Last week I wrote about sending a postcard to an imagined recipient with whom I have something in common, the current occupant of my old post office box from college.
How about sending off messages to imagined recipients of the future? To someone who you feel a commonality with, even though she or he does not yet exist? Time Capsules for our Grandchildren is a project by artist Stephanie Diamond, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and a group of elementary school students in Philadelphia. The kids photographed their neighborhoods, gathered ephemera circa 2013, and wrote letters to their grandchildren. All of these items have been placed in air tight containers and will be buried in the Tyler School of Art Green Space on June 6th, 2013 at 4pm. And in 50 years to the day, the time capsules will be opened, and hopefully the children’s messages will be received!
I am so curious about what the kids wrote and what it will be like for people not yet born to receive their messages. Apparently the kids will read from their letters on June 6th and since the event is open to the public, you Philly area readers should go as VSM correspondents (how did ya like that double entendre?) and report back!
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.
Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith’s new friendship was deepened through their commitment to correspond by post. What started as an agreement to write a letter for each day of the Catholic observance of Lent, evolved into a correspondence that lasted for years, through many intense chapters in both women’s lives. These exchanges have just been published in a book called Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters.
And they want to encourage you to start a letter writing correspondence with someone you care about, in honor of National Letter Writing Month.
Curious about the book? Well Loyola Press has graciously offered to send a copy to an interested VSM reader. The first person to send this link to a friend who might be up for the challenge will win! How will I know that you did? Well, ok. That’s true. The sending the link part will have to rely on the honor system. The first person to write to me in the comments section, claiming to have sent the link, will win.
You HAVE to listen to this NPR story about the Juliet Club in Verona, Italy. Yes, the home of that Juliet who loved a young man named Romeo. So wonderful. Photo courtesy of the Juliet Club, aka il Club di Giulietta.
Did you hear about Snail Mail My Email a few years back? A gentleman named Ivan Cash proposed that people send email messages for volunteers to convert into paper missives, to be sent around the world. And it worked! Hundreds of people participated and thousands of pieces of mail were sent. The fruits of that fun project have been published in a book. What a perfect gift for uh, Easter? Tax Day? Or maybe just cuz.
Yet another example of the creative potential in using the scope of the internet to foster the handmade.
Who wouldn’t want handmade mail from Paris? I think no one. Do double negatives make a positive in French? I digress.
With The Paris Letters Project, Janice MacLeod is providing us all the opportunity to receive some Parisian mail. Here’s how it works. Subscribe to Paris Letters: The Haute Couture of Snail Mail for yourself or as a gift. MacLeod paints a watercolor scene of Paris, writes a letter on it, copies it and then personalizes it for you or your recipient. Then she mails it from Paris with pretty postage. She sometimes even tucks a lil Parisian ephemera in there too.
I have lived in New York City for 20 years and before that, was a regular visitor throughout my childhood. But this city just keeps changing. It feels no obligation to remain the way it is in my memory and that can sometimes feel like a personal insult. Visits to Manhattan from Brooklyn, where I live, are a bit of a memory minefield.
If I were to complete one of Cooper’s memory maps it would definitely include the location on The Upper West Side where I met my husband, many moons ago. And my Grandpa’s neighborhood on The Lower East Side, the subject of a documentary I made about memory and place. And maybe all the Chipotle restaurants and bank branches and pharmacies and luxury condominiums that I enjoy visiting so much. No wait. Scratch that last part. Film Forum and The Museum of Modern Art and Veselka and wandering in Chinatown. All still wonderful.
Despite my crankiness about how it has changed, I will always love Manhattan. The memories run deep. Thank you Becky Cooper for giving shape to this truth.
Tim Davis is offering a subscription to his Mailbox of the Month Club, which is my kind of postal project. For 50 bucks you or your gift getter will receive 12 signed, limited edition postcards of pictures he made of mailboxes. And they’ll arrive in a mailbox.
The Mailbox of the Month Club accompanies an essay that Davis wrote for the latest issue of Aperture Magazine. If you’ve got an art appreciator on your list, then receiving original work by Tim Davis for 12 straight months might be very exciting. I subscribed and am already plotting how I will display these gems. Taped on the wall like my other favorite postcards? Framed like an (affordable) piece of art? Both?
Are you familiar with the paper mail project that is The World Needs More Love Letters? It is the brainchild of Ms. Hannah Brencher and the basic idea is for people to send love letters to strangers.
A few years back Brencher started writing love letters and leaving them in public places in New York City to be discovered and appreciated. This initial project quickly grew into coordinated efforts by groups of people to write bundles of love letters for strangers who could benefit from some postal love.
Right now they are asking for love letters for baristas in the busy holiday season. Explore the site to find all the ways that Brencher’s lovely idea has blossomed.
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.