Hope in Shadows

Hope in Shadows is an innovative community engagement project that creates positive and meaningful interactions between residents from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and people from other neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and beyond. Each year, winning photos from the Hope in Shadows photography contest are featured in a calendar that local residents can sell on the street through our vendor program. Hope in Shadows demonstrates that meaningful employment opportunities positively contribute to the well-being and dignity of people impacted by poverty and marginalization.

Announcing Hope In Shadows partnership between Pivot Legal Society and Megaphone Magazine

Hope in Shadows is a project of Pivot Legal Society, and for the last 12 years Pivot has worked with the community to hold a photo contest and produce a calendar annually that features the beautiful images captured during the contest. Each year, vendors have sold the calendar across the city.

Pivot has worked closely with Megaphone Magazine for several years on Hope in Shadows. The partnership grew out of a shared mission to provide a voice and economic opportunity for this community. They share an office space, and together run the vendor program that supports those who sell the calendar and the magazine.

Recently, Pivot has been re-evaluating its role with Hope in Shadows and how it can continue to coordinate this incredibly valuable community project. In the years since Pivot began Hope in Shadows its mandate has evolved, moving towards strategic litigation that creates social change for its clients and for the people in this community who are impacted by poverty, criminalization, and marginalization. During this re-evaluation, it became clear that Pivot, despite its long history running Hope in Shadows, was not the right organization to carry the project forward and ensure its long-term, positive impact in the community.

When Carolyn Wong, the long-time Hope in Shadows project coordinator, announced that she would be leaving the organization, Pivot decided the time was right to approach Megaphone and propose a partnership to produce the upcoming calendar.

Pivot recognized that Megaphone is the best organization to take Hope in Shadows to the next level—they know the vendors, they know the community, and they share the same values. After this year, Pivot will continue to support the project while Megaphone takes over the production of the calendar and managing the vendor program.

Creating the Hope in Shadows calendar takes a lot of work. The good news is that the partnership between Pivot and Megaphone means that there will be a calendar next year. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to organize a photo contest in 2015.

Ensuring that the community is represented in the calendar is hugely important, however. That’s why this year’s calendar will feature past winning photos from the Hope in Shadows archive.

This time of transition for the project is an opportunity to look back on the past 12 years of Hope in Shadows and show people how this community has grown and changed, through the eyes of the people who live and work here.

This is an exciting time for Hope in Shadows, and there will be announcements later in the year regarding how photos for the 2016 calendar will be selected.

Until then, please join Pivot and Megaphone in thanking Carolyn for her years of hard work and dedication to Hope in Shadows and wishing her the very best in her future endeavours.

Hope In Shadows partnership

  • Pivot, which has run the Hope in Shadows project for all of its 12 years, has asked Megaphone to partner on the project.
  • For this year, Pivot and Megaphone will work together on Hope in Shadows. Starting in 2016, it will be a Megaphone project.
  • There will be a calendar this year for vendors to sell. For vendors, very little will change. There will still be training sessions and depots. The calendar will still cost $10 and sell for $20.
  • Constraints caused by the transition (capacity, resources, time) mean that there will not be a photo contest this year.
  • In place of a contest, winning photos from the last 12 years will be selected for the 2016 calendar. The calendar will be a “best of / retrospective” of the last 12 years and show important stories about the Downtown Eastside community.


Past Victories

Financial Opportunities for People Impacted by Poverty - Hope in Shadows trains more than 200 vendors annually. Since 2005 the vendors have increased their sales by more than 500 percent – from 2,500 copies of the Hope in Shadows Calendar to more than 13,000 annually. The impact of this project on the financial standing of people living in poverty is significant with street vendors earning over $0.5 million through calendar sales since 2003.

Hope in Shadows Wins Book Award - In 2008 Pivot co-published the award-winning Hope in Shadows book with Arsenal Pulp Press. The book has sold more than 5,000 copies through our vendor program.  The book contains a collection of personal stories behind some of the stunning contest photos. The personal narratives in the book are candid and moving and challenge the way many of us think about poverty, mental health and drug addiction. The book won the City of Vancouver Book Award and was nominated for a B.C. Book Prize.

Hope in Shadows Artists Recognized- As the project has evolved, Hope in Shadows photographers are been increasingly recognized for their achievements as artists. Contest participant’s photography has twice been exhibited at the Mayworks Festival on Vancouver Island and private sales of prints are a regular occurrence. In spring of 2011, a selection of Hope in Shadows photographs was auctioned at Dignity, a touring international event curated by the NURU project benefiting the Acumen Fund.

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