In Galtstrike’s episode, “From Rags to Riches: Success in publishing street magazines”, Tom and his guest speaker Glenndarrin Stewart are discussing how Glenndarrin went from homeless and battling alcohol addiction to owning his own Street Magazine publishing company.
They touch on some of the reasons why people are homeless and how different countries handle homelessness and ways to help people become entrepreneurs so they can be their own boss.
Street Magazines are very different from what we see in the stores all around us and are very effective in helping those that struggle to feed, clothe and shelter themselves. In this podcast you will learn that difference and see how one man changed many lives by giving homeless men and women their dignity back.
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The following is a text transcript of the audio. Due to the verbatim speech and nuances it may be difficult to read. However, it is being provided as a courtesy to the hearing impaired as well as for those who wish to move quickly on to the pertinent parts of the podcast. Transcript is at least 80% accurate. Time stamps do not match the video.
Tom: Welcome Galtstrikers! This is our weekly Libertarian talk show where we discuss not just the problems of today but also solutions to those problems. If you have any questions or comments during tonight’s broadcast, the number to get on the air is 1.347.202.0228. After you’ve connected remember to press one so our producers will see you want to be on the air.
If you are listening to this show on blog talk or any other site that carries the player you can also listen and join us in the chat room at prepperbroadcasting.com. About half way down the page you will see a player button, click that. Below that you will see the chat room. Enter your user name and click connect. Then you can ask questions in the chat room as well. Our guest tonight is Glen Darren Stewart calling from Norway. Glen Darrin grew up in the streets of several cities in England and in Europe. The son of an alcoholic and substance abuser, Glen Darrin new how to fight and get drunk by the age of thirteen. One day after having a bad dream about the world ending he found an interest in prepping and moved to Oslo Norway. Unable to get a job while begging for food he met an unemployed journalist he helped to start what is called a street magazine titled “Oslo”. He started interviewing alcoholics, drug addicts and rejected social groups. And then started employing people on the streets to sell the magazine and within six weeks he sold 70,000 copies. The magazine is now very successful and is even endorsed by the Norwegian government.
Welcome to the show Glen Darrin. How are you doing?
GD: I am very well thank you Tom. Thank you for having me here.
Tom: Thank you for coming on the air. I think this is a really great topic to kick off this series of shows. We are going to be doing a series of shows about entrepreneurship and success and people bringing on people such as yourself who have started at the bottom and worked your way up to the top with successful businesses and I think this topic is really interesting because you literally did start at the very bottom. So to get into this show can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your back ground and how you started out living in the streets. How you were able to survive.
GD: Well, it is quite a long story but I guess I can get a few major points in there. I didn’t actually end up on the streets I was actually raised on the street. Most of my youth, my first memories were hanging outside of pubs waiting around, trying to get money, trying to find food, just trying to survive and just get by. Trying to hide, to stay away from the lunatic parents that I had. Just trying to live life normally and that didn’t really happen I’m afraid. So by the time I was, let’s say, 10 1/2 I just trying to escape from my parents. Running away, disappearing. Nobody really noticed anyways so it was a bit of an exceptional upbringing. I missed out on all the school opportunity. There was no educations possibility. It turns out that when I was about 11 years old I was arrested by the police and I had run away to England. As it turns out, I wasn’t even registered me as a child. My parents never registered me. I didn’t exist.
Tom: so you really were starting out all by yourself from the very beginning. From the very beginning as a child you were pretty much alone.
GD: oh yes, constantly. Constantly. It’s still a feeling that sticks with me today, that I am kind of outside of society due to the fact that I didn’t get as lucky in a way because I wasn’t indoctrinated i the same way as most people that go through the school system were. I question almost everything. I wasn’t just regurgitating as they say.
Tom: So how were you to get the education that you did have? Learning to speak, were you able to write and read or any sort of education?
GD: Well, counting and doing so using basics mathematics I learned by being in a pub. I was a scorer for the people who played darts. So yeah I can count backwards and I can count forwards. If I made a mistake they threw a dart at me so I learned very quickly to do subtraction. But as far as learning how to read, I think it just came bit by bit but I was still very illiterate when I was 13 years old still. I couldn’t really read properly. I couldn’t read books, it was very difficult but I solved that problem after I ran away the last time. I run away when I was 12 1/2 years old. By the time I was 13 I was actually living alone on the streets of London. It was pretty scary at 13 years old realizing the only person you got to rely on is yourself.
