Snail Mail Story Time

typewriterBack in February, I lamented the possibility that the USPS was going to cancel Saturday mail delivery. A long-time letter lover, it was another let-down for an institution millions of Americans have relied on since the late 1700s, and another reminder of how technology, with all of its good intentions, is also changing time-honored tradition.

So another blogger and I decided to rally for snail mail, and offered to write postcards or letters to anyone who wanted one. Writing back was optional. We hoped that our love of letters would spread a little and at least remind people of the joys of receiving mail – the good kind. We were pleased at the results: I think we each sent out a dozen or more notes, to friends, family, and people we’d never met. We loved the letters we got in return, and seeing others inspired to do their own mini snail mail campaigns. Leslie and I have even begun regularly writing each other now – we both wanted a new pen pal! But most importantly, we like to tell ourselves that our little project is what prompted the USPS to withdraw their proposal to cancel Saturday mail. Victory!

Nearly 10 months later, Leslie and I are ready for round two, and this time, we’re kicking it up a notch. We think that writing letters is a perfect medium for storytelling, and that’s why we’re ready to share some of our most personal experiences with our recipients, and we hope we get to learn yours, too. Here’s how it will work:

We’ll take up to the first 10 participants in this first round, 5 for each of us. (don’t worry, there will be more rounds!). Sign up here if you want in.

For each person, we’ll write on a different topic. And to mix it up a little, Leslie and I will randomly select who writes to whom. You won’t know the topic or the sender until you open your letter! Here is the first round of topics:

  • First heartbreak
  • A difficult decision
  • Favorite recipe
  • Offbeat or unusual hobby or interest
  • A vivid childhood memory

We’d love a letter back, too, so start thinking about what you’d share!

So here we go! Let’s get some #snailmailstories going…who will sign up first?

Please Mr. Postman, Is That a Letter For Me?

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Treasured mail

We all knew it was coming. The US Postal Service has been struggling for the last few years to figure out how to keep their jobs in this era of texting, emails, and social media. But they can only shut down so many post offices, and raise the cost of stamps so many times. And now, one of the biggest cuts has been announced: starting on August 5, mail delivery will be cut on Saturdays, and we can only receive packages.

Not completely surprising, but as a lover of letters, I can’t help but feel sad and wistful about this. It’s even more ironic coming from someone who does social media for a living, and finds it hard to be separated from my phone, and doesn’t let a few minutes go by without checking for new emails. I know that with time and technology, the way we communicate with each other must evolve as well, but I guess the art of writing letters or sending a card in the mail will never get old to this 28-year-old.

I got a postcard in the mail just the other day, from my friend Alison. Why? Just because. She knows I love mail, and she knows I’m an old soul in a young body. She just wanted to say she was glad we were friends. I’ll take it. A year ago, I bought handmade paper at a little shop in Rome, planning in my head all of the beautiful missives I would write to the people I love.

I’m the person that pines for a letter like the one Mr. Darcy wrote to Elizabeth to declare his love. I adore that my parents wrote each other a box full of love letters when they were apart for a few months in their short courtship — they were only 29 and 30 years old. I handwrite personal notes to some of our Case Foundation online community members and our peers and partners. Over the years, I have held on to some of my favorite letters and cards from family and friends, for birthdays, milestones, and just because. When I was younger, I became pen pals for years with a woman I met on a plane, and when I moved to a new town in middle school, I remember swapping letters for over a year with my best friend, until we finally drifted apart. And only recently, I used a service called Snail Mail My Email to send a personal note to my friend Julia

postcardThe post office may be cutting Saturday mail, but I’m not ready to give up letters just yet. So today, when I saw that Leslie Farnsworth shared my feelings on a dying service, we decided to try something. We want to show people how wonderful receiving mail can be…and how great sending mail can be, too. If social media can be used for good, why not use it to promote one of the most original forms of communication? Letters and postcards have been used to declare war and declare independence, to show devotion and dismissal, to mobilize for action and change, and to express opinions and creativity.

So, we’d like to write you a letter. If you’d like to receive mail from Leslie or me (or both of us!) just let us know. Put your name and mailing address in the comments, or fill out this contact form with your information (don’t worry, your information will not be shared). And to make this really work, we ask one thing of you: if  we send you a letter, will you send at least one other person a piece of mail, too?