Tag Archives: Vendor

Vendor profile: Volunteering keeps vendor connected


By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Every Thursday, Street Roots vendor William Adams helps make bologna and cheese sandwiches for Operation Nightwatch, a hospitality center he has been a community member of for more than three years. He began making the sandwiches five months ago. “I walked into it,” William says. One afternoon there was a need for someone to help make sandwiches; William was in the church and he stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to help. Continue reading

Vendor Profile: Urban hobo brings sales to life in downtown

by Kaisa Crow, Contributing Writer

Buy a copy of Street Roots from vendor John Michael Christian if you are passing by Southwest Sixth and Salmon outside of Starbucks, or, some mornings, if you find yourself leaving Great Harvest Bread at Southwest Second and Yamhill. The least you’ll get is the paper, but if you have a few more minutes, you can get a lot more. John Michael, although he doesn’t take to labeling himself, is an artist, a writer, a teacher and spiritual guide, whose own life is reflected and expanded in a message of love and compassion that he wants to share with others.

That message is so ready to be shared that when I arrived late to our interview, it felt suddenly as if I had tuned in late to “This American Life” and was scrambling excitedly to put together what I had already missed in Part I. Tall in stature and slightly flaired in dress, John wore a blue stocking cap, a cross necklace layered over a rosary, and donned painted red fingernails, which appeared both calculated and cursory at the same time. We attempted to go for a walk, which lasted only a block before I found myself simply leaning against a lamppost, listening intently to both his personal story as well as his life philosophies, which he collects in a working tome titled, “Hobo Metaphysics.” Continue reading

Vendor profile: A traveling poet finds a place in Portland

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Like most Street Roots vendors, Harold Thompson has experienced poverty up close. In 30 years of traveling, he says he has visited all 50 states and has spent extended amounts of time in Los Angeles, Chicago and other major American cities with starkly disparate economic gaps. What sets him apart from most other vendors, though, is that Harold has lived in a place with the most severely entrenched poverty in the United States. Harold is Native American — mostly Sioux, part Chippewa — and spent many years of his life on the Sisseton Reservation in South Dakota. Continue reading

Vendor profile: A New York state of mind

By Cole Merkel, Contributing Writer

Earl Bennett speaks frankly about homelessness, poverty, the American government and the need for social change. Perhaps he derives these perspectives from a lifetime of living in large and diverse cities, or maybe they come from a synthesis of the many publications Earl reads each week. Either way, his blend of self-assurance and optimism feels refreshing during our 20-minute conversation over a cup of coffee. Continue reading

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.

Vendor profile: Building real relationships with each sale

By Cole Merkel, Contributing Writer

The morning rush hour traffic on Northeast Broadway is almost deafening. Automobiles accelerate toward the I-5 on-ramps at the Rose Quarter, cyclists commute toward the Broadway Bridge on their way downtown and pedestrians move quickly into the Lloyd Center Safeway on Northeast 11th Avenue.

Jim Dienes is not the first Street Roots vendor to call this spot his own, but in recent memory, he is one of the more consistent ones. Dienes started selling at this Safeway in January and is onsite most mornings by 7 a.m., building relationships with the individuals who pass him coming in and out of the store. He says he has twenty or more regular customers and many others who buy from him as they pass through the neighborhood. Continue reading

Vendor profile: Never give up hope

By Cole Merkel, Contributing Writer

Willie Bradford has strong, defined features: large hands, broad shoulders, a tall body, a deep voice and a big smile. When Bradford speaks, his words trail out softly. He smiles a lot and laughs often, alluding to a calm, collected sense of spirit that he has found over the course of 56 years of life.

“It feels good when you have peace in your life,” Bradford says. “We all have problems but I never give up on hope. That’s one of my things: never give up on hope for nothing.”

