The Big Issue celebrates 25 years on the UK's streets this week, with a retrospective exhibition in London, a star-studded film - and, of course - a bumper special edition of the magazine. High profile fans, including Julie Walters, Michael Palin, Mark Hamill and Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry, sent their best wishes. Meanwhile, vendors and former vendors spoke about what the street paper means to them. James Bowen, whose life is the basis for the new movie A Street Cat Named Bob, said: "I owe so much to The Big Issue."
The small Canadian Northwest Territories community of Deline is adjusting to self-rule following a 20-year campaign to regulate its own laws. Its 500 inhabitants achieved independence on 1 September, allowing it to take control of its education, language use, welfare and land planning, among other laws. Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod said Deline was “an inspiration.”
Hinz&Kunzt vendor Aleksas’ life story is spread across Europe. Born in Lithuania, now living in Germany and with a son and daughter in England, the 58-year-old has faced challenges along the way. Having recently been turned down for a job due to his age, as well as realising his truck licence has expired, the former ship mechanic now finds himself at a crossroads.
A first-of-its-kind law in Washington D.C. means that, starting this month, teachers and principals must complete training every two years to help address suicide rates of homeless and otherwise marginalised young people. The Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act 2016 sets out guidelines to support seven categories of at-risk youth groups including youths experiencing homelessness or out-of-home settings and those who identify as LGBTQ.
Two homeless men were hailed as heroes following their safe ‘disposal’ of an alleged terrorist bomb in their home city of Elizabeth, in New Jersey. Lee Parker and retired army veteran, Ivan White, initially thought the bomb in a busy train station refuse bin was a bundle of decorated candles – but moved the explosives out of harm’s way when they realised the truth. Police later reported that their suspect in the Elizabeth case was Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man accused of bombing New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood the previous day.
She’s been covered by Frank Sinatra, danced with Fred Astaire and caused unexpected controversy by being the first white women to touch a black man on U.S. television in 1968 – but 84-year-old Petula Clark has no plans to quit her long career any time soon. Following the release of her new album, From Now On, the singer shares a life of fighting shyness and depression to shine onstage.
Groups of activists last week turned pipes off in several states after breaking through low-level security fences with bolt cutters. The co-ordinated low tech attacks shone a light on the vulnerability of North America’s enormous oil and gas pipelines. Yet, the sabotage is not isolated to the U.S. Gas lines have been targeted recently by militants in Nigeria and Iraqi conflict zones - while in Mexico, thieves regularly siphon fuel from pipelines.
40-year-old Ermias Teklay has been living in Switzerland for eight years, having moved from his homeland of Eritrea. Now selling Surprise street magazine in the town of Langenthal, he shares why he has gone from an outsider to being part of the local landscape of his hometown. With a two-year-old daughter living in Geneva, Ermias is on a mission to gain new skills for work, allowing him the income to visit Diamond more regularly.
In her role as a policy and communications officer in Oregon’s public health system, Talia Gad has researched, analysed and testified on successful federal legislature. A current state plan to build a second female correctional facility is something she feels passionate opposed to. In this Street Roots commentary piece, Gad shares why she believes expanded incarceration will further encourage over-criminalisation and disproportionate imprisonment of women of colour, or with little or no income.
Fisherman Stratis Valamios has saved numerous lives of refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos in the past year. His humanitarian actions led to a nomination for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. In an interview with Shedia, Valamios shares the impact of living in a village which has seen half a million people risk their lives to reach Europe.
Celebrating his 50th birthday and 22nd year in the music business this week, American singer-songwriter Todd Snider returns with a new album and 26-date U.S. tour. Once known as the voice of an alienated generation that rejected yuppie values and consumerism, Snider speaks to The Contributor about his latest work and upcoming shows. “This is genuinely my political statement to the world,” he says. “If you ask me about the election or the state of the world, I’m like… we’re doomed, let’s dance.”
Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood has a much-lauded writing career spanning more than 50 years, but she is also known for her graphic novels, travels and animal activism. Each of these interests has found a place in her latest book, Angel Catbird, written as part of her mission to raise awareness about the plight of wild birds. Atwood has created some of the greatest fictional dystopias, but she tells Megaphone that our slow reaction to climate change could be the end of humanity in real life.
In July 1942, Ok-Sun Lee was 16 years old. Whilst out on an errand she was abducted in broad daylight by the Japanese military and held as a sex slave or ‘comfort woman’. She was one of an estimated 400,000 Korean women who were victims of Japanese military sexual slavery during the country’s period of colonisation. She spoke to Big Issue Korea at one of the ‘Wednesday Demonstrations’ in Seoul, where the remaining Comfort Women are still searching for an apology from the Japanese government.
Shane sells Big Issue Australia in the city of Geelong, southwest of Melbourne. Following his experience of open-heart surgery at a young age he acquired an empathy which led to caring for people with physical and mental disabilities. As a carer for his wife, Tanya, who has cerebral palsy, Shane balances his responsibilities well. “I can’t imagine myself doing another job now. This is the greatest job I’ve ever had. It’s the people who make your day,” he says.
Founded in Buenos Aires, Clean Clothes Collective is a movement of 20 slavery-free fashion brands. It seeks to eliminate labour exploitation and dangerous practice in textile factories that fail to meet legal ethical and environmental standards. Hecho en Bs. As. unstitches the tragic history of their city’s garment sweatshops, and reveals the catalyst that spurred a generation of designers to promote responsible consumption.
Journalist and author Jessica Luther’s book Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape addresses sexual assault and rape culture within one much-loved area of American sport. In this interview with Street Roots’ contributing writer, Jason Cohen, Texas-based Luther talks about how holding a mirror up to the hyper-masculinity of college football can unearth wider elements of sexual culture in the U.S.
A team from Hus Forbi attended the 11th European Research Conference on Homelessness in Copenhagen on 23 September. This is the first of their reports from the conference, in which they hear about the relative merits of Housing First and the traditional hostel system for getting people out of homelessness.
With three dollars in his pocket, Kazi Mannan arrived in the United States from Pakistan at the age of 25. Two decades later, he owns a successful limousine business and restaurant in Washington D.C. Spurred on by his own experiences of poverty, he opens the door of his restaurant to the city’s homeless community, as a place to eat for free. Street Sense speaks to the humble social entrepreneur — described locally as “a lifesaver” — about his sharing ideals.
From an old police tardis on Edinburgh’s famous Leith Walk to award-winning sustainable business, Edinburgh Tool Library is one of Scotland’s social enterprise stories of the year. As the first of its kind in the UK, the library allows people to borrow tools helping them improve their homes and communities. INSP speaks to two members about how their lives have benefitted from Chris’ big social idea.
Romanian-born Marta sells Big Issue North in Manchester, where she lives with her boyfriend. Two months pregnant after four years of trying, she is excited about having her first baby in England. Despite the hardship she left behind in her homeland, she says, “I would like a house in Romania one day with my children and my boyfriend.”