by Hannah Colton
Thank you for picking up Two Way Street! I hope what you find between these pages leaves you informed, inspired, and thinking a little differently than before you opened it.
This winter has been a time of internal learning and growth for Two Way Street’s all-volunteer team. Many times, I’ve been reminded that what we’re trying to do isn’t easy. Publishing an independent newspaper full of thoughtful journalism and interesting content isn’t easy. Recruiting and retaining vendors among our city’s insecurely housed and transient communities isn’t easy. Collaborating in a group of people with totally different communication styles and personal circumstances, and all without a physical home base – not easy. And of course, for our vendors, simply surviving during the winter is not easy.
I say all that just to step back and recognize the grit and hard work of TWS members and vendors. We are doing this, despite its challenges, because we believe in the power of community.
In some ways, it feels like the honeymoon period is over for Two Way Street. We’ve realized this project can’t run on enthusiasm alone, and that we need to be more realistic about our limitations. We are building the foundation for a more sustainable and impactful organization, one day at a time.
We applied for our first grant (fingers crossed!). We grappled with how our business model can work with only a handful of vendors. We continued to raise ink-and-paper money through online crowdfunding campaigns. We tweaked the size and style of our publication. We launched an effort to create a comprehensive Resource Directory, with the help of service providers throughout the Albuquerque area.
In mid-December, we took our first stab at “strategic planning” during a four-hour member-led retreat. Through that very imperfect process, we recognized our need for professional training on sensitivity and nonviolent communication. We tried to take some of the burden off our hard-working founder by divvying up responsibilities. We sought advice from generous folks at Denver Voice and Toledo Streets, street papers that have thrived through their own share of growing pains.
A major point of pride for us at TWS was our cover story in the Weekly Alibi in early December. Their lengthy interview with several of our vendors and volunteers led to a lovely feature in the Arts section — and perhaps the first time a homeless person has graced the cover of the high-circulation Albuquerque alt-weekly. We look forward to continuing to build ties with the Alibi.
Most importantly, this winter, we continued to nurture positive relationships with each other and with community members throughout Albuquerque. That’s what keeps me so engaged with this project: Two Way Street members truly care, and we show it just by showing up.
I want to say a big thank you to anyone who donated or bought a newspaper, anyone who talked to us in an interview or at a tabling event, who told their friends about Two Way Street, who shared their time and talents at one of our open mic events, our tireless founder Jeff Hertz, and our vendor-champions David Ellis, Marge Pettitt, and Malcolm Hall.