By Danielle Krolewicz
The world’s newest street paper is changing lives in Colorado Springs.
January 1 marked the launch of the Colorado Springs Echo, a street paper spearheaded by Raven Canon. After a year of hard work, dedication, networking, and fundraising, Canon published the first installment of the Echo, printing 3,000 copies of the paper.
Canon, who is currently homeless, said “I got tired of being hunted like an animal at night. I was tired of being treated the way we get treated.” She decided she needed to take action.
One day the idea came to her. “I was hungry,” explained Canon. “I used to [vend] Real Change in Seattle, and their paper had a list of where you could go to eat and when.” That gave her the idea to print a similar list of resources for Colorado Springs’ homeless.
Canon’s vision for the paper is simple: to help as many people as possible. “My goal is really to not have any vendors, but I know that will never happen,” said Canon, who idealistically would prefer there to be no more homelessness, even if it meant no more paper, but she knows this is unrealistic. “So I want to help whomever and wherever I can.”
About a dozen people have signed up to be vendors and have completed orientation thus far. The demographic of vendors is reflective of people who are on the streets, with about 80 percent male and 20 percent female, observed Canon.
The first issue featured a cover article and letter from the editor both penned by Canon, with the rest of the material donated by activists in the community, members of the homeless community, as well as service provider ads.
“My background is in the bar business,” said Canon. “I couldn’t have thought about doing this without the help of people. It’s kind of like stone soup.”
Canon credits the Denver VOICE for contributing to the Echo’s name. “I was just being a smart ass and I said, ‘Well, if they’re the Denver VOICE, does that make us the Colorado Springs Echo?’ and the name stuck,” explained Canon.
The eight-page spread of the Echo will focus on homeless issues, and Canon says she is personally determined to cover Olympians and Olympic values, as Colorado Springs is Olympic City USA.
In addition to editing the paper and recruiting vendors, Canon has become involved in local politics, primarily as a spokesperson for issues relating to homelessness, such as the ordinances regarding panhandling.
“I have to walk in two worlds. I have the business and professional side and have to fit in, and I have the homeless world and have to fit in and belong—it is very much a balancing act,” said Canon.
“Some days I work an 18-hour day. People tell me to go rest, and I’m like, where am I supposed to go?” said Canon. “I’ve got to get off the streets.”
For now, Canon is determined to focus on the ongoing challenge of her personal safety, all while promoting the Echo and being a voice for the homeless—and herself. ■