International RSS

True or false: parks are public?

7 Jan 2014
DSC09253[1] square

We were quietly getting ready for a new Mayor last month when we heard the Parks Department was kicking hot dog vendors out of Washington Square Park!  Why? Not due to “congestion” (like they bogusly claimed at Union Square) but because rich people, heiresses, and celebrities from the new Washington Square Park Conservancy thought the vendors were “unsightly.”  Funny, but we’d use words like “offensive,” “elitist” and “racist” instead. Either way, we don’t have enough people to be at every Community Board meeting where decisions about public space like this are made. Thank God a local blogger activist was on the case!

Together with neighbors concerned about private control of their public park, parks advocates, and the affected vendors themselves, SVP held a rally and press conference to draw attention to the issue.

As usual, direct action gets the goods! Just after the new year, the Parks Department reversed course, announcing that the vendors could stay. A huge victory for people who care about immigrant workers and public space. And a good start to a new year, and hopefully a new era, for vendors in NYC!

 

Vendor advocacy 2.0

23 Mar 2012
crowdsourcing-jeff-howe

LAist covered the story here. And Hoboken, NJ vendor (and SVP member) Adam Sobel is getting his customers to put pressure on the Mayor through his active Facebook page.

Pushcart Fund

20 Dec 2011
Camille 4-small

Two years ago, we realized that vendors don’t just need legal advice, training, and a voice at City Hall. Sometimes they also need loans to expand their businesses — or simply maintain them in the face of high fines and harsh economic times.  We raised $1,700 to help Mohammed Ullah stay in business.

But SVP has neither the capacity nor experience to keep raising and providing one-off loans on our own. We’ve teamed up with an experienced microfinance provider, the Business Center for New Americans, and today we are announcing the Pushcart Fund, the first ever dedicated loan fund for street vendors.

We are trying to raise $10,000, which will enable us to meet our goal, close the fund, and start giving loans to worthy people like Camille (above). Please check out our loan page and watch our two-minute video here. Will you help?

Holiday season? Help give a loan to a street vendor!

20 Dec 2011
Camille 4-small

Two years ago, we realized that vendors don’t just need legal advice, training, and a voice at City Hall. Sometimes they also need loans to expand their businesses — or simply maintain them in the face of high fines and harsh economic times.  We raised $1,700 to help Mohammed Ullah stay in business.

But SVP has neither the capacity nor experience to keep raising and providing one-off loans on our own. We’ve teamed up with an experienced microfinance provider, the Business Center for New Americans, and today we are announcing the Pushcart Fund, the first ever dedicated loan fund for street vendors.

We are trying to raise $10,000, which will enable us to meet our goal, close the fund, and start giving loans to worthy people like Camille (above). Please check out our loan page and watch our two-minute video here. Will you help?

Occupy SVP

17 Oct 2011
OWS

Not only is Zuccotti Park, the headquarters of Occupy Wall Street, just a few blocks from SVP’s office in Lower Manhattan. Its also very close to our heart. As protypical members of the 99%, street vendors are oppressed by wealthy elites who are “uncomfortable” with their presence, and yet who have the ear of policy-makers like our Mayor. Though vendors don’t have time to sleep in the park (and though some are sadly losing business,) SVP members are squarely on board OWS’s main goal: economic fairness.  After our general meeting last week, vendors grabbed our banner and marched over to Zuccotti Park to perform our traditional “vendor power” cheer, to the delight of the OWS crowd. We are now participating in OWS working groups to help plan future events, while looking for other ways to collaborate with this historic movement.

UPDATE: With OWS, we just launched a web platform to buy food for the protestors from local vendors who have been negatively affected by the presence of the protests. Please visit http://streetvendor.org/ows

The ultimate sacrifice

11 Mar 2011

While there are only (!) about ten thousand street vendors in New York City, there are millions around the world.  SVP plays a role in the worldwide vendors’ movement through our proud affiliation with StreetNet International.

And we don’t stop there.  Last week, we held a vigil at City Hall to honor Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose reponse to police abuse was tragic — he set himself on fire.  His martyrdom led to revolution in the Middle East and made him a hero around the world. 

Standing around a fruit cart, SVP members held candles and gave moving tributes to Bouazizi, punctuated by shouts of “Vendor Power” in various languages. As if on cue, a Tunisian tourist walked up and spoke. It was a poignant tribute. Look at the pictures here and read the Daily News article here.

Taco struggles

26 Jan 2011

Sometimes the struggles of one person (indeed, one street vendor) reverberate through a whole community. Something like Mohamed Bouazizi, but on a smaller scale, is the struggle of Patricia Monroy and her son Alberto Loera (left). Their taco truck has been a much-loved source of cheap and delicious food on East 86th and Lex for almost three years.

Unfortunately, Patty and Alberto make the East 86th Street Merchants Association “uncomfortable.”  For real. The result has been a campaign of ticketing, towing, and arrest that has energized the vending community. Alberto and his mom understand the struggle is not just their own, but part of a bigger campaign against excessive penalties for minor violations (allegedly violating a parking rule). Amy Zimmer at DNA info has been all over the story herehere, and here. Listen to the radio clip, view the photos,  or watch the video.

Streets without vendors

15 Jan 2010

The last few years have brought transportation policy reform to New York City. Three hundred miles of bike lanes have been added, and part of Times Square was even turned into a pedestrian plaza. But why are street vendors absent from this discussion? Other cities recognize that vendors are an important part of making public spaces livable. In Portland, for example, this excellent report (sent by Professor Irene Tinker) concluded that “food carts have positive impacts on street vitality and neighborhood life.” This paper, out of India, found that vendors are “essential as a part of [the] transportation planning process.” Maybe somebody over at the excellent Streetsblog needs to pick up the vendor beat.

UPDATE: We just saw this — how does the City of New York write a 236-page “Street Design Manual” and mention street vendors only once, in passing (on page 65)?

Hope in Bolivia

8 Dec 2009

bolivia vendor thumbnailGood news for our compañeros and compañeras in Bolivia — Evo Morales has easily been re-elected President. As street vendor Julia Ferndandez said, shortly after voting, “Brother Morales is working for the poorest people, for the people that are fighting for their survival.”  You want change? Look at what is happening in La Paz.  Here’s an article in Spanish. Felicidades! And by the way, here’s an interesting Harvard video about women vendors in La Paz.

SVP big in Asia

19 Oct 2009

IMG_2654.img_assist_custom-200x150With 2.5 billion (!) people eating it every day, street food is a global phenomenon. Which is why SVP director Sean Basinski flew to Bangkok last weekend for the first-ever Vendy Awards Thailand. Octopus balls? Thai pop stars? Fish nibbling at your feet? The event had everything. Thanks to Jun and the rest of our friends at Liaison Planning for putting it together. Read some coverage (in Japanese) here and see the photos here. BTW, is Bangkok street food the best in the world, as the NY Times claims? It’s damn good. But even if you can’t get to Asia, check out these cool cooking videos and make some yourself.