Editor's note: There’s nothing like a global pandemic to remind us of how lucky we are to live in a small, tight-knit community where no one is a stranger and everyone deserves compassion. For some Carpinterians, the COVID-19 pandemic became their Superman phone booth, the time and place to switch on their powers. We marvel at what so many community members have done to make the discomfort bearable and sometimes even beautiful. When the going gets tough, these Carpinterians get going.
Uncertainty is the defining element of the global Covid-19 pandemic. But one thing is certain—one way or another, sooner or later, the pandemic will come to an end and these strange and uncertain days will become our collective history. And that sense of history-in-the-making is the place from which Carpinteria-based filmmaker Larry Nimmer began a series of videos documenting his fellow Carpinterians in this unprecedented time.
“We need to learn from the past in order to make the best of the future,” Nimmer says. “At some point in the future, it will be fascinating to look back and imagine what life was like.” Indeed, his opening video features drone footage of a nearly empty Carpinteria city beach and downtown in early April. “We find quiet streets and many shuttered businesses,” Nimmer says in narration, “that is what Covid-19 has done to our community.”
The videos are produced in partnership with the City of Carpinteria, and are available on the city’s website. Local response has been significant, with some episodes receiving thousands of views. Nimmer shoots several videos per week with people from various walks of life in Carpinteria, including nonprofit leaders, the Carpinteria mayor, educators, and business owners.
Some clips are chilling. Nimmer asks ER doctor Chris Johnson if he believes that many people in Carpinteria will get Covid-19. “I think it is guaranteed that many people will get it,” the doctor replies. “It’s inevitable that we’re going to start to open up our society, and as we do that folks will get exposed …”
The full range of local perspectives is on display in the videos, and Nimmer appreciates the ability to provide information as well as entertainment. Interviewees have an opportunity to express themselves, and viewers enjoy relatable experiences and familiar faces. “People like to know they are not alone with their problems,” says Nimmer. “It’s easier to get through hard times knowing that the rest of the community has the same problems, and for that matter, the world.”
At Nimmer’s gentle questioning, his subjects open up about their jobs, their family, their frustrations and their hopes. Though the videos might not offer a cure, as Nimmer says, “at least they let us feel a little less isolated.”