Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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June 2001

Spare Change

The background of Biss magazine

Beer garden season is here—and with it come the rose peddlers, the cigarette and newspaper advertising vendors and a host of other disturbers of the peace. However, there is one salesperson you may not wish to ignore. BISS (Bürger in Sozialen Schwierigkeiten, or citizens with social difficulties), a magazine produced for the purpose of providing aid to Munich’s homeless population, is sold by homeless people throughout the city. From the DM 2.50 sale of each magazine, the seller receives DM 1.30. In purchasing BISS, you can help get the purveyor back on his/her feet. In 1991, BISS was conceived by journalists, social service agencies and church officials who wished to find a way to help the needy help themselves. The magazine was first published in 1993. The articles contained in BISS inform on a number of social issues and are written, in part, by homeless locals. Magazine salespeople are required to apply for, and display at all times, a BISS identification card. Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs are forbidden to sell the magazine. Welfare recipients, the unemployed and retirees who need extra income to survive may be eligible for the sales program. All representatives are given their own neighborhood “beat,” offering steady customers the opportunity to “know” their provider. Compared to the price of beer garden currywurst and fries, the cost of helping those who cannot afford such luxuries is low. <<< LV

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