Nov. 14, 2021

Keeping letter writing alive

Keeping letter writing alive

Just a quick note in the show notes, Shawn Newton is fundraising for a new machine for his shop and would appreciate your support.

In today’s episode, we will be catching up with new acquisitions, the latest postal bulletin, and all of the latest news of people in the world keeping letter writing alive in the age of email and DMs.


John - Trilogy nib has returned!

Evan - skis, Oculus

Postal Bulletin

An SO listener sent a postcard through the Blue Origin program

Fighting for Space by Amy Shira Teitel 

News of letter writers keeping letter writing alive

It’s the Macy’s Believe Campaign, letters to Santa generate a $1 donation to Make-a-Wish and that program has raised over $25 million

Letters from kids in juvie, the ones delivered to teachers impacted their reaction to the students which in turn lowered the recidivism rate, SF Examiner article, EdSource article, original paper

This is from AI UK for their Write for Rights campaign to support people who AI has identified as needing support (the campaign has successes in the past)

Joe Wagner had penpals when he was younger and this project is another pandemic inspired project for Belle Glos winery

Here is where you can find the Belle Glos stationery

Barbara Heller’s project to tell the “Little Women” story through reproductions of their letters, fueled by the talented calligraphers of the New Orlean’s Lettering Arts Association.

Article about a letter writing workshop for writing letters to cancer patients

Here’s the group that did it and their letter writing tips

Support the show (

43 Keeping letter writing alive

[00:00:00] John: Welcome to episode 43 of stationeryorbit, where we're all here to learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West, and I'm joined by our cohost Evan Harris. In today's episode, we'll be catching up with new acquisitions, the latest postal bulletin and all of the latest news of people in the world.

Keeping letter writing alive in this age of emails and direct messages. As I understand it our acquisitions had been a little bit different this fortnight. But I have had a little piece of karma come back and bless me a little bit. I had been on the original bandwagon for regalia writing labs years ago and love Ralph's work. Really miss having Ralph in the community. But at some point in time, I believe it was 29. I decided to do a massive purge of pens. And I have regretted selling that regalia writing lab, trilogy nib for a long time now. [00:01:00] And one of the individuals that I had showed my trilogy nib to here at the local pen possy John. Turns out. He was also a big stack nibs fan and went out and got one. And he recently saw a trilogy nib show up on the Pen Addict slack sell trade alerted me immediately. And I got lucky enough to pick up that trilogy nib. And I got to show it a little bit to. Before the show goes, and I know that visual is horrible for radio or podcasting, but the triple stack nib on that thing is just ridiculous in the way it writes is ridiculous, but it's a beautiful pen.

Beautiful nib. So glad to have it back.

[00:01:39] Evan: it looks incredible. Not, I want to get a stack nib at some point. I know CY is producing them now. CY from Tokyo station pens and Tokyo inklings. If you don't listen to that, and like this, or you probably like that one too. Okay. 

[00:01:52] John: Absolutely. 

[00:01:53] Evan: I haven't gotten any new pen stuff since we last recorded.

I've spent most of my fun money on [00:02:00] ski equipment as this T season's coming up and there was a big sale nearby, got a new pair of Telemark skis. So I'll be carving up the slopes, not so much writing on the page.

[00:02:10] John: that's right. We fully expect a drone shot of you writing something in the snow for us. 

[00:02:14] Evan: I'll do my best. I've got a friend with a drone. I just need to convince her to come out and visit me.

[00:02:19] John: There you go. Cool. Also understand that you got something that was a little more virtual reality style too. 

[00:02:25] Evan: that's right. I did end up picking up thanks to some friends and Oculus quest to which it came in last night, so I've not messed with it much, but it is a fun game. So you can write me and tell me what games you'd recommend aside from beat saber, a and M and sports scrambles.

The other game of plates so far in the two hours I've used it. So write a letter and I'll try out what games people recommend.

[00:02:48] John: Yeah. I believe if my nephew is, are any kind of a recommendation, any of the Darth Vader series, apparently as a hoot. 

[00:02:56] Evan: I've heard good things about that. I haven't picked them up yet, but again, I've played it for maybe [00:03:00] two hours. I literally got in last night, I watched a football game instead of messing with it because I was had to watch my Alma mater.

[00:03:08] John: oh Yeah, absolutely. So we're going to move along here to different stuff in the postal and stationery world. And we've got a new postal bulletin out and I was really happy to see this one with the very first. Postmark that they have in here. It's the heroes science postmark for the Apex station in McLean, Virginia, and yeah, absolutely. For all of the people that are frontline health workers. They have been the absolute heroes of the last two years and the definitely need to get a shout out. So that's awesome. They also have a Walter Reed Bethesda, one for their 10th anniversary for that station.

