Wanted: Keizer’s pandemic stories

The Keizer Heritage Museum and the Keizertimes are teaming up to create an oral history of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Keizer residents, but we need stories of local impacts to make it happen. 

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., on July 11, Robert Becker, curator of the Keizer Heritage Museum, and Eric Howald, managing editor of the Keizertimes, will be conducting interviews in the Keizer Homegrown Theater space at the Keizer Cultural Center, 980 Chemawa Road N. Come to the back door and a volunteer will meet you there

Proper social distancing will be maintained at all times and equipment that needs to be sanitized between uses will be. 

Appointments can be scheduled by calling 503-390-1051 or emailing [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 10. Walk-in storytellers will are welcome, but may need to wait for scheduled appointments to conclude. 

To make the project as well-rounded as possible, the organizers are seeking stories from all sectors of the community: first responders, front-line workers in grocery stores, business owners, families and individuals that fired up sewing machines to make masks, artists that found new inspiration in the pandemic, those that battled COVID-19 personally and survivors of those who lost a battle to the infection. 

“If residents were impacted in positive or negative ways, we would love to hear what they have to say,” said Howald. “These were and continue to be unusual times and we want to add them to the historical record of the city.”

Depending on response, future interview dates may be scheduled. Those with longer stories may be asked to return and finish their interviews at a later date. 

Becker and Howald decided independently that they wanted to do more to document Keizer’s response to the pandemic and found each other when Howald inquired about archiving interviews at the museum. 

The pair plan to use the stories in a variety of ways. Becker plans to edit the video into a compilation telling the story of Keizer’s pandemic response. Howald plans to use interviews in the Keizertimes and to produce an audio documentary that could be aired on KMUZ community radio at a later date. 

Participants are welcome to participate in small, family groupings. Volunteers will meet participants at the door of the Keizer Cultural Center and guide them through the next steps.