Contributing to the Word on the Street

Read things. Help the homeless. Stay literate. Everyone wins.

“Newspapers aren’t dead. In fact, one’s keeping us alive.”

Nashville, together you have unknowingly done something amazing. This month, The Contributor celebrates it’s 5th birthday, it’s 5th consecutive year of growing strong and helping Nashville’s homeless community. With nearly everyone contributing at least a little, collectively, we have begun changing the realities of homeless men and women in our city.

For those of you who have somehow managed to miss the friendly faces selling The Contributor on Nashville’s street corners, the paper is sold by homeless and formerly homeless people (vendors) who purchase the papers for 25¢ each and re-sell them on the street for $1 each plus tips – keeping the entire profit of the sale. The paper’s content focuses on issues surrounding homelessness and poverty and is written by local journalists and people who are experiencing homelessness or are working within the homeless community. The paper publishes consistently on a monthly basis and has greatly expanded its circulation and vendor network to become the highest-circulating street newspaper of its kind in North America—circulating more than 100,000 papers per month. Most importantly, vendors of The Contributor have a 30% rate of finding housing using the income from their paper sales.

In fact, just yesterday, the New York Times published an article praising The Contributor‘s resounding success.

I gotta get me some of that paper, paper money.

And today, the Belcourt Theater is hosting a special, one-night-only screening of the documentary Street Paper, which takes the viewer inside the lives of Nashville’s homeless population through The Contributor. It offers a unique look into the lives of the founders, vendors, and writers as the newspaper experienced exponential growth during September 2010. Following the screening, The Belcourt will host a question and answer session with the director (Christopher Roberts), the co-founders of The Contributor (Tasha French and Tom Wills), and various vendors of the street paper. Check out the video below for a preview of the documentary.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3_ZHhvel8A&feature=youtu.be]