It is unique to Chicago. It gives entrepreneurial opportunity to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it. It is easy-reading-local-artsy-news. It is Streetwise magazine, and all things I hold in high regard.
I was surprised to find during a recent conversation with a friend, that the magazine’s core purpose was not widely understood. Clearly stated, homeless people who meet certain criteria can become registered sellers of Streetwise. They buy each copy at a super low price, let’s say 25 cents. At the time I am writing this, the reader purchase price printed on the front says $2.00, although additional tips are welcome. It comes out each week on Wednesday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are fresh sale days in the loop.
I have been buying Streetwise religiously, from various vendors, since I went to Massage Therapy Training in 2008. A gentleman by the name of “Moody”, who writes a regular poetry piece in Streetwise spoke to our class. Although I found the mission of the school in inviting him was some sort of “sensitivity training”, and thusly insulting, his speech was very impactful to me. He told the story of how he lost his family and landed on the street with the humility of a truly changed person. He has put together a new normal, and Streetwise helped him do it. You can find Moody most Wednesdays at the corner of Randolph and Michigan, outside the Cultural Center.
The catalyst for writing about the magazine now is a funny story in itself. From inside my studio on State for several weeks, I had been hearing a faint cry of “why, why, why” from the street. It was not only perplexing in its persistence, but also sounded like whining. A brief investigation yielded the cause as my new Streetwise vendor, Cynthia. She was, in fact, calling “Streetwise, Wise, Wise” over and over. I do not know how locations are assigned or chosen at Streetwise, but she had mine. I vowed to speak to her when I had a chance.
When I finally did, it was because I saw her but had NOT heard her from the studio. She informed me that all that hollering made her lose her voice. She was not happy about it, but I bought a magazine and told her I was indeed happy about it. We had a wonderful exchange and she will be getting my Streetwise business from here on out – provided she doesn’t project her call quite so clearly outside my window.