November 14, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 46

Director's Corner

For change you can count on, support our Holiday Fund Drive

By Timothy Harris / Executive Director

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The Mayan Calendar comes to a close on December 21, and some think the world will end right along with it. Others believe this year’s winter solstice will bring a global transformation of consciousness that places people ahead of profit.

We’d like that.

But whether the Mayan prophecy comes through for us or not, we’ll still be here, providing opportunity, building transformative relationships across class, speaking truth to power, and organizing for the change we all need.

And we hope you’ll be right here with us. This was an election year, non-profit giving is down everywhere, and we’re feeling the pinch. We’re counting on your generous support during our Holiday Fund Drive because you see the results of our work all year long.

You see the quality journalism that makes our vendors proud and that won seven awards this year from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington News Publishers Association.

You see our vendors succeed as they get the support they need to have better lives. If you attended our annual breakfast, you met Vendors of the Year Sharon Jones and Addis Michael Jr. You heard how hard they work, how much they’ve overcome, and how much their customers mean to them.

You also see Real Change out there in the streets, fighting to make a difference on issues of survival. This year, our protest encampments succeeded in drawing the attention of policymakers to the unmet survival needs of homeless people.

As a direct result of this year’s Occupy CEHKC campaign, the Committee to End Homelessness in King County agreed to expand the scope of its work to prioritize the safety and survival of homeless people every night, and the City Council followed through with new funding for homeless shelter, hygiene and day services during the recent budget session.

In all of our work — the newspaper, vendor services, advocacy — Real Change is firing on all burners and doing great things.

And yet, we could do so much more. With your help, we soon will.

In 2014, Real Change’s 20th anniversary year, we see a regional paper involving hundreds of new vendors. We see our vendors succeeding in new ways with improved staff support and access to resources. We see effective economic justice organizing that builds from the solid foundation of vendor-reader relationships to support our vendors on the issues they care about most.

We have a great plan to get there, and with your help, we can make it happen.


A plan for success

The Real Change 2012-2014 strategic plan builds upon our core strengths — a great newspaper, a deep web of community relationships and a strong commitment to uncompromising advocacy — to innovate through 2013 in the following areas:

Satellite Offices: We will partner with Bremerton Foodbank and the Kitsap County Continuum of Care Committee to expand across Puget Sound for vendor recruitment and newspaper sales. This “satellite distribution” initiative will pioneer the model for later expansion to Kirkland, Bellevue and other Eastside communities.

Cashless Paper Sales: The biggest threat to continued vendor success is the obsolescence of cash. Through a partnership with Google, Real Change is developing an app for iPhone and Android that will scan a vendor-specific QR code and deliver real-time electronic payment to the vendor’s newspaper account.

Improved Access to Services: Near the end of 2013, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make health care available for many of our vendors for the first time. Real Change will train volunteer advocates to help vendors navigate the complex choices involved, and will explore other high-impact areas where greater access to services can help our vendors succeed.

Powerful Grassroots Organizing: Our vendors identify access to housing, jobs and health care as their top issues, followed by concerns with shelter availability and conditions, loss of civil rights and access to basic amenities such as bathrooms and laundry. We are particularly excited about supporting homeless-led survival solutions such as tent cities to ensure that policy-makers view homeless people as part of the solution.

Cross-class Community Building: In 2012, Real Change launched cross-class discussion circles, initiated a pilot reading-group program and explored how multi-media storytelling can strengthen community ties across class barriers. The addition of a full-time organizer in 2013 will create new capacity to expand these programs.

Revenue Growth: These are ambitious plans, and to fully succeed over 2013 Real Change needs to add staff capacity in vendor services, organizing and development. Some of the funding will be raised through foundation support and new circulation revenue. But most of our support will continue to come from our generous grassroots donors. Last year, more than 1,600 people contributed financially to our success.


Change you can count on

We ask that you again be one of those supporters, and that you consider a stretch gift to our Holiday Fund Drive this year that takes us into 2013 looking strong.

Perhaps the calendar will turn this year, and we’ll wake up after the solstice in a new age of interplanetary alignment.

Or maybe we’ll have to simply continue as we have been, doing the slow groundwork of organizing for justice and reaching across differences, one relationship at a time, while the new world we are building, piece by piece, comes into view.

Either way, with your support we are making a difference right here, today and tonight, to those who need our help the most.

Your generous contribution to the Holiday Fund Drive will help take us into the New Year ready for whatever awaits us. Please visit our secure website at realchangenews.org to make a tax-deductible contribution today, or mail your gift to 219 1st Ave S., Ste. 220, Seattle, WA, 98104.

Thank you for supporting Real Change.

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