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Blogs, Articles and Journal Entries by Lettermo Contributors

Insider’s look into the Arizona Correspondence Society

Thanks to Letter Moian Renée for writing this insider’s look into a starting up a club!

I’ve been a letter writer for a long time – more than a few decades.  I was 11 when I wrote to my first pen pal. If I wasn’t writing to a pen pal, I was keeping a journal, which I consider to be nothing more than a letter to myself.  I have experienced the benefits of letter writing that we all have read or heard about at one time or another.  If you are reading this, chances are you have written a few letters in your lifetime and experienced and know the benefits too.  And, if you ask around, you are not alone.   

A couple of years ago, I started working from home and had more time to surf the internet.  I discovered a variety of online pen pal organizations, stationery aficionados, pen clubs, and letter writing communities.  The abundance of postings of images of letters being sent out and/or received made me gleeful to know I am part of a broader community of letter writers; so much so, that I wanted to know who in my immediate community is a fellow epistler, and could we have regular meetups much like any other social club?  

There are numerous letter-writing societies around the world.  If you are interested in finding a local society, check out the Directory of Letter Writing Societies’ website.  The listings are by country and by state.  You can also search on Meetup for a group near you.  While I discovered there are many groups and all with a variety of agendas, there was nothing in Arizona.  Hence, I decided to start my own society and named it the Arizona Correspondence Society, an organization whose mission is to facilitate the enrichment and deepening of human connections via handwritten letters. We received our nonprofit status in December of 2019.  

And up till this March when we began following social distancing guidelines, we were pretty productive. We were holding two letter socials a month, facilitating letter writing at an elementary school, answered ‘Dear Santa’ letters, and held our first calligraphy workshop.  We had plans to work with a local adult care center for letter socials, but for now, we are providing letter writing supplies for their use until we do have their first letter social. We have been fortunate to receive donations of letter supplies, fountain pens, and stamps which have kept the letter socials free.  I maintain our website and our Instagram account to promote our events. Not all letter writing societies are nonprofits, but many are facilitated by businesses that specialize in writing supplies. There are plenty of community groups that are facilitated by neither, but all of the letter societies are facilitated by someone passionate about letters.

While we are uncertain when letter socials can take place again, the Arizona Correspondence Society will be ready when it becomes safe.  Until then, letters will still be written and delivered, and letter socials may be happening online.  

In the meantime, you may find yourself with some extra time to spend on research. So, drawing from my own experience, allow me to share the steps taken and lessons learned to start a local correspondence society. It is a long post, but if you want a successful group and events, you need to consider all the angles.


How to Start a Letter Writing Group

Find your squad, your posse, like-minded people:

I started posting on my Facebook page to get an estimate of how many people would be interested.  I posted on my page and also various community pages such as neighborhood groups, women groups, fountain pen groups… you get the idea.  I received a very positive response from letter writers and from those who were interested in starting the practice.  

Set a date and time:

Here is where I made a big mistake.  I queried those who responded to my posts regarding a date and time.  The response was all over the calendar. Trying to figure out a date and time that would work for the majority just wasn’t happening.  After a month of trying, I had to become the “PostMaster” and choose the time and date that worked best for me (especially since I was going to have to facilitate the group).  If some people could not attend, I figured they could attend a future letter social.

Find a location:

Since I did not have a budget for this endeavor, and I wanted to make it as inexpensive as possible, I started calling libraries, local bookstores, and free community rooms.  I was looking for a place where I could hold a meeting regularly. I learned that if you schedule far enough in advance, this was a possibility. I was lucky to find my local library had a community room available.  My back up plan was to utilize a coffee shop or an eatery, but some places will expect you to order a minimum amount of food or drink – something to consider when choosing a location. Other things to take into consideration are travel time, public transit, and parking availability.    Sometimes a location will dictate your time and date. You will have to be flexible. I choose time and date based on my schedule and the availability of the library room.