So good on that stuff.

[00:03:52] Evan: I am surprised that it is. Maybe. Specifically a post station within Walter Reed, but I've thought Walter Reed was much more [00:04:00] than 10 years old. 

[00:04:00] John: Oh yeah. Yeah. it 

[00:04:02] Evan: it must be the station within Walter Reed, Bethesda. But the heroes stamp has somebody pipetting something. It has somebody in full PPE.

I can't tell what they're doing from the image and it has a microscope on it. And that one has been while the date on that is October 22nd to 24th. That has been extended 30 days, which should put it into December based on. Because you should have 30 days past the date initially. So 30 more days puts it into this.

[00:04:29] John: Yeah. Excellent. Yeah, definitely. If that's something that tickles your interests get out and get that one done. And yeah, the mentioning postmarks we ended up getting an email and it linked into an article on the gadgeteer website and turns out. The gadgeteer is a listener of stationery orbit and she was listening and heard about the blue origin postcard [00:05:00] postmarks and she decided she was going to get right on that.

She ran over to her pile of paper, found something that she could cut down to cardstock sizes for the blue origin size recommendations, printed the gadgeteer on it and sent it to space and got it back and wrote an article. So first and foremost, I wanna thank Julie for giving us a shout out in her blog posts and even more so a way to go on jumping , on board, getting that postmark.

That was really cool. 

[00:05:34] Evan: Absolutely. And I didn't end up sending any yet because I got caught up in moving earlier this summer. But one of the things I really like in the article is there's a good chance that this postcard was on the same flight as captain Kirk.

[00:05:49] John: Yeah, Yeah. With William Shatner going up in this space launching him up at 90 plus years old. It is I'm going to use a bad pun here up in the air, but as to [00:06:00] the date of the actual space mission, but either way it works out, it went up as a part of a payload, came back and got postmarked by blue origin.

So where do you go? 

[00:06:10] Evan: that's right. So that Julie in the article says there are three missions potentially was on the first is unlikely, just due to dates, which was the first human mission with Mr. Bezos. And more importantly, Wally Funk, if you've not heard of her and her incredible story, she probably should have become an astronaut in the sixties.

And is one of the, honestly, one of the most qualified pilots in history. She's , has an incredible history. If you want to learn about history of that time. There's a book I read a while ago that was fighting for space by Amy Shira Teitel came out.

[00:06:43] John: Yeah. we'll see if we can get that into the show notes. That would be 

[00:06:46] Evan: Yeah, it's a bit of a tangent, but I think a lot of our listeners may like it. And Wally Funk was one of the main characters in that story. It's a true story. Otherwise it would have been on a payload mission or this could have gone on and S 18, which is the flight with Mr. [00:07:00] William Shatner also known as captain.

[00:07:02] John: , just some great history being made now. And it's really nice that she was able to get in as part of that. 

[00:07:10] Evan: absolutely. I don't know about you, but I'm to work on getting some postcards to go up soon so that I can do it and maybe find some winter theme once as we're returning into the season, or maybe some Olympic ones with the. Stuff near me.

[00:07:25] John: Yeah. actually, thank you for bringing that up. That is actually something that I need to let the listeners know about and it wasn't in the show notes, so I'll apologize for that. But that's one thing that with my upcoming move to Singapore I need to let everybody know that here probably early December, I am probably going to be shutting down that PO box in golden, Colorado.

Because I won't be able to check it. And it's really hard to get mail out of that. So I'm probably going to be shutting that down. I've got to figure out what I'm going to do in Singapore, but 

[00:07:58] Evan: I can look into getting a [00:08:00] postbox. Which while I'm here, I can check, but then I'll be splitting time with Dallas. So I'll still be here pretty regularly. 

[00:08:07] John: Want to make sure everybody knows that if you haven't put a letter in the mail yet probably go ahead and put a hold on that because I don't know how we're going to be running , that PO box situation here in the, not too far. And we're in, since we're talking about holidays a little bit, we've got an article in here from New York, from the Macy's and their queen store.

They had an artist come in who had been part of the Make-A-Wish foundation as a child had his wish. Granted by Make-A-Wish and he survived the childhood disease and came back and he is now an artist and he recruited several other artists to come in to help with Macy's belief campaign.

And they put up [00:09:00] murals on the outside of the Queens Macy's store to. Advertise for this belief campaign where they're encouraging children to write or email into Santa and. They're using that, that other word email. We don't encourage that here at stationery orbit, please encourage your child to go out and get a pen and paper and actually write to Santa it's worth it.

