Bringing joy to people and a sense of connectivity within the Molalla community was the goal. The reality has been something a little more than that.
As the COVID-19 pandemic closed businesses and shut down events throughout Molalla, Ken Fetters and friends felt the sting of the closures along with everyone else.
The owner of The Main Shop in Molalla, Fetters also serves as chairman of the Molalla Culture & Arts Community Project Committee. It is here that the idea of keeping people connected took root
"David Jackson and I are on the culture and arts committee and we got this idea — we have this resource (David Jackson Photography) that will be closed — so let's find something to use his skills for," Fetters said.
And with that basic plan, and Jackson's video skills ready to serve, the "Welcome Molalla" local video series was born. The pair have spearheaded a video project that highlights a wide array of fun things going on in and around Molalla, and the people who are involved. Turns out, they hit a nerve. The videos have been popular.
"We decided to do it during the shutdown to allow people at home to still connect with the community," Jackson said.
"It was an opportunity to give people who were stuck at home a little entertainment of sorts," Fetters said. "I started it (the series) with a (homemade) cardboard castle that I built, and how to do it."
That initial effort proved so successful that Fetters, with the help of donations from Custom Box Services in Molalla, started delivering cardboard to people who wanted to make castles.
"I don't know how many sets of castle stuff I delivered, but I even delivered up to Portland," he said.
And that got the ball rolling. Since then, Jackson and Fetters have watched the video creation process cover an array of subjects. There was the local dentist (Olesya Salathe) discussing her trek from Russia to the United States, a fun wine tasting event, a video on how to journal, gardening episodes and many others. Bob Oblack is creating a series of videos focused on the geology of the Molalla River Corridor, which often are shot on-site.
"Bob's video gets about 1,500 views in about 48 hours, so it's very popular," Fetters said. "We have one we're doing for Relay for Life — some of these charities are missing opportunities (due to the pandemic). We are trying to find a way to help them."
Jackson said that he has shot 19 videos so far, with a few more planned. As things are starting to open up, he's not sure how much longer the project will continue.
"As things open up, maybe not quite so important, but we'll see," said Jackson, who retired about a year ago and opened a small photography studio in the old Molalla Pioneer space.
To view the videos, check out the Welcome to Molalla, Molalla Now or Molalla/Mulino Facebook pages. You also can find them at the YouTube channel, Molalla Welcomes, at youtu.be/-2u9j5LHQeE .
"It has been popular enough that we'll keep doing it as long as Dave doesn't get tired of doing it," Fetters said. "The idea was to just kind of have some ongoing fun for people to enjoy."
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