The pages were flipped with each new month until I lazily tacked up the completed calendar displaying its cover image for an extra 10 months. The black and white photo of three children with arms linked together hung on our wall until I realized it was no longer 2010 and we hadn’t picked anything up for 2011. This week I’ll be heading out into downtown Vancouver to find a vendor for the 2012 Hope in Shadows calendar to replace my old edition.
The images featured in 2012 the calendar are among 4,000 submitted to this year’s campaign. Disposable cameras were handed out to residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and communities impacted by poverty. The photos were printed and 40 finalists were selected, including the winning images that don the pages of the calendar. One thing that struck me this year (I realize I missed last year’s print) is that the calendar used to be solely black and white but now it’s in colour. I spoke with Paul Ryan, Project Director at Hope in Shadows, about the change.
“Every year since 2006 the cameras have been colour cameras because they don’t make disposables in black and white,” Paul explained. “We were able to see some [photos] in colour and they were amazing.” They did a survey about 18 months ago and found that people were receptive to the idea of doing both colour and black and white shots. The decision was a popular one last year so they did the same for the 2012 calendar. “It’s a good thing to keep innovating,” he added. “A lot of people feel the colourful photos are a little more hopeful.”
The Hope in Shadows calendar project, now in its 9th year, allows homeless and low-income individuals in Vancouver to become vendors. They pick up the calendar from head office for $10 each and sell them for $20 around the city. Paul told me that last week 39 vendors were trained and they have additional training sessions all week at the Portland Hotel Society‘s Life Skills Centre. “I think we’ll probably train about 200 people based on the demand from the last two years,” said Paul. They currently have 140 active vendors who are purchasing more than one calendar so they can go out and sell.
Paul told me that selling calendars is a stepping stone for a lot of people. “It helps them gain self-esteem and build confidence. It’s a way that they can feel good about earning money again.” Some of the vendors use the program to compliment a low-income for their household as well, especially with the holidays around the corner.
Look for vendors outside high-traffic areas like SkyTrain stations, Canada Line Stations, Chapters on Broadway at Granville, or Chapters on Robson and Howe. There are some retail outlets as well such as Banyen Books, Book Warehouse, Vancouver Special, and Red Cat Records.
There will be a photography exhibit with the 40 finalist images from October 11th to the 29th at the Pendulum Gallery (West Georgia at Hornby). Follow Hope in Shadows on Twitter for more information and view past exhibitions online.
Update December 27, 2011: A record-breaking 14,000 calendars have been sold, one thousand more than last year! [source]