Seattle may be one of the fastest growing cities in America, but as steel and glass skyscrapers rise, so does its homeless population. An overnight count in January by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness recorded 3,772 unsheltered homeless people across the area – the highest number since they started their counts in 2006. One temporary solution the city is embracing is homeless encampments, or tent cities. During the 2015 INSP Summit, we spoke to residents of Tent City 3, Seattle’s longest running homeless encampment, to discover how they have built a secure and close-knit community under canvas. Photos by Andreas Düllick and Laura Smith.
A photography project in New York aims to change public perceptions of LGBT homeless youths by giving them the power to control how they are portrayed. The collection of photos, known as SEE ME, was created in collaboration with Reciprocity Foundation and photographer Alex Fradkin, the nonprofit’s first-ever artist in residence. Rather than showing young people huddled on street corners, the colourful series shifts the focus to places of importance for homeless LGBT youths. Taz Tagore, co-founder of Reprocity, explains to INSP how SEE ME captures their qualities of tenacity, hope, creativity and inner strength that are so rarely seen.
Indian-American socio-political activist Arun Gandhi is the fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Aged 12, his parents sent him to live with his grandfather in India, where the elder Gandhi introduced Arun to his theory and daily practice of peace and nonviolence. The pair had just 18 months together before Mahatma was assassinated but this was enough to transform Arun into a persuasive advocate of Gandhian ideals. In a wide-ranging interview with Danielle Batist for INSP, he argues that we need more positive news, and gives his advice to young activists. At 81, he is in no mood to retire. Arun Ghandi has also written an exclusive article for street papers in which he discusses why our ‘culture of violence’ must end for the good of all. Includes photos by =Oslo photographer Dimitri Koutsomytis.
An innovative project in Barcelona has been turning homeless people’s handwriting into sellable typefaces, with all profits going towards local non-profit, Arrels Foundation, which supports half of the city’s 3,000 homeless population. Homeless Fonts have been used to market products, displayed on websites and were even featured on the front cover of The Big Issue, Australia. INSP speaks to the project’s creator and participants about how their writing has gone from being on cardboard signs to household brands, and is now bringing in more than a bit of spare change for the homeless in the Catalan capital.
Cave dwelling isn’t just a way of life favoured by our prehistoric ancestors. Whether it’s to get spiritually closer to Mother Earth, for economic reasons, as an escape from violence and persecution or simply a way of life that goes back generations, millions of people across the world live in homes carved from rock. This Reuters photo series introduces the cave dwellers of Afghanistan, China, Mexico, Honduras and Palestine.
Almost a decade after they went on “indefinite hiatus”, Sleater-Kinney is back. “Look out world!” exclaims singer Corin Tucker, as she sits down for a wide ranging chat with INSP, taking in the international economic crisis, the impact of the internet on the music biz and why it’s the right time for the return of riot grrrl. The photocopied DIY fanzines are history, but with the release of caustic new album No Cities To Love, Sleater-Kinney are bigger than ever.
A charity football tournament for disadvantaged children around the world will take place in Cairo, Egypt in August. Under the patronage of some of the Middle East's biggest soccer stars, the summer event held at the Cairo Indoor Stadium will bring together eight teams of boys aged 14-15. SATUC, the charity behind the event, believe it will open up new opportunities and new hope in the lives of kids from some of the world's toughest urban environments. Colin Donald reports for INSP.
Using an old city bus retrofitted with showers and toilets and manned by a handful of volunteers, US non-profit Lava Mae provides hundreds of showers for homeless people in San Francisco every week. But the project’s founder Doniece Sandoval says that Lava Mae doesn’t just offer people showers and sanitation services. Being clean restores their dignity and the confidence to apply for jobs and help change their situations. Lava Mae has already had a huge impact in a city where approximately 7000 people are homeless. The innovative project now aims to provide dignity to homeless people on a global scale, one hot shower at a time.
For the women who live in the Uganda’s city slums, every day can be a fight for survival. Boxing is now a way of life for a number of women living in the poorest areas of Uganda's capital Kampala. For them, learning to box isn’t just a pastime - it is a way to protect themselves in the Katanga slum, where crime is rife and attacks are common. Some also hope that one day the sport could help them earn an income. In November 2014, members of the local women’s boxing club made history when they took part in the Women's World Boxing Championships South Korea for the very first time.
