[Hpn] Concerns about Streetwise

Anitra Freeman anitra@speakeasy.org
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 21:45:09 -0800 (PST)

I am greatly saddened by the reports I have been receiving about the
growing rift at Streetwise.

I have the greatest admiration for the Streetwise paper and the services
it has rendered to vendors and to Chicago in the past.  This includes
admiration for Paula Mathieu, who does very similar work to what I do in
Seattle.  I regard Paula as an excellent teacher who acts with
professional ethics in every respect, and I have learned a great deal
from her about doing writing and computer workshop projects. I was
saddened and baffled to hear that Paula had been fired from Streetwise.

Streetwise has been a high example of a service model for a street
newspaper.  I am very disturbed to hear of services that are being cut
back and fund uses not openly reported.

NASNA is one of many groups that rose with the idea that when we all
work together we can accomplish far more than we can do when we work
separately.  To have editors and management at each others throats,
playing tug-of-war with the loyalties of vendors and the community, is
not serving the cause of social justice or the best interests of any of

Unfortunately, the only participants in this brawl who have chosen to
communicate with NASNA are all on one side. The impression of Streetwise
management and board being given to the rest of the world is of complete
intransigence, unwilling to negotiate with the editorial staff, refusing
to be honest with the public, refusing open accounting of budget
concerns, and refusing to meet with a third party mediator.

I know that a situation can be distorted when observed from a distance.  
I myself have been the object of a controversy in which a disaffected
member of SHARE tried to convince the rest of the planet that we (the
organization and myself personally) were the spawn of the Evil One. It
took a lot more time and energy than I wanted to spend to explain the
SHARE side of the story to everyone who got stirred up about it.  I did
it, however, because it was important to me that the greater community
working for economic justice not be divided by lies and
misunderstandings.  In the long run, more people became aware of SHARE
than ever would have if the brouhaha had never occurred, and we gained
some strong new friends and contacts.

I am asking the management and the board of Streetwise to be equally
open to dialogue in the present situation, both with the local staff
involved and with the greater NASNA community.  An open dialogue is
never a danger to the truth.  An open dialogue can only lead to
strengthening the health of the Streetwise paper and NASNA as a whole.

The most important contributing factor to the survival of any
relationship is the willingness to let the other person be right
occasionally.  There are good people, with a lot of valuable skills and
a strong commitment to their community, on both sides of this
controversy.  I seriously doubt that any of them are 100% infallible
saints or 100% lying devils.  I do not see any good purpose served by
polarizing this debate into Good versus Evil, and demonizing the staff
members who are protesting being fired and censored.  

My concern, the concern of Timothy Harris and of many others in NASNA
who have commented, is for the good of the Streetwise paper and
community, vendors and all.  I hope that this is also the primary
concern of the Streetwise board and management, and that they will
proceed to show that concern in a community dialogue.

Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"We can't help everyone.  We can't fix everything.  It hurts. 
 But it is better to live with pain than to live without caring."