Today I am participating in a snail mail action called #postcard avalanche! If you find Stephen Bannon a troubling Chief White House Strategist for President Elect Donald Trump, then put pen to postcard too! If you are not familiar with Bannon, here is an article in The Washington Post about him. And if you choose to participate, send out those postcards by Monday November 28th and share your paper mail on social media with the hashtags #postcardavalanche and #stopbannon.
I must say it was very strange to go through the familiar ritual of hand addressing a postcard but this time I was writing Trump’s mailing address. And it was not a good strange.
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.
This kid. This project. His name is Jacob Cramer and he started Love for the Elderly, an anonymous letter writing project that sends mail to senior citizens. His mom must be proud. If you would like to participate in Love For the Elderly you can get information on their website and Facebook page.
I just got back from my kids’ school where students and staff are dressed up for Halloween, I mean, Character Day. That’s what they call it and everyone is supposed to dress up as a character from a book, maybe to include children who don’t celebrate Halloween and to make it educational? Semantics. In any case, this year’s Halloween should be called National Elsa Day because she is everywhere!
Speaking of school children, my son’s friend’s 3rd grade class is trying to see how many postcards they can get from around the country and the world. If you are a VSM reader from outside of New York State, can you please send a postcard to the class with one fact about your location written on it? That would be excellent! Thank you!
Please send your postcard to:
Class 3-412, P.S. 10, 511 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
This summer the kids and I went to see Shantell Martin‘s show, Are You You, at MoCADA. We sat in the gallery space looking at Martin’s black marker drawings which covered the walls, and thought up questions to ask her about her art. My plan was to have my kids who love to draw send some fan mail to a woman who loves to draw. Coincidentally she was at the museum and we got to meet her! She was lovely and she gave us stickers!
Our fan mail included a few questions and compliments from each kid and Shantell Martin inspired drawings that they did on white paper with black ink. She wrote back! And sent stickers! And pens!
Now I am an even bigger fan. Look for Shantell Martin’s work at the upcoming Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond. It will be up from October 3, 2014 to January 4, 2015.
Above is a portion of the series I Got Up… by conceptual artist, On Kawara, made up of 90 postcards that he rubber stamped and mailed to his friend and fellow artist, John Baldessari in 1975. I just learned that while I was on vacation in Italy, Kawara died at the age of 81. Since much of his work focuses on marking time and place I feel compelled to state that he died on July 10, 2014 in New York City.
I am looking forward to a retrospective of Kawara’s work at the Guggenheim, which opens on February 6, 2015, and is called On Kawara: Silence.
Its the height of the summer bounty! Peaches. Basil. Tomatoes. Yum. At the Grand Army Plaza GreenMarket yesterday I learned that it was Farmer Appreciation Day. Hot breakfast and coffee were made for farmers by GreenMarket staff and customers were encouraged to write cards to their favorite vendors.
Handwritten cards you say? Using paper mail to connect people in a meaningful way? Fantastic! This lovely gesture coincidentally aligned with the new Farmers Markets stamps, issued by the USPS last week. With glee I found a photo of the new stamps on my smart phone to show to the GreenMarket staff. They were psyched to hear about them. I even suggested buying some stamps as gifts for vendors.
And in today’s New York Times there is a piece by Bren Smith called Don’t Let your Children Grow up to be Farmers, about just how hard it is to turn a profit as a small-scale farmer. Sounds like a bit of farmer appreciation in the form of policy change is in order, if we are truly committed to the Farm to Table movement.
My sister teaches 2nd grade and initiated a Flat Stanley project with her students. Are you familiar? The idea is based on a 1964 children’s book, Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown about a boy who gets squished by a bulletin board and then is flat enough to slip under doors, be flown like a kite, and best of all, be mailed in an envelope.
An adorable Flat Stanley, colored with crayon, and a letter arrived in my mailbox in October with a request to take the paper boy on an adventure and write back to the students about the experience. The idea is to help children learn about different places around the world. So great. So up my alley.
Despite being Ms. Paper Mail, Ms. Make Mail, I let the letter languish in a pile of unanswered mail. For months. Yes, we’re all hypocrites sometimes.
But I finally got my act together in May and sent the students an absurd and fictional letter about why my response had taken so long. It had to do with Flat Stanley escaping on the subway and reuniting with us many months later. In the process I shared lots of details about my family’s life here in Brooklyn and some of the ways we spend our time. It was so fun to write and the students apparently loved it.
Even hypocrites can turn things around.
Viva Snail Mail!
Along with the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou this week, we also lost designer, Massimo Vignelli. The two icons died a day apart, both building inspiring lives in to their 80’s.
As Vignelli’s life was winding down, his son put out a request for “Dear Massimo” letters and people from all over the world sent mail, telling Vignelli how his life and work inspired and informed who they are. Such a beautiful tribute, one that Vignelli was able to experience in writing. A living memorial is such a gift.
Maya and Massimo, thank you both.