Three elements that truly drive Bradford’s existence are spirituality, sports and community, which tend to overlap. Continue reading

Vendor Profile: ‘It’s not the cards you’re dealt, it’s how you play them’

by Cole Merkel, Contributing Writer

At 19 years old, Jacob Anderson may look young, but a difficult past has forced him to grow and brought him a lot of wisdom in the process. “I’ve said it many times before: It’s not the cards you’re dealt, it’s how you decide to play them,” Jacob says. “I could see myself doing so much better than being at a homeless shelter, and slowly I’m taking that step to making it in society.” Continue reading

Vendor profile: Staying positive a rewarding role for vendor

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Brian Schmidt sells Street Roots like a corner newsman at the turn of the 20th century. “Great articles in today’s Street Roots, read all about it for a couple quarters!” he yells, waving his bag of papers high above his head.  He calls out headlines and lets readers know what the newspaper is about: “Focus on vendors in today’s Street Roots!”

“I believe more in excitement and positivity than any kind of depth of reason,” Schmidt says, laughing with a deep, authentic trill. “I believe that excitement reveals the truth.” Excitement: that one word is the distillation of Brian’s life philosophy. “When we really get excited and we’re really engaged, we perform and produce at our peak and we’re happier.” Continue reading

Vendor profile: Getting to know people, in a small town way

By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer

Rhonda Radowski prefers the small-town familiarity and smiling faces of St. Johns and Sauvie Island to the hustle and bustle of downtown Portland. That’s in part because it reminds her of where she grew up. Radowski’s parents were cattle farmers in Glasgow, Montana, a state where she lived for many years of her life. “Because I came from a small town, it’s easy to get to know people,” says Rhonda. “Three people even now say ‘hi’ to me because they know my name,” Radowski says, laughing. She enjoys that type of small town community because growing up, she knew everyone from birth — and their brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

After two years in Houston, Rhonda is back in Portland and has been selling Street Roots for the past month. The industry of Montana, she says has radically changed, making it nearly impossible to have a family farm. She left the state when her youngest of two daughters turned eighteen and has since spent time in every state west of the Mississippi trying to get a foothold for herself. “It was a Catch-22 wherever you went,” she says. As a single-income earner she could barely make enough money to pay her rent; sometimes she would have to choose between rent and food. Continue reading

How Street Roots, vendors give perspective

SR vendor coordinators, left, right Art Garcia, Becky Mullins, Kaisa McCrow, center

by Kaisa McCrow, Contribuing Writer

I’ve always believed that everyone has a story to tell. Each person’s life has diversity and magnitude, regardless of their experience as rich or poor, well traveled or homebody, straight or gay, redneck or radical. What we share is the uniqueness of our experiences as we work our way through this world. If we’re lucky, we may be able to share these experiences with someone else.

Over the last several months I have found myself in a position to celebrate the diversity of the human experience. I have been interviewing Street Roots vendors and writing their profiles for the newspaper. It is a lucky and humble place to find oneself; perpetually at the mercy of a new perspective or lesson afforded by each vendor’s life. I’ve had ideas about what it means to be homeless; what it means to have or have not. Yet interviewing vendors has taught me so much more, simply by listening and drawing out pieces of an individual’s narrative.

The Street Roots motto is “for those who can’t afford free speech.” The content and investigative journalism in the paper provides stories regarding marginalized communities, inequality, systemic abuses, addiction, etc. It brings clarity to political wranglings over budgets and often complex systems that are difficult for people to understand. The newspaper asks what the need is, who the needy are, and what they look like. Street Roots is also a platform for individuals to publish their voices through poems, editorials, and opinions. It connects the Portland community with each picture, heartfelt poem, and customized cartoon. If the investigative journalism of the paper uncovers the way people are being marginalized, the personal side of the paper reminds us that we are all the same. Continue reading

Former vendor, now student, gives thanks for a good year

By Sean Walsh, Former Street Roots Vendor

Hello to all of you. I hope that you are all having a wonderful holiday season. It has been a wonderful time for my family, as we are celebrating our first anniversary in housing.

Some of you may have read my prior article, “My journey from the streets to university.” This article is an update about how things are going in my Computer Science career path.

I have been a student at Portland Community College now for nine months and so far I have been received Honors placement for every term I have taken. In Spring 2010, it was Honor’s List, Summer it was Dean’s List, and this term was the doozey. Continue reading

Vendor Profile: I know what they’re going through

By Leah Ingram, Contributing Writer

If you take a stroll through the Pearl District and turn onto 10th and Hoyt, you might be lucky enough to meet David Fink Jr, a Street Roots vendor.  David is the kind of guy whom you could find reminiscent of a quiet Woody Guthrie as he stands by a light post, bedecked simply in a brown camo coat and blue jeans. He possesses an unassuming air and a refreshingly genuine persona tempered by a past littered with hardship and conversion, exhaustion and renewal.

