Tag Archives: blogs

Blog Profile: 2011 Letters

I’ve come across so many great letter writing sites run by really interesting people that’s it’s sometimes hard to remember where I read what and who I wanted to write to. The solution? Blog profiles!

The first, 2011 Letters by Renee and her three daughters, is perhaps my favorite for its concept: learning about people from people themselves!

Renee’s girls are homeschooled, which gives them a lot of freedom for setting up a really creative curriculum that  goes beyond the often dry, cursory informational blurbs the rest of us received from middle and high school textbooks. This year Renee’s family is trying to collect 2011 letters from real people all over the world to learn about other cultures, livelihoods, history, languages, values, customs and traditions, etc. Seems like a great use of primary sources!

Here’s what Renee says about the project on her blog:

I want to open the world to my daughters and show them that there is more to the world than what we see. I want them to learn about other cultures, other traditions, other languages, etc. I want them to learn what a textbook cannot teach them about humanity.

I’m in the midst of a long letter to Renee’s three girls, and I encourage everyone else to participate too! For more information, including the address, email Renee at reneealam AT verizon.net




46. Maggie O. -Denver

47. Alex C. -Chicago

48. Marissa M. -Boston




…………………..Clearly, I’m speechless. I have so much to babble on about, but I don’t know where to begin!

Today was the most wonderful day, courtesy of two very fabulous letters that had me twitching with excitement, jumping up and down, repeatedly rereading, and so psyched to uncap my fountain pen and craft a reply. Seriously, I was quite literally squealing at certain parts of my sister’s letter and laughing aloud in my empty room at the one from her awesome roommate. After hemming and hawing over today’s letter earlier this afternoon, I put that stubborn letter on hold and broke out my favorite stationery to respond to Marissa because this was a letter demanding to be written. My sister’s letter, also clamoring to be put to paper, will be done tomorrow.  The only question remaining is whether I slow down to decorate the envelopes this weekend, or rush these responses to the post office so that I know they will be read sooner….

This is just what I needed. I’m going through a bit of a dry spell these days. The project, still important to me (indeed, it’s the only thing giving meaning and structure to my days these last couple of months), is beginning to seem a chore. I’m young—I don’t have a lifetime of friends, colleagues, and accumulated family to fall back on when my inspiration fails. And some days it’s just difficult to produce a letter I’m proud of even though my address book in not completely exhausted. I do write a letter, or a very crowded postcard as the case may be, but each time it happens I am reminded that I promised myself I would stop the moment the Year of Correspondence became a lasting burden.

I’m no where near there yet, thankfully, but I rely on responses to rejuvenate me after several days of struggling to do more than write variations on the same, “Hey, remember me? This is a brief overview of my life since graduation…” type of letters that are the easy norm when correspondence mostly goes one way. I need things, specific things, to latch onto and write about to keep me engaged. Sometimes those things come from the news (the Tuscan shooting or the current regime-toppling unrest in the Middle East/Africa) or a particularly interesting event (such as the first, terrifying, time I ever drove cross-county), but since the world only moves so fast and I personally don’t lead an especially interesting life, I really need a bone every now and then from my gentle recipients.

This is a project about several things, the least of which is to talk about the superficial goings-on of my life. Rather, my focus is on (in no particular order):

  • training myself to observe and evaluate the world around me
  • bringing creativity and art back into my life
  • creating history by forging a physical link to the past
  • becoming a more articulate writer and an engaging storyteller,
  • catharsis, achieved by organizing a tempest of emotion into a coherent, recognizable form, and setting it free
  • CONNECTING with people; building relationships based on thoughtful gestures, reflection, and clear, meaningful communication

By far the most important of these for me is the last one—building relationships. Receiving those amazing letters from Boston not only put me in mind to write with passion and speed, but prompted me to revisit the plethora of letter-related blogs that I have been too overwhelmed to properly sift through. There are a few I have read in full by now, including the popular 365Letters, written by Carla in TX, USA, and The Letter Writing Revolution, by Julie in Ontario, Canada.

I am going to make a greater effort to read through more blogs and take advantage of these dedicated writers (who respond!) and online mail swap communities. Perhaps, if I’m feeling ambitious, I might even do a few profile posts…