And so send this thing off to a Macy's and for every letter that they get in, they're going to be making a $1 donation to Make-A-Wish. 

[00:09:34] Evan: Yeah. That, which is an incredible organisation , From everything I've heard. However, if you're in Canada and you don't want to go to a Macy's, do you know the postcode? You can send your letter to Santa two. 

[00:09:46] John: No, I do not go for 

[00:09:47] Evan: So in Canada that postcodes their equivalent of the Americans, zip code, is a six character alpha numeric with a space in the middle is H zero H zero H zero.

[00:09:58] John: [00:10:00] Oh, excellent. That's easy to remember. 

[00:10:03] Evan: Easy to remember and hope to draw.

[00:10:06] John: Absolutely. Yup. Ah, that'll that brings a smile on my face. That's awesome. Yeah. And going back to the Make-A-Wish deal, the Macy's campaign has actually helped Make-A-Wish raise over $25 million during the lifetime of that program. So these folks are definitely doing some good work giving some of these kids some real hope in their lives and , just some something good that doesn't take a whole lot.

It's something where you can encourage your kids to get into letter writing and having your first letter be the one to Santa that's. Awesome. Please look into doing that.

[00:10:43] Evan: Yeah. Absolutely. And speaking of the benefits of letter writing, you found several interesting.

[00:10:51] John: Yeah the rest of this episode is all about keeping letter writing alive and the various benefits of [00:11:00] doing letter writing. And we'll start out from a Stanford study that came up on the website is called ed source and they worked with a group of. Young adults that had ended up in the juvenile jail systems.

And they worked with 50 students in Oakland and had them write letters to their teachers. And then they only delivered half of them. And I understand it's a scientific study and you've got to do stuff like that. It's still kinda mean. 

[00:11:37] Evan: It is. I just found the original article so we can link. We can link the paper.

[00:11:42] John: Oh, okay. Nice. Yeah. And so yeah the, like I said, it's science can be mean sometimes, but they delivered half of these 50 letters to the teachers. And then the article says that what they noted was that the recidivism rate amongst those letter writers whose letters were delivered, what.[00:12:00] 

Only 29%. And for those who didn't have their letters delivered to the teachers, it ended up that recidivism rate ended up being 69%. And it's again, you get that sterile look at science where they're like here are the final numbers and everything. And I, what they skip on this is that it really is for the students that had their letters delivered. The article Harris says that the letters help the teachers see beyond the stereotypes. How about it helped them see that these were actual human kids that had emotions and needs and allowed them to actually be in some way, shape or form nurturing toward these kids. And sometimes that's all, you know, Uh,

[00:12:47] Evan: Yeah, the letters are a great way to connect and sometimes even the smallest amount of connection to make it a.

[00:12:54] John: absolutely. Yeah, I thought that this was an interesting article. Again, some of the stuff was [00:13:00] science compared to the touchy feely world of letter writing. Some of it gets a little bit sterile. It's still a great article. It was a neat program. And mentioning folks who may or may not be incarcerated.

The amnesty international in the United Kingdom has organized a campaign. And as I understand it, this has been an ongoing campaign, but for the 2022 campaign for write for rights, the amnesty international is asking people to write in to a group of. Five people and one organization from around the world and help help show support for what they're doing help write into the governments that treating some of these folks poorly and help get them some support from the government.

And they actually do have a track record of success. , They ended up with an Algerian [00:14:00] journalist that had been imprisoned and he was released provisionally in February of 2021. There was a.

A satirical poet and student leader in Miramar who was freed in April, 2021. And then there was a Saudi Arabian woman that was a woman's rights campaigner. And she was released in 20, 21 as well. So yeah, they've got a a history of actually having some of these letters really make a difference.

So if this is something that is in your. Wheelhouse and you want to be a campaigner or you want to be an activist in your letter writing look into that and that the link for this will be in the show notes for sure. And then going into more letter writing, and this is getting into the absolute core of trying to keep letter writing alive. There is a gentlemen named Joe Wagner and he is a fifth generation wine maker [00:15:00] and owner of Bella gloss winery in California. And apparently Joe had pen pals growing up and has a real love at heart for love letters.

And he decided to. Work with novelist, Nicholas Sparks and luxury station or Dempsey and Carol to put together a campaign and program to help keep letter writing alive and work with the art and craft of that letter writing, especially as it relates to love letters. So this is a, this is an interesting camp. 