Tom: So being out alone like that what were you doing for shelter? What were you doing for food?
GD: Well this was the 70’s; don’t forget so at that time there was quite a big punk movement in the UK. They would (inaudible), they would occupy houses. There would be a lot of squatters in that specific time in the 70’s. There were about 75 thousand homeless teenagers on the streets of London.
Tom: So just doing whatever you could to get by.
GD: Well kind of, most of the teenagers on the streets at that time were doing a lot of drugs. There were a lot of heavy drugs. Heroine was a big problem on the streets but lucky enough I was raised around so I kind of understood it from an early age that drugs was not the way to go. But it was kind of socially acceptable to drink so I did. I drank quite a lot. A lot of the teenagers were selling themselves on the streets. They were doing drug running, they were prostituting but one day I kind of thought, “I’ve got to find another way to do this because I don’t want to get arrested”. If I get arrested then I am back into the system. Back into a foster home or something. So I just came up with an idea, I just went up to a door one day and I knocked on the door, not having a clue what I was going to say. This old lady opened the door. I kind of bullshitted her a little bit and told her “I just moved in around the corner. Do you have any old books you’ve read?”
“No, I’ve got nothing to read” and this that and the other and this that and the other and she said “Oh yes! Wait a minute and she gave me a whole bag of books”, and she read most of them! Now I thought well, mmkay, so I’ve got a bag of books here. So I went to the next house and I knocked on the door and an old man opened the door and I gave him the bag and said “Here look. Here’s a bag of books, just give me a couple of quid”.
So I kind of went from house to house doing that. I was making more money than the drug dealers were. More money than the prostitutes did. When you are doing this 8 hours a day.
Tom: So basically you were brokering books. (Laughing)
GD: (laughing) yeah basically. You have to be creative to survive.
Tom: Your pretty much your first experience at entrepreneur ship then.
GD: Yeah, I guess so. I guess so. It was an interesting time I must admit. London is such a huge city. You could travel through London and meet somebody and never meet them again for the rest of your life. I became a bit of a celebrity in the area because people kind of knew me. But when I was about 14 my first job came along. I took a job on a traveling fair ground. A carney I think you call them.
GD: That is how I was traveling the whole of the UK. Just living in a Volvo F10 truck. In the little cab there. That was kind of my home for the next 2 years.
Tom: So what led you up to you said you met an unemployed journalist who gave you the idea for doing a magazine.
GD: I’ve seen street magazines from the 90’s actually that started in London in 92 or 93. I’ve never really paid attention because at the time I was still sort of a raging alcoholic. I didn’t really see much or pay attention to much. It was more about finding money for alcohol. The alcohol had actually very much taken over. Then I had my dreams and that was a life turning moment for me.
Tom: And that is what got you interested in moving up to Norway?
GD: Yeah, I kind of wanted to get out of the way. I wanted out of the way. I needed to clear myself out, stop drinking. My dream wasn’t really much about an apocalyptic world as it was the after effects of the people. The people suffering who were hungry. The things people do sometimes when situations get bad around them. How violence becomes part of the daily life. I wasn’t really sure why I had this dream. It was a bit of a wake-up call for me. You know, when you drinking you pass out more than anything else.
Tom: Yeah I think for a lot of people have similar, awakenings, that get them interested in being prepared.
GD: Yes. Yup. Yes indeed so like I said I moved to Oslo and I started living on the streets in Oslo. You know the streets are the same no matter where you go. It is just a different country with a different language. After living in Germany for a few years and Holland for a few years and France for a few years I thought it would be nice to learn another language. I though ok, Oslo is pretty far out the way so I will go try that. I lived in Sweden a couple of years before that.
Tom: So was it in Norway that you met the journalist.
GD: Yes it was. I was living on the streets in Oslo trying to get a job. There wasn’t much about, some small jobs here and there but I wanted something more permanent and something that suited me more. So I kind of thought one day, well why don’t we have a street magazine here in Norway? So I started looking into it.