Publicize the Letter Social:

Publicizing really is the key to success, and there are many ways to go about it.  I posted on all my social media accounts and then some. I sent out personal invites to everyone who had previously said they were interested and to some of my business acquaintances.  I also did a bit of advertising at local stationery stores, libraries, coffee shops, and community calendars, as well as creating a Meetup group. Keep in mind that there is a cost to Meetup, but I was able to find a discount code to make it a bit more affordable.  If you publicize blindly via all avenues, you don’t really know how many people will show up. That’s why, for the first two letter socials, I asked for RSVPs. While I wanted to be prepared for the potential stampede of people, truthfully, I figured for every ten people who said they would come, maybe one would show up. I received 10 RSVPs, and four showed up – not including the librarians that came in and out of the room.  Once you’re established, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect for numbers, and then I don’t think it’s necessary to have an RSVP unless you have room restrictions. For example, if you are at a coffee shop or such, you are going to need to know how big a table to reserve.

Meeting fellow epistlers:

I always make sure that all attendees sign my address book.  I will send them a snail mail and an email reminder of future socials.  I always get questions as to what happens at letter socials. It is just a bunch of people who get together and write letters typically in silence.  Every now and then, there is small talk about stationery, writing tools (we have someone who writes entire letters with a dip pen), where to find interesting postcards, and we all “ooh” and “ahh” over vintage stamps and washi tape.   Some like to showcase their handwriting and envelope art. Every now and then, someone brings a typewriter for people to use, and we have jokingly said we will have a speed typing test at a future meeting. I may not get a chance to do a lot of letter writing at the socials.  I make myself available to help anyone with letter writing prompts, or a letter recipient, or formatting an envelope. I will bring a few books to inspire letter writing.

Since we were at the library, I brought light snacks and bottled water.  I also brought supplies for anyone in need of them. As a thank you for coming, I gave them a stamp for their first letter written at the social (something I do at every social).   I am sure none of that was necessary, but I was taught to feed your guests. There was always someone offering to share their supplies too.

Challenges

After a while, I noticed a general waning in new faces at the letter socials, so I took a break from the library scene to figure out what it was I was genuinely trying to obtain from this.  I didn’t give up letter socials completely, as I held a “pop-up” letter social at coffee shops and eateries whenever I could. I considered it research. What I discovered was people enjoy receiving letters, and most think letter writing is a “cool” notion.  But not many want to invest in the art form by purchasing supplies, or they just prefer the instant gratification of electronic communications. I have also discovered from the community letter socials that some people don’t know how to write a letter, or how to address an envelope, or didn’t have anyone to write to.  The more I spoke to people, the more I realized that letter writing might be a dying form of communication (yes, I said it).

If you have any questions, you can contact Renée here.


Perhaps in this time of social distancing and isolation, people will pick up the pen again. Instead of another Zoom meeting or hours of screen time, they will discover or rediscover the art of letter writing, whether it is to a friend or family member that could be far or near away, or perhaps some kind words to a senior that is socially isolated during this pandemic. Reach out to your local seniors centre or care facility to see if you can help by sending a letter.

Ready to Write_On?

As we’re sure you all know, April is National Letter and Card Writing Month. In 2001, it was officially designated by the U.S. Postal Service as National Card and Letter Writing Month “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

Egg Press in Portland started the Write_On campaign in 2014 to challenge their family and friends to write 30 letters/cards in 30 days. Check out the website for a list of great resources from trackers, envelope liners, reasons to write and tools. Follow @EggPress and the #Write_On tag on Instagram so you don’t miss out on inspiration, letter-writing prompts, and some fun giveaways* of Sakura pens! They also have an active Write_On Facebook group full of friendly folks (including several Letter Moians!) to link up with new pen pals, share your favourite stamps, and cheer each other on throughout the month’s challenge!

Did you finish writing to all of your LetterMo penpals and are looking for someone else to write? Perhaps check out our #MailMission page, and write a letter or card to someone who would appreciate a smile in the mail. Write_On also has a list of people in need of some kind words.

Please share and tag your mail-errific efforts this April on your posts on Instagram or in the daily mail call in the LetterMo Facebook group so we can cheer you on:
#write_on #lettermo #happymail #snailmail #nationalcardletterwritingmonth

Snail Mail Small Business Savings & Shout Outs

During this unprecedented time of business closures around the world due to the pandemic, we wanted to give a shout out to those small businesses who love and create beautiful cards and stationery for us snail mail lovers. While we do our best to revive the art of letter writing, we’re lucky that we can find beautiful things to send in the mail.

These are a collection of offers that have been spotted on social media, and range from free shipping to percentage off. Some of them are favourites recommended by Letter Moians. Support them if you can – whether it’s to re-stock your stationery stash for National Card and Letter Writing Month in April or beyond, or to share this post with your friends and family who also love stationery. Don’t need anything for yourself? Some shops offer giftcards too! Let’s try to help keep these awesome and creative stationery – and sometimes sassy and salty! – suppliers around. ♥

If you know of any others, from anywhere in the world, please comment below with a link to their online shop.

