Richard is a man rooted in Seattle's history. He grew up on the Green River in "Tent Valley," an area now occupied by the vast expanse of Southcenter Mall. "That used to all be farmland down there," he remembers. "Now it's all warehouses and pavement." He tells me stories of duck hunting with his father and of stepping out his back door to what was then an expansive view of meadows, trees, and fields -- back when you could rent a three-bedroom house on an acre for $50 a month. "I'm a country boy at heart," he says. "I haven't lost track of my roots, but a lot has changed."
When I asked him what he thought of the changes, Richard's answer was thoughtful, but matter-of-fact: "I don't like it. It's growing too big, too fast, and too ugly." And it affects poor and homeless people. "Some people are doing everything they can to drive poor people out of this city," he says. "If you don't have money, they don't want you around. And that's not right."
Richard has been a Real Change vendor for four years, and sells more than 600 papers each month. "When I first started it was just a way to make a few extra bucks... now I really want to help people," he says. "People come up to me all the time and thank me for being there. I love that about this job."
A kind, honest soul, Richard exudes a brand of authenticity unmatched by most people I've ever met. "People have to persevere to make things right," he says, "regardless of whether or not they're getting paid a lot to do it."
You can find Richard persevering at the Safeway on 75th and Roosevelt, and in a Real Change video on YouTube entitled "Changes Them, Changes You."