DIRECTOR'S CORNER: Hope in Shadows

The 2013 Hope in Shadows cover - winning photo by Rose Jack.


The 2014 Hope in Shadows calendar, launched this month to great fanfare, is a testament to the Downtown Eastside’s beauty and resilience. With gorgeous portraits and stunning landscapes, the calendar tells a story of community-building through adversity that is too often ignored in Vancouver. you can support your megaphone vendor by purchasing one of the calendars for $20.


Started in 2002 by the Pivot Legal Society, the Hope in Shadows calendar has been steadily growing in circulation and influence over the past 11 years. At the start of this century, it was pretty common in Vancouver to hear extremely derogatory and uniformed opinions about the Downtown Eastside. That hasn’t gone away altogether, but the calendar has been a big part in shifting how the rest of the city sees the community.


Once primarily perceived as a blight, Vancouver has begun to recognize the Downtown Eastside as the treasure it is. It’s a place where people can come together without fear of judgment and work on healing together. It is a place where, yes, there is addiction, mental illness and poverty, but also joy, love and support. And it’s a place that defies simplistic stereotypes.


The photos chosen for this year’s Hope in Shadows calendar once again remind me just what a special place the Downtown Eastside can be. We see photos of children reveling in innocence and youth, people caught in the kinds of beautiful moments we often take for granted, and striking urban landscape imagery that perfectly captures the soul and grittiness of the city. Taken together, the calendar shows a side of the neighbourhood you won’t necessarily see while driving down East Hastings.


The calendar’s impact rests in a very simple formula. Every summer, Hope in Shadows hands out roughly 200 disposable cameras to the neighbourhood’s low-income residents, who then have three days to take their photos, 13 of which make it into the calendar. And every year the photos are spectacular in how they frame the Downtown Eastside’s irrepressible spirit.


What makes this year’s calendar a little different is the expansion of the photo contest to North Vancouver. The photos from that community are equally impressive and once again remind us that there is both poverty and beauty all across the city. It’s this contrast that helps us reshape how we see our communities and work on more humanistic approaches to solving the social problems afflicting them.


Megaphone is proud to continue its partnership with Hope in Shadows, and vendors will be selling the calendars throughout the fall and winter as they sell the magazine. Vendors buy each calendar for $10 and sell it for $20, keeping the profit.

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