Every morning I walk past a man selling newspapers. Every morning, he’s wearing the same worn sneakers, unkempt beard, and woven poncho. The man is homeless, and the paper he’s peddling is Street Roots, a weekly focusing on issues facing the growing number of homeless Portlanders.
Street Roots has been a small but dauntless asset to the city’s media landscape for nearly two decades. Thought the paper was once bimonthly, in recent years it has switched to a weekly publication schedule and boasts a readership of 15,000. That’s a tall feat given the increasing troubles facing traditional regional newspapers like The Oregonian.
This alternative publication doesn’t make many A.wordsmith media lists, and we don’t generally pitch stories to them; SEO and management consulting aren’t really key topics in their editorial calendar. The content is contributed by local journalists, social activists, and members of the homeless community itself.
“Street Roots is a platform for people on the streets to have a voice in the political and social dialogue, bridging cultural and class divides with a greater understanding on social matters that affect us all,” explains the paper’s website.
In addition to providing valuable news, the distributions team is made up entirely of street vendors, homeless or transitioning Portlanders who make 75 cents off every one-dollar paper sold.
We live in a city where housing is in short supply, rents are skyrocketing, and record-breaking numbers of men, women, and children are spending their nights in shelters, camps, and on the sidewalks. Last year, Multnomah County’s homeless population surpassed 3,000.
A.wordsmith is proud to support local non-profits across the region and most recently has contributed pro bono work to Girls, Inc., Parenting with Intent, and Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. From a boutique PR agency to an alternate media outlet, props for thinking outside the box – and making a difference.