Gear up for the 2019 Write_On Challenge

National Letter Writing Month and the 30 day Write_On challenge are just weeks away! This year, in lieu of selling kits, we’re adding one of our 2019 limited edition color-in letterpress cards and a Gelly Roll pen from our partners Sakura to EVERY order on EggPress.com and the Write_On Shop FREE while supplies last!

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Need to stock up on supplies to write your 30 letters? We’ve got a limited number of 10 card bundles of thanks or blanks available to help set you up right! And, we’re offering 25% off your entire order when you spend $50+ online through March 31st with code WRITEON2019*.

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LOOKING FOR MORE?

Visit the resources section of the website to download tools to help you throughout the challenge.

WANT TO HOST AN EVENT?

Want to host your own letter writing event in your community? Email us the details and we’ll post it on the events page to help get the word out. From casual coffee shop meet ups to more formal full-blown events, we love what you bring to the table every year to help spread the word and build meaningful connections across the globe through the art of letter writing.

*Code valid on retail orders only on EggPress.com from now until 11:59PST on 3/31/2019. Must enter coupon code at checkout.








National Random Acts of Kindness Day Challenge

This Sunday is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, which has us thinking about how much kindness can be spread through a single handwritten note. Maybe it's a thank you note handed to the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop, or a quick motivational quote jotted on a note left behind on your bus seat, or a secret letter to a stranger tucked inside a library book - the possibilities are endless, but the power of paying kindness forward is something incredible.

We challenge you to use letter writing as a vehicle for an act of kindness this weekend, and if you do, we'd love to hear about it. Share with us online using #Write_On, or join the Write_On Facebook group.

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Dear Valentine: Thoughts and Inspiration from Diana Chao of Letters to Strangers

Dear Valentine,

2/14 is supposed to be some magical day: love tinges the air with a blushed je-ne-sais-quoi; your heart is bubble-on-the-edge-of-the-blower full. The winter cold melts against the heat of a couple’s embrace; it’s gentle and beautiful and alive and awkward in all the most perfect of ways.

But sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, all that love is supplanted by loneliness.

The thing about love is that we are taught it as an external thing: to love someone, to be loved - these are internal feelings extrapolated to external relationships. When we say the cliche “love yourself,” the phrase can thud like a stone. What does it mean to love yourself? Acceptance - but of what? Kindness - but do I deserve it, always? “Love yourself” is a powerful mantra that dissolves upon contact, not because it’s not meaningful, but because we don’t always know what love looks like when it doesn’t take the form of something or someone else.

In this cold month of love, isolation and wistfulness are not rarities. But they should be. So, let’s take steps together to make Valentine’s Day not just a day of love, but an internalization of love.

Write a letter, dear stranger. To yourself. To someone else. To a stranger. Write your story, share your vulnerabilities, lend a hand. Share your wishes and your love; share what you think it means to love yourself.

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Here are a few prompts to get started:

  1. In this cold winter weather, what keeps you warm? Beyond objects, are there people, activities, and events that bring you warmth? How?

  2. If self-love was a song, what would it sound like? Is it smooth jazz, improvisation and going with the flow? Is it indie pop, whimsical and emotional with a stable percussive beat? Is it lo-fi hip hop, a complex dance of rhythm and the faint buzzing of electric lines - something elated but just edgy enough to take you by surprise?

  3. What will you do this Valentine’s Day, or any day, really, in this cold month of love? How does that compare with what you want to do? Has this changed over the years?

If you’re writing to someone else, don’t forget to share your reflections with them. If it’s eating dumplings with family on Lunar New Year that brings you warmth, what do you want the reader to know? If self-love is 70s funk, how would you share your understanding of “love yourself” now with someone else? If you’re treating yourself to a nice dinner on V-Day, what do you want the reader to not be afraid to do? Anything outside of these prompts is fair game - this is your letter, after all. As you start writing, don’t be afraid to detour. Let your writing guide you. Where do your thoughts lead, and how does that feel? If you’re at a loss, check out some sample letters by Letters to Strangers here.

