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Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "mail-project"

The Letter Writers Alliance turned 10 years this week, and we’ve been extremely remiss in not mentioning it on the blog before. So today we’re setting this straight and letting you all know about the best letter writing community out there!

Letter Writers Alliance

Started in June 2007 by Kathy and Donovan, the Letter Writers Alliance is a wonderful project dedicated to maintaining the art of letter writing. Membership for life costs just $5, and gives you access to the many activities they have, as well as to the member-only section of their shop.

I’ve been a card carrying member for over 5 years now, and besides enjoying the posts on the LWA blog and mailart inspiration on Instagram, there are two things they organise that I’m particularly fond of: the penpal exchange and the book club.

The penpal exchange is what it says on the tin: you sign up for a new penpal, tell them a bit about yourself, and some days or weeks later, they match you with someone they think you’ll enjoy exchanging letters with. The difference is that all matches are done by hand, as Kathy carefully chooses who your next penpal is going to be. The results are usually brilliant!

The book club also works really well. Every quarter they pick a new book related to mail, letters or other postal topics, which is then read by everyone and discussed live in video and chat. The discussion is always lively, and I’ve found some really interesting books this way.

They also keep a very interesting blog on all sort of postal-related subjects, offer free downloads and stock their shop with carefully designed postal items, such as writing paper, rubber stamps… and even pigeons you can send your friends by mail to surprise them!

It’s an inspiring project with strong values — one that we admire and often recommend when we notice postcrossers are into letter writing. So if you like letters as much as postcards, you should definitely check it out! 😊

Letter Writers Alliance

Happy 10th anniversary Letter Writers Alliance, and congratulations Donovan and Kathy!

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If you’re anything like me, you cannot bear the thought of throwing stamps away — not even used ones. Luckily, there are many organizations out there that collect them to finance good causes or bring awareness to important issues. Today we’re choosing to highlight one of them that was brought to our attention by Charlotte (aka maxcat1) from the USA.

The students at Foxborough Regional Charter School in Massachusetts have a longterm project called the “Holocaust Stamp Project”, through which they are attempting to collect 11 million cancelled postage stamps. You can probably guess why such a big number, but we’ll let them explain in their own words:

Each stamp that is collected symbolizes one wasted life, “thrown away” as having no value, much the same way as an envelope bearing a cancelled stamp postage stamp is tossed in the trash.

Begun in 2009, the Holocaust Stamps Project is a component of community service learning (CSL), at Foxborough Regional Charter School. It is a unique educational initiative that provides opportunities for students to gain a deeper understanding of how important it is to demonstrate acceptance, tolerance, and respect for diversity in their own daily lives.

The goal is to collect 11,000,000 postage stamps as a way to symbolically honor every victim of the Holocaust. Students and community volunteers trim and count the thousands of stamps that arrive daily from across the country and the world. The wide range of themes depicted – people, world history, places, flora and fauna, inventions, ideas, and values – leads to discussions about what makes our diverse world so special.

Eleven million is an unfathomable number.

According to the last update from May 2nd 2017, over 9 million stamps have already been collected, so they’re well on their way to reaching the goal they’ve set.

FRCS Holocaust Stamp Project

Over the years, classes have been using the stamps to craft meticulous collages showcasing certain aspects of the holocaust. The resulting pieces of art are a thoughtful reflection of the lessons learned from this dark period of humanity’s history, from the viewpoint of the students.

So… care to send them your old stamps and help build a more tolerant and inclusive future for everyone? Put them on an envelope (preferably with a count of how many you’re sending) and mail them to:

Holocaust Stamp Project
Foxborough Regional Charter School
131 Central Street
Foxboro, MA 02035
USA

Feel free to include a message of encouragement too, if you’d like — I’m sure it’ll be appreciated. And if you know of other worthy causes, please share them in the comments! 😊

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February is just around the corner… which means it’s time for another Month of Letters challenge! Are you joining this year?

Month of Letters 2017

On September 2011, Mary Robinette Kowal decided it was time for a break. She spent the entire month offline, and asked her friends to communicate with her through letters. The results of this personal challenge were a revelation:

When I write back, I find that I slow down and write differently than I do with an email. Email is all about the now. Letters are different, because whatever I write needs to be something that will be relevant a week later to the person to whom I am writing. In some ways it forces me to think about time more because postal mail is slower. “By the time you get this…” It is relaxing. It is intimate. It is both lasting and ephemeral.

How so? I find that I will often read the letters that I receive twice. Once when I get them and again as I write back. So, that makes it more lasting. It is more ephemeral because I don’t have copies of the letters that I write and I am the only one who has copies of the letters that my correspondents write. So, more ephemeral.

I know a lot of postcrossers share these feelings — this is part of the reason why Postcrossing exists!

Mary decided to turn February into a Month of Letters, in which she challenges herself and everyone who decides to join to write and send at least a piece of postal mail every day. Here are the rules:

  • Mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture or a cutting from a newspaper… anything goes!
  • Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

We can’t help but feel that postcrossers have their work cut out for them in this challenge… Nevertheless, we wanted to encourage you all to do it! Write postcards, letters or aerograms or surprise a friend with an unexpected package. Maybe even pick a Facebook/Twitter friend and send them an offline “hello!” or catch up on those “thank you” notes you’ve been meaning to send.

Are you up to Mary’s challenge? Grab your stationery and stamps and start writing! 😊

PS. – Don’t forget that February 4th is Mail Carrier Appreciation Day!

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Dear Data book

Early last year we mentioned a project called Dear Data, in which two ladies across the Atlantic exchanged drawn infographic postcards every week, detailing one specific aspect of their lives. Things such as complaints they uttered or compliments they’ve received, or even very specific things like animals they saw or doors they went through were all counted and sketched into white postcards, and then posted to each other. They kept it up for a whole year, collecting data and turning the experiment into a weekly ritual of discovery.

The project was so popular that it didn’t surprise me to discover it was edited in a book format recently, and I think it’s even better to browse the postcards this way, in an analogue format equivalent to that in which they came to life.

The postcard images remain intriguing and unreadable at first glance, inviting further investigation in order to decode them. The legends on the back though are super detailed and often contain several layers of information to add to their complexity… it’s astonishing to realize how much data they must have collected over the year!

Dear Data - laughter week

The pages in-between postcards are also funny and often provide insights or little anecdotes into Stefanie and Georgia’s lives… like how they both discovered their love for Haribo gummy bears on week 17!

Slowly, throughout the book, you also realise how a conversation is happening between the designers through their correspondence, how they’re getting to know each other and thinking a bit more about their lives through the analysis that is taking place in real time.

All in all, Dear Data is a remarkable book, inspiring us to slow down and really observe what is happening all around… and then grab our pens to put all these interesting details into our postcards!

Spending time with data

PS – Sadly, it’s also very noticeable on the book how badly US machines treat their outbound mail… Why, USPS, why?! 😠

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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 postcardsCATERINA ROSSATO - deja vu series of postcardsCATERINA 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 - studioCATERINA 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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