Thoughts

With the pandemic greatly reducing the time we can spend at historic sites, interpreting to people, and
actively doing what we love, many of us have turned to the online programing available. For me, this meant participating in one, two, or three Zoom style programs a day through spring and summer. I loved it. I could attend programs and workshops coming from locations I would not otherwise be able to attend. With school restarting, live programs during the day were no longer an option. I turned to watching recorded programs on YouTube. I discovered and caught up on the great videos from Costubers. Loved them. They became part of my weekly routine. Great videos. Great people. Great projects.
But, slowly, I became cranky. Then, miserably cranky. I even had some utterly irrational outbreaks. I became
unsettled, unhappy, feeling like I do not belong, and more things.
I think it finally clicked what has been going on. Prior to the pandemic, my living history bubble has been:
museum focused, interpretation focused, hands-on artifact focused – It was about actively interpreting to
visitors – the planning for it, physically being out acquiring or creating what is needed for interpretation.
Since the onset of the pandemic, life has shifted from in-person living history to the virtual living history
world. For me, the shift was first to live and interactive Zooms, then to recorded YouTube videos. This world
is filmed and edited; it is camera angles and lighting. It focuses more on the costuming and less on the material culture. It has little to no in-person interpretive interaction. There is nothing in itself “wrong” with this. It is just a shift from the in-person living history world to the virtual world. For some, this shift is quite dynamic.
While this seems pretty straight forward and maybe obvious, it took me a while to realize this is what was
happening and it is a component in how I am feeling. I am hoping that by talking about how this shift has affected me, it will help others be aware of the effects on them and prompt thought about what can be done to make the adjustment healthier.
For me, wanting/needing to continue to do the living history things and do them well, this change means shifting from an in-person set of materials/tools needed to a virtual-living history set. For the last couple decades, I did well, very well, being able to go out and acquire the items useful for in-person interpretation – sewing accessories, personal kitchenware, soapstones, boxes, baskets, the this and thats. Finding these original
and reproduction pieces was ingrained since childhood. I was good at it. The materials and tools for virtual living history are very dif erent. These materials and tools include: cameras, lighting, editing programs, various programs and applications. These are not acquired creatively, from knowing the middle-of-no-where hot spots, or the rural artisans. These are purchased with real money, online from stores or companies far away. (Sure, some of these are free and there are ways around. But.) That is an alien world for me.
I find myself in a few struggles. First, I have oodles of ideas I want to do on video… but I need a second camera and editing software. Second, financially I need to sew and sell straw … but, I also want to promote
the making of “something from nothing” using the stash and scrap basket.
The ideas not yet coming into fruition feels a good bit silly to me. I know what software I need. I use it on a
regular basis. I know what equipment (camera, stands, lighting) I need. I use it on a regular basis. I have the
cameras, lighting, and stants I want sitting in my cart, waiting. Then comes bills and renewals and such.
Eventually timing will work.At the same time, videos don’t make the budget happen, so it has to take second seat to the following.
Straw millinery is a significant part of my income. I only make $25k at the school (yes, full-time certified, degreed.) It is essential that I sew, list, and sell. This is where my time needs to be dedicated. I also want todoing the rhythmic sewing of straw. This need conflicts with my thoughts on promoting making “something
from nothing.” I think the making of little things from ones stash or scrap basket is mentally healthy, especially right now. Projects can meet short attention spans and be nearly free. Both things that meet current needs of many. You may wonder why I can’t do both. These are very dif erent types of sewing. The fine motor use is just that much different that going between is dif icult. Having both types of sewing out at the same time is visual chaos, aka a mess.
Where does this leave me? With February recess ahead, I have time to work through some of my thoughts
while not crawling home exhausted from the school day. I will be able to spend full days working on straw as
well as a couple personal projects. I hope this will help me get my head on straight and make some decisions
regarding my time and focuses for spring.
What do I want you to take away from this? Please know I am scattered and unfocused, more so than usual. Normally, I come up with plans and back-up plans, and rain plans. Not having clear foresight in the midst of the pandemic has made planning nearly impossible. I am frustrated with the situation and myself, as
I know many of you are. There are moments I feel lost and desperate. I am trying. Please take a moment to
look at how the changes in your routines may have af ected you without you knowing. Are there feelings you can’t find the root of? Is there something I have been doing that you find beneficial? Ir is there something I used to do that you miss and wish I would do again? Please let me know.

To press publish or not????

Published in: on February 12, 2021 at 11:53 am  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I completely understand. I am a National Park ranger. My job is to talk to people, to educate them on the historical importance of the cultural resources of my site. Sometimes I would see hundreds of people in a single day, thousands in a week. Now, I am teleworking from home because visitor services at my park are suspended. My talking consists of Microsoft Team messages to my coworkers. The collaborative effort of public history is lost behind the screen.
    I, too, have lots of ideas of videos and programs to reach people. Yet, the digital and editing tools I need are not in the park budget. While other skills and knowledge are outside my job description.
    I am getting restless. Yet, I have little motivation to do personal or professional projects because I don’t know if or when I will get to use them. So… I continue to sit and stare at the computer screen and do nothing.

  2. Have you considered approaching someone that is already doing videos and has the equipment, to assist? This could be someone nearby that would donate their time for credits on the finished product (or do a deep discount). Also consider students needing projects for coursework at a local college? I once participated in recording a CD with someone who was doing that, and the student was so glad to have the opportunity. The university had the equipment, the student had the time and need… we got a professionally done recording! Just a thought!

  3. That is far more involved than anything I want to deal with. I like recording on a whim, when I have time and inspiration. I don’t need any assistance from a person. This is something I do on a regular basis at work.


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