Tom: Oh I want to go back just a little bit. We had one of the guest in the chat room that wanted to know what the dream was about. Do you want to provide a little bit of detail about the dream?
GD: Yeah sure, sure. The dream was more about people suffering. Seeing the desperation on their faces and the fear of uncertainty. I think that is what did it. It wasn’t a picture of a burning city or a total collapse in society. It was more of the struggling. People were starving to death. It shocked me very much.
Tom: So having that dream, that is what made you think, “Hey you gotta get away”. Look for a better life, a better place and get away from the big city and that is what drove you to go to Norway.
GD: Yes, yes it was. Life in the cities can be pretty rough but once you live outside for a while you start using the city to make money and then you disappear back into the forest to live at your campsite. I’ve always had a little bag with me. Ever since I can remember. Extra change of clothes, a little bit of food in it. So I’ve kind had a bug out bag for the past 50 years.
Tom: You got the bug out bag and been studying and following up on prepping and how to survive.
GD: Yes. yes
Tom: I think you were saying, was it you I was speaking with about food storage in Norway.
GD: Well food storage in Norway is practically impossibility. This country is fed up and the average Norwegian lives in total denial that anything can go wrong. They have so much faith in their government. I think that is a result of the oil money that is here in Norway. There is a lot of oil money. But then again on the other side it is also a very expensive country to live in. Very much so. If you want to buy a frozen pizza for your family you are going to pay 60-65 dollars.
GD: Yeah, tell me about it.
Tom: So how do people make it out there? How do they make a living if it is so expensive?
GD: Well, we are paid pretty well. We do get very well paid and there isn’t many people that don’t make a six figure sum. That is the normal in Norway. The average working guy, people like painters, builders, they are charging oh at least up to 100 to 130 dollars an hour. So they get pretty well paid.
Tom: One of our chat room comments says “$65 for a pizza!”
GD: Yup, Frozen pizza as well. If you want to buy a fresh one, one delivered to your door, you’re going to pay about 700-800 kronos. Which is in the region of 70, 75 maybe 80 dollars? That’s not even a super big pizza. That is enough to feed a small family.
Tom: Wow. So lets get into the magazine and how you met this journalist. You said you had a talk with this journalist that got you interested in doing the street magazines.
GD: Yes. Yes.
Tom: Oh and also, can you give our listeners an idea of what a street magazine is verses a normal magazine they see on the shelves at the stores. What is the difference? What is a street magazine?
GD: Well, as the name implicates, you cannot buy a street magazine in a shop. You have to buy off what we call a vendor. Somebody that stand on a street corner or a shopping center and sells the magazine from there. And it is what we call social entrepreneurship. Whereas there is not one person, one owner behind the magazine. It is a collective between the people who sell the magazine and the people who run the magazine. All the money is shared out equally. Every month they get a share of the magazines in free magazines so that when the new month starts they have a little bit of start capitol to start out their month with and all or most of the profit from the magazine goes into a foundation to start the new magazines. So every month we have a new income coming in and we have a new theme in the magazines. It is quite an interesting subject, but how it all comes together is social entrepreneurship. At its best actually.
Tom: So I don’t think I’ve ever seen what you are talking about but of course I don’t live in the city and I don’t wander around in the big city. I imagine there are some here in the states but I haven’t seen magazines that you can’t buy in the store. I’m just used to seeing magazines in the store so I’m not familiar with the street magazine concept. So how did….I’m sorry go head.
GD: No it’s just that street magazines are designed specifically to be sold on the street. It is kind of, you can choose who it is you want to support. The cover price of the magazine goes to the guy who is selling it to you, or the girl who is selling it to you. So as an example, let’s say the magazine cost $10 on the street as a street price. Then $5 of that goes to the guy who is selling, maybe $2 goes towards the actual production of the magazine, and then $3 goes into the kitty or the actual profit of the magazine to pay for the chief editors or photographers. We have many, a lot of it is built on voluntary work, and a lot of the journalist can actually get published through us. A lot of people who want to write books will test run their books through the magazines. We interview most of the people on the streets; nearly all of our sellers have actually been in the magazine as well. They’re life stories.
