Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Amplifier: Knoxville's first and only street paper

Today we have a guest post from David Morelli who has been working with Redeeming Hope Ministires to launch the Amplifier. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read on.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

The Amplifier launches today!

The Amplifier, you say? What in the world...?

The Amplifier is Knoxville's first and only street paper!

Street paper? Again: what in the world...?

A street paper is a cool, entrepreneurial way for the "winners of capitalism" (i.e., the homeless or radically poor) to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the good ole American way. It works this way: a vendor--typically a homeless person operating as a free agent--buys issues of The Amplifier, at cost, and then turns around and sells them to the body public for a dollar. He then reinvests the markup, purchasing more inventory and earning an income. Voila, microcapitalism at work for the least of us.

The Amplifier is run out of the basement of a group of community-minded people in Fort Sanders. Check out their website.

So, if you see someone, whom you may ordinarily brush aside as panhandling, trying to gain entrance to our wonderful consumer economy by selling something that's not a windshield wash at a stoplight, then I implore you to swat away your preconceived objections and spare a buck for a fledgling, home-grown paper that's just trying to make it out on the streets of our scruffy city.


benjamin said...

This has been working really well in nashville (from what I have seen and heard). It is run out of downtown presbyterian church here, and I have enjoyed seeing these lovely entrepreneurs on so many street corners. Here's a good article about how it has worked here: (The Contributor)

Yay, Knoxville!

Anonymous said...

I hope it works here. I can't help but be a little pessimistic that there is a long road ahead and people here are slow to except things of this nature. There is a guy who always offers to wash cars in our work lot. Next time I see him I will see if he knows about this.

Mickey said...

Now that is a distribution model I've never heard before. Best of luck to 'em!

Jim Akron said...

Maybe it's a sign that Knoxville is coming of age as an urban environment, but this is not really new. I recall seeing similar things on New York streets since the 70s and 80s.

Although the whole approach seems laudable when wrapped in the warmth of capitalism, the inevitable result is a bandaid on what is a gaping wound-- the unemployable homeless. In practice, it is still just sidewalk charity and panhandling. The paper contains nothing of real value to a passerby, so the act is little more than a process where beggars are marginally legitimized. In the end, the process fails because it does not involve a value-added contribution to society.

Lee said...

Have you read The Amplifier, Mr. Akron? I disagree with your statement about this paper having no value.
Several media outlets have thought enough of this "charity" case to cover it.

In my opinion, The Amplifier is fresh, thought-provoking and smart. And I'm happy to donate my dollar to read it and perhaps change a life.