Megaphone vendor Peter Krysziewicz reads at the Voices of the Street event. Photo by Adam Krawesky.
The reason this magazine is called Megaphone is because our mission is to amplify the voices of a community. That’s why we run a series of writing workshops in the Downtown Eastside and downtown Vancouver—so we can help homeless and low-income people tell their stories in their own voice. This spring Megaphone needs to raise $12,000 to help keep these workshops running. We need your help to get these voices heard.
Since 2009, Megaphone has run a series of free, weekly writing workshops in treatment centres, social housing buildings and community centres. The classes are run by professional writers who help the participants find the stories they have within them. It is an incredibly important and powerful program.
Many of the participants in the workshops have never written before. They have no idea how special their story is and how important it is for them to get it out to the city. Many have been told their voice doesn’t matter—a feeling reinforced by their marginalization in our society. Our workshops aim to blow that misconception wide apart.
Through the help of writing prompts, the writers are encouraged to explore the stories they’ve lived through. They learn basic writing structures. They learn that they have an amazing talent within themselves and they produce beautiful poetry and prose that can shake foundations. They learn their voice matters.
"This workshop means a lot to me,” says The Bear Whisperer, who participates in Megaphone’s LifeSkills Centre workshop in the Downtown Eastside. “I look forward to coming to the class. It's a place to let your inner feelings out to wander. It's a place to let your laughter and tears out. It's a place to let it all hang out. It's a place to be very proud of yourself and what you have to say."
Megaphone’s editors take these pieces and publish them in this magazine. And that’s when things really get going. The stories that come out of the workshops provide amazing insight into what it’s like to live with poverty, addiction or mental illness. They are intimate accounts that show us what these health conditions really look and feel like. And they offer us the opportunity to find solutions to these issues.
A couple of weeks ago, Megaphone launched our Voices of the Street literary issue at Café Deux Soleils with special readings from some of the writers who’ve come through our workshops. It was standing room only and I’d like to thank all those who came out to show their support. The readers, some of whom are Megaphone vendors, were incredibly brave to get up on stage and bare their souls to strangers. It was a beautiful night. It was an important night.
But to keep our workshops running and to be able to continue to publish Voices of the Street once a year (which your Megaphone vendor is selling for $5), we need your support. This spring Megaphone needs to raise $12,000 to keep these workshops going.
Please make a donation here and help support Megaphone’s writing workshop program and ensure that these voices continue to be heard.