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Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "spotlight"

The PhillipsFamily lives in a small town Minnesota, USA, where they homeschool their daughter Maya and use Postcrossing to teach her about geography and cultures all over the world. Some months ago, we received a very nice email from them, letting us know that Maya had won 1st place on her county fair’s 4-H project by submitting a presentation about Postcrossing and her postcard collection! 🥇 We were so proud of Maya that we decided to interview her for the blog — here she is:

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

I found out about Postcrossing from a friend who thought I would like it because I really like geography. I was hooked right away! I LOVE getting postcards from all over the world and learning about different countries and people. I’m always excited to get the mail everyday to see which countries I can add to my collection. Recently I received my first postcard from Spain. I have postcards from all 7 continents!

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My family really likes geocaching together. We have seen so many beautiful places hunting caches. I also really, really like to read and play board games. My favorite books are the Harry Potter series. I play Legos a lot (thanks Denmark!), and also scrapbook.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
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I keep my postcards in a nice box. They are sorted by continent and country. My mama really likes that I can have such a big collection without taking up much space.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.
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One of my favorite postcards is from Gordon the Great. He is a cat from New Zealand who has to put up with Fat Dog and Skinny Dog. I’ve showed his postcard to lots of my friends because it’s so funny.

Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

I entered my postcard collection into the county fair as a 4-H project. I made a big display showcasing some of my favorite cards and wrote a description telling everyone about Postcrossing and how they can join.

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I won first place in my age group and second place overall. I got a big ribbon for it! I was so excited because it was my first time entering anything into the fair. I hope a lot of people signed up after seeing it.

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

I was surprised when I received a card from San Marino. I didn’t even know it was a country until then.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about reading. I like reading new books and rereading old books. Besides Harry Potter, some of my favorites are Calvin & Hobbes, Anne of Green Gables, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m currently reading through Mensa’s Excellence in Reading book list. It has a lot of classics my parents like.

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Becky (aka BeckyS) is a postcrosser from Port Orchard, a small town in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. She is a trained electrician, but a homemaker at heart and has a very cool hobby… Read more to find out!

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

I no longer remember how I found out about Postcrossing. I imagine that I read it somewhere on the internet. What I do know is that I am glad that I joined Postcrossing. It gives me the opportunity to “travel” the world and to connect with people from all walks of life.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?
Becky and the pinball machine

I enjoy reading and spending time with my two granddaughters. I am also a competitive pinball player or what is affectionately called, a “Pinhead.” I am a member of the Bremerton Pinball League. Many of the other members are much younger than myself. Fortunately, for me, they generously share pointers on how I can improve my “Skillshots.”

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

Each November, I edit my Postcrossing profile to include Christmas themed postcards. This holiday season I have received 193 Christmas postcards from Postcrossers. Often, Christmas postcards arrive as late as March. Which is okay, because I keep them up on my wall for the entire year.

Stamps and recipe postcards

I keep a good assortment of stamps and I also collect recipe postcards. Over the years, my Postcrossing Family has introduced me to many delicious foods. One of my favorites is the Steam Pudding postcard, GB-348590. I love food and trains.

Many postcards!

Once upon a time, I received 18 postcards in one mail delivery. Which made my mailbox very happy!

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

One of the first postcards that I received through Postcrossing, and the first that I received from Russia, was from nata_, RU-56490. She drew and painted the postcard. Also, on the flip-side of the postcard, she wrote an original fairy tale. She continued to send handcrafted postcards to my granddaughters for a couple of years.

Nata's postcards

Her work is really quite amazing and she must have spent countless hours creating them.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I enjoy everything about the Postcrossing experience. Although, my favorite part has been reading the emails. It gives me great pleasure to discover that my postcard brightened a fellow Postcrosser’s day.

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

I am always impressed by the kindness and generosity shown by Postcrossers. In my profile, I mention that I share the postcards that I receive with my mother. I also mention that she is a fan of Elvis. Guess who now has an impressive collection of Elvis themed postcards?

Elvis postcards that Becky's mom has received

Look at how happy Postcrossers have made my mother!

Have you met any other members in real life?
Puget Sound meetup

Ever since I received my first meetup postcard, I have wanted to attend a meetup. This past Summer, I discovered the Puget Sound Postcrossing Group in Seattle. I have attended two of their meetups and enjoyed myself tremendously. We share stickers, write postcards and chat about Postcrossing over cups of coffee. If you ever get a chance to attend a meetup, please do, you will enjoy the best of times.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

People are my passion. My husband says that I have never met a stranger. I savor that moment when I make a human connection with someone. It is simply delicious to see a smile light up their face. I’m looking forward to making more connections through Postcrossing. Keep a lookout, someday, I just may send a smile through your mailbox. Happy Postcrossing!