* Please note: I haven’t had time to check out the details of all the offers. I have included expiry dates if I could easily find them; free shipping may only refer to local areas only, and dollar limits in local currency.
~ Irene

Constellation & Co
Home of the Snail Mail Superstar.
Free shipping on all orders until April 30, 2020

Paper Pastries
20% off until March 31, 2020 with the code: STAYSAFE20
Free shipping for orders over $50

Regional Assembly of Text
Until March 31, 2020, save 40% off everything in their Stationery category with special code Stationery=Paper
Sign up for their quarterly newsletter to so you can find out any new products and other future offers.

Steel Petal Press
Lots of sassy and salty cards 😀 and Corona Care packages .
Free shipping until April 7 with code: VIRTUALHUGS

TAY HAM
20% off all orders for the next month. with code: GOODVIBES

Some other of our letter writers’ small biz faves*:

2impressshop
Custom return address rubber stamps.
Free shipping.

One-Per-Week
Curated monthly subscription service among other lovely stationery including vintage stamps.

Carpe Diem Papers
Free shipping within US for greeting card orders.

Egg Press
Originator of the Write_On Campaign!

Graphic Anthology
Cards ship free.
Subscribe to their newsletter and get 15% off your first order in addition to birthday discounts.

I Loot Paperie
Very punny and cute cards and washi tapes.

Paper Wilderness
Whimsical watercolour paper goods and fantastic animal puns.

Postmark’d Studio
Premium monthly stationery subscription and other snail mail goodies.

Pretty by Post
Curated Greeting Cards For The Snail Mail Lover. Free shipping on first order and monthly contests in the Facebook group.

Rhubarb Paper Co.
“Not Yo’ Grandma’s Greeting Cards”

Wit & Whistle
“Pretty funny paper goods” – cards and rubber stamps.

(*not all verified*)

Keep Mailing, Snail Mailers!

I don’t think anyone could have imagined that the world would be facing a global pandemic this year. During this time of heightened anxiety and feelings of isolation, we wanted to share that it’s safe to continue to send mail.

In an interview, Dr. Michael Merson, a dean’s special adviser at the New York University School of Global Public Health, told CBS News:

“I have not seen any evidence to support transmission of the new coronavirus through mail and experts universally feel that the risk of spread from mail or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures is remote.”

“No, you won’t contract corona virus from a package you receive in the mail” By Sophie Lewis – March 5, 2020 / 5:11 PM  / CBS NEWS

While some international borders have closed, it is mainly the restriction of people crossing, not goods nor mail. With the exception of mailing/receiving from some points in Asia, most postal systems state that it’s mostly business as usual with the exception of some personal handling (e.g. delivery signatures) and guaranteed delivery times in the USA, Canada, UK, and Germany (top locations of Letter Moians). Check with your national postal service and let us know in the comments.

In fact, during this time of “social distancing,” perhaps there has never been a better time to return to the art of writing letters and help people from feeling isolated.

Keep on writing, Letter Moians!

Mail Mission Accomplished!

It was wonderful to read that many of you participated in Mail Missions during LetterMo.

In chatting in one of my Facebook Groups, a member of the Braid Mission mentioned that they had received several “Cards of Hope” from LetterMo members and hearing that news really warmed the cockles of my heart. YAY for you kind-hearted people!

Another Mail Mission that many of your undertook was to send World War II veteran Fred Arsenault a birthday card for his 100th birthday. Cards were sent from Canada, USA and from around the world.

Fred Arsenault with his original request. Fred with his daughter-in-law at his birthday party on March 5, 2020, announcing how many cards he received.

We are happy to report that Fred Arsenault achieved his request to receive 100 cards for his 100th birthday. He just received an extra 90,000 of them! Click this link to see scenes from his birthday party.

Thanks to all of you kind snailmailers! <3
🎉🎂💌📮 

MARCH ON to APRIL!

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s Month of Letters. And a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to the people who volunteered and stepped in and stepped up to ensure this year’s LetterMo happened. 

