Dana Walker used to buy Real Change as a customer. At that time he owned a mobile espresso stand he took to festivals and fairs in the Northwest. But in 2008 the price of gas went up to $4 a gallon. “My profits went into Exxon-Mobile and my machine broke. I didn’t have $3,000 to fix it.”
Finding a job presented a problem. “I have four marijuana felonies. Nobody would hire me. I was living in my truck.” He started selling Real Change. “With that plus my Social Security retirement I’ve actually moved into a place — doing pretty well.”
Dana’s parents died when he was young. “I’m not really from anywhere.” He had to get out of some bad situations fast. “I even back into parking spaces because I like knowing I can get out of a place quicker than I got into it.”
Dana settled in the Northwest because his daughter was here. His granddaughter is just starting college. “I’ve had no desire to leave. The whole package is the nicest place to live I’ve ever been.”
That place is Olympia. Dana sells at the Olympia Food Co-op. Every Wednesday, when the new issue comes out, he takes the bus up to Seattle and gets his papers for the week. “It’s about five hours. I sleep most of the way.”
“I spend about 20 hours a week selling newspapers. I spend about 30 hours a week producing a radio program and writing a newsletter for local Olympia activists. Selling papers allows me to do that without getting paid for it.”
The weekly program, about world events, is called The Thunderbolt. “It’s a radical political show. I don’t do ideologies, and I don’t follow herds. I just look at facts and say what’s happening. I’ve collected sources that know what they’re talking about. When I need to know what’s really going on I know where to find it.”
He doesn’t just talk. “I play music and talk around the music and put in sound effects. Everything from Beethoven to the Blue Oyster Cult.” His favorite musician is Mike Oldfield, best known for writing the theme song for “The Exorcist.”
With his radio show and his newsletter for activists, the Olympia Food Co-op is a prime spot for Dana. “Some customers I’ve had for nine years. I hang out in front of the co-op all day and interact with all the cool people. I could probably get another job because I have some skills, but I don’t know why.”
Dana tried writing for Real Change, but says it didn’t work out. “I think I’m too radical for them.” He complains that when Real Change did publish one of his pieces, “they edited the meaning out of it. I’ve never written for them since.”
Readers can listen to his radio show. “You can find it at Radio4All.net. Just search for The Thunderbolt.” If you’re really interested, you can get a subscription to his newsletter, either by contacting him through the paper or by emailing him at dana98501 (at) gmail (dot) com.
Dana is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
This article has been corrected. Dana Walker receives Social Security retirement benefits, not disability. The newspaper regrets the error.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full January 3rd issue.