The Big Issue : Edition 529
26 THEBIGISSUE27JAN–9FEB2017 of become my friends now. How has selling the paper affected you? Were you homeless for a while? Mark: I was living in a community boarding house and before that I had been a pretty heavy drinker. So selling the magazine cut my drinking for a start – because I had something to do with myself. Then I went back to Adelaide because my dad was on his deathbed. After spending a year there, I came back to Melbourne and I was homeless for a little while. Now I’m in temporary accommodation – I’m on a list waiting for something permanent to come up. The magazine has totally changed my attitude. Instead of sitting around being negative and destructive and just getting wrecked, it’s given me something positive to do with my day. It’s given me some discipline, self respect and helped my self-esteem. Ann: That’s exactly how I feel, Mark. I was feeling really low when I first lost my job. I was worried about what I was going to do. I thought about what I used to do before – which was marketing and that’s like selling. I thought, well, I have a really great product to sell. So, I know I can do this. Prior to that I had been homeless three times. It was either sleeping in my car, sleeping outside or in a shelter. Finally when I was able to start selling the paper I started feeling better about myself. It kind of saved my life. Before I was sitting around feeling depressed and then bad things happen – people around you start asking you to go for a drink. Mark: I’ve battled with addictions over the years. But I make addiction my slave now; I’m not a slave to addiction. Ann: Well you should be proud of yourself Mark – because you have changed your life. And I have changed my life – and it’s all because of the papers and the people that believe in you. Mark: Yeah – but it’s not just because of the paper. Before anyone can help Mark: This is a copy of our magazine. Ann: That is nice! How long have you been doing the paper? Mark: Nearly three years now. Ann: And what were you doing before you started selling the paper? Mark: I used to be a butcher by trade, until I had to stop for health reasons. But a friend of mine had been selling TheBigIssuefor12or13years–soI came down, did the induction course and I have been loving it ever since. Ann: Well, I’ve been doing this for five years. I used to work in marketing, and I lost my job and I didn’t know what to do. I saw a vendor on the street in Denver, and I went up and asked how to get started. He sent me to the office and I haven’t looked back. You enjoy it? Mark: Yeah, I talk to a lot of people who wouldn’t normally talk to me if I didn’t have the uniform on. Ann: It’s really interesting all the people that you meet and they really understand your situation. The people who buy it from me have sort STREETS OF YOUR TOWN MARK SELLS THE BIG ISSUE ON THE STREETS OF MELBOURNE. ANN SELLS THE VOICE ON THE STREETS OF DENVER, COLORADO. RIGHT NOW IT’S BLAZING HOT IN AUSTRALIA. IT’S ICILY COLD IN THE US. HE SPEAKS WITH A BROAD AUSSIE DRAWL. SHE SPEAKS WITH THE SMOOTH TWANG OF THE AMERICAN MOUNTAIN WEST. SITTING IN VENDOR OFFICES ON EITHER SIDES OF THE WORLD, THEY STARE INTO COMPUTER SCREENS AND GREET EACH OTHER; IT’S BOTH THEIR FIRST TIME ON SKYPE. THEY’RE SMILEY AND A LITTLE SHY AT FIRST, BUT CONVERSATION SOON STARTS FLOWING. MARK HOLDS UP THE LATEST COPY OF THE BIG ISSUE TO THE COMPUTER SCREEN...