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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Advent time is here already and the holidays are inching closer by the day... so it's time to get our yearly campaign with Deutsche Post back online, to make sure your postcards count for a good cause! This will be the fourth year we run this campaign and by now I guess most of you know how it goes, but just in case:

For every postcard sent from Germany through Postcrossing during the month of December, Deutsche Post will make a donation of €0.10 to the non-profit organization Stiftung Lesen (Reading Foundation).

So if you're in Germany, all you have to do is send postcards, as many as you can! If your December postcards are registered before the end of February 2017, you'll be contributing to this cause.

Although only postcards sent from Germany count, there's always a receiver in every postcard exchange — so each time a card from Germany is registered, the recipient will be indirectly contributing to this donation as well!

To make things even more interesting, there will also be some nice prizes for the participants:

Nice, right? The winners will be picked by Paulo's random number generator in early March 2017, at which point we will also announce the value raised by the German postcrossers to Stiftung Lesen here on the blog. Every year, we've been raising a little bit more than the previous year, and last year the total was a very impressive €8,857... but can we do even better this year? 😊

Stiftung Lesen

Stiftung Lesen is a German non-profit organization, working to increase literacy in the population, especially among children and adolescents. Their activities include reading clubs and projects to promote the learning of German language by refugee families in the country.

So... what are you waiting for? If you're in Germany, get your postcards and stamps ready for December! The more cards you send, the more you'll contribute — and the more chances you'll have of winning a voucher, stamps or one of those nifty messenger bags! 😍

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P.S. - As always, we respect your personal information and will not share it with any company without your explicit permission. The full details of this campaign can be read here (German only).

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Some time ago, Audrey (aka belladomanda) from the US sent us a tip about this wonderful paper artist she had stumbled upon. Have a look:

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards

These stunning landscapes are made by Italian artist Caterina Rossato, who lives in a quiet town north of Venice. We were mesmerised by her intricate sceneries and the way she juxtapose details from dozens of different postcards to create new imaginary worlds. Curious to know more, we reached out to Caterina who kindly agreed to reply to a few questions about her work.

Hi Caterina! Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

My name is Caterina Rossato and I live in Bassano del Grappa, where I have my base camp. I like to move around, follow multiple projects simultaneously and suddenly fall in love with something that makes me forget what I was doing. I do not like to wait for the right moment and I hate perfection.

On weekends I like to climb mountains or go skiing on the glaciers with my partner. From this height you can see a bigger slice of the world.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
How did you start doing these mini landscapes? What inspires you?

It all started with the idea of breaking down the images and put them together, then with the need to sublimate into a single image multiple points of view or all the photos taken during a trip or a day. I create images in which all possible visuals and temporal variations of an experience are concentrated. They are two-dimensional images but developed in a sculptural way, made of levels, intersections, overlaps and joints. The viewer feels a sense of familiarity and alienation at the same time. Right now I’m working on a project with CNC milling machines that will allow me to combine these fragments into a third dimension.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
And on a more practical level, where do you find all these postcards?

In the case of analog collages, I buy stock of postcards from Ebay or local merchants: about 4000 - 5000 postcards every time. I always try to buy postcards from different areas and I usually change suppliers. When I compose digital collage I use hundreds of photographs taken by me in a specific landscape or I do research on the internet to find what I need, always in really high resolution.

Both analog and digital cutouts are organised in very detailed catalogs: analog clippings are divided into a filing cabinet with many drawers, digital ones go into folders and subfolders on my mac.

CATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcards
Are you a postcard or letter writer yourself?

For many years I've been writing letters and postcards to my grandmother who lives far away from me. I started because I had the need to find a personal way to communicate with her, as she's not able to send messages by mobile phone and with age her hearing has deteriorated making talking on the phone impossible. Given that other old uncles also live in my grandmother's building, I started to write to all of them, in order to avoid upsetting anyone... so the arrival of the mail has become a highly anticipated moment, both for me and for them.

Whenever my grandmother receives a postcard she sticks it under the calendar. I'm interested in this shared time devoted to the thought and the gaze.

Can you show us a picture of your workspace, or a mini-landscape work in progress?

CATERINA ROSSATO - studio CATERINA ROSSATO - studio

Thank you Caterina, that was wonderful! 😊 You can find these and other projects of Caterina on her website, caterinarossato.com.

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Mark (aka maleko) hails from Hawaii (USA). He has been gracefully hosting the Random Acts of Smileness thread on the forum for the past few years, and has a special toy voyager of his own... Come meet them both on this spotlight interview! 😊

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

In my twenties I moved around a lot, so I got into the habit of sending postcards to friends as a quick and casual way of keeping in touch. I’ve kept it up ever since. I’ve always been interested in snail mail and pens, paper, and office supplies in general. One day I read about Postcrossing on Missive Maven’s blog, and wandered over to this site and signed up. Over four years and 400 postcards later, I’m still very glad I came across that blog post. The great thing is, sometime after joining I actually drew Missive Maven’s name for an official card, and was able to thank her for turning me on to this wonderful community. She sent me a hurray message saying how tickled she was to find out that she had introduced me to Postcrossing. We both enjoyed that Postcrossing coincidence.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

Nothing terribly interesting. I like to read (mostly fiction and biographies) and write. For some reason the ordinary physical act of writing with pen and paper gives me a kind of pleasure no laptop keyboard can bring. I’ve also kept a diary since I was a child. It has become a form of self-help for me: often I don’t know what I am thinking until I’ve written it down. And once in a great while I’ll look over a few diary entries from decades ago and remember the person I was then.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
maleko

This is my desk where I write postcards. The letterbox holds the cards I’ve recently received.

postcards

Here is the box where I keep my supply of postcards to send.

