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Street Spirit gets new editor-in-chief

Ben Trefny
Alastair Boone, editor-in-chief of Street Spirit

Earlier this month, the man known as the federal homelessness czar visited the Bay Area. Matthew Dougherty met with San Francisco homeless programs director Jeff Kositsky and Mayor London Breed, discussing a nine-million dollar boost to grants provided for the city. The meeting drew media coverage, but as we know, money won’t necessarily bring lasting solutions. We know that in part because we read Street Spirit.

Street Spirit is a publication largely written about homelessness by homeless people. It’s a publication of Youth Spirit Artworks, focused on stories of poverty and social justice in the East Bay, and it’s been in print for over two decades. Today, more than 100 vendors sell the papers as an alternative to panhandling.

Co-founder Terry Messman retired as editor this year, and his replacement is Bay Area native Alastair Boone. The UC Berkeley graduate sat down with KALW’s Ben Trefny to talk about her vision for bringing Street Spirit to broader audiences.

"When I say advocacy paper I don't mean that we want to necessarily rally against the man . . . To me what it means to be an advocate for the homeless population just means to make sure their side of the story gets told. So often in the newspapers and online publications that we all read, you know they are actually advocating for the mainstream . . . and so when I talk about advocacy journalism, I'm just talking about creating a platform for the voices that are not included."

Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.