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Connie (aka clouisesz), from Illinois USA is a teacher who shares her passion for postcards with her young students, and has once been to a Postcrossing meetup in a very saccharine location… read on to find out more!
How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I was looking for pen pals for my students (ages 4 and 5) and not having any luck. While searching the web, I happened upon Postcrossing. I really liked the idea and thought if I could get a few postcards I could share them with my students. Even though it wasn’t a pen pal, I thought it would be a great way to introduce my students to the world they live in. I loved learning about other countries but soon realised it wasn’t the countries that I loved learning about as much as making the amazing connection. It didn’t take long before I was hooked.

Clouisesz shares her postcards with the class

I ventured out and started investigating some of the forums and made many more friends. After that, I decided to try setting up a forum post of my own asking postcrossers if they would enjoy writing to one of my students. The response was absolutely incredible! I have students from 3 years ago that are still writing to a person they met from our postcard project. People all over the world are so lovely and my students experiencing that, was a lesson I had not planned.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My hobbies are few, I love Postcrossing and hanging out with my family. I live in a lovely area filled with bike and walking trails so I am able to walk and enjoy the outside all the time.

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

My favorite place to mail my postcards and my students postcards is the Wayne Post Office. This is a quaint little post office with great postal workers.

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

In my profile, I had mentioned that my class is trying to collect all the alphabet flower fairy postcards. We have almost all of them now either through Postcrossing people sending them to me, or through Random Acts of Smileness.

Alphabet flower fairy postcards

I will also have to say a very good Postcrossing friend introduced me to the Mainzer Cats and I do love them.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I love all of Postcrossing, but I think when I see the word Hurray in my email and I know a my postcard has made it thousands of miles or hundreds of mile, to me that is thrilling.

Have you met any other members in real life?

Once I was lucky enough to attend a very small Postcrossing Meetup in Wisconsin at the Jelly Belly Factory. It was very nice sharing our passion for Postcrossing!

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about many things, but I would suppose right now I am most passionate about my job. I love being a preschool teacher and knowing I have the chance to touch lives. I am passionate about helping children learn that there is so much good in people, even though we constantly hear the bad.

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a spotlight interview on the blog, but we haven’t forgotten about them! Today, we’re happy to interview Courtney (aka ColorfulCourtney), who is the from the USA but lives in Germany and is a fan of archery! If you’ve been hanging around in the forum, you might have interacted with her already, as she’s quite active there, helping newbies and answering questions.

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

I was still living in the U.S. and trying to find Christmas postcards, which are not so common there. On Amazon I saw many reviews of cards where people said “These are perfect for Postcrossing, ” or something similar. I decided to find out what this “Postcrossing” was, and signed up.

I think it was the Forum and doing tags that got me hooked, because I was able to exchange more cards while I was still limited in what I could send on the main site. Now I hardly ever do tags, because I can have more traveling than I can afford to send, and I like the random element of the site.

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

I have made my mailbox into a postcard – the last time I sent it out was as DE-6420999. This postbox is across the street from the library. There is one closer to my house, but I do not use it as often. Also unfortunately the other postbox is routinely vandalized, which makes me both sad and angry.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

I store my incoming postcards in boring random boxes, I’m afraid! But I do display some of my favorite current cards in a mirror in my living room.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

That is also a really hard question. I love getting great postcards and messages, of course, especially when it is clear someone put a lot of time, effort and heart into them. Sometimes people send me amazing bookmarks for the library – I recently received some beautiful handmade ones that were so creative! I also like picking out cards, writing them, finding the right stamp and washi tape, etc. Over all, though, my favorite part is when I get a “Hurray” message from someone who especially appreciated what I sent to them. Then I feel super all day, and cannot wait to send more cards!

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

That is a super-hard question, because I like so many cards for so many reasons, often because of what is on the back or something someone slipped into the envelope. I have some of the cards on my “Favorites” wall where I actually do not like the image at all! But I love what the person said on the back, and seeing the image reminds me of that.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

If forced to choose right now I guess I would say for the front image, NL-3817868 from Aafjeknuffel. In my profile I say I like old cards and also ask people to tell me something that makes them smile. She sent me a beautiful vintage card, together with a self-painted postcard that illustrated the things in life that make her happy. It literally made me cry a little bit, it was such a happy card!

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

I was totally surprised that my first card came from Finland! I did not know at the time how active a Postcrossing country it is, and it seemed very exotic to me.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

“Passion” is a pretty strong word. Postcrossing has made me passionate about our postal system. It makes me so angry when people intentionally under-postage cards, when vandals deface mailboxes, when the government wants to reduce mail delivery, things like that.

