and the frayed-tape fixies belong together: They are part of a photography project depicting the everyday reality of the women who created the images. The identity of the women behind the cameras is as noteworthy as the photos they take: all 11 photographers are sex workers, and their photos are part of the Visions and Voices Photovoice Project.

Each woman was given a basic 35 mm manual camera and 36 exposures of black-and-white film. Their only instructions: to document their everyday lives and aspirations.
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A light in the dark: Living outdoors requires some nerve and a few good friends

A Vendor Profile
By Elizabeth Schwartz
Contributing Writer

gimelprofilebw1Gimel Gaiah has been selling Street Roots outside Borders on Southwest 3rd and Morrison for about two months. His customers are primarily MAX riders and Borders Books patrons. He also sells papers to a few people who work in a nearby office building. The bookstore treats Gimel well. They allow him to sell papers near their main door, use their bathroom, and sit and read books when he needs to get warm. Gimel also values the fact that the staff treat him with the same respect they offer other customers. In return, he buys a daily cup of coffee and refills from them.

“I love readers,” the vendor told me. “Readers are different. They have a deeper ear to understanding, are open to listening and talking, and are more patient.” Sometimes Borders patrons purchase a book on drawing and give it to Gimel after noticing him making pen and ink drawings in a little notebook. Others buy him snacks from the bookstore. One man brought him a large bag containing almost anything a homeless man might need: shoes, socks, a tent, and a sleeping bag.

Gimel told me that he does not just sell Street Roots for the money. “People are approaching my loneliness and bringing theirs. I’m not waiting here for the money from selling a paper. I’m waiting here for the people who approach me and give me human contact. The beauty of it is the variety.”

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