Street Sense Media, the media center devoted to empowering those experiencing homelessness in Washington DC, has some changes coming. You probably recognize their homeless and formerly homeless newspaper vendors by their neon vests, which have become a staple of DC neighborhoods. Now the newspaper and the vests of homeless Street Sense vendors are changing. Here’s their press release explaining why.
For the last 14 years, DMV residents heading to work in the morning or running errands on the weekend have been greeted by the neon-yellow vests and friendly pitches of men and women working themselves out of homelessness one newspaper sale at a time. The Street Sense vest has become as much a fixture of the D.C. commute as talk radio and metro delays.
On Wednesday, September 20th, however, the vest that’s become entrenched in the daily routine of many Washingtonians will get a makeover. Yellow and black will be swapped out for bright blue and orange, part of a rebranding campaign that represents the organization’s evolution from a print newspaper into a multimedia center harnessing modern, creative strategies to empower people experiencing homelessness.
The changes go far beyond a new color scheme, logo and name. The transition from Street Sense to Street Sense Media—as the organization has officially retitled itself—has been years in the making. Since 2013, the organization has expanded its programming to include powerful forms of self-expression like documentary filmmaking, photography, illustration and theatre—all produced directly by people experiencing homelessness as a way to share their stories with the community.
"There are so many ways to express yourself at Street Sense Media," said Sheila White, who fought through homelessness to recently enroll in college. "I'm here five days a week doing the workshops, making films, learning photography. I'm telling my story."
The vest-clad men and women who greet residents on their commutes are much more than newspaper vendors. They're directors who shoot powerful films exposing the injustices of the affordable housing crisis, stage actors whose moving performances examine the struggles of life on the street, and talented photographers whose images underscore the personality, creativity and humanity of those living without permanent shelter.
And on the evening of Thursday, September 28th, these storytellers will join together to present their creative work to the community during a multimedia gallery held at the Josephine Butler Parks Center.
The event, entitled Storytellers for Change, caps Street Sense Media’s week-long "More Than a Newspaper" campaign and will showcase the modern media center into which the organization has evolved.