Outside of Postcrossing, my “think global” passion is about trying to achieve what I call the Star Trek universe, where the Earth is at peace, and poverty, oppression and violence on our planet are things of the past. I am especially passionate about women’s rights and I wish that women and girls all over the world had the rights and opportunities I have enjoyed growing up and living in the U.S. and now Germany. I worry a lot about the progress we are making as a planet, and about women’s rights, and the condition of people in general, slipping away in many areas of the world.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

My “act local” passion is our Gemeindebücherei, the town library. I was a librarian in the U.S. and after moving here I wanted to get involved in some sort of volunteer activity. Long story short, since 2016 I have been the town librarian, and work as a team with another volunteer assistant. We are both really passionate about reading and books, and about trying to get people to see the library as a vital resource to the community. You can see a picture of the library in DE-6500814.

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We’ve written about postboxes on the blog before, like the very old post office tree in South Africa, or the barrel postbox in the Galapagos… but did you know there’s a very special postbox in Utah that has its own Postcrossing account?

Yup, you read that right! Her name is M (aka MthePostBox), and she lives in South Jordan (a leafy suburb of Salt Lake City), together with Sir Owen, a telephone booth which functions as a free library. They love postcards and books respectively — and when we stumbled on their profile, we found their story so charming that we just had to invite them for the blog. 😊

Sir Owen and M

Sir Owen and M

Could you introduce yourselves to the community?

M: Certainly! I am Dame Mavis Margaret, although my friends all call me 'M’. I was named after two female code breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. Have you ever seen the movie, “The Imitation Game”? That was the place. There were around 10,000 people working to break codes in secret during those years (and that’s just the people! There were also telephone boxes, telegraphs, post boxes, and a not insignificant number of spy pigeons — but that’s another story). As an anthropomorphised Post Box, I came into service in 1941.

Mavis Batey

Mavis Batey, a code breaker at Bletchley Park during WWII, and one of M’s namesakes.

Sir Owen: I am Sir Owen St. George, named after the Royal Librarian of Kings George V, VI, and the first years of Queen Elizabeth II. As an anthropomorphised telephone box I came into service in 1936, and also got involved in the code breaking efforts during the war. M. and I first worked together at Bletchley, then stayed in intermittent contact after the war — she stayed in England, while I immigrated to Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States in the 1970s, (though still in the capacity of a functioning telephone box — I wasn’t decommissioned until the early 2000s).

What is South Jordan like? And how did you end up there?

Sir Owen: South Jordan is just lovely — it’s located about 25 km southwest of Salt Lake City, the capital city of Utah. As a former farming community that has become increasingly developed and suburban, there are plenty of parks and open spaces, though some neighbourhoods can be quite spread out and not feel very walkable. Everyone seems to favour their Sport Utility Vehicle or Minivan!

Which leads to how I happened to relocate to South Jordan. My stewards had wanted a Little Free Library or neighbourhood book swap for several years: an opportunity to share their love of books and reading, but also to provide a reason for families, friends, and neighbours in the community to get out walking, interact, and share a smile. And what can do that better than free books in a British telephone box? They investigated having one restored and shipped from England, but when they happened upon me outside a Las Vegas antique store, it was an ideal match for all of us.

Sir Owen without M

Sir Owen without M. Doesn’t he look a bit lonely?

M: Sir Owen relocated to Utah and began his days as a Little Free Library in August of 2015. He enjoyed his new surroundings so much that he asked if I might consider joining him. I had been retired for some years at that point, but know that whatever our age or position, we can all find new purpose and be useful. I immigrated in mid 2016, and my stewards finally had my brickwork completed last October.

How did you find out about Postcrossing? What made you stay?

M: I must thank one of my patrons! My stewards originally had postcards made up to enable Sir Owen’s and my visitors to send a kind note to a friend, but then one of our patrons pointed me to the Postcrossing website. Imagine being able to do a similar thing with people all across the world! I remember wondering what I would say that could possibly be interesting enough to fill up a whole postcard. But reading about the person to whom I’m sending a postcard (or from whom I’ve received one), and possibly finding a point of commonality and connection, it helps me realise that no matter our backgrounds, we have so much in common with and so much to learn from each other. And that’s what makes me stay. 😊

Do you have a favourite postcard you’ve received?
Postcard Selection

Sampling of postcards that M has received.

