Streetwise Ink is Memphis’ only t-shirt screen printing cooperative that is organized and operated exclusively by individuals with experiences of homelessness. We provide high-quality, custom, screen printed shirts for a variety of needs. Unlike the vast majority of business programs around the country that seek to “empower the homeless,” we are unique in that we have been worker-led from inception.
In late 2012, a group of people with current and previous experiences of homelessness came together in the midst of one of the longest standing encampments of the Occupy Movement. A Homeless Caucus–whose membership would later become the driving force behind Homeless Organizing for Power & Equality (H.O.P.E.)–was organized as a direct response to the needs and issues of people most directly affected by many of the economic policies that were being challenged by Occupy. During those initial meetings, the predecessors of H.O.P.E. came up with the four core values that were most necessary to the group as a whole:
- Mutual Emotional Support
Realizing that in order to be able to actually live these core values in a system that makes it nearly impossible for people experiencing homelessness to find work (let alone dignified work that pays a living wage), members decided that the only way was to create the opportunities themselves. From this concept came the idea to form a worker-owned and operated, unionized screen printing cooperative made up entirely of, for, and by people with experiences of homelessness.
Supporting StreetWise Ink, whether through donations of needed items, funding, volunteer time, or by choosing to order your screen printed shirts through StreetWise Ink, you can feel good knowing that you are taking action that has a direct effect on individual lives of people living in homelessness or poverty as well as on the community as a whole. Make a donation to the MSPJC and support the efforts of Streetwise Ink!