$1M raised by low-income vendors selling Hope in Shadows calendar – British Columbia

A decade and a half of selling Hope in Shadows calendars on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria has generated more than $1 million in revenue for the low-income vendors who sell the work.

Each year since 2003, the social enterprise Megaphone Magazine has handed out disposable, single-use cameras to people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

The top 13 photographs entered into the Megaphone contest are then chosen to make up that year’s calendar, which vendors can buy for $10 and sell to customers for $20.  The vendors keep the profits.

A Glow

October’s photo, called A Glow, is a self-portrait of photographer Peter Thompson and also won the Best Artistic Photo award. (Peter Thompson)

Changing conversations

Jessica Hannon, the executive director of Megaphone, said the photography contest and ensuing calendar started as a way to change conversations about poverty.

“It’s an incredibly powerful project,” Hannon told CBC Early Edition host Rick Cluff.  “[The photographers] are able to show an aspect of their lives that we wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise.”

This year, for the 15th anniversary edition of the calendar, the theme of the photography contest was “Heart and Soul.”

The winning photo and cover of the 2018 calendar, selected from nearly 1,000 entries, was taken by Priscillia Tait when she was visiting with friends at Oppenheimer Park.

Ladies’ Tea Party

“Ladies’ Tea Party” won first place in the 2018 Megaphone Magazine photography contest. It is the cover photo and December 2018 photo for this year’s Hope in Shadows calendar. (Priscillia Tait)

“This project gave the opportunity back — literally handed the camera back to people experiencing poverty to be able to share their own stories from their own perspectives,” Hannon said.

Peter Thompson, a frequent Hope in Shadows contributor and longtime vendor of the calendars, said the project has had a noticeable impact on his own life.

Before taking part, Thompson said, he had never gone out taking photographs before. He was the winner of the 2011 calendar and finalist for the 2017 edition.

“It brings your self-esteem up that you have something to work on,” he said. “That first year, I won honourable mention in the project, so I thought if I could do that, I could probably do a lot more.”

The 2018 Hope in Shadows calendar hits the streets on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

To hear more, click the audio link below:

With files from The Early Edition

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Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

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