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

John Michael Christian

 

Buy a copy of Street Roots from vendor John Michael Christian if you are passing by Southwest Sixth and Salmon outside of Starbucks, or, some mornings, if you find yourself leaving Great Harvest Bread at Southwest Second and Yamhill. The least you’ll get is the paper, but if you have a few more minutes, you can get a lot more. John Michael, although he doesn’t take to labeling himself, is an artist, a writer, a teacher and spiritual guide, whose own life is reflected and expanded in a message of love and compassion that he wants to share with others.

Raymond Vaughan

 

My morning with Street Roots vendor Raymond felt more like a casual stroll through Southwest Portland with a new pal than an interview. Our walk started at the Street Roots office at Northwest Second Avenue and Davis Street and took us to Southwest Sixth Avenue and Main, where Ray sells papers some mornings. It was made longer by the fact that we both became distracted in conversation and briefly were lost.

Kenneth Chow

 

Even though you may not recognize him, Kenny Chow isn’t exactly a new vendor. He gave Street Roots and Portland a try a few years ago. But it was in Seattle where he really earned his vending chops, working with Street Roots’ sister paper Real Change. He commuted between Salem and Seattle on weekends to be with his family.

David Somers

 

The intersection of Southwest Yamhill and Second Avenue is bustling with several active and colorful storefronts. The street rumbles with the noises of a local MAX stop, Portlanders taking lunch breaks, shoppers looking for a deal, and tourists enjoying a sunny day. Also at this corner is David Somers, a Street Roots vendor, smiling and exuding a sunny aura while selling the most recent Street Roots issue in front of the darkened windows of the old Borders facade.

Harold Thompson

 

Like most Street Roots vendors, Harold Thompson has experienced poverty up close. In 30 years of traveling, he says he has visited all 50 states and has spent extended amounts of time in Los Angeles, Chicago and other major American cities with starkly disparate economic gaps. What sets him apart from most other vendors, though, is that Harold has lived in a place with the most severely entrenched poverty in the United States. Harold is Native American — mostly Sioux, part Chippewa — and spent many years of his life on the Sisseton Reservation in South Dakota.

Jonathan Cornelison

 

Jonathan Cornelison is not a typical street artist. He seamlessly blurs the boundaries between traditional art, psychedelic imagery, painting, drawing, graffiti and, when he can, teaching. At 26 years old, Jonathan has already produced an impressive body of work with a unique style that incorporates the natural environment, the supernatural and the universal realities of human existence: death, life, love.

Jonathan Bartley

 

Nestled in the Park Blocks two streets west of the always busy stretch of Southwest Broadway, is a hidden gem of a vendor location: Starbucks at Southwest 9th and Taylor. It’s quieter here than most places downtown, and on sunny days, as people relax at outdoor tables sipping java with dogs at their feet, the location feels more like a European street corner than the stoop of a typical American coffee chain.

Jason Hutchcroft

 

Waking up to sell Street Roots day in and day out is hard work. Vendors have to brave the elements — seemingly endless rain in the winter, unrelenting sun in the summer. They are required to regularly explain the paper’s mission to new customers and have to wear emotional armor to endure the constant uncertainty about when their next sale will come.

Jason Hutchcroft, who has been a vendor on and off for more than a year, knows the ups and downs of selling well, and says he has become a stronger person for the experience.

Earl Bennett

 

Earl Bennett speaks frankly about homelessness, poverty, the American government and the need for social change. Perhaps he derives these perspectives from a lifetime of living in large and diverse cities, or maybe they come from a synthesis of the many publications Earl reads each week. Either way, his blend of self-assurance and optimism feels refreshing during our 20-minute conversation over a cup of coffee.

Jim Dienes

 

The morning rush hour traffic on Northeast Broadway is almost deafening. Automobiles accelerate toward the I-5 on-ramps at the Rose Quarter, cyclists commute toward the Broadway Bridge on their way downtown and pedestrians move quickly into the Lloyd Center Safeway on Northeast 11th Avenue.

Cynthia

 

Cynthia can be brought to tears when she witnesses the goodness in people. “The other day I started crying because of my customer,” Cynthia explains, tears filling her eyes again. “She gave me a buck, then her grandma, who she was with, pulled out money and said she didn’t want the paper, but she wanted to donate to me. After I thanked them, the customer said,  ‘Anything for you. That’s why we’re here; to help you.’ That touched my heart. She just brightened my day.”

Willie Bradford

 

Willie Bradford has strong, defined features: large hands, broad shoulders, a tall body, a deep voice and a big smile. When Bradford speaks, his words trail out softly. He smiles a lot and laughs often, alluding to a calm, collected sense of spirit that he has found over the course of 56 years of life.

“It feels good when you have peace in your life,” Bradford says. “We all have problems but I never give up on hope. That’s one of my things: never give up on hope for nothing.”

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Our Friends Speak About Street Roots

I firmly believe that Street Roots was largely responsible for keeping the fate of inmate moms and their children on the minds of Oregonians. Because of Street Roots' in-depth reporting and tireless advocacy, the Oregon legislature overturned the Dept. of Corrections' decision to de-fund the Family Preservation Project at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. Thanks to Street Roots, the Family Preservation Project is alive and well today helping inmate moms build healthy bonds with their children

- Brian Lindstrom, Filmmaker
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