Love shouldn’t be a lonely thing, but when cold is relentless and the magic feels like someone else, it often is lonely. I want your words, your thoughts, and your letter to remind you that you are vibrant. Incredibly interesting. Strong in the subtlest of ways -- an exquisitely-defined human being who is deeply loved, not least by yourself, whatever that means for you. And I want you to share those thoughts and that love with others, even strangers.

2/14 is coming up. I can already taste the magic.

Love,

Diana

P.S. We partnered with Egg Press to giveaway some letterpress cards on our Instagram. Visit Letters To Strangers on Instagram and enter for a chance to win by 2/10.

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About Diana: Diana Chao is the Founder & Executive Director of Letters to Strangers (L2S), a global youth-run nonprofit seeking to de-stigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable quality treatment through anonymous letter-writing exchanges, education, and advocacy. Join the youth mental health movement and get involved by starting a chapter today!


Make time to write by hand for National Handwriting Day

It’s National Handwriting Day - the perfect opportunity to reunite with your favorite pen or pencil, and make time for some good old fashioned correspondence. There are many goofy holidays that pop up throughout the year, but this one falls on John Hancock’s birthday, and has been celebrated since 1977 - yeah, before the internet!

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Aside from its unique aesthetic, writing by hand boasts some major benefits such as exercising your fine motor skills and improving dexterity, helps you retain information, and can have an emotional impact on your recipient - especially a loved one or pen pal who grows to know your unique lettering over time.

Stumped on who to write to? Visit our resources page to write to those in need - practice your penmanship and make someone smile at the same time.

We hope you’ll join us and make some time to put pen to paper today! If you do, be sure to share your unique handwriting with us in the Write_On Facebook group, or on Twitter and Instagram using #Write_On!

Write Around Portland with Kate Rood

Like many of you, I feel very nostalgic about back to school shopping. My most vivid memories are of decorating the covers of my 3-ring binders, each school subject a different color theme. Now the return to autumn has me shopping for new Egg Press stationery and waiting in line at my neighborhood USPS for the latest postage stamp release. I’m a correspondence fanatic (find me on Instagram @snailmailcreations), and I keep the #Write_On mission to “promote joy, creativity, expression, and connection through hand-written correspondence” close to heart always.

One way I stay connected to creativity and correspondence year round is volunteering on the board of Write Around Portland, my favorite nonprofit! At Write Around Portland, we offer free writing workshops in prisons, hospitals, low income housing communities and other places where the act of writing nurtures hope and joy. After each workshop season, we publish an anthology and hold a public reading so that our community can benefit from hearing the stories of all Portlanders. We believe writing is powerful for individual and societal transformation, self-expression, healing and the realization of the dignity of one’s self and others.

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Back to school time at Write Around Portland means the start of our fall workshops.This fall we’re bringing our workshops to folks receiving services at 15 different social service agencies, including p:ear, NICU Families NW, Chemawa Indian School, Home Forward and Whitewood Gardens Residential Care Facility.

Hand-written correspondence is a big element of every workshop. Following each session of a 10-week workshop, the facilitator (volunteers who complete a 27-hour training) sends a personalized postcard to each writer in the workshop.

10 weeks of love, multiplied by hundreds of workshop participants, equals thousands of postcards sent by Write Around Portland volunteers this fall. Thousands of postcards to help our participants realize and believe that they are all writers and to encourage their unique voices.

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If you’re leading a training, a class or a big meeting this fall, consider adding correspondence into your approach to engaging participants. A handwritten note before or after a meeting (or throughout if you’re leading a full class term or series) will build connection faster than any icebreaker can. So don’t forget to collect mailing addresses during sign ups!

Even if you’re not leading a group, try opening a card to a loved one with one of these Write Around Portland style prompts that we use in our workshops:

  • The night smelled like...
  • Fall brings…
  • I wish I knew…
  • In my parents kitchen...

