Pivot Legal Society - Equality Lifts Everyone

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Unplanned community engagement on Main & Hastings

The community votes for the Hope in Shadows photos all week.

We never planned to be here.

By “here,” I mean on the sidewalk on the corner of Main and Hastings, showing our photos to everyone and anyone. We were supposed to be inside the Carnegie Community Centre, but by the stroke of (what turned out to be) good luck in the summer of 2007 there was a strike which forced us outside from the third floor of Carnegie Centre. It was the best thing that ever happened to Hope in Shadows and if there was one event that galvanizes my belief that this is the friendliest neighbourhood in Vancouver, it would be the now annual community vote on this corner.

Today, as we set up the four-sided display under a pop-up blue tent top on a borrowed table from the Carnegie Community Centre, we are inundated by local people. They are eager to check out this year’s top 40 – a mix of black and white and colour 8” by 12” enlargements from the three-day contest in early June. Some people tell me they had received one of the 200 single-use cameras in the contest, many others were photographed.

This year is the second year the judges choose the 40 images from 4,200 black and white images and the same images printed in colour, and judging by the sold-out 2011 calendar, and the response today, it was a good decision to add the colour.

Almost everyone who walks by the display smiles. Most people have an opinion or two about the photos. Others wander by slowly, more hesitantly. Thinking the clipboard I am holding might be a deterrent, I hold out the small ballot with the three simple options: 1st, 2nd and 3rd. “Do you want to help us chose the winner?” When they realize we are not going to take up their time with some random survey, and all they have to do is chose three photos, no one turns down the offer.

On closer inspection, many people exclaim how they know most of the people in the photos. More smiles. I recognize the people in the photographs too, although I do have an advantage –all subjects and photographers are interviewed for the calendar and exhibition captions in the Pivot office, so we get to meet many people. Some are repeat winners so you get to know people quite well over the years, and they get to know you. I can’t go anywhere in this part of town without people giving me a nod or a friendly “hi!” or “hey – when’s the calendar coming out?”

Voting, that began with a rush, with the four-sided display surrounded by people, continues like that for four hours. By three o’clock, when we pack up for the day, more than 200 local people have voted for the top 40 images, not bad for day one.

The community vote continues until Friday, (outside the Carnegie Centre until Wednesday, Oppenheimer Park on Thursday and a visit to the Women’s Centre on Friday). The results of the community vote will determine the top $500 prize at the award ceremony on October 4 and $2,000 in other prizes shared between the other 39.

See the top 40 photos and vote!

We also survey the general public for their favourites at a few events over the next few weeks. Though the general public votes do not determine the winners of the contest, they do help us pick the 2012 calendar photos.

See the photos, and vote for your favourite three, at:

Vancity Fresh Air Movie, West Point Grey Park, Thursday July 7 from 6 p.m.

Vancity Fresh Air Movie, Minoru Park, Richmond, Friday July 15 from 6 p.m.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Friday July 15 – Sunday July 17.

Vancity Fresh Air Movie, Victoria Park, East Vancouver, Wednesday July 20 from 6 p.m.

The October 4 awards ceremony also launches the 2012 Hope in Shadows calendar.