Most stories we tell are complex. Consequently, the sources of those stories are rarely contained in a single archives. Archivists usually need to work with each other to identify and provide access to the records that underpin a narrative.
Last month the county declared World AIDS Week. Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) discussed its current Getting to Zero campaign. CAP was incorporated in 1985. The history of CAP and Multnomah County is a history of collaboration in awareness, education, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
As part of this presentation, CAP discussed its community archives. This archives has been built through the dedication of members who believe that the history of efforts to combat and eradicate AIDS in Oregon is a story worth telling, as compelling and as important a thread in our human fabric as more common narratives of wealth and power.
Selections from the archives were exhibited throughout the day, both to share the stories and to highlight the need to preserve the records that make those stories possible. The Multnomah County Archives and the Multnomah County Office of Diversity and Equity had worked with CAP the night before to set up the exhibit. While examining some of the posters, I was struck by volunteer manager Judith Rizzio's story about dumpster-diving to save these unique pieces of Oregon's history. The passion and intimate knowledge that this community brings to the work of preserving its history for the benefit of all of us is inspiring.
None of us can change the world by ourselves. Regardless of whether we are using archives, health care, education, governance, or whatever, we are stronger and healthier when united with others. CAP's community archive is both resource and exemplar that we make change together, not on our own.