I invite all #Write_On community members to get involved with Write Around Portland. Please join us for a writing workshop, our annual event, Raise Your Pen, on October 18th, or one of our community readings in December (follow us on Facebook for dates!). And if you are not able to join us at one of these, I hope you will check out this short video about how we use donations to support our workshops and the postcards that all our writers receive, and consider making a gift so that all Portlanders can feel the joy you and I do when we put pen to paper.

With love,
Kate

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About Kate: Kate Rood serves as Community Engagement Officer for Beneficial State Foundation, a unique foundation working to change the banking system for good through advocacy and stewardship of the triple bottom line mission of Beneficial State Bank. Before joining the movement for better banking, Kate advised Portland State University’s Impact Entrepreneurs on social innovation events and community programs. Her background is in executive education, bringing business leaders together for collaboration and community. Kate received a BA in political science from Smith College and an MBA from Portland State University. A published writer, Kate believes good things happen when we speak, write and bear witness to each other’s stories. She is on the board of directors for both Write Around Portland and B Local PDX. Kate is passionate about the positivity, creativity and mindfulness of handwritten mail, and makes and sends cards every week.

WRITE_ON AND TEDxPORTLAND LETTER EXCHANGE

On Saturday, April 21st, we teamed up with TEDxPortland for a special Write_On community letter-writing experiment: We invited participants to write a letter to a stranger (another attendee) documenting their biggest takeaway from the speakers they heard. This year’s event was curated around the idea of building bridges - featuring speakers from all disciplines and walks of life who shared their stories, experiences, and ideas to an audience of thousands. Writing a letter to a stranger was a big ask and unlike anything we’d done before, but we felt that in the spirit of bridge building and engaging with a broader community we’d give it a try. We got nothing but good feels in return – people were game to be a part of this thought sharing collective. They took to writing outdoors, at tables inside and at their seats.

Photo courtesy of TEDxPortland

Photo courtesy of TEDxPortland

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We’re already excited for TEDxPortland 2019 to catch up with some of these folks. We’re curious...How many made a new friend or became pen pals? How many people learned to see something in a new light? How many people discovered that they like the act of writing letters, and how exciting it is to receive one in return?

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Write_On and 826 Valencia Host an Ocean of Thanks

Special thanks to everyone who joined us at 826 Valencia on Saturday for our Ocean of Thanks event celebrating the launch of the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge alongside Thank You Thursday. We had such a great time writing thank you notes in an attempt to reach our goal of 826 letters in one day, which we exceeded by writing *drum roll please* 844 thank you notes in a day!!! It was so fun to sit down and connect with people of all ages, using the beautiful letterpress cards printed especially for the event, and creating our own cards using Mrs. Grossman's stickers and our favorite Sakura of America pens. We are so grateful for our community of letter-writers and we love seeing the art put to action. Thank you to everyone who joined our San Francisco event, including our sponsors! We are so excited to have surpassed our goal!

Write_On 2018 Portland Launch Party

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the beautiful Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Showroom in NW Portland to launch the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge. This sold-out event brought letter-writing enthusiasts of all ages together for an inspiring evening of creativity and authenticity - all in the name of letters! It means so much that we've got an amazing community of letter-writers excited to put pen to paper along with us. From our local event sponsors, to everyone in attendance, thank you all for filling our night with thoughtful conversation, laughter, and passion for handwritten correspondence.

Photos by Christa Fowles.

Inspire your Practice with our Letter-Writing Prompt Deck

The idea of writing 30 letters in just 30 days can be overwhelming... What do I write about? What if I have nothing new to share with my friends or family? What if I've already written to everyone I can think of? Some of the beauty of the 30 letter commitment, is the opportunity to reach outside of your normal circle and take time to write to folks in your life who you may have forgotten, or see every day.

To guide you through the Write_On Challenge, we're excited to offer this new deck of 30 letterpress printed letter-writing prompts to keep writer's block at bay. Printed on Strathmore Impress Wove Pure Cotton paper by Mohawk, the complete deck comes in a letterpress printed and die-cut box.  The entire set was made in the Egg Press studio in Portland, Oregon! The craftsmanship that went into every deck makes them more than just a reference set - they are beautiful to look at and to hold as well. Each card has a unique prompt that can be used year round, anytime you'd like to write a letter.

