Caitlin Moran is a UK journalist and author of best-selling book, How To Be A Woman, which its fans lauded as having brought feminism out of the dusty confines of academia and back into popular culture, with added jokes to boot. Now Moran has penned a follow up called How To Build A Girl, inspired by the modern pressures facing her teenage daughters. She speaks to Gary Ryan of The Big Issue in the North about her new-found fame.
Cult filmmaker Kevin Smith came to prominence through his black and white comedy, Clerks, in 1994. The decades since have seen Smith direct Hollywood heavyweights such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon while starring in a good few films himself as one half of duo Jay & Silent Bob – recurring characters in his movies. He speaks to Marissa Burgess of The Big Issue in the North about being a slacker-done-good and his latest animated film, Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie.
Jennifer Batten became one of the world’s best known female rock guitarists when she toured with Michael Jackson in the 1980s. After travelling the globe three times over with the King of Pop, she later played guitar with Jeff Beck’s band in the 1990s. Now touring Europe with her solo show, the American musician speaks to Sue Zalokar about being the only female student at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology and how the music industry has failed women.
“Laura’s Law” is a controversial new law in San Francisco, California, USA, that, if passed, will allow a family member or someone living with a person suffering mental illness, to start legal proceedings to have them involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Previously, only mental health providers and police could initiate the process. Although all three members of the city’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee voted it through to the full board - where it will likely pass with support from police, fire and public health departments - mental health advocates have been quick to denounce it and protesters have coined the slogan: “Force is the opposite of treatment.” TJ Johnston reports for Street Sheet.
“The familiar argument with myself on whether to participate in life or just give up and quit, begins. I decide to keep on living,” writes Brenda McKinstry. Since September 2013 Brenda has sold US street paper StreetWise in Chicago, Illinois, USA. In a personal essay she explains how StreetWise helped rescue her from a life of homelessness and unemployment, and while life is still hard – she awakes at 4.30am to get to her pitch – the caring people she meets while selling the magazine have become a lifeline to her.
Tasmania's isolation and wilderness once made it a dumping ground for the British Empire's convicts. But these same qualities, and a small population of just over half a million people, make the island one of the cleanest places on earth. Indeed, Tasmania is the only Australian state to ban genetically modified (GM) food crops and animal feed making it a model of high-end, high-value agricultural production. However, even this pristine environment is under threat from technology. Tasmania’s powerful poppy industry – which is the largest supplier of pharmaceutical opiates in the world – is pressuring the government not to extend the GM ban when the moratorium expires later this year.
A German artist has turned a tiny surveillance booth used by the communist regime in the former East Germany to monitor citizens into an art exhibit to be installed in a museum near Los Angeles dedicated to the Cold War. Christof Zwiener rescued the booth from demolition which has so far been used by 10 artists to showcase their work in what must be one of the world’s smallest art galleries.
The Ebola virus has recently killed 99 people in Sierra Leone, with another 315 people testing positive as the scourge also spreads into Guinea and Liberia. However, many people are not seeking treatment, further spreading the deadly virus which causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea. Horrific stats show that Ebola kills 90 percent of those infected. Critics have blamed government misinformation for turning patients against doctors trying to treat the disease, with some members of the public denying the outbreak while claiming medics have been murdering patients to either sell their organs or reduce population numbers. Some health workers have even been attacked in the street.
Nicaragua is facing a food crisis as a weather phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation looks set to cause a drought that will last until September - decimating food crops, killing live stock through starvation, bankrupting farmers and leaving many in the poor Latin American country without anything to eat. The government has ordered urgent imports of millions of kilograms of beans and maize but the shortage is already being felt in some areas. The crisis could reach well into 2015 if local farmers cannot adapt to climate change.
Following complaints about crime in Seattle, Washington, USA, residents and authorities set up a meeting on public safety in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. People wrote their concerns and suggestions on large sheets of paper that were then displayed on the wall of a nearby art gallery. Some messages claimed that homeless people, drug addicts and mentally ill people were sources of the problems but police pointed out serious crimes have fallen.
