Alberta Street News hits local streets
A newspaper that focuses on social issues and life on the street is now being peddled in Red Deer.
Alberta Street News expanded into Red Deer on Wednesday with a vendor recruitment drive.
Linda Dumont, ASN managing editor, and John Zapantis, media relations co-ordinator, were in Red Deer to talk about the newspaper and to recruit vendors to sell the monthly paper on the streets.
Dumont said selling newspapers provide the vendors, who are often homeless, temporarily unemployed or on welfare, with an easy way to make money.
“I know how much selling a street paper can mean to people who need money,” said Dumont.
“What poor people need the most is not a whole lot of programs and being told what to do. What poor people need is money. If they had money, they wouldn’t be poor.”
Zapantis said this gives those who are marginalized, receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) or social services supports, the equal opportunity to write about their stories so they can be heard.
Dumont said many of the vendors have gone on to other jobs after getting a start with ASN. She said it is not just about selling newspapers but meeting people. Dumont was on welfare when she began selling and writing for the papers in 1993.
The experience led her to a degree in journalism and a way out of the welfare system.
“You’re gaining people and conversation skills,” said Dumont. “You are learning and maybe meeting people who are willing to walk with you for a while and take an interest in your lives.”
Vendors pay 50 cents per copy and sell the papers by “donation.”
Zapantis said they must follow a strict code of being sober and polite at all times.
There are 27 vendors in Edmonton, five in Calgary and one in Morinville.
Dumont said they hope some of the vendors will become writers who will focus on what’s happening in Red Deer. The goal is to have about two pages of Red Deer copy.
Gary Wise, one of the first to sign up, said he is always looking for a way to make some extra cash. Wise said he hopes it leads to better things.
Alberta Street News is published monthly by the Edmonton Street News Society and is a member of the North American Street Newspaper Association.
This year, the society received a grant from the federal government through the Department of Canadian Heritage.
For more information, visit www.albertastreetnews.org.