The Springs Echo: First Colorado Springs Street Paper

“We think I might be the very first woman to do this while homeless,” said Raven Canon, Editor-in-Chief and founder of The Springs Echo.

The Springs Echo, Colorado Springs’ street newspaper, was formed to give a voice to the home-less. Canon’s idea for the paper began when volunteers at the Colorado Springs Rescue Mission came to her about the Pedestrian Access Act, hoping she would speak articulately on the topic. An admirer of street papers like Real Change News and The Denver Voice, Canon came up with the idea of creating a street paper of her own two years ago. She was primarily motivated because, at the time, she was going hungry and did not realize she was a block away from Marion House, a Colorado Springs soup kitchen.

Raven Canon, bottom left, Corintha, bottom right, and Edwin “FedEx” Aldrich, pose at an Echo fundraiser. Photo by Nat Stein (originally published in the Colorado Springs Independent)

“So, the back page of the paper is community resources of where you can eat,” said Canon. “The whole reason I came up with the paper is because I was hungry and I didn’t know where to go eat. So, the back page is really what prompted me to start the paper because they have something very similar to this in Seattle’s paper. And they didn’t have it here, so I thought might as well start the whole thing.”

Canon initially toyed with starting the paper and then lost momentum. She was inspired to follow through with the paper after the CSPD did not respond in a timely manner to a dangerous situation concerning the homeless. “I contacted Andi Van Gogh from the Coalition for Compassion and Action about a newborn in danger and asked her to call 911,” Canon said. And CSPD, the Fire Department, no one ever showed. The next day the HOT [CSPD’s Home-less Outreach Team] team just happened to stumble upon the baby in the stroller. The dad was passed out and the mother was nowhere to be found. This was over the summer and I think it was under 3 months old and just sitting in broad sunlight, no shade, and screaming its head off. The idea of what could have happened to that baby… I hit the roof not because it happened but because no one even showed up. How could no one show up to a newborn in danger? I stood there and I looked at that officer that day and I looked at him and said this can never hap-pen again. This cannot happen. It was at that point when I really got the drive to start the paper.” Canon then looked to fellow street papers in the rest of the country for inspiration and mentorship. She reached out to Tim Harris from Real Change News, Seattle’s street paper and member of the International Network of Street Papers, for advice.“

“I contacted Andi Van Gogh from the Coalition for Compassion and Action about a newborn in danger and asked her to call 911,” Canon said. And CSPD, the Fire Department, no one ever showed. The next day the HOT [CSPD’s Home-less Outreach Team] team just happened to stumble upon the baby in the stroller. The dad was passed out and the mother was nowhere to be found. This was over the summer and I think it was under 3 months old and just sitting in broad sunlight, no shade, and screaming its head off. The idea of what could have happened to that baby… I hit the roof not because it happened but because no one even showed up. How could no one show up to a newborn in danger? I stood there and I looked at that officer that day and I looked at him and said this can never hap-pen again. This cannot happen. It was at that point when I really got the drive to start the paper.” Canon then looked to fellow street papers in the rest of the country for inspiration and mentorship. She reached out to Tim Harris from Real Change News, Seattle’s street paper and member of the International Network of Street Papers, for advice.“

When I began this, I thought well, if I’m gonna do this, I’m going to learn how to do this correctly,” Canon said. So, I thought who do I know of who is the best at this. So, I went to Tim not realizing that he has been called the Godfather of street papers. And he really is. He has been such a source of wealth of information and experience and support.”

Harris became Canon’s confidant and a mentor through working towards accreditation from the International Network of Street Papers. “We started to gain momentum. Initially we had the plan to turn GRITS into our street paper, but I was still clinging to the idea that I wanted to do this paper and I wanted to run it. Not because I wanted the power, but because I had a certain vision. I saw how it had to be done. I was adamant that it was not going to be a part of GRITS, but I couldn’t explain why I felt this way. Tim told me that beyond a shadow of a doubt, it absolutely cannot be attached to anything else. He said it has to be stand alone and that it’s actually in the INSP charter.”

Following the closure of the downtown encampment in early October, Canon was left feeling frustrated and ignored. “I knew that the only way things were going to change is if we began as a community to have a voice,” Canon said. Thanks to Tryge and members of CCA, I began to have a little self-confidence, which I really lacked to begin with. And be-gan to think that I could do this.”

In December, The Springs Echodistributed their first issue. The print run costs around $400. The ad sales are designed to pay for printing the paper and eventually for Canon’s salary. The vendors, who are members of the Colorado Springs homeless population, buy papers for fifty cents and sell for a recommended price of a $1.50. Currently, The Springs Echo has around 10 vendors. Where they are stationed is up to the individual. “

They are independent contractors, so they are allowed on any public service and on private property with permission,” said Canon. “It’s entirely up to them. We do have a couple places that distribute newspapers and accept donations. The donations would then go to the newspaper and not the vendor. But, because we are a non-profit anything that the paper makes goes back into the paper, so it is all helping people get off the streets.” Currently, the February issue of The Springs Echo has been delayed due to a lack of funding.

“We do have ad sales coming in, so the thing is that everyone wants to do a net thirty. So, I’m billing them and they are paying me within sixty days time and that means I can’t pay my printers,” said Canon. “When people decide to donate or whatever and we finally get back to print, it should only be one more time and then it’s paying for itself.”

As of Feb. 2, The Springs Echo became a member of the International Network of Street Papers.

Hannah Glosser

Hannah Glosser

Hannah Glosser is a senior Political Science major and Education minor. Hannah served as News Editor from March 2016 to December 2016.

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *