I drove down a busy boulevard. It was an overcast Sunday afternoon. I came to an intersection. I saw a young Black man holding with his left hand a leash to a white pit bull. With his right hand he was hawking a newspaper, Street Roots, the fabulous weekly paper covering the homeless issue in the Portland area and elsewhere from a unique street level perspective.
Vendors sell the publication on the street for a dollar. They buy a copy for a quarter and keep the profit on each issue sold.
It’s probably my favorite print publication and contains some remarkable news, feature and commentary related to the homeless issue. It also publishes poetry by poets who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. Those poems move me. Most contemporary poetry I read does not. It has no blood.
This is a newspaper that I always support. I buy it whenever I see it. I wish I could write for it—for nothing.
I passed the vendor and pulled a quick right into a parking lot of a grocery store. I cruised toward him and let out a little honk. I yelled out the window that I wanted a copy. He sprinted over with the dog. I loved seeing that! The dog had happy eyes.
I gave the vendor five bucks. He was grateful. He ran back to his spot near the intersection. I saw him sell another paper from a car idling at the stoplight. He was close to selling out his bundle. The dog was the hook.
You can’t buy a subscription to Street Roots. You have to buy from a vendor, one of 400 or so working every week. Face to face. Go out and buy a copy. Meet a vendor. Meet a person who is homeless or was homeless and who is working standing on his feet outside to improve his lot and help educate others about a deeply disturbing social problem. So many of us want to help. Buying Street Roots or making a donation to support the publication and the organization that publishes it, is a start.