Pivoting in a Pandemic

Originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Gazette
By Executive Director, Mary Trieschmann

Mary shoveling snow at 615 Cherry Street, winter of 1967

In the spring of 2020 we experienced historic events, reminding us that Winnetka is part of a global community and compelling us all to “pivot.” As soon as news of the coronavirus hit the press, we pivoted to continue our mission to honor and preserve the Village’s heritage, gather and share the artifacts and stories of its past, and foster meaningful connections among Winnetkans and the broader community.

First, we cancelled our in-person Spring Event featuring former NBC journalist and Winnetkan, Mike Leonard, and then reinvented our Annual Gala to headline Mike as our storyteller extraordinaire. This was our first Virtual Gala: “Big News from Winnetka,” a historic event in and of itself, and a tremendous success with over 160 guests coming together to listen to Mike and raise essential funds to support the Schmidt-Burnham Log House, the Museum at 411 Linden Street, and our collections, exhibits, and programs.

Next, we began to document the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests to denounce racism through new features on our website and social media platforms. We created portals for community members to submit photographs and stories about the pandemic’s impact on their lives and developed a new feature on our website titled, “Explore Winnetka Stories.” Here, adults and children can navigate high interest, historic topics such as Winnetka’s Disappearing Shoreline; Honoring Winnetka’s Veterans: WWI & WWII; Winnetkans Coming Together during the Pandemic; The Skokie Lagoons; the Winnetka Futures 2040 Plan; Spring Fashions and Fearless Firefighters; Winnetka’s Progressive Era; Hadley Institute; and more.

We also uploaded the documentary, “Winnetka Story: The History of Winnetka & the North Shore,” to our YouTube Channel for viewers to watch for free and created an online system for research requests to ease access to our historic photographs, documents, and publications. Lastly, we developed a safe and secure process to accept donations of artifacts for our vast collections, ensuring that important Winnetka-related documents and objects are preserved for generations to come. Feel free to email our curator, Meagan McChesney, PhD, if you have any items you’d like to donate (curator@winnetkahistory.org).

As we continue to socially distance and work to adapt to our ever-changing realities it seems the ideal time to reflect on some of the many reasons our amazing community can still “Come together and see the good.” In this issue we are reminded how Winnetkans pulled together in 2020 and throughout history.

We will continue to provide engaging content virtually and are truly looking forward to sharing Winnetka’s history with the community in person in 2021. ■

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