June is is special month in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: it’s when the annual Hope in Shadows calendar photo contest officially launches. This year’s theme is “The Community We Built” and the project (now in its twelfth year) is organized by Pivot Legal Society.
Hope in Shadows is a fantastic project with a simple premise: residents of the Downtown Eastside are given single-use cameras to capture moments in their community. The photos are entered in a competition which results in an photography exhibit and ultimately, the next year’s Hope in Shadows calendar. The calendars are then sold by street vendors, providing meaningful seasonal employment and skills-building to participants, who through the program have earned more than half a million dollars since 2003.
This year’s launch block party took place at Pivot’s office on June 7, with almost 200 participants signing up for cameras, taking advantage of a camera tricks and tips tent, listening to live music and enjoying refreshments.
In her blog post, “The Contest is On!”, coordinator Carolyn Wong wrote,
“The camera is a tool we can use to show others what we value. Today the Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood in flux, undergoing a rapid change as new developments go up and other buildings are torn down. I believe this year’s theme, “The Community We Built”, will help Downtown Eastside residents use this tool to show the rest of the city the strength and beauty of the community that already exists here, built by the people who call it home”.
Read more about the day in Pivot Legal intern Emma Crane’s blog post “A Glimpse of the Community” and watch for the 2015 calendar in late October.