British Columbia

British Columbians asked to share COVID-19 pandemic experiences for postcard project

The project is the brainchild of a Vancouver Island literacy society that plans to give the cards to museums in senders' communities to create a historical record.

Vancouver Island literacy society wants to create historial record for local museums

Anyone can send in a postcard expressing how they are feeling during the COVID-19 crisis. Post pandemic, Literacy Alberni Society will make sure the cards are distributed to the communities they were sent from to create a historical record. (Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov)

The COVID-19 pandemic has a lot of people using modern technology to check in with each other, but a Vancouver Island literacy society wants to hear how British Columbians are doing the old-fashioned way — with a handwritten postcard.

The Literacy Alberni Society in Port Alberni, B.C., launched the Pandemic Postcard Project to promote literacy while their facility is closed, as well as to create an archive for the Alberni Valley Museum.

The project is open to anyone who wants to share their stories or thoughts. After the project closes, the society will make sure cards sent from outside Port Alberni will be given to museums in those communities for their own archives.

Society spokesperson Lesley Wright said it is also a way for staff and volunteers to stay connected with the approximately 150 people who visit the society's facility every week when it is open.

"We have no way of knowing how some of our elders are doing... a postcard for them, [something] from a bygone era, is something they are used to," said Wright in an interview on All Points West Tuesday.

Postcards have already started to arrive. There are no rules on what you can write or draw, as long as it all fits on a standard-sized post card. 

There is also a digital postcard template on the Literacy Alberni's website if people prefer that option to snail mail.

Postcards received will be scanned and posted on social media until the pandemic ends and they will be kept as archival records. (Literacy Alberni)

Wright said all cards will be posted on the society's Facebook page, including scans of cards sent by mail, but that a physical archive for the museum is especially important because social media posts could be inaccessible to future generations.

"This is a piece of primary documentation... we will be able to put our hands on it 100 years from now and know exactly what was going on during the pandemic," said Wright.

She said there is very little record of how locals felt during the flu pandemic in the early 1900s and the project is a way to ensure that will not happen this time.

Postcards can be mailed to The Pandemic Postcard Project, P.O. Box 1146, Port Alberni, B.C., Station Main, V9Y 7L9. Be sure to include your first name, age, and city of residence.

Postcards can also be dropped off at a designated spot set up in front of the society's facility at 5100 E. Tebo Ave. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

With files from All Points West


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