Capturing and Keeping the Memories of 2020
It is a nearly-universal agreement that 2020 was a difficult year for everyone. So why is it important to remember it?
That was the question Lindsey Scott, the craft cottage coordinator, and Michaela Lambert, the coordinator of tutoring and after school programs, had to answer when they took on the challenge of helping our young women put together time capsules to capture the memories of 2020.
“We started formulating how we could approach the idea of time capsules where the youth would be most interested in it, but also get the most out of it,” Lindsey explained. “Because 2020 is obviously an, I hate using this cliché, but unprecedented year. And for the youth, it’s kind of hard to put that in context. For them, immediately, it seemed as though 2020 was not a year that they wanted to remember, because of all of the strife and turmoil. So we were trying to find a way to position it as a learning experience to understand how archiving our memories and keeping what we have and telling our own stories to ourselves is important regardless of how we feel about the event, because you can’t erase your history. Trying to do so only disallows you from learning from it and being able to use it for your present and your future.”
Lindsey and Michaela brainstormed some ideas about things that could be included in the time capsule, like a letter to my future self, a playlist of songs to remember from the year, an item that brought comfort during quarantine, or a printout of an email, newsletter, or piece of homework from school during the period of e-learning.
The girls spent several weeks putting together their projects, working on it during the time they were in craft cottage, after school programs, or just in their free time in their own program. Boxes were passed out with labels that read: “Time Capsule: An Assemblage for my Future Self from the Year 2020” with a space for their name, the current date, and the date the box should be opened.
As the girls worked on their projects, they had the opportunity to explore new mediums to remember the year, such as photography. Lindsey helped them by giving a photography lesson, then handed out disposable cameras and some scavenger hunt items to photograph. The girls from Couderc Home even took a trip to the Garden of the Phoenix to get some photos and check off the different techniques they learned about from Lindsey. They then printed the photos to include in their time capsules.
After taking time to put together their boxes, the girls gathered outside on the Walsh Campus grounds to have a garden party and dedication for the time capsules.
“That was our moment to reflect on what we had into [the time capsules] and share the experience with one another and congratulate each other for our strength and making it through 2020,” Lindsey said.
Craft supplies were set out so that the girls could finish their letter to their future selves and decorate the letter with things like stickers and glitter. After filling out the letters, both coworkers and the girls were given the opportunity to share what was in their letter with the group, along with photos and other mementos included in the boxes.
That was our moment to reflect on what we had into [the time capsules] and share the experience with one another and congratulate each other for our strength and making it through 2020.
The girls had a great time enjoying desserts, dancing, and sharing their thoughts about the project and the year.
“The youth shared some really impressively thoughtful ideas or just offerings and lessons they’ve learned with one another, unprompted,” Lindsey said. “It seemed to give them a moment to reflect on their gratitude, which I was really impressed by. I was really happy to see them getting in dialogue with one another about feeling safe and supported right now by one another and referring to one another as family. And that was really special, it was a really special way to close the night.”
And even though the girls initially expressed their hesitation at the idea of remembering a year that brought many difficulties, they eventually embraced the project.
“It took a lot of effort to slowly work in the importance, the utility, and the power of archiving memory, of keeping your narrative for yourself, of not erasing the things that are painful for you, and working that into all the lessons … and over time, especially as they got to the point where the more things they amassed, I think, the more they could see themselves in their boxes,” Lindsey said. “It seemed the more excited they got, there was a [greater] sense of ownership. And I think that was really the key and I didn’t realize that it would be, but seeing it at the end, them decorating their boxes and telling the stories they tell to themselves to other people … I was just blown away.”
Lindsey shared the story of one of the girls who had no interest in the project until the night of the dedication. Then, after seeing everyone being vulnerable by sharing what was in their own boxes, she reflected on her own desire to have ownership over her story too. It was then she decided to add more things to her own box before putting it away.
Lindsey also expressed her gratitude for all the coworkers who helped make the project a success.
“I’m really grateful for Michaela and Liz [Kuhn Tomka, the Vice President of Education and Career Resources] and all of the staff,” she said. “I mean, it definitely took a village to make it happen, but some of the staff got so creative too with how they approached different pieces of it.”
And in the end, it was the perfect way to wrap up the summer and get ready for the upcoming school year.
“[It was] just a moment to kind of pause and go into the school year, I think, with hopefully a little bit of optimism,” Lindsey said.