Tom: So you’re mentioning that a lot of the writers and photographers are doing this as volunteer work to get their name out there and get the experience. How does the content differ in a street magazine verses a magazine that is commercially produced and sold at the stores? What kind of different content could people find in a street magazine?
GD: Well we generally work off themes. We pick a theme for a year and then we’ll go, “Ok, this month we will talk about education.” Then we will interview people who are actually in education and those who are not in education, or those who want to be in education. We basically just go and do different things so that throughout the course of a year we have 12 different subjects, so we don’t stick to daily news. I don’t know if you know this yourself but daily newspapers, by the time you actually read it, it is out of date.
Tom: Yes, so this type of magazine, ok so when I am thinking of a magazine like Time Magazine or some of the more popular ones here in the United States, those are mostly focused on politics or news. I want to think of like a monthly newspaper basically. That content gets old whereas the content in a street magazine, that is content what, that you could be good to read at any time?
GD: This is one of the best things about magazines. You can buy it today and still read it in a year. It is still relative to the day you bought it.
Tom: I see.
GD: They have a very long table time, when people buy these magazines they normally buy them off people they see every day or maybe known them for a couple of years. Maybe that month they’re in the magazine. Their face is on the front of the magazine and they tend to have a very long lay time. They put them in their living room and they kind of stay there. They are not really thrown away because you pay quite a bit of money for it. One hundred Kronos for a magazine is quite a bit of money, but every time you do buy one of these magazines the guys you are buying it off of you’re helping him to not be a criminal.
Tom: Mmhmm. Exactly. Giving them work.
GD: Absolutely. Instead of him breaking into your car or robbing your house, or going out mugging somebody or robbing a shop, he is actually doing an honest job.
Tom: So how did you get started? You met the journalist that told you about this. What was the actual process because I know a lot of our listeners are going to want to know how you got from being homeless to being a magazine producer? Did you have to invest any money? Did you have to do it on a minimal budget? How did you structure and organize the thing from the beginning?
GD: Well the first person I met was Rebecca, a friend of mine she had a diner who had a failing company. Then it was Pierre Christian who was a journalist and then another guy called Steven who had been working with drug addicts. We sat down and went through the whole situation. What we could do, how we could do it, and I took them to a friend of mine. I had been going to a local church that has a soup kitchen to which we actually used as a distribution point for the magazine. That is where the homeless can buy the magazine from. We basically went out interviewing people. We got photographers to come with us to take our pictures and the church actually agreed. They didn’t want to give us money of course because we were kind of rough people, so they agreed to actually pay for the production of the first 10 thousand magazines. So we got the magazine together with a friend that could do computer work, we put the bits together and the church jumped up and paid the bill for the first 10 thousand magazine but once they understood what the concept could do and the opportunities it could provide for people they kind of jumped on the chance.
Tom: Oh I bet!
GD: So it was a collective between what we call, (unclear dialect) which is a church mission. I think that is the direct translation would me. They paid for the first 10 thousand and we went out and basically actively searched out people on the street and said, “Look man, do you want a job? You must be sick of sitting here”. We have prostitutes, ex prostitutes who sell the magazines. On the social groups that are suffering, single mothers, socially rejected who can’t hold down an ordinary job. It’s freedom. It is freedom in their own way. They can work their own hours, where they want to; if they are creative they can find a very good place to stand.
Tom: Yeah I’ve always been a big proponent of “Teaching a man how to fish”. So if you give a man a fish you feed him for one day but if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a life time. So what you’ve done with the street magazines, not only did you build a business as a magazine publisher but you also provided employment for a lot of people who didn’t have employment before. You basically taught them how to fish. You taught them how to be independent and self-reliant to generate their own income by selling these magazines. So you started out as an entrepreneur and you turned a whole bunch of homeless people into entrepreneurs as well.
GD: Absolutely. One of the things I realized was that it was something that needed doing and it was done for the right reasons. It wasn’t done to make myself rich or to make myself famous. It was done because, if there had been street magazines when I was you, maybe my mother wouldn’t of had to do the things I’ve seen her do. So it was a little bit of my own self, my own self feeling of worth because I felt pretty worthless myself growing up drunk and with bad parents. The one thing I did understand from very young is that you can take a man off the streets, but he is very hard to take the street out of the man.
GD: So when you try to employ somebody that has problems like this, you can’t be a boss that stands over him, looking over his shoulder telling him “Do more, do more.” Like we say, you can’t push a piece of string across the room, you have to pull it. You have to let them work their way into it as their own pace. I think you will be very surprised at the work ethics the guys on the street have because all they want really, is opportunity.
Tom: I was gonna say that. That’s all they need is an opportunity. If they have the opportunity then it is up to them if they want to take it or not and not have that standing over the shoulder. They can use that opportunity the way they want on hours they want. I think that gives them a sense of pride saying, “Hey, this is my business. I’m gonna sell these magazines”. That’s why I think it is very important.
GD: That is quite right.
Tom: Anyway we have to go to a short break. We have a few sponsors that we need to listen to and then we will be right back and we will talk more about these street magazines if you want to hold on a few minutes.
GD: Sure thing Tom.
Tom: Welcome back everyone. I have Glenn Darrin Stewart on the air calling in from Norway to talk to us about how he started publishing street magazines. he started out homeless and living on the streets and began interviewing other people on the street. He used those stories and those people to help build a business publishing these street magazines. Anyways, Glenn Darrin, I am going to see if we have some questions from the chat room. Dave asks, “How do people attitudes in different countries differ towards the homeless?” So basically are homeless treated in England vs Germany vs some of the other countries you’ve been in in Europe and now in Norway. Are the homeless pretty much treated the same or different countries treat them differently.
GD: Most countries have some sort of programs that are supposed to help the people on the streets but most of them are very ineffective. One of the things I have found with Scandinavian countries, ten years ago when I first started the magazine, most of the people in the country didn’t even know who was homeless. Then to this day I still meet people in Norway who say there are no homeless here in Norway. Oh yes there is. There is over 7-10 thousand registered homeless in Norway. People are in shock. The medias do not really discuss this problem in a way that people see it. It is kept very hidden, very much so. Whereas in countries like Germany there is a lot of camps. They live in the forest areas. Each country has its own little neons. In the UK you have a lot of what they call travelers. They have no social security numbers and they live in caravans. They are basically living outside of society but most of them that do this survive by doing crimes.
Tom: Yes, that is unfortunate. It is pretty much the same here. I am a truck driver so I see several different cities and communities. There will be a lot of these, they call them tent cities. People establish their own little communities where they live and it is a lot of the same way. If they are not getting food by begging or scrounging in the trash to look for food they are doing crimes of some sort or they are getting it from the shelters. What I have noticed about the homeless is that a lot of them don’t take advantage of the social services that are available to them. They don’t sleep in the shelters because they don’t like the curfews and the rules and everything. I’ve got a friend that was homeless for a few months. He was a truck driver for a while. He is kind of like me in the sense that he doesn’t like following other people’s rules so he didn’t last in the homeless shelter very long at all. It is why I became a truck driver myself. I’ve never been homeless but when I got my first few jobs I really hated working for other people. I couldn’t stand having a boss standing over my shoulder. I’ve always been employed, I’ve never had a hard time finding a job but I went from job to job to job. I couldn’t settle in because I didn’t like people telling me what to do, until I got into truck driving I had that freedom of “I’m by myself and I make my own schedule and I plan my own things,” and then I went from that to becoming an owner/operator and having my own truck which gave me even more freedom. Every time I’ve gotten that more freedom it is like another big weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m an entrepreneur. I want to go out and call my own shots and make my own decisions. I am thinking that might be part of the problem, I don’t want to call it a problem but a situation with a lot of the homeless is maybe they don’t like being told what to do and maybe all they need is an opportunity like this where they can make money on their own. I think this is a really awesome idea with the street magazine. I don’t know if we have them in the United Stated. Maybe some cities do but I think this is really an untapped market that people in the United States and all around the world could get into doing to give those people the opportunity to build their own wealth and have their own business. A lot of businesses, a lot of jobs you have to take the drug test, the alcohol test and follow a whole bunch of rules and a lot of people don’t want to do that but if they got their own business…yeah go ahead.
GD: This is such a sensitive subject in the eyes of many governments. That people are abusing drugs people are abusing alcohol but you know I don’t ask them what they spend their wages on. Whether they go home and buy (inaudible.) We are all doing the same things; it’s just that with the people on the street it is more obvious. As you say, having someone kind of own you, you feel like you’re owned when you work for somebody else. And if it’s not suitable enough you get reprimanded and it’s generally owned by people who are your bosses tend to be incompetent in what they are doing. Put a lot of their effort and what is their responsibility down onto you and you’re the one who has to carry their responsibility for them; but they’re the ones getting paid 5x more.
Tom: Yes. I think that this is an awesome, awesome idea. Dave asked, “What was the last magazine about? The last one you published.
GD: The last big seller we had was the Christmas book. We do 11 magazines throughout the year and then at Christmas time we actually launch a Christmas Book which is all about people from the street and how they spend their Christmas. We have, I don’t think there is a celebrity in Norway that hasn’t been in this magazine. A lot of very famous people want to show that they care about people. They want to try and help society in a way. The problem is just so big that they don’t really know what to do or how to do it. So these magazines are a very good way for the wealthy, the politicians, entrepreneurs, for and quite simple, people that are well off to build and give a little bit back. They can donate their time in an interview, we can use a few photos of them and they can tell us about their own experiences. We have had quite a few Norwegian celebrities come clean about their own drug usage in the past. ((Inaudible)
Tom: Are you there? I think you might be dropping out Glenn Darrin, can you hear me?
GD: I’m here, I’m here.
Tom: Okay. Yeah. Your voice was cutting out just a little bit but it sounds like you’re there. No. I think (inaudible) Can you tell us some of your biggest stories that you have? You sent me a couple of pictures and you said the king of Norway really liked this idea. Tell us something about these big stories that you’ve done.
GD: Well the king is actually the only one in the country that can subscribe to the magazine.
GD: So he gets a magazine sent to the castle every month. He can’t exactly walk down the street and pick one up you see. But one of the funny stories about this is when the chief—the editor in chief—and one of the guys off the street were going to interview the king they went out and jumped into a taxi and said to the taxi, “Take us to the castle please,” and he refused saying, “Oh, I can’t drive up to the castle –
Tom: Glenn Darrin are you there? I think you’re dropping out again.
Tom: I apologize, everyone, I think we are losing the connection with Glenn Darrin. Yeah. It is cutting in really bad. Maybe try this, maybe try hanging up and calling right back in. Maybe that might –
GD: Ok. I’ll try that. One second.
Tom: Oh. There there I hear you now. Well, I apologize everyone. That was totally unexpected but I am surprised that we had the connection as good as it was considering he is calling on Skype all the way from Norway. Hopefully we can bring him back in in a minute. In the meantime, are there any questions that we have in the chat room that I can ask Glenn Darrin when he comes back on?
I think we had AJ ask, wanted to ask about Brexit. I’ll ask him about Brexit before the end of this show.
It looks like we have him back on. Ok.
GD: Very good. Can you hear me now?
Tom: Yup. Hear you real good, loud and clear. Ok. So you said—We lost you when you were talking about the asking for the ride to see the king then what happened after that?
GD: yeah well the taxi driver threw them out of the cab.
GD: Yeah he just couldn’t believe that a homeless guy off the street and a pretty regular looking guy were actually going up to meet the kind and he refused to drive them.
Tom: So how did he get the interview with the king?
GD: Well that was organized through what we call the press organization. There is a thing called professional press here in Norway. Each business has its own representative. The building business has a magazine; the doctors get their own magazine. It’s kind of a professional thing. They have a press organization and it was through them that we actually could. Apparently, one of the prince had actually bought a magazine off of the street and he agreed to be in one of our Christmas Books. So both the king and the crowned prince have been in the magazines.
But we have a football player here in Norway who was in one of our Christmas books to and he actually came clean with the fact that he had been using cocaine throughout most of his football career.
Tom: Oh wow. So in a way it is almost like a social network. You know. People that get interviewed can tell their stories and talk to the people of their own community about their lives.
