This magazine is a social justice enterprise across England. It is published weekly by professional writers and journalists. Then it is distributed to vendors - places like churches, community centers, etc. These vendors have relationships with sellers. The sellers are people who might be vulnerably housed, homeless, or unemployed and looking to get back on their feet. They buy the magazine at 1.25 pounds off of the vendor and sell it for 2.50 pounds.
Intrigued one Monday morning as I watched Joy (Trinity's Church Secretary) accepting shipments of the magazine, I asked her more about it. Joy was really helpful and put me in touch two of the editors of the Big Issue. I love love love the idea of writing as part of a good cause - whether it's creative writing therapy, slam poetry, motivational speeches, or this, a magazine that empowers people to improve their lives.
All I wanted originally was simply to know more about The Big Issue, because it was such a fab new concept to add to my growing list of Ways to Write for Good, but the editors asked if I was pitching an article to them.
This is one of those things I call a God-nudge. For a very long time, I've been saying I would like to try my hand at getting published in an online or print magazine. It was kind of an idle, Oh, that would be cool someday! type notion, but it stemmed from a deeper desire to continue honing on my craft. Here was an opportunity staring me in the face - I couldn't say no!
What commenced was a whole lot more work than I anticipated. Writing is fun and natural for me, but this was...something else. I pitched an initial concept that was rejected, but then I pitched the idea of writing about Days for Girls. (I'll be writing more about Days for Girls itself soon - I've been very involved in this program!) Then I had to research more about the international organization and our local group, interview the participants, and write the actual piece.
Luckily, interviewing and research was made much easier for me because I was in the midst of preparing for St. Columba's own Days for Girls workshop along with the two women who run Days for Girls here in York. I went to a bunch of activities with the dual purpose of preparing for our own workshop AND I also got some information for the article. Beryl and Issu wanted to know what was going into the article, so the back-and-forth took a lot more effort than I originally intended. But it was a good learning
In the end, I just got three. I went directly over to Trinity Methodist yesterday morning to pick them up, and it so happened that another editor from the mag was there visiting! It was fun to chat with him and some of the sellers.
It's exciting to see my name in print, I can't deny it. Having a byline feels deeply, happily satisfying. What's even more exciting is to know that the piece is spreading the word about an amazing cause (again, more about Days for Girls soon!).
You can read the first page here and the second page here. I can't find an online link (yet).
If you want to learn more about street papers, you can do so here. If you, too, have a good idea for a magazine like this, give it a shot! The editors were really encouraging and it was a very good experience.