Councilwoman creates videos to highlight life during the pandemic
Originally posted by: The Virginian Pilot
One sunny afternoon while talking with her postal carrier, Steve, Norfolk Councilwoman Andria McClellan had an idea.
“It was a beautiful day, and I was working on my front porch,” said McClellan, who has represented Superward 6 since 2016. “Steve bound up the stairs and we exchanged our normal small talk, and then I decided I needed to highlight this front-line worker.”
She grabbed her phone and recorded 42 seconds of Steve — she doesn’t know his last name — talking about what it’s like to be an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And thus McClellan’s YouTube channel, “A Day in the Life of Covid-19” was born.
Two months and 20 videos later, McClellan has racked up more than 2,000 views.
McClellan admits she’s no journalist, but her easy manner and sincere questions put her interviewees at ease. They talk not only about their jobs during the pandemic but how they are coping overall.
Mail carrier Steve spoke about staying clean during the pandemic and trying to make sure people get what they need.
Café Stella owner Stella Pomianek expressed frustration that the shutdown happened just after the café had reopened after remodeling.
Sharon Riley, pastor at Faith Deliverance Christian Center, talked about how they held Holy Week services and how drastically things have changed for her “touchy-feely” congregation. “We do a lot of hugs,” she said, adding that the whole church has had to learn new ways to communicate.
Most of the 20 videos — filmed using the Zoom app and edited afterward — show McClellan side by side with her interviewee. Some are friends or acquaintances; others she cold-called.
“It was a means of connecting with the community,” said the Virginia Beach native who now lives in Ghent with her husband and three sons. “It was hard to stay in touch with people.”
The videos show a broad cross-section of the city’s residents. On one video, there’s an emergency room doctor talking about enjoying donated Tropical Smoothie drinks. On another, Joe Baron, Norfolk’s sheriff, relates how inmates and deputies are screened for COVID-19. And one where an animal care specialist jokes about spoiling the animals sheltered at her facility.
One striking video showcased the work that CJ Robison, a former nurse, has been doing during the pandemic. A friend of hers who works at a hospital complained about not having enough masks, so Robison created Mask Force. She now has 1,500 volunteers who have made 18,000 masks out of halyard fabric.
McClellan manages to catch some funny moments, too — like when Norview High School teacher Katie Arroyo confessed, “I’m not a good home-school teacher either!” when she and McClellan were commiserating about educating their own children at home during the pandemic.
McClellan’s goal with her channel was to find out things she didn’t know before.
“There’s got to be a silver lining in all this,” she said, noting that none of the people she asked refused to participate. “People get to vent a little, too.”
McClellan likens her project to a time capsule and hopes that people will watch the videos on YouTube 20 years from now to see how Norfolk coped during a difficult time.
She’s not sure yet how many more videos she’ll do, but whenever she decides to call it a wrap, she hopes to share them with local universities and the Norfolk Public Library.
Videos can be accessed on McClellan’s YouTube channel as well as via norfolk.gov by clicking on City Council, then Members, then Andria McClellan.
Warren Warsaw, firstname.lastname@example.org