March 2017 marks the fourth anniversary of The Bridge, Memphis’ one and only street paper. Its first edition launched March 21, 2013, and since then, Bridge vendors have collectively earned more than $165,000 in paper sales, and the newspaper has gone from a 200 monthly circulation to a 6,000-person readership. Its content focuses on issues of social justice as well as hunger and homelessness.
Operated by Rhodes students, The Bridge offers job opportunities to people experiencing homelessness. Certified vendors buy each paper for 25 cents and sell it on the streets of Memphis for $1.00. The 25 cents goes toward paper production, and the other 75 cents goes directly to the vendor.
“Selling The Bridge is not just a monetary experience – it’s also the experience of meeting a variety of people while selling the paper,” says Randy White, a vendor since 2013. “It expanded my relationships with different communities. I first heard about The Bridge from a vendor while I was at the Union Mission. The money I earned through selling The Bridge keeps the bills going, helped me get a car, and helps me to progress and move forward.”
The opportunity to become a vendor is free and open to those interested regardless of housing status, age, ability, or experience. In order to become a certified vendor, an individual can go to St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral (700 Poplar Ave.) on Thursdays, 2-3:30 p.m., to be interviewed, trained, and receive a starter pack of papers as well as the official Bridge badge. There are currently 60 active vendors.
On March 22, 4-9 p.m., the Chipotle at Wolfchase Galleria will donate 50 percent of sales to the paper when a customer mentions it while ordering. For more information about The Bridge, visit its website at www.thememphisbridge.com