Vancouver exhibit designers were in Taylor on Monday night to discuss the community’s Memory Project with members of the public.
The project has collected video interviews with over 90 local residents. Some of the videos were shown to a small assemblage of Taylor residents. The memory project will showcase that content in multiple places throughout Taylor.
“The most important thing is to make sure it’s surprising and that the venues are nontraditional,” said Phil Aldrich, owner of AldrichPears Associates, a Vancouver-based interactive design company, and one of the memory project’s principals.
“I think the traditional format is to look at photos and try to envision what it was like back then. Whereas with a video format you can place yourself in it and sort of imagine the emotions [at the time],” said Samantha Gibeault, from the Dawson Creek tourism office, at the gathering.
Another young woman in the audience said that she is used to consuming her history through books, but that audio and visual firsthand accounts of history interest her.
It’s interesting to not just read your grandparent’s words but to see and hear them, she said.
The goal, according to content creator Harry Parsons, is not to create another museum, but to make the memory project a living expression of the community.
“We’re hoping to keep gaining more stories this coming year so there will be quite a few people who have their stories told…. We will be able to change it regularly,” Parsons said.
Ultimately, the project’s creators will see that a variety of different types of video kiosks are set up throughout Taylor’s public places – the library, community hall, public offices.
Parsons said that community members at the open house gave his team a lot of good suggestions as to where in the community to place the kiosks.
Audience members also voiced their ideas on how to combine multiple formats – video, audio, and pictorials – to produce a more engaging effect.
The goal is to enrich the community and its guests’ experience of Taylor’s history.
However, it’s not a history project, which implies stasis. The project is meant to be interactive, dynamic and evolving, Aldrich said.
“The most important thing is you’ve got to be fun. This is free choice learning. People can decide to stay or not stay… the important thing is to make sure you’re relevant to people,” Aldrich said, adding that to keep people interested, the project must be dynamic, meaning that users can change the content.
The memory project also differs from a history project in that the stories of all Taylor residents are considered equally valid.
“We want to cover from the elders to at least the older children. If it’s a family they can certainly bring their kids to tell the story as well,” Parsons said.
Aldrich says that the project is also unique in that the people of Taylor are telling their own stories unfiltered by historians.
“We are trying to bring people’s personal stories, their own history into venues where you don’t usually see them,” Aldrich said.
With a population of just under 1,400, Taylor is a small place. Already 90 residents have recorded interviews for the design team and that number is expected to grow.
Parsons says that the kiosks will start to be set up in the community in June.