In fact, Portland’s own Joanne Zuhl, Managing Editor of Street Roots was voted by membership to represent North America on the INSP’s Board of Directors. She has her work cut out for her with the new board being charged with coming up with a new voting structure, and the many projects that the INSP has in the hopper. Currently, the voting structure is one paper, one vote, but due to the overabundance of papers from North America and Europe a new voting system has to be put in place to better represent all of the regions of the world.
Papers vary in size, and mission, but all have active vendor programs that help people living in poverty help themselves by offering alternative means to gain employment and to have a voice. In many countries in Africa the papers are dealing with 60-80% unemployment, in South America newspapers are working with the thousands of youth, and street gangs, in Europe, the rising tide of immigrants, and a growing homeless population, even with national health-care systems, is disturbing.
New projects this year include papers from the Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Norway, Colombia, and Liberia.
Some of the more innovative projects include, Big Issue, Australia (weekly), which has more than 800 vendors and is distributed in more than four cities. The Big Issue, Liverpool (weekly) has more than 300 vendors in 20 cities and townships. The paper also has a social service arm, street outreach teams, and housing programs. Biss, in Germany has a funeral fund for vendors, which pays for burial costs, a tombstone and a party. Journey Home in St. Petersburg, Russia has been at the forefront at making the hundreds of people freezing to death on Russia’s streets last year an international issue. L'Itineraire, Montreal has developed a kitchen similar to that of Sisters of the Road in Portland, and has developed a street outreach team for homeless youth. Out of that project a hip-hop homeless youth DVD has been produced and will be being sold by vendors.
The Big Issue in Capetown will be hosting this year’s Homeless World Cup, which partners with the INSP. More than 32 papers had papers at last years Homeless World Cup. The idea is to bring together poverty and sport to raise awareness about the growing gap between the rich and the poor worldwide.
The Street News Service (SNS), which is a joint project of NASNA and the INSP is growing as well. The service hopes in the coming year to be publishing more than 17 languages represented in more than 70 street papers worldwide with an annual combined circulation of more than 55 million.
The organizations goals this year include new voting structures, global representation on the board of directors, the SNS, resource sharing, staff trades, networking and building a global campaign to fight poverty. The organization will also be focusing on Africa in 2007, with five papers set to start up.
All the members of the International community were very welcoming of the North American papers. With the merger also comes resource sharing. North America is the only continent to have a regional model. NASNA is an example other regions will be looking at to build their regional networks.
Several newspapers walked away with awards from this year’s conference, including three people from the Pacific Northwest. They included Joanne Zuhl, Managing Editor of Street Roots, Lester Gray, columnist with Real Change in Seattle, and myself for the work with NASNA.
Overall, the conference was amazing. I made many new friends from places like Oslo, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, San Paulo, Capetown, Monroe, Osaka, and many others from around the world.
Real Change and Street Roots felt very humbled, and part of a growing movement of social justice – making the term "Think globally, act locally" a continued goal of our organizations. In fact, the new Street Roots, coming out this Friday will be the International edition. Check it out.
For more information check out these websites, and support your local neighborhood vendor! It's making a difference all over the world and we are getting organized!!!