Unprecedented, monumental, profound, insane—there are so many words to describe the current health situation and the impact it is having on our economy, society, and culture. But as we grapple for ways to improvise and overcome this crisis, a new descriptor emerges: opportunity. Like many arts and cultural organizations, Historic Oakland Foundation is using this time to adapt current resources, grow existing relationships, and plan for the future.
It’s easy to fall in love with Oakland Cemetery. Ask any staff member or volunteer, and they will tell you that their life changed when they first walked through Oakland’s iron gates. But with so many potential visitors quarantining at home and unable to visit, the impetus is on the Foundation to bring what it is inside our gates out into the community.
We are working to provide more digital resources to help visitors discover Oakland’s history, gardens, architecture, and stories with their phones, tablets, and computers. Tombstone poetry, Oakland-inspired Earth Day crafts for kids, and Atlanta’s brewing history are just a few of the topics explored in recent blog posts on our website. Our Instagram followers can view stunning photos of Oakland’s flora and fauna as well as then-and-now images of the cemetery from the 19th and early 20th centuries as they scroll through our account. You’ll find informative tour videos led by education staff and online Q&A sessions with Oakland gardeners on our Facebook page. For visitors who need to stretch their legs while social distancing, we have a self-guided tour map and a family-friendly symbolism BINGO card available for download. We’re thinking outside of the proverbial box to bring you fun, educational, and engaging content outside Oakland’s gates.
We’re thinking outside of the proverbial box to bring you fun, educational, and engaging content outside Oakland’s gates.
Relationship Building with Volunteers
Our incredible, dedicated, and passionate volunteers are the beating heart of Oakland. Usually leading tours or working at the Visitors Center, our volunteers are currently at home. But this situation has provided the Foundation with new opportunities to deepen our relationships with our volunteers. Special Events and Volunteer Manager Mary Fernandez is leading staff efforts for volunteer engagement, focusing on socializing and support. Handwritten cards and phone calls? Check. A pen pal program to connect new and veteran volunteers? Check. A happy hour on Zoom? Check!
Planning and Planting for the Future
The spring would normally be a busy time at Oakland with tours, events, field trips, and programs. But as we trade in our bustling Bell Tower office for the quiet recesses of our respective homes, Oakland staff is using this time to plan for the future. This includes adapting our existing events to practice safe social distancing and imagining programs for the “New Normal.” Zoom trivia games, combined events, and virtual workshops are just a few ideas on the table at this point. Whether at home or on the grounds, Oakland staff and volunteers are working hard to improvise, adapt, and grow beyond this current crisis to create a better tomorrow.
Donate to our GAgives on #GivingTuesdayNow campaign and help us keep Historic Oakland Foundation’s momentum going: