In a country like Germany you often wonder how people end up living on the streets. But it happens more often than one would think and for a wide variety of reasons. Streetmag is a new magazine project dedicated to helping people who live on the street make a living, preserve their dignity, and to help make society aware of the homeless problem. At the same time, it also provides a platform for Berlin-based artists of all backgrounds to show their work. Dossier talked to Marija Stojanovic, one of the founders of Streetmag, about the publication and its vision.
Thomas: In Berlin people can already get a number of magazines that are being sold by people who live on the street. Why did you decide that it was time to create a new one?
Marija: Streetmag is targeting the young and creative population of Berlin. On the one hand, we are supporting great and ambitious artists and creatives from every genre and give them a platform to publish their works. On the other hand, the homeless people can keep 100% of the profits they make by selling the magazine on the streets. We are not offering social support or emergency shelters, therefore we can give the magazine to the homeless for free. That’s our support for them.
Streetmag is a young, fresh, modern and stylish magazine and is supported by interviews of famous actors and musicians. We wanted to create a product that is really worth the money and that people are willing to buy not only for charity reasons, but also because the magazine is interesting and cool. We’re targeting the young generation. We want people to buy the magazine and to face the unpleasant side of our reality, because the poor side of Berlin is just as present as its glamorous, fashionable side.
Thomas: Was there any personal motivation behind you getting involved in this kind of social project?
Marija: One day when I left my house to go shopping I saw a homeless man sitting close to my home. You could tell immediately that he was having a very rough time. I realized that while I was on my way to spend tons of money on cosmetics, there are people out there who have to struggle every day for survival. They have very few places they can turn to and in many cases don’t want to turn to. So I thought that by giving a homeless person the chance to make a living by selling a quality product I could make that persons life at least a little bit better. I was hoping that that would also enable people to preserve their dignity instead of having to beg for money and to depend completely on the charity of strangers.
Thomas: How do you finance your publication and how many copies do you print for every issue?
Marija: We’re financed only through advertisement and charity events, like our Streetmag charity night that took place in February at the club Maria am Ostbahnhof. Young and talented bands, breakdancers, famous graffiti artists and DJs supported the project by showing their skills. We even had a raffle of canvases with pieces by Berlin graffiti artists that were painted on site. Streetmag was also present at several events of the Berlinale film festival to find more sponsors and has already been presented on several radio programs as well as in magazines and newspapers. I used to work in advertising so I’m going to make use of the knowledge I got from this field in order to finance Streetmag completely through advertisement. The first issue of Streetmag had 20,000 copies and was distributed all over Berlin. We are currently working on the second edition.
Thomas: Do you manage Streetmag all by yourself?
Marija: No, Streetmag is a project that is realized by me and my friend Aleksander Vidojkovic. He is one of the founding members and chairman of the GeniusArtCorp. e.V.
The GeniusArtCorp. e.V. is an association consisting of social workers, people from the media industry and actors like Robert Viktor Minich, Ralf Richter, Birol Ünel and Oktay Özdemir. The association is campaigning social youth work and realizing several projects like Streetmag, the movie project Keine Zeit Zu Leben (No Time to Live), the youth street theater Pirating of Love with Oktay Özdemir and many other projects.
Thomas: How do you distribute the copies to the vendors?
Marija: We deliver the magazines to every “Stadtmission” (city mission) and emergency shelter all over Berlin. Whenever we see a homeless person on the street we give him as many magazines as he can carry.
Thomas: Who can contribute to Streetmag? Peope from Berlin only? What about texts that are not in German?
Marija: Every one is invited to send us their works. If it fits to our concept we don’t care if it is in German or English. Just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Gordon Koelmel | FTGRF Fotodesign