By way of social media I learned that Jason Uechi, a fellow alum of Hampshire College, was encouraging people to send mail to their old college post office boxes. Of course I lit up at this idea. I immediately found this ‘so terrible its good’ postcard of Hampshire from my collection and sent it off.
Uechi was inspired by the care packages he used to receive in college from family back in Hawaii, filled with items that he couldn’t get on the East Coast. Recently he started sending treats back to his parents and somehow made the leap to mailing something to the current occupant of the po box where he received all those much loved care packages back in the 1980′s. He put the word out on Facebook to other alums and the response was enthusiastic.
I’m guessing that the p.o. box is far less important for college students these days, what with all the instant methods of connecting with the world beyond campus. For me, pre internet and pre cell phone and on financial aid, mail was a real link to my friends and family and much cheaper than making long distance phone calls. I love that Uechi’s idea reactivates the p.o. box as a place of surprise, connection, and chocolate.
This week I have been leading some art workshops for kids as a fundraiser for the badly damaged New York Aquarium at Coney Island. We’re making Koi fish flags, a symbol of perseverance, and hand drawn cards to the animals and humans at the Aquarium. These items will be sent as a care package, along with a cash contribution towards their rebuilding efforts. I might just throw in some goldfish crackers and swedish fish candies too. If there is food in the shape of walruses or penguins, let me know.
I am so grateful that Hootenanny Art House, where I teach, is providing opportunities for kids to take part in the recovery. There has been such an outpouring of volunteerism/donations/fundraising here in the city but very few ways for children to get involved. Every child that has come to the workshops has visited the Aquarium in the past and wants to visit again. Their creative output (along with their parents’ money) will help to make that happen.
This article, Delighting in Sea Mail, in Sunday’s New York Times made me so happy. This dude sends messages in a bottle! And gets responses!
photo by Gordon M. Grant for the New York Times
Have you seen the documentary, Catfish? It came out in 2010 but I just saw it this past weekend. Yes, there are packages and postcards in the film but more importantly it is a complex, fascinating pen pal story for the digital age. And since its hard to say more about it without revealing the plot, I won’t. Don’t read anything about it first, just rent it!
After Bloomberg Business Week’s cover story, The End of Mail, the popular website Freakonomics is asking readers to vote on ways to save the USPS from complete economic collapse. After reading these articles, I watched my cheerful and lovely mailman roll his mail cart up to my building with a better understanding of just how bad things are. And then when I opened my mailbox to retrieve some completely not interesting bills and junk, my heart sank knowing that this crap is what’s paying my mailman’s salary. According to Bloomberg Business Week, in 2005 junk mail surpassed first class mail in volume. The USPS needs 3 pieces of junk mail to replace the profit made from one piece of real mail with a first class stamp. Blech.
In more adorable news, remember the World’s Smallest Post Service? Lea from Leafcutter Designs has joined forces with Chronicle Books to sell a World’s Smallest Post Service home kit! How great is that? Maybe we can all buy them and send mail with 44 dollar postage stamps, no 444 dollar postage stamps, and turn this thing around! What da ya say?
I bought these Evergreen stamps for our holiday cards. They’re on sale. Now all I have to do is get the holiday cards going. We’re sending out postcards. True, these are not postcard stamps but I figure the difference in postage is my contribution to the gasping for air, United States Postal Service. But then again, maybe with the sale price, its not much of a help.
Do you have any holiday mail plans in the pipeline?
Hope Tucker reports from Vermont that her local post office is selling some snazzier than usual shipping boxes for holiday mail. Oh yeah, I gotta get going on my packages too. My weekend plans are starting to become clear to me.
I am usually reluctant to buy frivolous things. Call me thrifty. Or an anti-consumerist. Or maybe just cheap. So when I saw TapeSwell products at a store recently, my mail sending heart sang but my wallet stayed shut. I can live vicariously through you if you give or receive their stuff as holiday gifts. Or buy some supplies to spruce up your holiday packages that will be sent by post. I just might.
3. TapeSwell decorative packing tape and envelope labels.