This year, our celebration of 26 years of Real Change will look a bit different than usual. The good news, I suppose, is that no one has to get up at 6 to get to the Washington State Convention Center on time, and it won’t matter if it’s raining or not.
No one will have to choose between the meat, vegetarian or vegan breakfast options, and no one needs to worry about whether to drive or take the bus. With gatherings of five or more unrelated people off the table, our annual breakfast crowd of 500 or more must find another way.
So, we’re improvising. Our annual celebration has been moved online and spread over the week of Sept. 14 to 18.
There will be all the usual elements: The Vendor of the Year Awards, with videos to celebrate the winners’ success. A recognition of our Real Change super-volunteers, and an award for editorial excellence. We will present our annual Change Agent award, and we’ll even have a live keynote event on Zoom.
We hope you’ll join us in person on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 8 a.m., when I’ll moderate an “Imagine Change” forum with local luminaries Nikkita Oliver, Juan Jose Bocanegra and Sharon Lee.
Nikkita Oliver is a one-time mayoral candidate for the Seattle People’s Party and the co-director of Creative Justice, a youth-led arts program that advocates for alternatives to incarceration. Juan Jose Bocanegra is a life-long labor and immigration rights activist who now fights for progressive taxation as Executive Director of All In for Washington. Sharon Lee leads the Low Income Housing Initiative, and is a tireless advocate for permanent supportive housing and a visionary leader of the tiny houses movement.
Together, we’ll explore the possibilities of this extraordinary moment in time and take questions from our live audience. We hope you’ll register for the forum at tinyurl.com/Imaginechange2020 and help support our essential work.
Our week of online offerings will remind you of the work and community that you support, and will raise the $146,410 we need to stay on track the same way we always have: one heartfelt gift at a time.
We understand that these are challenging times for all of us, and we appreciate any help you can give. Three weeks ahead of our virtual event, our grassroots supporters have already contributed $33,675 toward meeting our critical goal.
Our amazing friends at the Lucky 7 Foundation will again match donations of $250 or more, and gifts at that level will also receive an Imagine Change T-shirt.
For 26 years, Real Change has offered opportunity and a voice for homeless and low-income people while taking action for economic, social and racial justice.
The heart and soul of this work has always resided in the face-to-face community that exists between our readers and vendors. The pandemic has made maintaining that community much more challenging, but your generosity has helped keep our vendors whole.
When King County was on lockdown and direct paper sales were no longer possible, your support of the Vendor Relief Fund and donations to the Real Change food and hygiene pantry offered immediate assistance to those who had suddenly lost both their income and community.
Many of you continued to support your favorite vendors through Venmo, even when you were unable to see them in person.
Thanks to you, we continue to offer immediate support to vendors whose livelihood has been threatened. We are working hard to create new opportunities for success while we do everything in our power to keep vendors, staff and readers safe.
Our award-winning newspaper has continued weekly publication throughout the crisis, and many of our vendors have returned to their regular locations.
Thanks to you, we continue to bring the lived experience of homeless and low-income people to our advocacy and organizing, and to fight for direct solutions to homelessness and poverty.
Thanks to you, we’re keeping Real Change alive and growing for the next 25 years of opportunity, hope and community. Please join us for our online week of celebration, and visit realchangenews.org to support our work today.
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 Aug. 26 - Sept. 1, 2020 issue.