Many people have asked me if, in this time of nearly unprecedented disruption and uncertainty, Real Change and our vendors are going to be OK.
While there is a whole lot I don’t know, the answer to the former is easy. Yes. Our organization will be fine. As one vendor said to me last week, “We’re not just strong. We’re Real Change strong!”
Our grassroots support is more than 25 years deep. Our staff is committed and our community is here to stay.
And our vendors are resilient.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will all face serious challenges. As surreal as the past few weeks have been, the worst is yet to come. We will all be tested.
We are called to act as a community. To value and protect each other. We are interconnected, and the actions that each of us takes affects us all.
This week, Real Change was faced with one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made. As a newspaper and a survival organization, Real Change is considered an essential service. From our reporters to our distributors to our frontline staff, we would be within the law if we continued to operate as before.
But, that would not be right. The window that exists to slow the spread of COVID-19 exists right now, and each of us must do our part.
And while we recognize that our vendors depend on street sales to meet their daily needs, we also know that this comes at great risk. We feel a deep responsibility to both our vendors and our community to keep everyone as safe as possible.
This is why, beginning March 25, when the stay-at-home order from Governor Jay Inslee goes into full effect, we will cease sales of the paper until that order is withdrawn.
Meanwhile, Real Change will continue to publish. Our organizing to defend and empower the most vulnerable will go forward. And, most importantly, we will continue to support our vendors. We invite you to help. Here’s how.
Donate to the Vendor Relief Fund
We asked our readers to support our vendors during this crisis and you responded. In less than a week, the Vendor Relief Fund at bit.ly/VendorRelief is close to meeting our initial $50,000 goal. We encourage you to continue with that support.
In the past three days we have already handed out nearly $25,000 in gift and cash cards to help our vendors survive.
We know that this doesn’t make up for all their missed income, and that it doesn’t replace the friendship and community that they all value so much.
But it lets them know that they are loved, and that this community supports them in their time of need. We cannot thank you enough for that.
Support your vendors through Venmo
You can still support your vendor, even if you don’t see them for a little while. Venmo lets you buy the paper without cash, and, in times of pandemic, allows you support your vendor whenever you feel like it.
Make your payment to @Real-Change and note the name and badge number of the vendor you want to support. If you don’t know their name or badge number, the listing on this page might help, and further assistance is available by contacting us. And, finally …
Read Real Change online at realchangenews.org
Our remarkable news team might be all socially distanced and working from home, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. Every week, a full new issue of the paper will continue to publish.
You can read the articles online or download a PDF of the whole issue. If you’d like us to send you a print copy, just ask. We’re happy to mail you the paper until we’re back on the street.
Real Change’s work to elevate the voices of homeless and low-income people and to take action on economic, social and racial justice will continue as well. Look to our website and social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see how you can help.
We will be back to being visible soon. In the meanwhile, let’s all take care of each other. Thank you for being there.
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 more in the Mar. 25-31, 2020 issue.