The Letter Writing Revolution

Revitalizing a Lost Art One Letter at a Time

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter Writing and Socializing

My friend, Susan, emailed me the other day wondering if I happened to hear a piece on CBC Radio regarding a cafe in Toronto that hosts twice monthly letter writing events. I hadn't listened to the radio that day and I was curious to learn more. After failing to find the interview on the CBC website, I just googled "Toronto cafe and letter writing" and was brought to Naco Cafe which is located at 1665 Dundas Street West. I searched around until I found the January 24th event called Pal-Sac. I have cut and pasted the description below:

No cover. Open to all.
P.W.Y.C. stamps and stationery. Cards by local artists for sale.
Contact us at {{ palsac.toronto at }}
Imagine a day when every personal e-mail you received came in the form of a piece of mail, in envelopes of different sizes, with papers of different colours, textures, handwriting with different degrees of legibility. Wouldn’t that be pretty nice for a change?
PAL-SAC is exactly what it sounds like, show up and write a letter or two with a group of other people also writing letters. (By letters, we mean anything that involves the postal system: a postcard, a personal letter, a political letter, a package, a special occasion card, fan mail, mail art, prank mail, or something experimental.)
This event will continue to run in the new year, on the second and forth Monday of every month, thanks to your support and NACO!

How cool is that? Imagine packing up some letter writing items and heading out to a funky cafe on a blustery, winter evening and meeting up with like minded individuals who have gathered to sit, sip cafe au lait and write letters. I remember doing this when I was in college on a Saturday afternoon or when I lived in Whistler, BC and had a day off. I would go out and buy some interesting cards/postcards and write letters to my family and friends. I would sit for hours drinking coffee and writing. It was such a relaxing and meditative experience.

PAL-SAC stands for "post a letter social activity club" and there are chapters in Toronto, Montreal, Copenhagen and soon, New York City. I have sent in a request to start a chapter in the Ottawa Valley. If I am not approved to start a chapter, I may just have a letter writing event somewhere anyway. If you live in Toronto, perhaps you could check out the next PAL-SAC event at Naco Cafe (2nd and 4th Monday of each month from 7-11pm) or at the other Toronto location at The Avro at 750b Queen Street East (1st Monday starting March 2011 at 7pm). I would like to hear all about it, of course. If you wish to hear the radio interview about this event and letter writing, go to CBC Radio. The portion that deals with letter writing is at the 2 minute 15 second mark approximately.

And don't forget to become a follower and enter for your chance to win  the Beat the Winter Blues GIVEAWAY courtesy of me at The Letter Writing Revolution.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beat The Winter Blues GIVEAWAY

What better way to warm up the hands of my letter writing blog followers then a free GIVEAWAY!!!
This giveaway will contain some extra special letter writing treats! You won't want to miss out on your chance of winning this one. It is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

To be eligible for this giveaway, you must be a follower of The Letter Writing Revolution blog. All you have to do is leave a comment below to enter. Comment once per day if you wish until Wednesday, February 2nd when the winner will be randomly selected and announced.

The winner will receive an awesome TLWR gift soon after being announced.

Become a follower today!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Love Letter for TLWR

I know, I're wondering what happened to me. Life. That is it. Life is happening at a faster than usual pace and so my blogging efforts have taken a backseat lately. I did receive the following note, though, that I had to share with all of you. This note warmed my heart on this freezing cold day and is proof to me that The Letter Writing Revolution isn't in vain. I am also thinking that a wonderful GIVEAWAY is in order to warm the hearts of those of you who live in the deep freeze that is Canada in January. When I awoke this morning, the temperature was minus 35 degrees Celsius WITHOUT the wind chill. Your skin freezes within ten minutes when exposed in temperatures like that. So, stay tuned as I will announce my next giveaway in the next few days which will be open to everyone whether or not you are freezing your buns off this time of year.

And here is the TLWR love letter:

"Ben* got Kate's* letter yesterday, and was beyond excited. I don't know if you read the letter but it was cute, basic, but at the end she put a "ps. I heart flowers" and then a flower sticker on it. I tried not to react all nuts (like I usually do) but I had to bite the insides of my cheeks from saying anything that would make Ben cringe. Kate also put what day her birthday is, so Ben marked it on our calender. I then had to turn away and wash dishes because I was tearing up. I got so overwhelmed that a single piece of paper could bring such joy to someone, on a snowy, cold day. Ben asked if we could go to the store and get him some "cool stationery", so he could write back. You are so right, Julie, this is a lost art form. Ben put the letter in his pajamas drawer, which is home to his letters from Santa, his lunch note from me from his first day at his new school, his "bravery diploma" from his surgery and his postcard collection from my friend who travels the world. My neighbour, who is attached to our house, has a box of love letters from the original owners of both our homes, that reads like a novel. The parents on one side, the young couple on our side. The letters were sent while he was stationed overseas in the war. They were found in our attic with a short wave radio, among other things that help tell the stories of our house that has been here over 100 years and I find it magical. I have nothing like this. All of my correspondence with James (husband) was done through emails, quick, short notes, poor punctuation, most things in point form. Everything is on a computer now: photos, notes, life. I "talk" to my best friend every day through email, but realize I barely see her anymore, since we never need to catch up. I didn't even send out Christmas cards this year, because it seemed like so much work, when I could just sit here a minute and send out an email, with my face on a dancing elf. I think things like "the letter writing revolution" are important. I feel right now like I am moving so fast through the world that I need to just slow down, pour a glass of wine, pick up a pen, and say hi to someone the old fashioned way. Imagine getting a personal note instead of an impersonal bill."
Maude *

