Posted: Aug 31, 2007 9:30 pm
August 31, 2007
Being on the street for a year is not a reason to celebrate, unless you are the creators of http://www.street-people.com.
The website which generated angry comments from charitable organizations and individuals when it was launched celebrated it's 1 year anniversary by posting more stories and photos about the panhandlers, bums, and hobos, that hustle the office workers and tourist of Memphis for change everyday.
Two downtown office workers launched to draw attention to the issue of the chronic panhandling, "We thought by doing this people would see that what might appear to be an minor annoyance was really a serious issue impacting tourism revenue and costing the city money as police are called to deal with this continual problem." commented the founders, "Maybe groups that provided services to street people would rethink if these services where really helping or if they should change how they addressed the problem in our city."
Still after a year the creators have found no end to the string of street people to write about in Memphis. "We hoped our site would show that giving panhandlers change is not going to change their condition. We have heard a hundred times from the panhandlers that their goal is simply to get enough money to get food, a bottle and cigarettes." Based on stories featured on the site the panhandling in the city appears to be a growing problem. No longer are the panhandlers just in downtown and mid-town but according to the www.street-people.com
at highway exit ramps ringing the city and into the county. One story details how several street people have turned one of the abandon strip malls along Winchester into a home.
The satirical website features interviews with street people to expose how panhandlers are simply hustlers telling elaborate stories to tourist and locals to part them with their money. The creators have been featured several times on Rock 103, interviewed by one of the evening local newscasts, and have inspired Memphis bloggers to support the effort by launching panhandling forums. The site has become an internet hit spawning a following outside of Memphis. The creators traveled to Massachusetts to be featured guests on the Bax & O'Brian morning show, then spent the day followed by reporters from the newspaper and an ABC affiliate to interview street people in their city. "Our most shocking media moment was when a magazine from Dallas asked us to write a monthly column" added one of the founders.
In celebration of the 1 year anniversary the site has been posting a series of new stories about Memphis street people. These stories will culminate on Friday, August 31 , 2007 when http://www.street-people.com
will name their "Street Person of the Year". "We thought we should recognize the street person who gave us the best story about how they ended up on the street." commented one of the founders.