But I need these baskets back!

Or: A Love Letter to Historica Dominion Institute
Or: Donor Tips from a Broke Chick: Nostalgia Edition

If you grew up in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, chances are you know exactly what happened to those peach baskets. (If you don’t, you can learn here).

Last night I was thrilled to be at Historica Dominion Institute’s sneak peak of two new Heritage Minutes videos. Oodles of Gen Y and Gen X and Gen-what-have-yous gathered to bask in a shared experience, nostalgia, and national pride. We were treated to a few 22 Minutes “sacrilege moments” – celebrating the Canadian tradition of shopping south of the border, and the design of washroom icons (“It’s not insulin. But you know where to pee”). Sadly, my favourite (“Finishing just out of the medals at the Olympics for over a hundred years”) was not included, and nowhere to be found online! If there’s one things Canadians do, it’s reference our inferiority complex.

ASIDE Looking for an academic paper that investigates national satire (aren’t we all)? This one‘s got you covered.

And then we got to see the top twelve (official) Heritage Minutes.  Peach baskets, burnt toast, the Halifax explosion, they were all there! The level of applause as each one began made it clear which ones the crowd loved the most (see the whole collection here). We even got to see the first two new Heritage Minutes to be released in years (coming soon to a commercial break near you). And I don’t mind telling you that some of those videos got me welling up with a sense of awe at the human stories woven through our history.

After the screening was finished, Historica Dominion Institute staff and actors came to answer the audience’s questions.

ASIDE Hey HDI, if you need examples of popularizing Canadiana and history and nostalgia, you may want to check out Kate Beaton.

Nostalgia came up a bunch of times throughout the evening. It wasn’t just that re-watching Heritage Minutes took me back to my childhood, it was the entire set up of the evening (shout out to Spotvin for their work!) There was free popcorn, pop, candy, a tshirt, and a loot swag bag – it was like being a kid at a birthday party again.

ASIDE And has only made me more determined to organize a milk and cookies fundraiser some day.

But it also got me thinking — on a Monday evening, on a modest budget, a not-all-that-flashy, charitable organization managed to draw us finicky Gen-Yers out to watch 30 minutes’ worth of old educational videos. Big organizations have capitalized on nostalgia (and the lucrativeness of derivative rights) in the relaunching of our childhood experiences (see: gritty reboots of 1990s action movies, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). My favourite night out in Toronto is at the 90s night (look, dance music was good back then). Nostalgia’s got quite the powerful draw.

So, if you’re finding it hard to get us to look up from our twitters and the distractions of our (youngish) adult lives, give us a opportunity to remember our pre-iPhone lives. I’m trying to think of events in the nonprofit community that do this and I’m coming up short. If you know of them, I’d love to learn more, so let me know in the comments!

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