Street Roots

for those who cannot afford free speech

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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.

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Updated: 41 min 16 sec ago

Victims want prevention and treatment, not more incarceration

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:00
COMMENTARY | Oregon legislators are considering a bill that reflects these preferences

Crime survivors have a seat at the public safety table, but to ensure that criminal justice policy solutions reflect victims’ needs, advocates should always seek more ways to elevate those voices. So at this public safety crossroads, while Oregon lawmakers debate whether to open a second prison for women, it’s fortuitous that a first-of-its-kind study has emerged to shed light on survivors’ perspectives on criminal justice policies.

For Negin Farsad, laughter is the best defense

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:00
BOOK REVIEW | 'How to Make White People Laugh' uses comedy to tackle social justice issues

It may be possible to change the world one joke at a time.

At least, that’s the thrust of Iranian-American comic Negin Farsad's May 24 release, a book titled, "How to Make White People Laugh."

Half comic autobiography, half serious examination of the ways that stereotypes play out, the narrative follows Negin from her childhood in Palm Springs, where she had to sort out what it meant to be ethnically different. “Here’s the thing: I used to feel black ... there’s the kind of blackness that’s defined by its opposition to whiteness.”

Street Roots vendor profile: 'I have faith'

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:00
Irene loves nature. She says her dogs and Street Roots get her out of the house when she's down

Irene says she is keeping it simple and keeping the faith.

She began selling newspapers with Street Roots “to simplify my life and not be aggressive about it. It puts a little money in my pocket. In the future, maybe I’ll get another job and have enough money to pay my rent. But for now I really want it to be simple.”

When asked about future hopes, Irene said simply: “I have faith.”

Sometimes she feels down, but Irene said her dogs get her out of her home and into the outdoors. Irene grew up in Beaverton and says the whole area is gorgeous.

Plants for our bodies and minds: Scott Kloos the wildcrafter

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:00
The author of ‘Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants’ touts nature’s healing potential

Scott Kloos has a profound affinity for plants.

He’s the founder and director at The School of Forest Medicine, a founding member of Portland’s Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine, and the owner of Cascadia Folk Medicine, a producer of small-batch herbal extracts.

He’s spent the past two decades working with the native flora of the Pacific Northwest, immersing himself in the botany and medicinal qualities of regional vegetation and studying at the Herb Pharm in Williams and with other master herbalists, such as Portland’s Matthew Wood. 

Director’s Desk: Aggressive homeless sweeps would undercut progress on the streets

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:00
This flawed policy would perpetuate a cycle of madness that's been repeated for decades

People tell me all the time, Israel — all my friends, even the liberal ones are tired of it. The homeless. The trash. Something has to be done to clear these camps out. 

Foster Children’s Sibling Bill of Rights becomes law

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 16:19
Gov. Kate Brown signs the legislation that foster youths brought before lawmakers

On May 17, Gov. Kate Brown signed the Oregon Foster Children’s Sibling Bill of Rights into law. 

Oregon Foster Youth Connection, a youth-led advocacy group composed of current and former foster youth, brought House Bill 2216 before lawmakers because several of its members had experienced painful separations from their siblings while in state custody. 

Editorial cartoon: May 16, 2017

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:41

Elizabeth Considine is the creator of Street Roots' editorial cartoon, Sheeptoast. (Click or tap the image to enlarge it.)

Want to see more Sheeptoast cartoons? VIEW OUR GALLERY

SR editorial: We won’t be proxies for anti-immigrant policy

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 09:45
The feds want our complicity. We shouldn't give it to them.

Words mean things.

Or at least they used to. 

Take the word “criminal” for example. It has been inserted into the debate over immigration, pushed by the Trump administration insistence on arresting, incarcerating and deporting so-called “criminal” aliens. It’s a term that conjures up the perfect antagonist if you’re looking to profit from a paranoid, divided, us-against-them society.

With ICE 'going after the farmworkers,' county jails make money

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 22:42
Oregonians take pride in the state’s “sanctuary” posture, but immigrant detainees from ICE are being held in county jails on a daily basis – for money. A movement in Oregon and elsewhere is pushing to get them out.

On a sunny Saturday in early May, Ramon Ramirez stands outside The Dalles’ Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Center, or NORCOR, protesting in solidarity with the immigrant detainees incarcerated inside. 
But for a moment, his eyes are on the sunlit hills that frame this breezy agricultural community.  
“You see all those trees? Those are cherry trees,” Ramirez said. “Right now those growers don’t have anybody to pick those trees, and they’re going to need picking soon.” 

Portland’s Parfait Bassale uses the arts to teach empathy

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 07:47
The musician from West Africa has a unique style of music and storytelling aimed at inspiring a better understanding of others

Parfait Bassale is a local singer, songwriter and rap artist who, when he’s not at his day job, produces music out of the basement of his Northeast Portland home. 
While virtually unknown in the U.S., he’s become popular in Africa in recent years, with several of his original tracks getting regular radio play across Senegal, Niger and Togo.  
With years of practice and study, Parfait has learned to artfully trigger emotional response through his skillful manipulation of lyrics and sound.  

An open letter to my newborn twins

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 17:06
COMMENTARY | Refugees and immigrants are not a threat to America; we make it great

My dear newborn twins,

You were born just 76 days after the swearing in of the 45th president of the United States. Your daddy came to Portland with $10 and a plastic bag under the Federal Refugee Resettlement program in 2008, when George W. Bush was still president, after living for almost two decades in a confined Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal. During the Obama administration, I was hard at work building a new life to achieve the “American Dream” and proudly became a U.S. citizen in 2013.

