Our Vendors 

Vendor Essay by Andy Allen: Why Street Papers Are Important

Wed, Feb 6, 2013

StreetWise hosts a writing workshop for StreetWise participants to learn, practice and strengthen their compositional skills. Every Monday, Volunteer Marcie Bearman leads the workshop, which has grown quite popular. The following essay was written during the workshop in honor of Street Paper Vendor Week 2013.

Street papers are important because they give information about stories that traditional papers do not cover. Street papers are more or less by the people, for the people, concerning the people. We write about problems and put them into perspective. We look at the problems as “our” problems and try to find solutions from within our communities.

I was particularly interested in articles about poverty in the Englewood area of Chicago this year. There is a very high crime rate and lots of poverty. I thought focusing on bringing government funding to arts and culture, and having neighborhood gardens to encourage community participation were such positive ideas.

On of my goals is to make the public more aware of the problems facing the homeless and needy in Chicago.

It is not easy to be a street paper vendor. It is rough in the cold of winter. I remember living on the street and just praying I would not freeze to death. It was so cold it was painful. I tried to imagine being warm to try to heat myself up.

But do you know, that is nothing compared to the coldness of some people who pass you by on the street? There are people who pass you every day and not only never buy a paper, but they refuse to look at you or even give you a little smile or a nod of encouragement. Some people even make rude, negative comments. When people act like that I say to myself, “ you can take it, you can make it.”

As the Bible says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

With faith and endurance, things did get better for me. Now I try to encourage my fellow vendors to hang in there because winter is cold, and people can be even colder, but we carry the knowledge that we are blessed with this job, and we can feel good about our honest efforts.

We vendors are a special breed who have been cut out to endure the storms of bad weather. The storms pass and people can change. Most of all, God lets his light shine on us through some of the kind, loving people we meet through StreetWise.

Hang on in there. Continue to be kind, courteous and positive. There are many good, warm hearted people in this cold, callous world. Many of those kind people will encourage your efforts through financial, social and moral support. Just do for good for goodness sakes. Just keep doing the next right thing, because it is the right thing to do.

By StreetWise Vendor Andy Allen

To learn more about how you can get involved with Street Paper Vendor Week 2013 and the fun digital programs StreetWise is hosting, click HERE.

To learn more about our StreetWise vendors and their unique, individual stories, click HERE

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