During the week of June 22, I traveled to Seattle, Washington, along with Street Sense Editor-in-Chief Eric Falquero and Filmmaker-in-Residence Bryan Bello. There we represented Street Sense at INSPired Together, the annual Global Summit of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP). The Summit — the first ever held in the United States — gathered over 100 delegates from 22 nations and 44 street papers. It offered delegates an opportunity to share innovations and best practices. Delegates presented, traded and wrestled with innovations aimed at increasing the mission impact of our organizations — from experimental digital payment methods, strategies aimed at paving pathways to employment, creative new forms of content, and vendor empowerment efforts. Street Sense was proud to present on our expanding efforts to produce content across new platforms for self-expression that reach beyond the pages of this publication, including film, theatre and staged performance, audio, photography, interactive art and illustration.
Additionally, the Summit focused street paper leaders on the particular challenges and opportunities we face, both locally and across our international network. We reflected together, how as journalists and aspiring champions of social justice and equality, we can most effectively respond to the social ills facing our communities. As the Summit opened Wednesday, there were expressions of collective outrage and disbelief about the tragic and disturbing massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Our international guests expressed shock at pervasive and persistent gun violence in the U.S., as well as the troubling state of racial relations. And as the Summit closed, we celebrated together the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, applauding the coverage many of us had given that issue in its path forward. In between, from the perspective of local papers around the globe, we lamented widening income inequality and the increasingly out-of-reach cost of housing.
As I turn my focus back to the day-to-day operations here at Street Sense, I bring INSPired ideas from my colleagues and newfound friends from around the world. How can Street Sense facilitate broader, more thoughtful conversation that will quicken the pathway out of homelessness for the 130 vendors and artists who produce and distribute our media? How can we more effectively deliver that content to our readers and audience? I would welcome your ideas about these challenges.