May 2014 Homeless news

Giving Voice: Megaphone launches its spring fundraising drive

Today’s the day that Megaphone officially launches its fundraising drive for our writing workshop program. We’re trying to raise $15,000 by the end of the month.

Megaphone’s writing workshops give a voice to people who experience poverty in Vancouver. The free workshops are run in treatment centres, shelters, social housing buildings and a university.

Many of the stories from the workshops are published in Megaphone, helping raise awareness about important social issues in our city.

“I like to share what I go through as an Aboriginal with addiction issues and how I deal with it,” says Neil Benson, who participates at Megaphone’s workshop at the Drug Users Resource Centre.


“Being part of Megaphone’s writing workshops gives me guidance,” he says. “Getting published in the magazine makes me feel acknowledged.”

Help Megaphone reach its goal by making a donation here. Your donation means we can continue to run the workshops, compensate the writers, and publish their stories in the magazine.

Thank you for giving people a voice.
Sean Condon
Executive Director


The most radical act of making art: Vancouver artist Jayce Salloum on his recent Governor General’s Award and his many fights against censorship

Jayce Salloum. Photos by David P. Ball.


Like an archeological dig, Jayce Salloum’s Downtown Eastside living room floor is arranged in a grid: his Afghanistan photographs carefully measured between strings stretched taut, a sort of creative excavation for an upcoming show. Nearby, the acclaimed Vancouver artist’s past gallery plans are crumpled into a half-metre taped ball of newsprint.


The 56-year-old artist won a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts on March 26. Raised in Kelowna, Salloum returned to B.C. from New York in 1997, when he formed the desmedia Downtown Eastside artist collective, which ran a drop-in arts program for residents.


He spoke to Megaphone about the award, censorship, and the importance of “in-between spaces.”

Read the rest

MEGA-NEWS: Activists fear “renovictions” at another DTES hotel


DTES low-income housing activist Wendy Pedersen (right). Photo by yaokcool/flickr.

Downtown Eastside housing activists are concerned that property developer Steven Lippman is considering purchasing the Chelsea Hotel, a Single Room Occupancy hotel with 32 units.

If true, this would put at least 10 DTES hotels with 426 units under Lippman’s control, with rents ranging from $400 to $725, well above the $375 shelter allowance for single people on disability or income assistance.

Read the rest

OPINION – We can solve homelessness right now: A look at housing authorities from around the world

in Vienna, the Karl-Marx-hof is a public housing project that is one kilometre long. it has four tram stops, and is recognized as the longest single residential building in the world. Photo supplied by COPE.

In the 1990s, there was a crisis in Vancouver with people dying of preventable drug overdoses. Ultimately, this triggered a concerted response among activists, led by drug-users and politicians. In the fall of 2002, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) swept to power with a mayoral candidate, Larry Campbell, on a campaign to implement harm- reduction programs like Insite.

Creating spaces where overdoses could be prevented meant learning from grassroots harm-reduction activists working on the ground, as well as looking around the world for cities that had successfully adopted the policy.

Read the rest

MEGA-NEWS: Rental database a success, according to city

While the City of Vancouver points to its successful Rental Standards Database as one step forward in improving the quality of the city’s rental housing, evictions for renovations, or “renovictions,” continue to put many renters on shaky ground. Photo: Jackie Wong.

It’s been just over a year since the City of Vancouver launched its Rental Standards Database, an online tool for Vancouver residents to report violations in rental buildings with five or more units. The tool is aimed at improving the quality of Vancouver’s rental housing stock. According to Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang, the database has been a success.

Read the rest

There’s a food revolution in the Downtown Eastside: How to retool free-food programs for nutrition and sustainability

Members of Miss Trivisano’s grade 3 class at Strathcona Elementary School prepare healthy snacks in the classroom. 

One morning a week, Miss Triviano’s Grade 3 class files into the staff room of Lord Strathcona Elementary to wash apples, break apart yogurt cups, and organize the food in baskets to deliver to primary classes. There’s enough food to make 50 snacks for students, perhaps even some members of this class.

The snack program is part of a new collaboration between the Potluck Café Society, Strathcona Community Centre, and the school to ensure students have access to healthy food. Many Lord Strathcona families can’t afford to send their children to school with enough food to see them through the day.

Read the rest

Radical Art: Jayce Solloum on building community through creative process

Kelowna-raised Jayce Salloum lived the dream as a photographer in New York, but chose to return to B.C. and push for the rights of marginalized Canadians to show their work and share their stories. In Megaphone #153, we talk with the Govenor-General award-winning artist about his boundary-pushing art.Also in this issue: what Vancouver can learn from the municipal housing strategies of Vienna, Hong Kong, and Toronto; writer and vendor Neil Benson waxes poetic on the power of Megaphone’s writing workshops; we mark the release of our annual Voices of the Street poetry issue with an invitation to the launch party on April 30; the city credits its rental standards database for a 75 per cent reduction in tenancy violations; and much more!


Megaphone’s Voices of the Street launches at Cafe Deux Soleils


Megaphone would love to invite you to the launch of our annual literary issue, Voices of the Street, this Wednesday, April 30th at Cafe Deux Soliels.
The night features readings by some of the writers who are published in this special edition of the magazine.
Each year the Voices reading event is a beautiful night filled with personal stories and poetry as the writers pour out their passion, humour and love on stage. Often, it’s the first time they’ve ever read their work to an audience.
All proceeds from the event go toward Megaphone’s writing workshop program, which is run in shelters, treatment centres, social housing buildings and community centres in the Downtown Eastside and across Vancouver.
Get your tickets now (last year’s event sold out) and come to one of the most powerful literary events in Vancouver.
Voices of the Street launch
Wed., April 30th
Cafe Deux Soleils
2096 Commercial Dr.
7-9 pm


DIRECTOR’S CORNER: Voices of the Street

Photo by Julie Rogers.


Megaphone is extremely proud to publish stories from our vendors and other people experiencing poverty. It’s crucial that these voices get heard across Vancouver. We’re incredibly excited that our fourth-annual literary anthology, Voices of the Street, is now on sale. Your Megaphone vendor is selling this special issue for $5, along with the regular edition of the magazine.

Read the rest

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM 201: Cock-a-leek-ee soup


Photo by Sarah R/flickr.


Megaphone is now into its fourth year of offering tuition-free introductory journalism classes to inner city residents at SFU Woodward’s. Our immersive writing class focused on a unifying theme central to all of our experiences and formative memories: food. We’re pleased to present to you a delicious sampling of writing produced in class between late February and the end of March this year:


Cock-a-leek-ee soup

by Allison McArthur


My mother’s cooking was not really welcomed at mealtime. However, we were always excited to watch her prepare a large pot of cock-a-leek-ee soup. Traditionally made from turkey stock, my mom used a pork shoulder: ham with the bone in.

Read the rest

Facebook Comments