"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A REAL Homeless Advocate

As promised (or threatened), here is the scoop on another organization (and it's fearless leader) that is doing something REAL about homelessness and poverty. Timothy Harris moved to Seattle, Washington in 1994, to start a street newspaper that he named REAL CHANGE. Of course, it was about much more than just writing a newspaper - it was (and still is) about organizing. Right out of the starting gate, Time organized (in 1994) against the clearing of a homeless encampment near the Kingdome.

Cut to late 2008, and REAL CHANGE is still creating "opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty" (Real Change mission statement). REAL CHANGE News is a weekly "activist" publication that is sold on the street by Seattle's homeless, helping them earn money to get ahead; vendors pay 35 cents a copy, and sell them for a dollar donation. But REAL CHANGE is not just about the poor and homeless; it also covers a broad swath of topics including labor issues, the environment, public health and civil liberties. This is NOT the corporate press!

Besides the newspaper there is advocacy galore, a Homeless Speakers Bureau and literary workshops for the under served. REAL CHANGE is an organization that has been built on a solid foundation of guiding principles, and Timothy Harris is NOT afraid to tell the truth. Just check out his blog if you think I'm exaggerating. While you are there, check out the posting about Why Protest Politics Matters . It features a slide show showing Rev. Rich Lang getting arrested for doing what Christians are supposed to do.

So next time you are on the street in Seattle or surrounding communities and someone is selling REAL CHANGE, buy a copy (and maybe strike up a conversation with the vendor). You can also subscribe (it's cheap at $35/year) at their Website. If you live somewhere else, reading Real Change will give you a model for social change that can work in your community. The whole idea (and a great one at that) is to "build bridges between homeless people and their allies to create social change."



No comments: