On Sept. 19, Real Change celebrates 25 years of publishing a labor of love that you can hold in your hands.
In about six months, on March 11, to be precise, we will publish our 1,000th issue. Take a minute to understand what this means.
For the 1,000th time, a truck full of papers will pull up to our door on a Wednesday morning. Our vendors will line up, as they have 999 times before, to buy this newspaper that you make possible.
They will do that because each of those 12-page papers that our vendors sell for $2 represents a moment of opportunity, hope and connection.
They will take those papers to the streets, where people like you make their lives a little more whole.
Tens of thousands of conversations will take place, and behind of all that is one simple premise: People, caring about people, can change lives.
The money helps, but what matters most is you taking the time to care. This is how we heal a broken world, one act of human connection at a time.
Over the past 25 years, we’ve said a lot of things in this newspaper, sometimes over and over again. We say these things because they can’t be said enough.
Things like this: Homelessness, in a nation as wealthy as ours, is unacceptable. The day we stop being angry about the existence of so much need amidst so much excess is the day we become a bit less human ourselves.
The day we stop being angry about the existence of so much need amidst so much excess is the day we become a bit less human ourselves.
Sometimes, the everyday misery that we see in our daily lives feels like too much. Every day that I walk to work through Pioneer Square, I see things that break my heart.
The woman without shoes. The man raving to himself. The huddled form, sleeping on a sidewalk. The addicted. The sick, the hungry, the dying. It’s sad and it’s overwhelming.
But what we do, how we treat people, those moments that we take, they matter.
The antidote to the dehumanizing stigma and isolation of homelessness are those points of connection that cost us next to nothing. And what we get back is some of the humanity that we ourselves lose every time we turn away.
The antidote to the dehumanizing stigma and isolation of homelessness are those points of connection that cost us next to nothing.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve heard at least a 1,000 stories of people bonding over this newspaper and engaging in extraordinary acts of kindness.
The couple who gave a vendor some space in their yard so she could grow her own vegetables. The people who invited an immigrant woman into their home so she could get back on her feet. A community that helped a homeless man reunite with his mother.
Stories of rents being paid, cars getting repaired, jobs offered and accepted. Friendships formed and relationships maintained.
None of this fixes the radical inequality that undermines democracy and destroys human connection. Over the past 25 years, the rich have gotten richer while the world has gotten meaner.
Rates of homelessness in King County have roughly tripled since this paper began, while technocratic solutions to homelessness that leave inequality untouched have failed us.
But we can see the outlines of a more just and equitable economy in the progress that we make.
Each week, this newspaper brings news of people working at the front lines of the fight for racial and economic justice. Our own vendors are involved in that work, and are able to tell their stories and be a part of the solution.
Time and time again, Real Change has stood up for those who have next to nothing. We’ve supported a thousand community struggles, and Seattle, with all it’s flaws, is a better city for what we’ve all accomplished. Each of us is just one person, and by ourselves, we cannot end the suffering of this world. But we can pay attention to the person in front of us, and in that moment, we are changed.
Join us at our 25th annual breakfast on Sept. 19, and see what caring community looks like as we build a movement, one paper, one person at a time.
Tim Harris is the Founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994, Harris founded street newspaper Spare Change in Boston while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace. He can be reached at director (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read the full September 11 - 17 issue.
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