‘What will you remember about this time?’ Sign encourages Portland to share stories, memories

KOIN News AM Extra

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For better or worse — 2020 is a year we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives. A woman in North Portland recognized it early on and started a project that starts with a simple question: “What will you remember about this time?”

Erin Kelley painted the question and put it up in front of her house along N. Montana Avenue back in March, soon after COVID -19 hit. Below the sign she left out blank tags and sharpies for people to share and write their thoughts.

“Within a couple weeks of sheltering at home, I was like we have got to put something up,” Kelley said. “We were so confined with just the five of us… I wanted to find a way to connect with the community and hear what they were experiencing during this time too.”

Over the past couple of months, Kelley says she’s watched the number of responses grow. Dozens of tags now hang on strings stretched between two trees. On most tags, people have jotted down personal stories, memories, and lessons learned.

“Working from home,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Finding love” are just a few of the things some have said they’ll personally remember about this time.

“It is all over the place of how people interpret the question, ‘What will you remember?'” Kelley said. “As time has gone on, the shift has gone to people talking about being tear-gassed during the riots or feeling optimistic about the future.”

Kelley says she wanted to be able to provide a space for people in the community to come and to share their thoughts– anonymously. She says that it is the sharing of stories and memories that have helped create a sense of community during challenging times.

“We all have stories to tell and have tried to create meaning out of this experience of the last several months and we appreciate stories and we appreciate the sense of community that we can all find in sharing our stories,” Kelley added. “I feel like they are treasures and people have written really heartfelt things on there and profound memories and really distinct stories that are from this date and time.”

Kelley said when she is ready to take the tags down, she would like to offer them to the Oregon Historical Society.

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