As a community that often lacks a unified voice, Northern Michigan’s homeless have become much more audible through a collaboration with a non-profit homeless advocacy program. Speak Up Zine is a street publication that provides Northern Michigan homeless with a channel to recount their own life experiences and raise awareness for homelessness issues in Northern Michigan. Area homeless serve as contributors, editors and distributors of Speak Up Zine. The Traverse City publication is an offshoot of a similar Speak Up project in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to Speak Up’s website, the magazine accomplishes the following:

Speak Up provides a unique work opportunity for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Individuals can become micro-enterprise owners who buy and sell copies of Speak Up publications and keep a generous profit.

Individuals in need come to Speak Up, complete an orientation process and get free copies the zine and magazine which they sell for the cover price and keep all the proceeds. Then they are able to reinvest and buy more copies.

Vendors purchase Speak Up magazine [available in Charlotte] for $1, then sell the magazine for $4, keeping the proceeds. The Zine [available in Traverse City] is purchased for $.40 and resold for $1. This provides a legitimate alternative to panhandling and dependency on social services…

MyNorth videographer John Newland interviewed Tyler Catton, who regularly sells Speak Up Zine in front of Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City.

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