Did you go to a Women’s March yesterday? They were happening on all 7 continents. I was in North America- New York City to be specific- with family and friends and the route was so packed with people that we had to go rogue and march on side streets. Which were also full of people. Friends were marching in Washington D.C., Chicago, Oakland, Boston, Park City, Portland, Austin, Copenhagen, and Paris. So wonderful.
The positive and unifying energy of these marches is just the beginning of the resistance to an administration that is tone deaf and in many ways hostile to women’s fundamental human rights. And immigrants’ rights. And civil rights. And LGBT rights. And our climate crisis. And so many other issues. So the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington have proposed 10 actions for the first 100 days.
And guys. The first action involves paper mail! Its a make mail about the issues you care about and send it to your senators action!
Make postcards. Get stamps. Host a mail making party. Let’s do this.
Viva Snail Mail!
As a student of communication, I have had a lot to think about since the presidential election results of 2016, particularly how commercial and social media contributed to the election of Donald Trump. Of all the myriad ways that I believe Trump to be unqualified to be President, the one that kept me up all night on November 8th is what an awful role model he is for children. As a parent and educator, I am appalled that a thin skinned bully who uses language and actions in vicious ways, the kind of person we try hard to teach our children NOT to be, has won. Apparently I am not alone. A group of parents started a letter writing campaign for children called “Dear President Trump: Letters from Kids about Kindness.” According to a Washington Post article by Amy Wang about the project, parents have been posting their children’s letters on social media (including Trump’s bully pulpit, Twitter) with the hashtag #kidsletterstotrump. To the letter writers and their parents, thanks for trumping hate with paper love.
Read this sweet article! In Melbourne, Australia the city assigned email addresses to their trees so people could report problems. But instead, tree enthusiasts wrote love letters to their favorite trees. Thousands of them. And the trees wrote back!
In this instance email is probably a better medium for communication than paper, unless one uses recycled paper. I mean, would you try to woo a cow by taking it out for a steak?
The Crossing Brooklyn show at the Brooklyn Museum is worth a visit. One of my favorites is Paul Ramirez Jonas‘ The Commons. The piece conjures the kind of historic bronze statue you might see in a town square but the horse has no war hero in its saddle and the whole statue is covered in cork board. Visitors are encouraged to pin things up. Pin something up? Don’t mind if I do.
Jonas combines two things associated with public space; static, war memorializing monuments and active, interactive community bulletin boards. His piece stirred up thoughts about the past and the future of “The Commons” and the potential of non digital social networks that exist in real, shared time and real, shared space. I loved it.
Plus while I was visiting the exhibit I saw one of my former pre-school art students on a class field trip and got to watch as he exclaimed, “My tooth fell out!” His teacher took his picture to mark the occasion of losing his first tooth. Pretty fantastic and memorable location for such a rite of passage.
Despite assertions by my wise grandmother that I should be underwritten by the USPS, I’m not doing all this for them. My devotion is to communication, to paper, to art, to the hand-made. And that can happen without a stamp. This past week my daughter and I were thinking up creative ways to spend a cold, winter afternoon and decided to leave pictures and clementines on our hallway neighbors’ doorsteps.
And we got several responses, including this beautiful letter.
Viva hand delivered messages between neighbors!
On the occasion of my niece’s first birthday I went back and looked at the group text message thread my siblings and I sent each other as my sister Hope went in to labor for the first time. They are so funny and sweet and made us all feel closer, even though we were in different locations. It was our first birth by text! I loved it so much that I sent the players a transcript of the day and half long thread. It reads as a potent reminder of that time, the kickoff of the first year of parenting, a huge and exhausting accomplishment.
On the other end of the texting spectrum, have you seen Werner Herzog’s short documentary film, From One Second to the Next? It is about texting and driving and the fatal results of that combination.
Texting is a fantastic way to communicate, even between contractions. So fun! So immediate! But not when you are behind the wheel of a 4000 lb machine, because fun and immediate can very quickly become tragic if you hit someone with your car. And your phone.
Viva (responsible) Texting!