Street Roots

for those who cannot afford free speech

Our Mission

Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change.

Vendor Profiles

Glen Hansen

By Ann-Derrick Gaillot, Contributing Writer

Glen Hansen sees himself as somewhat of a nomadic person, having lived all over the US, Canada and Europe (he is fluent in Danish) before settling in Portland last August.

“I don’t grow roots well, so I migrate a lot,” says Glen, whose travels have taken him far from his hometown of Detroit.

“I grew up listening to Motown, disco and KISS,” he says. Glen admits he has found it hard to settle in one place, but he regrets nothing.

Eileen Vizenor

Eileen Vizenor’s life changed completely last December when she lost her home and all of her possessions in the span of a few weeks. The experiences were devastating, but none more than losing her two beloved cattle dogs after she couldn’t take care of them anymore.

Tee Mills

On any given day at the Red and Black Café, an anarchist, worker-owned vegan restaurant at the corner of Southeast 12th Avenue and Oak Street, you can find people from all walks of life enjoying good food and a laid back atmosphere.

Sherri Banning

If ever you walk past the OnPoint bank at Northeast Ninth Avenue and Broadway, you may notice a grinning woman set apart from the crowd by her sizeable, fluffy, blond mullet. That woman’s name is Sherri Banning and she has been wearing her hair in a mullet for over 20 years. “I’ve always had a mullet, so that’s how people know me by,” she says.

Michelle Sapp

 

Michelle Sapp has bright eyes and an open face that smile easily. She is an adept conversationalist who speaks with a bouncy Texas lilt, who loves to talk to new people, who loves to read. Who loves to joke around, relax, have people sign, write and draw in a notebook she calls her yearbook. Who has a genuine, contagious energy and enthusiasm for life. She radiates all of this positivity and goodwill even when she is exhausted from a long night without sleep and a long day waiting in various lines for access to the most basic of human needs.

Luke Sensei

 

The Starbucks at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Oak Street attracts all kinds. Teenage boys fooling around with a video camera; in the corner two men with thick glasses and slick hair discuss television; a man in a dirty sweat suit comes in an out repeatedly; a couple cling to each other on a bench next to a window; someone outside carries a sleeping bulldog in a stroller.

Which ones are experiencing homelessness? Which one is the Street Roots vendor I have an appointment with today?

Abraham Vinzant

 

Watching him sell Street Roots outside of the Hawthorne New Seasons, one can easily understand how Abraham V. became the top Street Roots vendor of December 2012. With a jacket and hat as his only guard against the winter chill, he generates a positive energy and maintains body heat by staying in constant motion.

Shifting his weight from foot to foot, rocking back and forth between street and curb, Abraham warmly greets passing shoppers, thanking them whether they buy a copy of the paper or not.

Johnny Williams and Paula Ramirez

 

It is not hard to find Johnny Williams and Paula Ramirez at their spot across the street from City Hall. Johnny joyfully calls out greetings and jokes to passersby beside his partner Paula.

We sit inside the Starbucks just off of Southwest Fifth Avenue and Main Street, across from City Hall as Johnny and Paula share their experiences of losing their homes, being without shelter in Portland, selling Street Roots, and looking for employment.

Chris Kunzler and Mirna Abraham

 

Chris Kunzler, 33, and Mirna Abraham, 43, met each other at Sisters of the Road when both were new to Portland. Chris had just moved down from Alaska and Mirna had recently escaped an abusive relationship. Mirna didn’t know anything about the city and her English was still not perfect. While she was successful in Mexico, looking for work and adapting to Portland on her own was not easy.

“When I come here, I come blind,” Mirna said.

“My first present to Mirna was a map,” Chris said.

Wayne Moore

 

By Ann-Derrick Gaillot

Contributing Writer

One of the first things Wayne Moore tells me upon our meeting is how pleasant his vendor spot is in front of the Starbucks at Northwest 21st Avenue and Lovejoy. “It’s got outdoor heaters and an overhang for when it rains. It’s nice.” Despite these features, Wayne is still warmly dressed, prepared for cold winds, rain showers or both. He is bundled up in layers and his white hair curls out from underneath a dark beanie covered by a waterproof hat. Being a Portland native, Wayne is used to the unpredictable weather.

Darryl Goeas

 

Darryl Goeas, 48, is homeless for the first time in his life.

“It’s been kind of scary,” he said.

In August, he moved from Reno, his home for 13 years, looking for work. When a job fell through, he was left in Portland’s city center, not knowing where to sleep or how to stay safe. He was alone for two days before he met “Raider” Dave. Goeas told him that he didn’t have a place to sleep, and Dave took him back to his own spot next to the Wonder Ballroom. He met people there who he become friends with, and now considers family.

William Adams

 

Every Thursday, Street Roots vendor William Adams helps make bologna and cheese sandwiches for Operation Nightwatch, a hospitality center he has been a community member of for more than three years. He began making the sandwiches five months ago. “I walked into it,” William says. One afternoon there was a need for someone to help make sandwiches; William was in the church and he stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to help.

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Our Friends Speak About Street Roots

Street Roots advocates for those folks who don’t have a voice and you and your team work diligently, and with great humanity, humility and grace to bring those stories center stage for food, housing, healthcare and social justice. Portland is lucky to have an organization like Street Roots to help us understand the complexities of homelessness, politics and the community.

- Tamara Pedrojetti, Community Relations Manager and SafeLink Program Manager, CareOregon
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