Mark Naymik wrote a nice commentary in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer about the 20th year of the Street Newspaper in Cleveland. Mark focused on the history of NEOCH publishing a street newspaper from the Xerox copies in 1993 to the color newspaper of today. He was able to talk to vendors Angelo and Mike (although Mike's comments did not make the final cut). Mark did a good job with detailing the rough history of the paper in Cleveland. From fights with the City of Cleveland to struggles keeping the vendors on the straight and narrow, we have had a tough 20 years. We had our ups and downs from our court victory in 1996 to suspending operations in 2007. Then having the Cleveland East Side Poets raising money to bring us back and winning awards from NASNA and the Knight Batten Foundation were all highlights of the last 20 years.
Angelo is certainly one of the big success stories from the paper, but there are many others. Mike V. found housing after a long period of time sleeping outside. Delores pays the rent with the money she makes. Buzzy got into a nice apartment building this last week after a period of homelessness. Some of our vendors raise enough money to pay for transportation back to their family in other cities. A few of our vendors have used the paper as a springboard to other sales jobs, and some pay for the life sustaining prescription drugs they need to survive with the money they make selling the paper. We have become a ficture at the West Side Market, and hear from the vendors and the Police regularly about problems or issues. Now, we are trying to re-establish a presence around Public Square. All of our vendors who sell downtown will have a uniform. If they want to sell anywhere in the Warehouse District, Public Square or the Arena District they will have to wear their new bright green uniform. More on this program in the near future. Check out the article in today's paper. We have a large archive of previous articles from the history of the paper here.
Post Script: One clarification, I was not the director of the Coalition when Angelo and a few other vendors brought the idea of the paper to NEOCH. That was Bryan Gillooly in 1993 who was the director at that time. I started volunteering for the paper between issue 6 and 7 in 1994.
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