Street Roots: A Newsworthy Cause

Written by Aliza Saunders, Tivnu Gap Year Participant 2018-2019. As a receipt of the Lester Robert Morss Scholarship from Columbia Jewish Congregation, Aliza was able to put this scholarship towards the tuition of this transformative gap year program. Similar to Lester Morss’ spirit of Tikkun Olam, Aliza truly lived this motto by interning at three social justice organizations that worked to advance homeless and marginalized individuals: Street Roots, Northwest Workers Justice Project, and Agape Village. This scholarship helped Aliza pursue the Biblical principle, tzedek tzedek tirdof and learn about ways to pursue justice with a Jewish lens for the rest of her life.

My name is Aliza, and growing up with newspapers strewn across the kitchen table has given journalism a special place in my heart. In high school, I was co-editor of my school newspaper. Thanks to Tivnu’s amazing program director and some good luck, I am now able to continue pursuing this piece of my life through one of my Tivnu internships: Street Roots.

Twice a week, I intern at Street Roots, a newspaper covering local, national, and social justice issues that is sold by houseless individuals (known as vendors) on Portland streets. I work alongside houseless individuals, as well as develop my organizational development and marketing skills.
The newspaper, in addition to social justice issues, features articles, poetry, and artwork created by vendors. Last week, I photocopied dozens of art pieces—from dolphins to cartoons to “I Love Streets”—by one vendor, and it was beautiful to see the excitement on his face over the quality of the artwork and chance that he might be featured in the newspaper. It’s so nice to see how much it means to vendors to have their work printed and be able to unleash their creativity.