We asked Street Spirit vendors to reflect on their relationship to the paper.
Photo of JC Orton outside of his van.

JC Orton, Street Spirit coordinator for about 9 years
“Street Spirit is part of what I’m doing anyway – working with folks. I can’t change their lives, but I can try to make their lives as they are a little better. Somebody to get a sandwich or just come by and chat, who will listen to their story, and sometimes that’s the hardest thing. Nobody wants to listen to their story.”

Photo of Orlando WIlliams holding Street Spirit.

Name: Alando Williams
Age: 61
Location: Berkeley Bowl on Shattuck
Vendor for: 23 years

“It helps me with a lot of things like if I’m hungry I might get a nice donation give me something to eat for a couple days. I like meeting new people. It helps me pass my time and I meet a lot of good people. I did half my life in prison, 31 years. I start selling these papers when I was 28 years old. I had lost my mom, and I didn’t have nobody to talk to or turn to. I got tired of going to prison. So I’d rather hold some papers and trying to see what I can I do and now I’m hooked on them. This is my heart right here. I love reading them. I tell people, you know something about these papers? They’re better than the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, any other newspaper. Before they buy them I say have you ever read one of these? If they haven’t I give it to them for free. Next I see them I ask, ‘what’d you think about the paper?’”

Photo of Rosalind Smith holding copy of Street Spirit.

Name: Rosalind Smith
Age: 59
Location: Sweet Adeline Bakeshop
Vendor for: 5 years

“I sell Street Spirit because I think it’s energetic and I like to meet people. I’m a people person. I love animals, babies. There’s a lot of joy when I’m out here. I love it.”

Photo of Arthur Roper holding Street Spirit.

Name: Arthur Roper
Age: 80
Location: Sweet Adeline Bakeshop
Vendor for: 5 years

“I sell Street Spirit to have money in your pocket. I’m retired so retired I don’t get money every day. It helps me buy clothes shoes, food, all of that. Helps me buy the stuff that I need

Photo of Bertram Jerkins on Shattuck Avenue.

Name: Bertram Jerkins
Location: Shattuck and Kittredge
Vendor for: On and off. Most recently, 7 months.

“Last year I was working in Berkeley doing in-home care for a lot of people here in this town. It was really rewarding. But then I had congestive heart failure so they put me on SSDI. I only get $908 a month. Street Spirit helps. It helps by allowing me to interact with people. It helps me get food do my laundry. I would have never dreamed of getting $900 a month. I used to really do well.”

Olantis Livingston selling Street Spirit.

Name: Olantis Livingston
Age: 46
Location: Peet’s Coffee, Shattuck and Kittredge
Vendor for: 16 years

“Peet’s Coffee is my name and selling papers is my game. Street Spirit is my therapy. I was homeless. I was depressed. I lost my heart out there. I was going through a lot. I picked up the paper and I’ve been selling it ever since.”

Photo of Melanie Lacy holding a Street Spirit.

Name: Melanie Lacy
Age: 40
Location: Shattuck and Vine
Vendor for: 6 years

“I sell Street Spirit because I’m poor. I like that I’m disabled and I don’t have to do physical work. I like that people buy my papers, even though sometimes it can be hard to sell them. I never leave without something. So I’m really grateful.

Photo of Harold Jackson holding Street Spirit.

Name: Harold Jackson
Age: 58
Location: Peet’s Coffee, Shattuck and Kittredge
Vendor for: 1.5 years

“I sell Street Spirit because I’m hungry, homeless, and this is the only way I can get food and shelter. Every once and a while I get enough money to get a hotel room so I’m not out in the cold. My favorite thing about Street Spirit is how they’re putting out articles about homeless people and how to help. Street Spirit keeps me occupied and keeps me out of trouble.”

Name: R.T.
Location: Solano Avenue
Vendor for: 6 months

“I meet people and have good conversations with them. I’ve dealt with papers all my life. As a kid I sold Ebony Magazine, and I had two paper routes: For the Oakland Tribune and the Berkeley Gazette. With Street Spirit, I’ve met a lot of customers who own businesses in Berkeley. We have a good rapport.”

Photo of Ken Jones.

Name: Ken Jones
Age: 69
Location: Shattuck and Addison, outside Freight and Salvage and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Vendor for: 15 years

“I figure it’s better to earn a living than to beg for a living. It keeps my self esteem up. It’s hard for me to beg—I’m a poor beggar. I’ve always sold stuff, I used to sell insurance. I figure I need to work for my meals. The people make me feel part of the community. Because they miss me when they don’t see me, and I miss them when I don’t see them. It’s a good feeling to know that people actually care.”