A Stroll Across Oppenheimer Park
Yesterday, Carolyn and I padded across a rain soaked Oppenheimer park to see Carrie. We arrived with 10 single-use cameras in hand to give to some of the park regulars for the Hope in Shadows photo contest for the 2012 calendar project. Carrie, a dedicated park staffer and past photo contest judge, welcomed us with open arms even though we had turned up unannounced. With total ease, she rounded up some of the Downtown Eastside residents that had signed up to collect cameras into a room in the community centre so that Carolyn could explain the photo contest expectations and judging to the contestants.
Ten times smaller than the main camera handout at the Interurban Gallery on Wednesday, this was the first handout that I had been able to attend. As a fundraiser at Pivot, I have worked quite a bit with Hope in Shadows staff, but had yet to get the opportunity to be introduced to this project at the ground level. This quiet, intimate camera handout was a perfect look into the real spirit of the calendar project as it connects to the community.
One of the contestants-to-be took out their own camera and flipped through some of the photos they had taken around the city. This woman certainly had a keen eye for some of the beauty of the urban landscape, but her photos also expressed something deeper about the character of this city. I live in Vancouver, but am an outsider to the Downtown Eastside; the scenes that this community member had discovered and captured were a reminder of how rarely we take the time to really look around us in this neighbourhood. For some, it is too difficult to look at the margins of Vancouver, and for others, it is simply that our lives are busy. We walk by too fast.
So today, though I am back in the Pivot office, pulling things together for the Hope In Shadows fundraising appeal, I am reminded that a comfortable pace and a steady eye can reconnect us with the communities around us. I am reminded of the stroll across a rain soaked Oppenheimer park.