GD: Oh yes. Oh yes. There is – I think that what surprises us the most is the amount of resources that are actually available on the street. I’ve met (inaudible) there is a very very wide range of people and many many groups that are actually represented. Bad times can hit almost anybody. But I cast myself with being lucky.
Tom: I think this is a really great concept. I think that when we get this podcast—obviously we are live right now but this podcast is going to be recorded and I’ll have it shared on my social media to our readers and subscribers so that they can listen to this. So I am sure a lot of people would be interested. Let’s say somebody here in the states in the city somewhere wants to start their own street magazine. What are some tips and advice you can give somebody on how to start their own magazine just like this?
GD: Well I think the most important thing is that you find good distribution. So you are going to have to cooperate with soup kitchens, with in-doctrinal organizations that help the homeless. Anywhere that you find socially rejected people, they have to be able to go and buy a magazine somewhere for them to be able to sell further.
We have one distribution in Oslo but we also have distribution offices in Bergen, in Somoza, in Trondheim, in Kristiansand. Most of the major cities in Norway have distribution offices. Whether it is the salvation army, whether it is through the local soup kitchens or local hospice. Places where people can sleep. A lot of these places also have the magazine sales.
Tom: So how many magazines a year do you sell?
GD: Well we, just in Oslo, we sell about 50 thousand a month in Oslo and I think nationwide we sell maybe 120 thousand magazine a month.
Tom: That’s amazing.
GD: Well it kind of changed quite a bit for me to because you know, coming from the streets it was—things are very different for people who are raised on the streets than compared to people that end up on the streets. If you end up on the streets people tend to drink more and turn to drugs more often. Where us guys who are raised on the streets have seen this from such an early age that we tend to bypass the immediate feelings of distress that you get when you end up on the street.
When that happens to people it is an unforgettable— suddenly finding yourself from being a lawyer or a worker and then suddenly finds himself with nowhere to live. Living on the streets. It started out probably as a small problem that just grew into a bigger problem because the situation just got worse. Don’t give up out there. There are opportunities.
Tom: Hey I think I may have lost connection. Are you there?
GD: Yeah I’m here.
Tom: Oh OK. If anybody in the chat room, if you can hear me say you’re here because I check in my dash board and it’s saying—
I hope we both didn’t get disconnected.
GD: I hope not.
Tom: Oh OK, they hear us. Ok. Good. For some reason my dash board is saying that I am not connected and that there is a problem. But they can hear us in the chat room as well.
We got probably about ten minutes left but I think this is a really good concept and I would like to see that here in the states. I don’t know if there are any places that have them already but I think it would be a great idea to get our own homeless off the street.
Tom: Give them opportunity. The thing, you know, opportunity that the homeless could do and do on their own time, on their own schedule. With their own rules so they—you know like here they pick up the magazines, they go sell the magazines and they keeping half the profit. Simple as that.
What kind of work ethic is required to sell a magazine. These are homeless people. Maybe they don’t have any experience doing this sort of work before. What do they need to do to be successful selling the magazine to others?
Glen Darrin you there?
GD: Yes I’m here. We can talk to them, talk to local business and speak to them. We try to arrange places they can sell. So we try and establish the sales points for them to start with. One of the big shopping centers in Oslo has 8 sellers that work from the shopping centers at the different entrances to the shopping center and they work in shifts. One does 2 hours and then he is relieved by somebody else who works 2 hours.
Tom: So what do they do? Do they have like a little kiosk or table or do they just have a stack of magazines and sell them to the people?
GD: We just give them a bag with the magazines name on it and they stand there holding the magazine. Pleasantly asking, “Would you like to help the homeless?”
“Would you like to help solve crime?”
Tom: No it’s interesting. So basically the businesses at different locations say, “Yeah. You can sell your magazines here”, and they just let them do that.
GD: Yes, absolutely. Well they understand that the guy standing outside his shop selling a magazine used to be the guy who was robbing him.
Tom: Exactly. That is a good point there. So now that person has a job and is taking care of themselves and that business owner no longer has to worry about that guy robbing him.
GD: Well it’s one less to rob him anyway. What we look at it as is giving back dignity. Giving the people the power back to run their own lives, which is one of the first steps to being drug free. How they use their money is not a question I ask. But once you’ve given that power back to the people; you would be amazed at what they can do.
