The Ripening of the Grapevine
I am pleased to have this opportunity to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the The Grapevine. I have had the privilege of watching The Grapevine grow from infancy to young adulthood. This has not been without the pains which are indicative of all growth processes.
The paper in its beginning relied heavily on its editorial staff and service providers for articles, now we see many more articles contributed by the homeless. I myself had the honor of being published in some of the early editions and have helped rush the raw copy out to the printer to meet a publication deadline.
There have been scary times when the papers’ existence has been in the balance. NEOCH itself and its Board of Directors questioned the viability of the paper as a project for the homeless.
Others in the community wanted the paper’s demise because they objected to highly tainted criticism of the services. The Grapevine even had its day in court, with the City of Cleveland, to address issues revolving around vendor’s rights to sell the paper on Cleveland Streets.
The journalistic style used in The Grapevine is diverse, sometimes irresponsible, and often offensive to the very people who are trying to help. The paper might be more appropriately named Sourgrapes, or Grapes of Wrath. Mindful of the papers shortcomings, we must also note that the opinions expressed are raw, free, and heartfelt. Therein lies the beauty of this publication.
The paper’s commentary ranges from critiques of shelters and hunger centers, to obituaries marking the passage of our city’s homeless. The Grapevine is not only a vehicle for expression, but also a means of employment for folks trying to eke out a living.
I am hopeful that the Grapevine will continue to ripen into a maturity that blends critical commentary with well deserved praise. I am certain of the paper always being the voice of the voiceless and sometimes a thorn in my side. Happy Anniversary!
Chip Joseph--Catholic Charities Services
Longtime Vendor Proud of Grapevine
Happy Anniversary Homeless Grapevine in Your Fifth Year, from Bryan Gillooly, the first Director of the Grapevine, to Brian Davis, the current Director.
I helped establish this paper in its humble beginnings, back when the paper was, in spite of first amendment protections, rejected by and large by the public and by the City of Cleveland (if you got your perception from the reactions of the Cleveland Police Department).
In its inception the Grapevine was sold in downtown business districts. The police response was overt; Cleveland’s Finest would put you in a police car, ride you a distance, usually (as reported by more than one Grapevine vendor) "They would take you so far where the bus did not run and say get out," or they would write you a ticket with the warning, "Next time we see you we will take you to jail." One guy had his newspaper thrown in the lake and was warned, "Stay out of the Flats."
Well, be that as it may, the Grapevine has changed with the times. Now each vendor has a picture ID with an expiration date. The Grapevine has in bold letters "Buy from Badged Vendor Only" on the front page.
The Director, Brian Davis, along with Grapevine Bob even went on Live radio to introduce the Homeless Grapevine to the City of Cincinnati, and now they’ve not only adopted our newspaper format, but have formed their own Grapevine.
The Homeless Grapevine is not afraid to speak the truth. Due to money received in advertisements most newspapers will tell the truth as long as their advertiser’s good side is shown. Not so with the Grapevine. For example, articles rating local homeless shelters, homeless feeding places and Health Care for the Homeless have been reported good or bad in the Grapevine.
Happy anniversary, Grapevine, and many more.
A Message from Board President
Dear friends and readers of The Homeless Grapevine,
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) is in transition from what was essentially a networking organization for the homeless shelter and service providers to an advocacy membership organization. NEOCH’s support of The Grapevine has not changed. This street newspaper continues to amplify the voices of homeless people in Ohio— raising public consciousness to the needs of the homeless and the near-homeless and attention to problems in service delivery and on-the-street treatment that threaten the very lives of homeless persons in our cities.
The change agents in this transition include not only the homeless and the formerly homeless persons who participate in the writing, editorial control, and distribution of The Grapevine, but also Brian Davis, Executive Director of NEOCH, his staff, VISTA workers, and volunteers. Brian’s leadership has ensured the organizational transition to advocacy without our losing sight of NEOCH’s fundamental purpose —to enable and empower homeless persons to achieve self-sufficiency. Many new initiatives have been launched. Many more are in the making.
We know that there are many challenges ahead, and that the number of homeless persons will increase dramatically as a result of the loss of entitlements and assisted housing inventory, and jobs that fail to provide living wages. NEOCH, as the only homeless advocacy organization in Northeast Ohio, needs your direct support as members- your time, energies, and leadership skills as we confront these challenges. As members of NEOCH, you will work hand-in-hand with homeless and formerly homeless persons to make a difference in their lives and your own. THANKS.
In Good Faith,
Keith P. Rasey
President, NEOCH Board of Directors
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published July 1998 Cleveland Ohio