Edmonton group tells stories of city's marginalized people
The Humans of Edmonton Experience is an online photo collective sharing stories of homelessness, mental health
Neil Kennedy has been homeless several times before. He's been in the inner city for more than four decades and he's worked at several social service agencies.
It's what he thinks sets he and the Humans of Edmonton Experience apart from other media when they talk to vulnerable people in Edmonton.
"I've been down here for so many years," Kennedy told CBC's Radio Active Monday. "Everybody knows me, so they're not going to be thinking that I'm some predator that's just looking to make a buck off their story."
Kennedy is one of four people who make up the Humans of Edmonton Experience, an online photo collective that focuses on telling stories of the city's marginalized population.
The team was started by Jerry Cordeiro and now consists of Kennedy, Emil Tiedemann and Joy Zylstra, all of whom use their unique perspectives and personal experiences with issues like homelessness, addiction and mental illness to document the experience of others.
"Together, the four of us could really help a lot more people," Zylstra said Monday. "We all have compassion and I know what it's like to be looked down on."
Zylstra, who is a burn survivor, said she had to learn how to live her life knowing she looked different from others. She wants to use the experience as a way to reach out to those who may be having a similar background.
"Everybody we meet has a touching story, and just to hear or see them just open up and let their vulnerability just be there and to trust us … they just all mean something special," she said.
Since the group formed, it has seen success telling stories from the community. "It's been nothing but positive feedback," Zylstra said.
"We want to help these people," Kennedy added. "Where other places can't help them, we're there ... It's the best hobby in the world."
Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.