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This is the old green mailbox where I normally leave my cards for my mail carrier, Raymond, to pick up.

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This is my neighborhood post office.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Clearly it’s not possible to choose a favorite card. Recently, though, I learned about interactive postcards from one of Ana’s posts on this blog, and discovered that I really liked them. Here are two that have a special place on my bookshelf: a 3-D stereoscope-type card that I received as a gift from Vladyslav1998, and a construction project that was an official card from LittlePingui.

interactive cards

I also love the card below, from dallesandro, because it’s all about inclusiveness and honoring our differences. Incidentally, it’s the only card I’ve ever received that shows someone in a wheelchair, which means something to me because I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was a teenager.

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But what really makes a card special for me is the open friendliness, kindness, or courage that comes through the message on the back. In my profile, I ask people to tell me about the things that are good and true and authentic in their lives, and I cannot count the times I’ve been uplifted by the things they share.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

It’s always great to find a postcard or two lying there when I open the mailbox, but I think sending cards is my favorite part of this hobby. It feels creative, relaxing, and even meditative: to sit at my desk and search for the right card for the right person, choose some interesting stamps, and write a short, simple message to someone far away. Such a small act can redeem the toughest day for me, and hopefully it has a similar effect on the person who receives the card. It can be a quiet blessing for two lives.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

About a year after joining Postcrossing, I received CU-1397, a postcard from a university professor in Cuba. This was very exciting for me, before the beginning of more normalized relations between Cuba and the U.S., and it was an eloquent reminder of what Postcrossing could be.

Have you met any other members in real life?

I’ve enjoyed such warm pen-friendships through Postcrossing that I almost feel as if I’ve met many other postcrossers in person. But in reality I only recently met a few at a meetup here in Honolulu organized by oneup92. It was a small gathering, but we had fun getting acquainted over a meal and signing a huge stack of cards.

honolulu meetup

A few years ago my wonderful Postcrossing friend mondkind sent me a traveling toy bear that she’d made for me. Kaipo the bear has met many more Postcrossers than I have, because he has dual citizenship, spending the autumn and winter months in Hamburg, Germany, and the spring and summer here in Hawaii.

3statekaipo

I think he might be the only bear who has attended both the huge Bielefeld International Postcrossing Meeting hosted by nordbaer and the Honolulu meetup!

What are you are passionate about?

Someone tried to tell me recently that emphasizing the need for education was outdated and “old-school,” that there are quicker and easier ways to “get ahead” in life these days. Yeah, right. I believe in both formal education and independent lifelong learning. I think we are put on this earth to learn something from, and contribute something to, each other, and disrespecting that process is somehow missing the point of the whole experience.

For the past seven years I’ve volunteered a few hours each week at a middle school, where I tutor students who are newly arrived from other countries and whose first language is not English. These kids are amazing: so motivated and filled with enthusiasm, so helpful toward each other, and so appreciative of the help they receive from others. I also admire their resilience, how gracefully they are able to adapt to the major changes in their lives. Honestly, I learn more from them than I am able to teach, and they inspire me with great hope for the future.

I also host the Random Acts of Smileness Round Robin on the Postcrossing Forum. I inherited this round robin a couple of years ago from lapoussine35. Forum members sign up there to nominate friends to receive cards from other group members, and to send cards to the other group members’ nominees. It’s not about receiving cards for yourself; instead, you’re spreading the good cheer to others. I’m constantly encouraged by the thoughtfulness and generosity of the “RAS agents” who participate. One of them once told me I have the best job on the internet, and there are moments when I think she may be right!

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You might have heard of a game called "Yellow car", in which participants say yellow car! as soon as they spot one on the road. It's a bit silly, truth be told, but it helps pass the time on boring stretches of commute or roadtrips.

Japanese Post box cat

The last time we were in the UK, Michael (aka gibsonms) introduced us to a postal-themed variant of the "Yellow car" game... using postboxes! It's brilliant for short trips and we cannot stop playing it wherever we go, so we thought we'd share it with you.
Here are the rules:

  • It's simple, really: when you see a postbox, say "postbox!" and add a point to your total.
  • If you see someone posting something on that postbox, wow, how lucky is that! Two points for you!
  • If someone calls a postbox but it turns out that there isn't one there, then that person loses a point...
  • And if you see the postman clearing the postbox, well... you win for that journey! 😀

Lots of variations can probably be added to make it more complex and keep you and your kids entertained, like spotting a post office or a golden pillar box (if you're in the UK) so feel free to add or suggest new rules as you discover them!

Who's ready to play? 📮

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It's no secret we're big fans of the behind-the-scenes part of postal delivery (see here, here or here). Russell (aka SonOfBilly) from New Zealand, spotted this love of ours and sent us this video by New Zealand Post:

That put a huge smile on our faces! Samson's enthusiasm is contagious, and pretty much a mirror of our own delight when we see these videos. Keep them coming! 😊

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