Temporary and chronic homelessness are problems all over the world, and by no means does this exclude Traverse City. We have all heard the staggering statistics about local homelessness, but have you heard what is being done to combat it?
“The key is awareness, both with the general public and with those who need extra income to survive. Everyday someone learns about Speak Up,” explained Bill Shaw, of Speak Up Zine’s board of directors. And today, Awesome Mitten readers, is your day to learn about this bold street magazine that is allowing the issue of homelessness to meander its way into daily conversation.
Traverse City has tremendous social workers and resources all working towards ending homelessness for each individual. These social workers are great advocates for their clients, but what about the clients who want to speak up for themselves? Speak Up Zine gives the opportunity for individuals to have a voice when they have been silenced. Speak Up Zine is a street magazine, written and sold by those experiencing homelessness. It originated in Charlotte, North Carolina and made its way to Traverse City almost a full year ago. Surprisingly, Charlotte and Traverse City are the only two cities that currently produce Speak Up Zine.
So what exactly is Speak Up Zine and how does it work? The organization’s stated mission is “to produce a ‘street magazine’ that provides a source of income for vulnerably-housed people and increases public conversation by covering issues of homelessness, poverty and social justice.” One of the most pronounced aspects of Speak Up Zine is that it literally puts the issue of homelessness in the faces of the general public. Ladies and gentlemen experiencing homelessness can be found all around downtown Traverse City, selling the street magazine and raising awareness. “Every time I see a Speak Up vendor conversing with someone on the streets, I am encouraged that this is working,” stated Shaw, “One year ago, that same person experiencing homelessness would have had no opportunity to become part of TC life.”
“The only negative is we need more; more Steves, more Loris, more Randys, and more intersections,” Shaw concluded. Speak Up Zine is always in need of more volunteers and more community awareness, and you can help. Want more information about how to assist the efforts in combating homelessness? Get in touch with Bill Shaw to learn more. Donations are welcome as well on the Speak Up Zine website. But perhaps the most significant contribution you can make to the cause is to find a Speak Up Zine vendor and bridge the disconnect by discovering the story held inside.