Letter from the Editor

Welcome to The Oregon Vagabond! Thank you for visiting our website.

Newspapers have an important role in our democracy. The term “Forth Estate” is used to describe the press, which serves as a watchdog for society with three primary goals:   remain independent of government control, scrutinize government activities and provide an arena for people to enter into public debate. By keeping the people informed and educated, they are then better able to take action. In 1848, Tocqueville wrote to America: “The leading citizens can see each other from afar, by a great many who both want and need to get together cannot do so, for all being very small and lost in the crowd, they do not see one another at all and do not know where to find one another. Then a newspaper gives publicity to the feeling or idea that had occurred to them all simultaneously by separately. They all at once aim toward that light, and these wandering spirits, long seeking each other in the dark, at last meet and unite. The newspaper brought them together and continues to be necessary to hold them together. The power of newspapers must therefore grow as equality spreads.”

Street newspapers similar to The Oregon Vagabond are becoming a global movement in recent times. The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) is a global engine for local poverty solutions across the planet. INSP encourages street paper projects worldwide to create employment for homeless people. The network connects over 100 street papers in some 40 countries. Street papers are independent newspapers and magazines that provide unique employment opportunities for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Vendors buy copies of the street paper at the print cost and then sell the papers, keeping the proceeds. In addition to employment, many INSP street papers offer their vendors ongoing social support – working to build a more educated, engaged and equitable global society.

Today across the nation in cities such as New York, Chicago, Sacramento, San Francisco, Denver, Nashville, Seattle, Portland and now Eugene , Oregon – selling street papers offers an alternative to begging or panhandling. The benefits of selling papers go far beyond economic opportunity. For the vendor, this can be a positive experience of self-help that breaks through the isolation that many homeless people experience. And this gives the community a means to reach out with their dollars to help a homeless person directly; over time forming a caring relationship.

Street papers such as The Oregon Vagabond are a legitimate way for homeless people to earn an income while learning social skills. Providing structure through our basketball league and writing workshops, we are building civic pride by enhancing people’s self-esteem through a creative outlet – writing for the newspaper. Courteous and helpful vendors proudly enhance public safety, because a hand-up means much more than a hand-out. This publication builds a bridge between the very poor and the wider public by helping people to understand the issues and the personal stories of those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness gain immediate income and self-respect through through writing and the sales of the street paper. The Oregon Vagabond offers a fresh perspective with our Street Stories, a creative distribution method with our homeless vendors, a good cause represented by our basketball league, and the newspaper writing workshop. Last year we held 52 writing workshops, produced 12 monthly 8-page issues and distributed nearly 20,000 newspapers, with plans to add new features and expand to a 16-page format soon.

The Oregon Vagabond is a self-reliant, Independent Street Newspaper. All profits from sales belong to the vendors. Ad sales and contributions are the only means we have for generating income. We receive no grants or support of any kind from any organizations. Therefore, I urge you to join our Contributors Club and help us keep Eugene the greatest place there is to live. Our vision is to reduce homelessness and keep the streets safe. We’re looking to you for support with this community-building project to revitalize the homeless in downtown Eugene to help them transition off the streets and back into society. Thank you for helping make a difference today!

Sincerely yours,

David H. Gerber

Master of Public Administration, UO 2009

Vagabond Station, USA

Please see also:

the attachments to this page:

David Gerber, publisher and editor