New street newspaper will launch Friday

The first issue of The Big Edition will be inserted into Friday's Kamloops This Week

Extra, extra — read all about it.

A new street newspaper will be distributed as an insert in Kamloops This Week on Friday.

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“It’s an alternative to panhandling,” project facilitator Glenn Hilke said. “If you see somebody on the street selling it and you want to support somebody to help themselves, it’s a way that you can help.”

The 32-page, advertisement free alternative newspaper was spearheaded by the city’s lived experience committee, which consists of people who have experienced homelessness. It is called The Big Edition, with the nickname “The Big E” also named for the paper’s late founding member Elmer King, who died unexpectedly last May.

Street newspapers are published around the world, designed to tell stories that may not otherwise be told in mainstream media and offer an alternative to panhandling for the homeless through a system of vendors, who keep a portion of the papers they sell.

While the first edition of The Big E is being distributed in kind to create awareness via KTW, subsequent monthly editions will be made available in bulk at businesses, in buildings and via half-a-dozen street vendors beginning in February.

Vendors receive their first 50 editions for free and sell them for $3. Subsequent copies are purchased for 50 cents, netting vendors $2.50 in proceeds per newspaper sold.

Hilke encouraged tipping vendors, as well.

“It’s a nice day, you’ve got $5 in your hand — ‘Here you are, keep the change,’” he said.

The first edition of the newspaper was printed for free by Kodiak Press in the Lower Mainland. The press also prints Kamloops This Week.

The launch is the culmination of one year of work by the group of volunteers — a year that did not come without hurdles.

The group initially planned to launch the newspaper last summer, but pushed it to the fall following King’s death. The release was further delayed due to legal issues related to the individual who filled in for King.

The publication has also faced financial challenges. Grant funding for the project from the city has so far gone toward coaching from a third party.

“Economically it’s been stressful because everyone is volunteering their time,” Hilke said.

Help came from Interior Authors Group member Alex McGilvery, who brought writing, proofreading, editing, layout and design experience.

“He’s been an angel for us,” Hilke said.

Stories in the first edition range from poetry to fiction and non-fiction, including topics such as post-pardum depression to Greyhound’s exit from Western Canada and a Kamloops man, who was enlisted in the Vietnam War.

Articles are written by local people, while the newspaper is fleshed out with stories by a street newspaper wire service, called the International Network of Street Papers.

Hilke hopes The Big E will eventually have 20 street vendors and, along with bulk sales, distribute between 8,000 and 10,000 editions monthly.

Those interested in becoming a vendor can call Hilke at 250-571-5415 or email thebigeditionkamloops@gmail.com. Hilke said an online strategy has yet to be developed.

© Kamloops This Week

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