M: I have received so many wonderful and beautiful postcards! Honestly the ones I remember the most are the ones where someone shares something about themselves or why they chose the particular card they sent. A lovely Postcrosser (and self-proclaimed “Crazy Cat Lady” 😀 ) in Switzerland recently sent me a postcard she had made which included a picture of her cat who lived over 16 years! Our library cat Locutus also turns 16 this year, which gave us each a chance to connect and reflect on our benevolent feline overlords.

Locutus the Library Cat

Locutus the Library Cat will occasionally deign to visit, if treats are provided.

Do you do anything special with the cards you receive?
World Map Mural

A world map mural, perfect for marking all the postcards sent and received.

M: My stewards have a large (2 meters x 3 meters) world map mural in the family office. Each postcard sent and received gets a small sticky tab showing were it was received from (or sent to), the number of days it took to be delivered, and distance sent. Their children love learning about the geography and cultural details of so many people across the globe! I also feature many postcards that I’ve received on Sir Owen’s Instagram account, which helps share the Postcrossing fun with his followers in the Little Free Library and larger “Bookstagram” community (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, includes a lot of existing Postcrossers and has convinced others to join!).

Do you get many visitors everyday?
Halloween Visitors

Halloween visitors.

Sir Owen: Yes! Although technically located on my stewards’ property, they intentionally located us next to a walking path that many children use to go to and from the local primary school. My stewards try to keep my shelves stocked with a good selection of books, but there are also other reasons to stop by — free bookmarks and treats, colouring pages, doggie treats, and of course blank postcards to send to a friend! If patrons address them and place them in M, my stewards will even affix postage and mail them via USPS on their behalf. Sir Owen Freebies

Various surprises for patrons. Oh, and don’t forget a book while you’re here!

Visitor Notes

Visitors love leaving Sir Owen and M (and each other) notes on the windows when they visit.

How does the free library work?

Sir Owen: While the motto of a Little Free Library is “Take a Book, Leave a Book”, there’s no expectation that you have to leave a book in order to take one. The purpose is to share the love of reading and build community! If you like a book that you take, you can keep it forever. Or you can share it with a friend, or even return it to another Little Free Library in a different neighbourhood. Similarly if patrons have books they’ve enjoyed that they’d like to share with others, they can place them in my returns and donations bin under my bottom shelf (emblazoned with the Union Jack, of course).

Sir Owen s Rules

Sir Owen’s Rules. The first rule is by far the most important.

I have five shelves organized roughly by age, from picture books on the bottom shelf for children, up through primary and secondary school, young adult, and books for grown-ups. While most of my selections are donated, my stewards also enjoy curating books to ensure I have a good selection for all reading levels (one steward has become quite familiar with the local thrift stores), as well as for particular holidays and themes throughout the year. My favourite celebration? Banned Books Week — celebrated the last week in September every year with the American Library Association. I’ve rediscovered classics and found so many new and interesting ideas that way!

Is M a normal mailbox, still in use by USPS? And is there a phone in the phone booth? :)

M: I am merely decorative as far as the USPS is concerned, as I would have to have the words 'U.S. Mail’ stamped or painted on me to serve in any official capacity. However I did have the great honour of serving as an official letter drop for Santa Claus this past Christmas! Not only did I get to help deliver them, but every child who wrote also received a return postcard from Mrs. Claus stamped from the North Pole. I have also occasionally been mistaken as a book return. 😊

Santa Letter Drop

M loved being an official drop-off for letters to Santa this past Christmas.

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning!

Checking M for Postcards

The youngest child of Sir Owen and M’s stewards loves checking M every day for new postcards to mail for patrons.

Sir Owen: I no longer feature a telephone; that leaves more room for books! However about a week after I opened, a kindly gentleman visited me and gave me a frame that had once housed the emergency telephone in a lift. As you saw above, I use it now to welcome patrons and explain what a Little Free Library is.

Finally, any plans for the future?

Sir Owen and M: Why, books, reading, and Postcrossing of course! Our stewards also think there might be a faerie garden in our future, as well as a couple of other surprises still in the works. One of our stewards says that if he could figure out how to pay the bills by purchasing books at thrift stores and then giving them away for free, he’d retire and steward for us full time (well, that and tend the royal beehives 😊 ). Our other steward (by far the more handy of the two) enjoys creating amazing projects for us in her growing wood shop (such as Sir Owen’s bookshelves, and our brand new bench featured in the first picture above!). Sir Owen and I plan on being here happily giving people a chance to slow down, share a smile, and build community, both in our local neighbourhood and across the world.

Thank you Ana for letting us share our story!

Thank you guys for this wonderful interview! I wish we lived closer to South Jordan, to pay M and Sir Owen a visit and sit on their bench for a while…

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