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We put a lot of love into creating the decks, and can't wait to hear how they inspire your 30 day challenge and ongoing letter-writing practice throughout the year. 

Stock up before April's Write_On Challenge in the shop here. 

Brush Up on Your Cursive

As our April 30 Day Letter-Writing Challenge draws near, it’s time to freshen up on your penmanship. We’re so excited to share this cursive writing lesson, featured in Illustoria Magazine Issue 6: Symbols and written by Michaela Yee of Little Island Letters. The lesson is great for all ages, breaking cursive up into shapes that you can draw and build on to create words. Grab some pens (Michaela uses Sakura of America brush pens), and start practicing before our 30 Day Challenge kicks off on April 1st!

You can download and print the full lesson plan here.

Keep up with Michaela’s great work for more lettering inspiration on Instagram at @littleislandletters. Remember, developing muscle memory and your own distinct handwritten style take time - keep writing, keep practicing, and Write_On! 

GIVEAWAY: Visit @eggpress on Instagram today to enter a win a copy of Illustoria Magazine, a set of Write_On cards, and 6 Sakura of America Koi Brush Pens to put your new skills to the test! Comment on this post, tagging a friend who you'd write a letter to practice your cursive penmanship for a chance to win!

Giveaway open 3/15-3/19, winner announced on giveaway post on 3/20!

Write_On 2018 Kits & Party Packs are Here!

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for, our 2018 Write_On kits and party packs are here! Take a peek at this year’s designs and exclusive Write_On products to aid in your 30 day writing challenge, and head to the shop to stock up before we sell out of our extremely limited quantities!

The Letter Writing Kit

Gear up for 30 days of letter writing with one of our limited edition 2018 Letter Writer Kits! Including 6 cards and envelopes, stickers, a gel pen, and a letter-writing log sheet, these kits are the perfect way to kick off the challenge.

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As Write_On has grown, we’ve been inspired by the outpouring of support and interest from letter writers near and far. In an effort to make this program accessible to as many people as possible, this year, with every kit purchased in the Write_On shop, you’re making it possible for us to donate a kit to someone in need, including educational and under-resourced community programs. Thank you for paying it forward and helping to keep the art of handwritten correspondence alive in our communities! 

The Letter Writer Party Pack

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The Letter Writer Party Packs are perfect for shops, individuals, and organizations alike, and are packed with useful letter-writing tools, tips, and inspiration to host a Write_On party for 10, plus a few extra gifts that you can enjoy for yourself as the host, or use as party favors.

The DIY Party Pack

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For the crafters, creators, and makers, this DIY Party Pack has everything you need to host a letter-writing get together for 10 to kick off the Write_On Challenge. These packs come with a copy of Happy Mail from Hello!Lucky, an assortment of colorful Gelly Roll Moonlight pens, decorative stamps from The Portland Stamp Company, and supplies to get your mail art creativity flowing.

30 Day Letter-Writing Prompts Card Deck

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This year, we created a custom Write_On deck of cards, featuring 30 different writing prompts to keep you inspired and motivated throughout the 30 day challenge. Printed on Strathmore Impress Wove Pure Cotton, Light Gray 118C, by Mohawk.

2018 Gusseted Large Canvas Tote

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Hand screen printed by Egg Press in Portland, Oregon with elements from our 2018 design, this large tote is perfect for hauling your letter-writing supplies, packages, or simply to show your Write_On pride around town. This tote is also featured in the DIY Party Pack.

Stay Connected

Follow along as we share campaign updates online using #Write_On, and visit our new Write_On Facebook group to join the conversation with your fellow letter writers.

2018 Write_On Sponsors

Write_On would not be possible without the generous support from our amazing partners and sponsors, Hello!Lucky, Sakura of America, and Mohawk Papers!

