Face to Face
Belgrade | Serbia
We heard already several times about street magazines. We tried to meet with the founder of one of them in Skopje, but we didn’t have enough time. Fortunately, we finally managed to meet with one of the founders of “Liceulice”, Serbian street magazine, and it occurred that anyway she also initiated the one in Macedonia.
The concept of street papers exists in the world already for about 30 years, at the moment there are around 125 different street papers in 40 different countries – says Nikoleta Kosovac. Everything started in the UK, with the most popular street newspaper “Big issue”. In Serbia the whole story began 8 years ago when one of our friends, a famous actor, travelled to Slovakia and found out what street papers are. He wanted to do something similar in Belgrade, but he had no idea how. We joined him, creating a team of 5-6 people, all from different fields. The main concept of street paper is that people from marginalized groups, homeless, people with disabilities, are selling magazines and they are getting 50% from every sold copy and 50% is used for printing new magazines and for some additional support for their economic and social empowerment. The topics appearing in a street magazine are different from mainstream media. We are writing about social issues, about human rights, sustainable development, important matters that you need in other media but unfortunately in this age of capitalism you don’t have.
Every issue of the magazine, printed nowadays regularly every two months, speaks about other important social topic. The authors of articles work pro bono. Some of the articles are translated from other languages. Each number contains 46 pages of important social texts, released in an attractive form, also from the design point of view.
We pay attention both to good design and content. We want to give our customers something they can read even after a few years, we don’t write about politics and news, but about topics which are always vivid. From that point of view it’s more a book than a magazine. It’s also important for us to write from a positive perspective. Even if we speak about problems, we try to show above all solutions and good examples from around. It’s not easy but worth it.
For the moment Liceulice is a foundation, 50% from selling is not enough to cover all costs. But slowly they are changing the financial strategy to become more independent from donors and grants. Customers are definitely very supportive in that process.
Nowadays we are printing 8.000 copies and selling all of them. It’s still not enough to completely sustain ourselves but we are closer and closer. One issue costs 150 dinars, a little bit more than 1 euro. It’s the cost of a regular coffee outside. Less than a beer. It should be more expensive if we count all production costs but we decided to have it like this for now and we see what next in the future. To get the rest of needed money we function as every NGO, based on local and international grants. Contrary to most street magazines in the world we don’t have any support from the local government. We count mostly on our clients. Few months ago we had quite a big financial crisis, we didn’t get the grant which we already expected. It was our customers, who through donations helped us to survive.
Clients appreciate not only the good quality of the magazine, but also its concept. Every sold number means income for a person from a disadvantaged background. And a chance for him or her to come back to society.
You cannot find our magazine in the shop or stands. Our vendors sell them directly on the street, where they actually feel more comfortable. We also have agreements with a lot of manifestations, cultural events, centers, where they can go and sell. It’s cool for vendors, not only from the selling point of view, they also can watch movies, theater for free. It’s good for them to participate, see, learn something new. Enter places which they never had the opportunity to go to. They always get some coffee or tea there, people talk to them. Very often they tell me that it’s not so important for them to earn money but to talk to people, meet new people, exchange something with people.
Liceulice has a double meaning in Serbian language. On the one hand it means „face of the street”, on the other „face to face”.
A lot of people ask us: why don’t you have electronic issues, easier to deliver? But the idea exists because of vendors, and they need interaction. A lot of them are isolated, no families or friends, they have nothing to do, nobody to talk to, they need someone to smile to them and ask how they are. For them it’s the most important thing during the day, to go outside and sell magazines.
Everybody can become a vendor, after a short conversation and participation in one of the workshops. At the moment there are about 70-80 vendors working for Liceulice, but during last year they helped more than 300 people, giving them jobs, but also regular training, meetings or just the chance to come for a coffee and spend some time with another human being.
Although, it’s still just the beginning of a much bigger vision.
We have so many ideas. We want to extend part of the services we do for our vendors. We want to have a small center where they can come every day, where they can have some meals, get much more support and help than now. Where we provide different kinds of formal and informal education. Maybe help with finding accommodation and coming back to the housing system. In Serbia we have absolutely not enough shelters for people in need.
But what’s mostly needed is not even shelters themselves. But people with passion. And sense of solidarity.
Don’t be afraid to run for your dreams. Don’t be afraid to approach people, to talk to people, to listen to people. I think that people really forget to listen to each other and to be solidary with each other. I think everything is in solidarity … Solidarity maybe won’t kill homelessness but it can help in preventing it. So don’t be afraid and never forget what solidarity is.
More about Liceulice: liceulice.org