[00:15:41] Evan: Absolutely includes some custom wax for your own wax seal. Bela Glos I don't know if I've actually had their wine, but there's are distinctive bottles they're wet sealed with a large amount of red wax on the front. 

[00:15:53] John: Yeah, it's practically like a third of the bottle. 

[00:15:55] Evan: hats. It's a lot of the bottle. It looks very pretty.

I can't recall if I've had their [00:16:00] wine, but the same wax you seal your your letters with

[00:16:04] John: yep. And they do come with a seal for. They actually, I think that the kit that he had originally put together has sold out the article that I've got here from October 15th. And I checked the website today for that. They had linked in there and they were completely sold out. They didn't have it up on the website anymore.

So I don't think that those particular wax seals are still available, but the actual stationery that was the collaboration with Dempsey and Carol is still available. Yeah, Dempsey and Carol, when they say that they are a luxury stationer, the prices are according. We'll just leave it that. 

[00:16:47] Evan: stationery stuff can get up in price

[00:16:49] John: Given how much we spend on pens, I don't know why we're complaining about stationeryand paper, but 

[00:16:54] Evan: The pens last long.

[00:16:56] John: yes they do. Going into something [00:17:00] much more creative. And I'm really excited about this project and I really, as much as I am not a little women fan not into that kind of.

genre of books and everything. I am, I'm really interested in seeing this , little women was a book by Louisa may Alcott and it tells the story of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, as they came to age in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the civil war. So this is very mid 18 hundreds. And the creator for this got in touch with a group of calligraphers out of new Orleans and had them write these letters. And, the book is 17 letters between the March, sisters and, others in their circle. and the 17 letters tell the [00:18:00] entire little women's story through letters, as part in character. So I'm really excited that. The way that they did this and the fact that they were using calligraphers from new Orleans to help do this.

It's just a really neat project. I really encourage everyone. Go take a look at this link to the article in and

 The person that is actually the prime mover behind this is Barbara Heller, who also did a similar treatment for this kind of. Book turned into letters, project, and she did this for Jane Austen's pride and prejudice. So that might also be something that if this is something that floats your boat, go look that one up too. 

Apparently the calligraphers had a bit of a time with it because the the editor for this Barbara really wanted them to look authentic. So she wanted them to be a little sloppy and the calligraphers were just having a time of [00:19:00] it because that's, their job is to make it look absolutely Perfect. And to to break that, I'm sure to breaking some habits. 

[00:19:09] Evan: I can.

[00:19:12] John: Yep. And then last and most certainly not least there is an article in here from impact, and they had a workshop that was held by another charity called from me to you. And for me to you is a charity that is, was founded to inspire people, to write letters and very specific. Letters to those living with cancer.

And I think we had touched on this a little bit earlier, but there are things that you can write in a letter that you might not be able to verbalize to somebody in a face-to-face situation. So there are some things that just work better in letters in terms of sympathizing with somebody [00:20:00] or trying to relate to what they're doing.

And they the workshop has already happened. So that's already come and gone, but we do have a link in here to the from me to you website and directly to the. Website for tips on how to write to somebody who has cancer. And there are some really great tips in here. The one that stood out to me is a piece of advice that we've given multiple times here, which is write from the heart.

No matter how clumsy the words, if it's heartfelt, you can't go wrong. 

[00:20:38] Evan: Absolutely. The other one that is important is get it in the mail, even if it's sloppy. I may be saying that to tell myself I finish your letters, 

[00:20:47] John: Yeah. 

[00:20:48] Evan: Because I, but it is. Getting you in the mail is also important, but the writing from the heart is obviously something wonderful.

[00:20:57] John: Yep. And yeah, especially for [00:21:00] anybody out there that has ended up in this unfortunate situation. Go check this out . I won't go into all the tips in here. And just because I want you to go see this article and read it, but the folks from me to you did a great job. I love some of their tips, especially in terms of how you relate to the other person as you're writing the letter.

Yeah, definitely go check that out. And I think that this kind of a segment I think is gonna make its way into stationery orbit because. Seeing new news. The oldest article that we read to you today was from October 15th. So all of this is relatively new stuff 

and I love the fact that 

[00:21:41] Evan: Yeah, one thing, one thing could have made our last episode. That's it? Everything else is. 

[00:21:48] John: Yeah. I love the fact that the letter writing. Still so important to people that they're willing to write about it and try to keep it in as part of our culture. So [00:22:00] thank you to everyone that ended up being one of these links today. Thank you for your efforts and keeping letter writing alive and showing the benefits from it.

And for all of you that are out there. Thank you so much for tuning into stationery orbit. Be proud of your snail.