From the 1999 Conference of the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA)
PILES OF STREET NEWSPAPERS COVERED A TABLE in room 301 of the Physics Hall in Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. 82 representatives from 38 newspapers around the U.S. and Canada had brought them to share and trade, as they gathered for the fourth annual conference of the North American Street Newspaper Association, hosted by the Grapevine, Cleveland's voice of the homeless.
Looking over the papers, I saw as much variety as last year -- but within that variety, a greater quality. More papers looked, and read, like newspapers -- newspapers that covered what the mainstream wouldn't, with professional integrity and good writing.
As all the papers introduced themselves in the opening session, several new papers remarked on the help and support they'd gotten from the NASNA Executive Committee; names mentioned most often were Real Change of Seattle's own Tim Harris, and Brian Davis and Angelo Anthony of Cleveland.
All of the workshop sessions I attended -- on Journalism, Working with Volunteers, and the Exploitation of the Homeless -- were so lively, with so much participation from everyone in the room, that they could have each continued several more hours. All the members are reaching out to their communities, getting involved with other civic groups, and continually working to raise the standards of their reporting.
Members met each other like old friends, talked almost around the clock, and enjoyed Cleveland together. (Most of us found the heat and humidity unpleasant, but I heard a couple of members from Texas complaining about how cold it was!) The logo of the Arabica coffeehouse showed up on big styrofoam containers of both hot and iced coffee drinks all weekend, and the Arabica owner, Chuck Diamond, hosted a Saturday night street-poetry reading where Dr. Wes and I read and also got to hear new friends Marc Goldfinger of Cambridge, MA and Daniel Thompson of Cleveland.
Our keynote speaker was Lee Stringer, and I went with Marc and Daniel to hear Lee read at a local bookstore. Lee is a gripping speaker as well as an excellent writer; I was thrilled to meet him and had a great deal of fun talking with him.
A new Executive Committee was elected this year, with new officers. Tim Harris has passed the baton; he has been Chairman of NASNA for two years, and decided to step aside this year. He accepted election the Secretary; Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless is still Treasurer; Eric Cimon of Montreal is Vice Chairman; and we have Co-Chairs this year, Angelo Anthony and Brian Davis. #160; The Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project would like to thank the Satterberg Foundation, whose support made our attendance possible.
Next year we get to go back to Canada -- Edmonton, Alberta will be hosting NASNA 2000. I have volunteered to revitalize the NASNA website and news-exchange service, which I hope to have in place long before then -- so excuse me, I have some work to do.
See you in the news!
Homeless Columns ed. by Anitra L. Freeman
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