Families in San Francisco, California, USA, are being forced out of their homes due to sky-rocketing rents in some rapidly gentrifying parts of the city. Many have been left homeless and forced to live in hotels while they wait on complicated rent subsidy applications being processed. Matthew Gerring of Street Sheet speaks to two families struggling to keep a roof over their heads and reports on a change that could be an answer to their problems.
The Parkside-Kenilworth neighbourhood in Washington DC, USA, used to be one of America’s many so-called “food deserts” – places where the nearest grocery stores are miles away, often resulting in a long journey for those on low-incomes and no means of transportation. However, the situation changed when the Arcadia Farm Mobile Market began to bring in fresh meat, fish and vegetables to the area – one of 10 locations it visits throughout the state. Not only are prices now much cheaper than regular supermarkets, the mobile market educates its customers on healthy eating by offering unusual food such as rainbow chard and lacinato kale. Street Sense reports.
Armando is a young vendor of street paper Lice v Lice (meaning 'face to face' in English) in Skopje, Macedonia. He is one of the city’s many homeless people and earns money by selling the magazine on the streets. In an article for Strassenkreuzer, Ivana Stevanovska examines the troubles Armando and his fellow vendors face on a daily basis.
Susan Sarandon is an acclaimed US actress who won an Academy Award for the 1995 film Dead Man Walking, and a BAFTA a year earlier for her role in The Client. She also starred in Thelma & Louise and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, among many other movies. Aside from acting, Sarandon is a fierce advocate for homeless rights and she campaigns to end world hunger – receiving the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award in 2006. Sarandon speaks to Street Sense about her son’s new documentary which she hopes will increase understanding of the issues faced by homeless people. She is also demanding that the US Congress classifies violence against homeless people as a hate crime.
“There was a time when I would have been too scared to talk to a homeless person… now I don’t feel any fear,” says Willie Baronet. The American artist is driving from Seattle to New York this month stopping in 24 cities to buy signs from street beggars. Baronet plans to exhibit the signs he collects as a piece of artwork to help break down barriers and stereotypes. He speaks to Hart Hornor of Real Change.
Isaura Mendes lost both her sons to violence on the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Her grief was compounded by rumours in her neighborhood and the media falsely claiming the deaths were drug or gang related. They were neither. Now, Mendes advocates peace, often speaking at prisons and meeting with men jailed for violent crimes in order to try and break the cycle of violence – she even publicly forgave her son’s murderer at his trial in 2008. “I don’t know why he did it. I don’t know why this thing happened. And I’m not judging anybody. I feel like I’m an example,” Mendes said.
Over a decade ago a creative anti-GM campaign in Europe effectively blocked the production of genetically modified crops. Apocalyptic scenes of protesters in white coats and gasmasks trashing British fields of wheat, set against billowing black clouds, caused mass outrage and fear of so-called ‘Frankenfood’. Surveys showed only 2 per cent of people were in favour of the technology, and safety regulations effectively stopped commercial production of GM crops in Europe. Today, it’s difficult to find GM food in your local supermarket but have campaigners victoriously hung up their gasmasks and scythes and moved on to fight other environmental causes? The Big Issue in the North reports.
Mavis Staples became famous in the 1950s as part of American family gospel band, The Staples Singers. Led by their father – ‘Pops’ Staples – who played guitar, the group went from being spiritual hit-makers to soulful voices of the civil rights movement after becoming close to Martin Luther King Jr. Mavis, 74, speaks to Andrew Burns of The Big Issue UK about the day she met Dr King and the time a young Bob Dylan asked her to marry him.
People experiencing homelessness die an average of 30 years earlier than housed individuals in the USA. Recently in New Orleans, National Health Care for the Homeless held their annual conference where they discussed how the new national health care scheme for those with low-incomes, dubbed “Obamacare”, is benefitting the homeless. Paula Lomazzi of the Homeward Street Journal, who herself was homeless in the early 2000s, attended the conference.
The authors of a Canadian study of sex workers and ‘johns’ recently presented their findings to politicians reviewing Canada’s proposed prostitution bill. The new bill would criminalize buying or living off the second-hand profits of sex work, a move critics argue will make sex work more dangerous by pushing it underground.