Famous musicians, comedians, journalists, politicians, and religious leaders paid tribute to the hard work of street paper vendors when more than 70 of them took on the challenge of selling The Big Issue across the UK for INSP’s #VendorWeek. Lauren Mayberry, singer with Scottish band Chvrches, was among the guest vendors who took an hour out of her busy schedule to sell the street paper in central Glasgow. Having previously worked for the magazine, she was delighted to find out more about the 114 members of INSP: “It’s been great to learn more about INSP and how the network works. I think it’s a really positive thing and I’m happy to be to supporting it.”
Superheroes have gone from starring in comic books to forming the building blocks of multi-billion dollar franchises that enjoy worldwide success. But as this superb series of photos from Reuters shows, spandex-clad heroes can also be found on city streets around the world, from Slovakia to Japan, Brazil and America. Whether they are vigilantes, protesters, do-gooders, street artists or mega-fans, everyday people are dressing up to become their favourite superhero. So why is our culture so obsessed with the idea of superheroes? “As a civilization, we are in trouble, and so we naturally search for heroes to rescue us from our various problems,” says superhero expert Michael Kantor. INSP investigates.
Two friends from Brisbane have launched Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless. In August 2014, Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi set out to improve the hygiene standards of local homeless people by kitting out a van with two 10kg washers and dryers. They now park next to food vans and shelters around the city five days a week. The founders say Orange Sky Laundry, which runs purely on public donations, also helps them connect with homeless people and point them towards services that could eventually get them off the streets for good. “This isn’t just about washing clothes, it’s a catalyst for conversation,” co-founder Lucas Patchett tells INSP.
On 14 November 2014, the night that a St. Louis County grand jury announced it would not indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, rioting broke out along the main streets of Ferguson and the South Grand neighbourhood. It left the storefronts of Saint Louis shattered. But a unique art project quickly sprung up to restore hope, pride and commerce to Ferguson businesses. Paint For Peace called on artists to use boarded up buildings as their blank canvas, using art supplies donated by the public. Exploring Ferguson away from the headlines, Reuters photographer Jim Young has documented the creativity and colour of Ferguson’s shop fronts.
Among the colourful markets, historic plazas and grand cathedrals of Mexico City, there are thousands of homeless people living in the streets. Many have lived their whole lives without a home – some are the third generation of their family to be born into homelessness. In this challenging and dangerous environment, a group of six young women – inspired by INSP and The Big Issue – are trying to break the cycle of poverty with the world’s newest street paper, Mi Valedor. They tell INSP about how they got the project off the ground, and how they plan to deal with the problem of Mexico City’s gangs.
INSP’s #VendorWeek 2015 promises to start off with a bang thanks to the hundreds of people who have added their social voice to the charity’s social media campaign on Thunderclap. It allows INSP’s social media supporters to simultaneously show their support for street paper vendors with a message on Twitter and Facebook at the beginning of #VendorWeek celebrating all those involved in the international street paper movement.
A-list director Rob Marshall's take on the smash hit Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods sees beloved fairy tale characters collide in what may be Disney’s darkest tale. It features an all-signing, all-dancing cast that’s packed with fresh talent, including Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and Chris Pine, as well as Hollywood royalty Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. “Right from the beginning, I said this is a unique piece, it’s a dark piece for Disney,” said Marshall when the directors spoke to INSP’s Laura Kelly, along with stars Anna Kendrick and James Corden, ahead of the film’s UK release on January.
In El Salvador, abortion is viewed as a heinous crime even in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger during pregnancy, and the country’s stance on the issue has led to dozens of wrongful imprisonments and many young women committing suicide. On a visit to Glasgow, Scotland, from El Salvador human rights activist Morena Herrera spoke to INSP to raise awareness of the issue. The former guerrilla fighter is campaigning on behalf of 17 women suffering horrendous conditions in El Salvador’s notorious prisons after being wrongfully jailed.
Many of INSP’s 126 street papers across the world include writing, art and photography from their vendors. In the run-up to Christmas – the season of goodwill and a very busy time for our members – INSP has brought together an international selection of viewpoints from our vendors.
Amanda Palmer has had a passionate niche of fans for a decade and when she raised $1.2 million through Kickstarter in 2012 to fund a record, the former Dresden Dolls singer became a poster child of crowdfunding. INSP’s Laura Kelly caught up with Palmer as she raced down the Massachusetts Turnpike and the US singer talked about her days as a Boston street performer, the admiration she had for a veteran Spare Change vendor, and her new book, The Art of Asking.
On every first Monday of the month we present editors with a selection of short stories from the news service website. The package can be used to fill the international pages in your street paper. Simply click ‘download article’ and ‘download gallery images’ to reprint the material. Other language versions are available below the text.