Fink has criss-crossed the country from the East Coast to the West Coast and back again, traveling through Alabama, Montana, West Virginia and Oregon. Whether it was by foot or Greyhound bus, he trekked through these states enjoying everything between southern cooking and the sight of majestic mountains. He says that traveling can be difficult, but that he would do odd jobs to make a little bit of money here and there. Continue reading

Vendor Profile Bob Hannick: Pioneer Courthouse Square’s other anchor

By Sam Forgione, Contributing Writer

Readers may remember Bob Hannick from the back page of the July 9th issue, when Di Agee wrote a caption explaining why Bob is her favorite Street Roots vendor. Though I had met Bob once before, I was delighted to experience his easygoing charm once again and learn about his experience as a vendor.

Bob works at 6th and Morrison, across from Pioneer Square. He heard about Street Roots from his friend Barry, who encouraged him to resurface from his apartment and work for a good cause. At first, he was reluctant: “The first week, I said, ‘This isn’t my job, sitting on the corner, you know?’ Finally, I got to where I am now and everything just picked right up!”

Bob was originally situated on 6th and Alder, but migrated to his current location to be in the center of the downtown Portland rush.

“I just love talking to people and meeting them. I make a living out of it.”

It is clear from being around Bob that he thrives in his current location, where he works Monday to Saturday from morning to 2 p.m. Instead of soliciting customers, he contentedly waits for them to approach him.

“I don’t say, ‘Would you like to buy a Street Roots?’ They know the name. They all love me, and I’ve got a lot of customers.”

Bob was born in Aberdeen, Wash., and moved to Tillamook in 1953 to work various handyman jobs. He learned about jobs by word of mouth, and eagerly accepted any work he could find. Bob mentions plumbing and truck driving as two such jobs, though his experience as a sawmill worker seems to have made a lasting impression on him. He recounts the story of a scar on his right hand, a white line that runs from the back of his hand to his forearm:

“I was taking lumber off of the carriage, and the guy didn’t know if he had the log stuck on or not — to hold the log on the carriage — and he pressed it, and when he did I jerked my hand back. It went in the leather glove, just below the band, and when it did, it jerked the glove right off, and I just threw my hand under my arm, went to the office and they rushed me to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, they said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘I don’t know if I lost my finger or not.’ I came back after I got out of the hospital, my hand was all wrapped up, I didn’t lose any of my fingers, and two months later I was back on the same job.”

A girl with dyed-blue hair stops at the crosswalk amidst the swarm of Saturday afternoon pedestrians and casts an affectionate smile in Bob’s direction. “Hi!” she says exuberantly. Bob responds with the cheerful smile and greeting he is known for.

Bob made a living by staying productive and learning quickly and is fortunate to have never experienced homelessness. He is presently retired. When I ask about his health, he mentions his struggles with epilepsy, which he was diagnosed with in the 1950s and treats with medication, as well as back and heart problems. Bob’s back was operated on a few years ago, and he received pacemaker surgery on his heart in 2000. Bob is, however, a strong survivor, and approaches his disability with the same steadfast spirit and positive attitude that graced the conclusion of his story about the sawmill injury.

“When I was diagnosed with my heart trouble, I said, well, I gotta live with it! No use being a couch potato.”

Bob credits his job as a vendor for the improvement of his health, as it gives him “something to look forward to.” He mentions how his daughter remarked, “Daddy, you’re looking better!” when he started selling Street Roots. Bob’s daughter is 30 and lives in Beaverton, and his two sons are making constructive efforts to recover from tumultuous life events. One of his sons visits him every day to talk, and the other recently entered into a program at the Union Gospel Mission.

Bob celebrates his love for vending by reminding people that Street Roots addresses not only homelessness, but important municipal events and news as well. His comfort, integrity and enthusiasm are a refreshing anodyne to the occasional commotion of downtown Portland, and worth seeing for oneself.

Vendor Ted Jack reels one in…

Vendor Ted Jack on Saturday on the Eastbank Esplanade.