On taxes, corporations win, Oregonians lose – once again

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 22:13
COMMENTARY | Measure 97 would have prevented businesses from passing a tax increase on to consumers. Instead, we're left with a 'bipartisan' tax proposal that amounts to a gift to big corporations.

In the aftermath of the defeat of Measure 97, I wrote “Oregon has to face facts and overhaul our tax system” in the March 24-30 edition of Street Roots, where I explained how corporations are smart as whips when it comes to understanding their self-interest regarding taxes, while the rest of us are invariably bamboozled.  

Street Roots vendor profile: The art of being Shaggy

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 08:09
Shaggy says he's had some great experiences traveling

From his backpack, Shaggy pulls a long, sturdy piece of bamboo wrapped in lanyards and trinkets that he has come across in his travels. The artfully decorated walking stick is a reminder to this Street Roots vendor that he is letting life take him where opportunity presents itself. 
Shaggy, 32, was given his name years ago by co-workers who recognized a passing resemblance to the iconic best friend of a Great Dane in the Scooby Doo cartoon. 

10 ways you can support Street Roots this season

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 06:01
DIRECTOR'S DESK | Your support translates to vendors' success

Here are 10 ways to support Street Roots and vendors this spring and summer. The more you spread the love about Street Roots and the more people who purchase the newspaper, the more successful vendors are. It’s a win-win situation. 

1. Stop and talk to your neighborhood vendor. Introduce yourself and let the vendor know what you like and don’t like about the newspaper. Stay engaged and help us build community. Street Roots provides a safe place for individuals to engage with people on the streets in a positive atmosphere. 

Editorial cartoon: May 12, 2017

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 06:00

Elizabeth Considine — the creator of Street Roots' editorial cartoon, Sheeptoast — was born in Portland and has been drawing since she could hold a pen. She loves theater, poetry, chickens, growing food, and walking her three dogs in the park. “I find inspiration in the strangeness of life and the character of human nature. I hope my art will inspire contemplation, curiosity and an odd thought or two.”

(Click or tap the image to enlarge it.)

Want to see more Sheeptoast cartoons? VIEW OUR GALLERY

The plan to save the world from climate change

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 23:12
‘Drawdown’ lays out the top 80 solutions already underway

Around the globe, people are cultivating food, harnessing energy and building communities using methods that have the combined potential to reverse global warming.

Scaling up these methods would not only stop greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere; it could actually draw more carbon dioxide back into the Earth’s reserves than the sum of all emissions.  

The result goes beyond climate stabilization and mitigation. This drawdown could reverse our planet’s disastrous course toward climate catastrophe. 

Exonerated after 20 years, Anna Vasquez seeks justice for others

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 07:59
Anna Vasquez is one of the San Antonio Four – LGBT Latinas imprisoned for more than a decade for a horrific crime that never occurred. Now, Vasquez is working to protect others from wrongful conviction.

Anna Vasquez and three of her friends – Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, and Kristie Mayhugh – spent more than a decade of their lives as convicted sex offenders for a crime that never happened. In 1997 and 1998, the quad was accused of performing drug-fueled, satanic ritualistic child rape at gunpoint. 

The four Latina women, who had recently come out as lesbian to their families and friends, were found guilty of a molesting two young girls, the nieces of one of the women.

Vendor profile: 'I worked using discipline and knowledge'

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 22:16
Saoirse has taken control of her medical condition, has lost 175 pounds and has regained her voice as a social activist

Saoirse-Seersha Bell is turning 60 and getting her life back, as an author, as a social activist and as a recent subject of a bikini photo shoot.

“We’re all late bloomers in my family,” Saoirse said with a laugh.

Her mother, who self-published 32 books after the age of 60, has inspired Saoirse to self-publish her own life story. Saoirse has nearly finished her book, which describes how she used diet and supplements to lose 175 pounds and treat her bipolar disorder.

“I’m completely open about my diagnosis,” Saoirse said.

Homeless rates increasing across Europe

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 06:11
New campaign will push EU policymakers to do more to put an end to homelessness

Homelessness grabs a lot of headlines in Portland, but it’s without question a global issue. The United States homeless figure continues to hover at more than a half a million people in recent years. Meanwhile, countries across Europe are seeing a disturbing trend.

According to a new report from EU housing organization Feansta, European countries are facing a homelessness and housing exclusion “crisis.”

Goodwill hutching: Alberta Free Hutch sticks it to gentrification

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 06:00
How an unruly free box in Portland evolved into a project to keep the spirit of guerrilla activism alive

Between the brunch lines and boutique stores that have taken over Alberta Street stands a vivid roofed structure filled to the brim with clothing, tchotchkes, books and more, all open for taking and eager to find their new homes. Known as the Alberta Free Hutch, the entirely pro bono project was founded by Joseph Drushal and Lydia Grijalva in 2014.


Our Friends Speak About Street Roots

Between the FYI-texts: 'Did you see this in Street Roots?', scrolling by the happy #NewPaperFriday selfies on social media, and picking up the weekly with my groceries — the Street Roots experience is totally integrated into my Portland life. We are a lucky city to have the love, dedication, and tenacity for good news and better community that Street Roots brings us every day of the year.

- Jes Larson, Executive Director, Welcome Home Coalition