For Glenn Coles, learning is an ongoing journey. Coles, who is turning 61 on July 25, moved to Seattle from
Chicago in 2017. Soon after he moved here, he heard about Real Change through word of mouth and has been a vendor ever since.
Coles especially treasures special interactions with Real Change readers and community members.
“When I’m out there in front of my customers, I want you to smile. I want to give you a reason to smile,” he said.
“I care about you. And, in return, that exchange is therapeutic; it’s spiritual.
These are spiritual vitamins and allows you to get healthy, stay healthy … It’s good for the soul. I feel like then I’m doing something that’s credible.”
He also said that selling the paper has helped him regain a sense of agency and advance a bigger cause.
“So, Real Change has become my ministry,” Coles said.
“This is more than a couple of bucks in my pocket. If I got 20 papers, I’m probably gonna give five of them away because I want you to read, because I believe in the mission statement. And then I get to watch; I get to watch it work. And then it worked for me.”
From starting his own business to having kids to buying a house at 22, Coles has done many things in his life. He is also a lifelong performer, playing instruments including bass, rhythm and lead guitar, as well as the piano.
Coles said that he had to struggle and grow through a lot of traumatic and difficult experiences. Music has helped him get through and heal from those moments. However in recent years, he hasn’t gotten a chance to play his music.
“I want music in my life again. I want to perform, because that too was a spiritual euphoria,” he said. “To be out there, and your audience’s responding, that is euphoric.”
“You know, you gotta heal [mentally] just like how you gotta heal if you cut yourself. You gotta heal,” Coles said.
Coles hopes to be able to begin performing again soon, starting perhaps with the annual Real Change vendor picnic.
“I’m an optimist,” Coles said.
“You know, I’ll be 61 in two weeks. And I’m still learning. I’m still learning me."
Glenn Coles’s badge number is 13730. He usually sells papers in front of the Sounder on Fourth Avenue S and S
Guy Oron is the staff reporter for Real Change. Find them on Twitter, @GuyOron.
Read more of the July 20-26, 2022 issue.