Tom: Yeah. I think a lot of people get caught up in drugs and alcohol because the lost the life they had before and they don’t know where to go or what to do. So they are basically self-medicating to forget about those problems.
Tom: Like you said, people growing up are less likely to get caught up in this stuff. It is mostly people who were already doing well and then became homeless end up caught up in that. You know. That makes a lot of sense. So if you give them another opportunity where they can pick themselves back up I can see where that would empower a lot of people that are addicted to say, “Hey, maybe I’m getting my life back together. Maybe I need to quit this. “
GD: Yeah. It’s help to self-help.
Tom: Yes. No that’s great. So you said that I am assuming Norway has extremely high cost of everything that you mentioned. But you mentioned that Norwegian government doesn’t charge tax for these people to sell the magazine. That is interesting.
GD: That is quite correct. That is quite correct. I think that the state actually makes their money by the fact that if you take ten people that use to go in prison 2 or 3 times a year for a few moons here and a few moons there for stealing a salad. You know the savings on the prison cost are ridiculously high. So they see this as a social project and that these guys should not pay income tax on this project. So that money goes straight in their back pocket. So long as they don’t have to be taken care of by the state, I think they are pretty happy.
Tom: We have a question from one of our guest in the chat room. It says, “Do you have to pay a fee for this opportunity?”
So I know the publisher is making money on this. You said that the vender get 50 percent of the money they make. So they have to buy the magazines upfront or do they go out and sell the magazines and then come pay?
GD: Well this is what we do. When people register with us we give them 5 magazines to start with. (Inaudible)
When each month comes, depending on what they’ve sold that month, they get a few extra magazines to start their month with.
Tom: Ok. So you give them the first few to start and then they come back and buy more with the money they earned.
GD: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we also have a fund where when people donate money to us, if someone donates $20 to us, which goes into magazines. So that when people come to us, if they don’t have start money for the day they can get their first magazine for free.
Tom: I see. That is great. So anybody that wants to start out can literally start out at the very bottom with no investment.
GD: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Like I said, all new registered can come to us and get 5 magazines —
Tom: I think we are starting to lose you again Glenn Darrin. Are you still there?
GD: I’m still here. You’re pretty badly too. Can you hear me Tom?
Tom: Yeah I hear ya. Actually I think we are quite fortunate that the connection has been this good. Considering we are calling on Skype all the way from Norway.
GD: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Well you know, with these street magazines we also have different projects for people throughout the year for people. One of the last projects we did was a music CD.
Tom: Oh really?
GD: Yeah. We took a lot of very famous Norwegian artist and put them together with people on the streets and the guy on the streets say they write songs or poems. There is a lot of creativity amongst the disadvantaged. Very much so and we put all this together and produced it and set a goal selling albums.
Tom: that is interesting. So doing—now that you’ve got basically this distribution center set up with all these people, you don’t have to do just magazines. You can do books, you can do CDs. Why not, maybe even have people get together and make a movie maybe? That would be interesting.
GD: Yes. Well, we’ve had documentaries made about the entire situation.
Tom: Well, that is very interesting.
GD: I kind of took a backseat in that because I am a strong believer in letting the professionals do their job. I’m not a journalist, I’m not a film maker, I’m not – So I just kind of take a back seat very much and let the professionals – That’s what makes it successful. Because of the professionals doing their job properly. If I tried to do it, it wouldn’t work properly. So it is about finding the right people who have the right ideals to be able to work together to solve these problems. I actually explained this to one of your countrymen who I played on this CD with. A guy called Ken Stringfellow. He was, at the time, a pianist for REM.
GD: During his visit we managed to get a hold of him and he played piano on two of the guy’s songs. My own included. So yes. It sold gold. We sold over 50 thousand copies of that. It was only available through the guys on the street.
Tom: I think we are still live here but I may not—I think our producer dropped out. I think what happened is he lost connection. I think that is why I keep getting this notice popping up because I did get a message from him to close out the show. So I think we are at the end of the show. Hopefully I can – I do appreciate you coming on Glenn Darrin. I think this is a really great idea. Hopefully we were able to inspire some other people to start these in their own communities.