Monday, January 22, 2007

All Vendors, All The Time

So if you have picked up the most recent edition of Street Sense, you will notice it is our first "All Vendor Issue," meaning everything is written by vendors and other homeless and formerly homeless individuals. Its a huge accomplishment for many of our vendors to be published in our newspaper and we encourage their pieces and welcome them. It was actually the overwhelming interest in writing from vendors that spurred the "All Vendor Issue."

Thanks to the help of many volunteers around the office, including David Hammond, we at Street Sense strongly encourage the vendors to put their thoughts to paper. When they start ranting about conditions in the shelter or treatment they get in the public because they are homeless or a kind gesture a customer offered, we respond with, "You should really write about that for the next issue." And many of the vendors usually take us up on this offer.

For this issue I hand a thick folder filled with legal pad paper and white printer paper, all covered with hand written articles and editorials from vendors. A few were turned in via e-mail, but the majority of vendors still prefer the old fashion way of writing.

And the thought and effort that went into these pieces was amazing. Brenda Lee-Wilson spend a whole day composing her piece about the inaugural events for the mayor, checking the dictionary often for spelling and synonyms and occasionally asking to anyone in the office that was there for a better way to say certain phrase. And while Cliff Carle dictated his thank you piece to me and read it over after I was through, he came back twice with changes and additions he thought of later in the day. And Jake spent a good four hours comprising his Pathways piece, listening over and over to his interview on tape and calling the organizations several times to check and recheck information he had heard during his interview with its director.

The scene in the office the Friday before the new issue came out was a true hardworking newsroom. Myself, Jesse, Brenda and Cliff were all writing away getting pieces ready for the paper. And it was particularly amusing because Cliff was on picture duty for the "Thank You" picture. And every time a vendor would come in he would ask, "Do you have second to take a picture with an H?" or whatever letter we were on, and the vendor would then stare and Cliff confused and Cliff would then try and explain the photo idea we had.

With all the vendor involvement this month, the issue was much fun to put together and it also made me realize that our vendors can do just about anything when it comes to writing, especially if something they care deeply about.

So look forward to many more vendor pieces in the upcoming months and hopefully we will do another all vendor issue in the not too distant future, LAURA

Monday, January 8, 2007

Happy New Year! 2 by 2/2 is Official...

So its been far too long since I have written a blog entry. I was doing so well and then Christmas came and then New Years, and life was quite busy personally and with Street Sense.

See, during all that time when most everyone was relaxing, gorging on Christmas cookies and spending quality time with family and friends, we here at Street Sense were working hard to raise money so we could indeed go semi-monthly and meet our goal of 2 by 2/2 (that's two issue by Feb. 2, 2007.)

And I am happy to report that we were indeed successful as of Friday Jan. 5 we surpassed our goal of raising $22,500 and we did it in a month and a half. So come February 2, 2007, Street Sense will indeed be releasing its first of many, many more second issues each month.

I am excited and also nervous about this huge step Street Sense will be taking. It means a lot more income for vendors but it also means lots more work for me and all of the already hard working Street Sense volunteers and vendor writers.

But to help with this work load we are currently in the process of hiring a full-time editor. I expected a good deal of response from the "editor wanted" ad I put on as if I was looking at the websites postings, (as I often did before coming fulltime to Street Sense) I would find the job appealing, but I honestly never expected the surge of applications that came. I already have about 30 applications in hand, and most are from very qualified candidates with years of experience, coming from quality paper like the Houston Chronicle and the Legal Times.

And its very exciting and heartwarming to read their cover letters. Professional journalist are talking about this one job a scrappy street paper in DC being their dream job, a perfect merging of their career and calling, and an experience they have been looking for for years. Its great that so many people in the professional media world really do respect a publication like Street Sense and want to be a part of it to make it better.

So, now its onto reviewing resumes. Its a tough task ahead. So far I have narrowed it down to about seven candidates but still there is a lot of analysis ahead.

Anyway, big things are to come for Street Sense and I am truly excited. Me and Jesse have passed along the official "2 by 2/2" word along to vendors and everyone is giddy. They are bursting to tell their customers and plotting with other vendors about how to take advantage of this new opportunities. And I cannot wait to see what else the 2 by 2/2 news produces!