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


John C said...

When are you all going to add an RSS feed for StreetSense's site? There's many of us who'd like to keep up with it that are outside of the DC area.

Street Sense said...

Hi John,

An RSS feed is a great idea, and we're experimenting with it. While we figure out the best route to our own RSS feed -- building our own or using a free RSS creation site -- please consider signing up for our email newsletter. We'll send our top stories to your inbox every two weeks. You can sign up on our Web site -- Thanks for your support!

Koki Smith
Editor, Street Sense