As we March On to April, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few things:

  • Honour the pledge and write back to everyone who wrote you – even if it takes you into March and beyond.
  • Remember that for some people, they have indicated that they write only in February, so you may not get a second letter until next February. 
  • Head to your profile and ensure that your letter writing status is correct and edit if need be
  • Remember that if you requested a friend to write to, etiquette says that you should write first.
  • Ensure you record your friends’ address somewhere other than here in the case that the site goes down whether for maintenance or gremlins
  • If you want to stay in touch, find your way to the FB community if you aren’t there already. Remember, you will need your LetterMo.com username, i.e., your “@name” that you use to log in here, to request access.
  • Remember to check out the special offer for LetterMo members aka Snail Mail Superstars from Constellation & Co. good until March 31st, 2020.

We’ll share some more resources as April draws near.  Until then,

Happy Writing LetterMo friends!
Long Live Snail Mail!

You’re invited!

To the LetterMo 2020 Virtual Write-In!

LetterMo is hosting a virtual letter writing social. While we won’t have a space for an online meet-up, we encourage LetterMoians to coordinate with letter writers local to them, invite friends and family to join in a real location, coordinate an online hangout with your favourite pen-pal, or simply take your letter writing to a public place.

You can check in on the Members Only LetterMo 2020 Virtual Write-in Thread on the 29th here on the website and/or the LetterMo 2020 Facebook Group.

With our global audience:
10:00 am to 1:00 pm PST / 1:00-4:00 EST / 18:00-21:00 GMT
(Click here if you need help converting to your local time.)
If the time doesn’t work for you, adjust as needed and share away. The most important thing is to have fun!

Share your Write-In location or snap pictures of your progress for the last Saturday of our February challenge.

“See you” on the 29th!

What’s a Mail Mission?

It is letters or cards being send for a specific purpose, for example, to cheer someone, remembering our troops, a holiday or milestone birthday.

If you’re new to the world of snail mail, you may wonder, do people actually send letters or cards to complete strangers?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Sometimes you can raise the spirits of s sick or terminally ill child. But sometimes you just don’t make the grade and the child would prefer to hear from your dog instead.

No matter, it is wonderful to see warm wishes sent with kindness and love, all to brighten someone’s day for the cost of a stamp and card (home made even!) or a letter.

Speaking of love, since it’s Valentine’s Day, we are happy to advise that US Marine Veteran Bill White has received over 100,000 Valentines in response to his request earlier this year. (Click here for a short video to see all the cards.)

“Retired Marine Corps Maj. Bill White sits in his formal uniform among some of the Valentine’s Day gifts that he has received in the mail. (Mary Huston/Courtesy Photo)”

A WWII veteran living in Texas requested 100 cards for this 100th birthday and he received 100,000 of them! There is another veteran in Toronto with the same request for his 100th birthday on March 6th – there is still time to send Fred a birthday greeting!

We’ve created a separate Mail Mission thread on our public forum. People who may be looking to send additional mail and positive messages out into the world, can find the information in one thread. Most of these are on-going mail missions covering the troops, to kids in care or at the hospital, people fighting cancer but we’ll post some with deadlines if it makes sense to do so. We’ll try to add more as time allows.

Until then, thanks to the LetterMoians who have already sent their wishes on mail missions to lift someone’s spirits. ♥

Razzle Zazzle ’em

Hey! We had a “Wee Spot of Mail” two weeks ago when LetterMo 2020 started on Saturday, and yesterday we finished our first full week.

Here are the original badges for accomplishing those two parts of the MOL challenge:

Did you earn them? (Even if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start sending letters and people are active in our member fora!)

Also there are still postcards and challenge cards available for purchase through the LetterMo Zazzle store (if you’re not up to printing your own):

Onward to Week Two!

Need an occasion to write?

Just a few days to LetterMo 2020! If you haven’t registered yet, do it as soon as possible so you can get started on February 1 and find some new pen pals if needed. Are you trying to fill your planning calendar with people and reasons to write?

If you feel like you need an occasion to write someone, here are some fun days of the month for you to get in touch. Perhaps it’s one of your favourite foods – you can tell your pen pal why Nutella, pistachios or strawberry is your absolute favourite thing. There are a lot of fun greeting cards, stickers and washi tape that you can show your love. Perhaps you can share your favourite clam chowder or chili recipe. With the list below, you can likely find something interesting that you can put pen to paper to write about.

Happy writing!

** Correction – Open That Bottle Night is actually on February 29 this year instead of the 24.**

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