* names have been changed


Thursday, January 13, 2011

TLWR In Print

After my tour of the Ottawa Mail Processing Plant this past September, I was contacted by a writer for Contact magazine which is the internal Canada Post employee magazine. This magazine reaches approximately 75,000 Canada Post employees across the country. They were interested in my blog and wanted to write a small piece about it. I received a phone call and had a 20 minute interview about The Letter Writing Revolution with a writer from Hamilton, ON. I was sworn to secrecy and was not allowed to breathe a word of our interview or of the upcoming issue of Contact that would have mention of TLWR.

The issue was finally mailed out at the end of December and I only heard about it when one of the employees at our local post office said that she saw my picture in a magazine. I was a bit confused as I wasn't aware that there would be photos involved. She said she was reading the latest issue of Contact when she read a bit about a blog that was started by a woman in the Ottawa valley. She was pretty excited to see that it was me as we have had many chats about letter writing and this blog. Canada Post was to mail me a copy but I haven'treceived it yet. I did borrow her issue and took photos for all of you:
The official Canada Post employee magazine

There it is on the bottom/left page.

And the article which is a tad blurry.....
This reminds me that February is just around the corner and as promised, I now have to plan my winter experience of the Canada Post Mail Carrier. What was I thinking???

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Gift of a Letter

Over the holidays, we received a lovely package from our friend, Joan. Joan was a dear friend of my husband's mother, Marjorie. They were friends as teenagers and until Marjorie's passing at the age of 39. A couple of weeks before Christmas, Joan emailed me and asked if I thought it would be appropriate for her to send an old letter that my husband's mother had written to Joan when she was a teenager and spending some months in Florida. I, of course, said, "Absolutely!"

So, the package arrived and Tim chose to place the letter under the tree with all of the gifts.

This is the letter under the tree
We have a tradition in our home that we get to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Tim decided to open his Christmas Eve Day and chose the letter. Just knowing that his mother had touched this paper and that it was her beautiful penmanship was enough but reading her adolescent musings and comical descriptions of her life as a teenager was priceless.

As he finished reading the letter, the phone rang and it was Tim's sister calling him as she, too, had received a letter from Joan. I listened to them talking and laughing and trying to figure out details by comparing the letters. One letter had been written a month before the other. For a moment, it was though she were alive again......her thoughts and words spilling out into this present moment. And I thought how different it will be  30 years from now when there are very few records like this one. Everyone is so busy emailing and texting. Encourage your children to have at least one writing partner. One person to whom they can share their thoughts, dreams, disappointments and broken hearts. These letters become our life story. Perhaps, the only written record we have in the end.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Universal Letter Writing Week

I must confess that I haven't lived up to The Letter Writing Revolution creator status these last few weeks. Aside from sending out Christmas cards in early December, I have sent next to nothing to anyone. I have received a few letters but I haven't replied. It has been a busy few weeks with the holidays and then the unexpected death of my grandmother on New Year's Day. The week prior to her passing, we cared for her at home where she spent many happy occasions and where we shared many amazing meals. My mother set up a makeshift bedroom in the sun room overlooking her snow covered garden and Grandma was lovingly cared for with dignity and respect until she took her final breath just before 10:30pm January 1st 2011. I had the privilege of sitting with her, holding her hands, touching her hair, kissing her cheek, assisting in her personal care and being present when she moved beyond this time and place. Following her death, a wake and funeral was held and then the tough days of grieving began. This week feels less difficult and heavy and so here I am catching up with all of you. Coincidentally, it is Universal Letter Writing Week (January 8th-14th).

Tomorrow I plan to celebrate this week by, you guessed it, writing some much deserved letters. To those of you who wrote to me in the last few weeks, please accept my apologies for my lack of correspondence and trust that before you know it, a letter will arrive to you from me. For everyone else, celebrate this week by writing even one letter to someone who will appreciate your words on paper. For other ideas on how you can celebrate Universal Letter Writing Week, visit here.

Stayed tuned. I have much to write about after my brief sabbatical.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We Interrupt This Program

Since January 1, 2011, I have, along with my family, been processing the reality of my life without my Grandma. I'll be taking a break from blogging to grieve and remember her. Being present at the moment of her last breath was a privilege and a gift. Read about it from my sister's perspective at her blog at The Knitty Gritty Homestead

Until later...