A Scot Views Seattle

real changeReal Change  

Ever notice this man?

He is an important part of Seattle, a vendor for  “Real Change”  You should buy the paper.  The paper was founded to provide opportunity and a voice for low-income and homeless people.   The transformational magic of Real Change resides in the 16,000-22,000  people who buy the paper from the street vendors every week. Vendor/reader transactions that cross the gap between two worlds, eroding the dehumanization of income people every month who sell the paper and meet, in doing so, become real people.

The income to the vendors is small, but meaningful for people living at the bottom. Real Change vendors are among the poorest of the poor. In a recent survey of our vendors (285 responses), 43% said that they are currently homeless and 49% reported that they have previously been homeless.

untitled-131-2-EditJohn Henderson, the maker of this picture, offers a perspective more of us should have:  (from:  One Man and His Blog).

Last week in not-so-sunny Scotland, figures from the worlds of business, politics, sports and entertainment took to the two main city streets to help sell The Big Issue. The Big Sell-off, staged in Glasgow and Edinburgh, was created by the Glasgow-based International Network of Street Papers (INSP) and The Big Issue and was part of INSP’s annual International Street Paper Vendor Week, a way of celebrating the 14,000 people in 40 countries across the world who sell “street papers” as a means of lifting themselves out of poverty.

Here in Seattle, much like The Big Issue, there’s a positive interaction with the homeless, in the form of Real Change newspaper. Not only will it educate you about the plight of and programs for the homeless in the area, but those who sell it earn a living by hawking the paper, thus allowing for one less panhandler on the street, and one more person with a job in Seattle. And “Larry” is my regular go-to vendor each Wednesday when the paper comes out, perched at his usual pitch outside Ben Bridge’s on the corner of 4th and Pike, where he figures the high-rollers coming out of the upmarket jewellers should feel guilty enough not to ignore him.

 Like all Real Change vendors I have met, Larry is always polite, quite a character and interesting to talk to. So next time you spot a street paper vendor such as Real Change or The Big Issue, please stop, buy a paper and have a chat with him/her.

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