Memphis’ first “street newspaper,” The Bridge, will hit the streets March 21. Founded by Rhodes sophomores James Ekenstedt and Evan Katz, it aims to raise awareness around issues of homelessness and poverty while providing a sustainable source of income to those who have personally experienced homelessness. The paper is managed by Rhodes sophomore Caroline Ponseti, and she and the founders recently were interviewed on WHBQ/FOX-TV.
Modeled after successful street papers in major cities such as Nashville, New York, and Washington D.C., the 12-page publication also features artwork and content primarily written by those who are homeless or have been homeless. Additional content is provided by a writing team of Rhodes students led by Ponseti and community member Nathan Bishop. Unlike the traditional model of a street paper, which is run by a fulltime staff, The Bridge is entirely student directed, and there are plans for a monthly circulation of 10,000 copies. Sponsorship for the project has been provided by Rhodes′ Kinney Program and private donors.
The paper’s vendors are those who are homeless or who have been homeless and who are acting as independent contractors by purchasing the paper for a quarter each and then selling them to the larger community for one dollar each. Vendors receive training on how to sell the papers and get to keep 100 percent of the profit. Certified vendors can be identified by badges around their necks with the insignia of The Bridge.
According to Roderick Baldwin, who will serve as the Vendor Liaison, The Bridgewill be an opportunity not only for individual vendors to take action to help themselves but also for the community to take action to end homelessness
The Bridge currently is partnered and working with non-profit organizations such as Door of Hope, Hospitality Hub, First Presbyterian Church, Mid-South Peace and Justice, Manna House.
More Media Coverage
3/11/2013 The Commercial Appeal
3/19/2013 USA Today
3/21/2013 Memphis Flyer
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