Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Kerrion Hayes and Monique Beals
Melrose and White Station High School
Everyone deserves to be heard, and street papers across America strive to do just that for homeless people.
After a visit to Nashville, Rhodes College student James Ekenstedt saw the amount of good the city’s street paper has done for the community, putting an astonishing 2.6 million dollars directly into the hands of homeless people. Ekenstedt and co-editor Evan Katz decided to start The Bridge newspaper in Memphis.
Some stories in the paper are of interest to the homeless, while other stories in the paper are actually written by the homeless. Homeless writers are paid for their work and they have an option to be vendors for the paper. Vendors buy copies of the paper for 25 cents, sell them for a dollar, and keep all of the profit.
Ekenstedt and the rest of The Bridge team go to soup kitchens within the city six times a week to find and interview the homeless. They also find homeless people who are willing to write their own stories. The paper is mainly based in Downtown and Midtown, but Ekenstedt hopes that it one day spreads all over the city of Memphis.
The Bridge also attempts to “start a dialogue about issues surrounding homelessness.”
The Bridge released its first monthly issue in March and has recently put ot its fifth issue with the help of sponsors from restaurants and businesses around town. On the front page of the fifth issue is a story by a former homeless woman and current contributing writer Delores Washington. The paper has published a new issue each month since then, increasing its readership with each additional issue.
Ekenstedt noted that he wants to close the gap between the sheltered and the homeless and that The Bridge will hopefully accomplish that.
“You’re not gonna roll down the window when some homeless person walks up to your car,” he said. “But when you see their life story in the paper, it will hopefully roll down the window for you. It’s just a reminder that the homeless people are human too.”