Send Love to Seniors this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a time when we show the ones we love just how much they mean to us. From our partners to our best friends, classmates to coworkers, and family members near and far, this holiday has evolved into a yearly reminder to let the people we love hear it. This year, in addition to showering loved ones with heartfelt notes, sweet treats, and romance, make time to spread that joy beyond your own circle, and join us in sending cards to those who could use an extra smile. We’re talking about elders, a group of well-seasoned, incredible humans who are often forgotten.

Feelings of loneliness and isolation are quite common among elders across the country, especially those living in care facilities, who may be removed from their family and friends. The health risks of prolonged feelings of isolation are said to be equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, affecting mind, body and soul. So, true to the mission of Write_On, we’re spending this month spreading joy, compassion, and human-connection through hand-written correspondence. Want to join us? Read on, then Write_On.

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Finding Recipients:

Start your process with a little planning. Who will you write to and how will you get your cards into their hands? Chances are, there’s a nursing home or memory care center closer to home than you think. Give them a call and see if they’re set up to accept cards for residents for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check with them on any special rules (don’t seal envelopes, no glitter, etc.) and the best way to deliver the letters, either via mail or an in-person drop off.

Another option is to send your letters to a third party non-profit like Love for the Elderly, that collects letters year round through their Letters of Love program and sends them to elder care centers around the country. You can learn more about this wonderful organization, which was started by Jacob Cramer at only thirteen years old, here.

If you’d rather get linked up with a specific name of someone to send a letter to directly, visit From the Heart on Facebook to find lists of seniors who have been nominated by their caregivers to receive some extra joy. With their name and mailing address, you can send letters from your mailbox directly to theirs.

Tips & Thought Starters:

Figuring out what to write can feel daunting at first, especially if your recipient is anonymous. Try to keep your letters light in spirit, letting your words trigger smiles. Tell them your favorite love poem, pun, quote, or song. Your favorite story and where you first heard it. Share what’s important to you - your hobbies and passions, but steer clear of hot button topics like politics or religion. If you hit a writer’s block, draw something!

Finally, make sure your cards are legible, but don’t be afraid to decorate, draw and doodle throughout to add some personalization to your notes. Let us know in the comments if you end up taking part in our Valentine’s Day effort to spread the love to elders near and far, and feel free to suggest other resources.

Kickstart Your Letter-writing Resolution with These Tools

Letter-writing has been proven to relieve stress, promote creativity, and bring joy, so what better time to make it a habit than in the new year? Picking up a new habit can be quite a challenge, so we’ve put together some tricks and tips to help make it stick.

Tips & tricks for sticking to your letter-writing practice:

  1. Start simple, and be realistic. If you’re out of the letter-writing habit completely, consider starting with a modest goal like one letter a month, spending 15 minutes a week writing letters, or committing to writing cards for each of your friends’ birthdays this year, instead of just shooting over a text message. It can be easy to hit the ground running with a lofty goal, but motivation can quickly fade. Be realistic about what could be a sustainable routine for you, and easy enough to do without motivation.

  2. Get a buddy. Most things are more fun with a good friend along for the ride. Not only can this make shopping for cards, pens, and the latest USPS stamps more fun, but inviting a buddy to join you in your letter-writing goals can help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.

  3. Commit to a schedule, and stay consistent. The more consistent you can be about your practice, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it for longer. Find a time of day, day of the week, or specific place that works best with your schedule. Maybe it’s 20 minutes every Sunday with a cup of coffee in your favorite armchair, or in the evening on the first day of each new month. If you stick to a consistent schedule, your brain will begin picking up pattern cues, and reminding yourself may become second nature.

  4. Stock up on tools to help keep you organized, and energized about your hobby. Dress for success. Stock up on beautiful and practical items that will excite you in your new devotion to letter-writing. To get you started with this one, we’ve cultivated the perfect collection of items to help you kick off your 2018 commitment.
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1. Happy Mail Book by Hello!Lucky

Whether you’re just starting out or are a letter-writing pro, the Happy Mail Book is a fantastic guide for all snail mail crafters. It’s packed full of tips and tricks on how to beef up correspondence skills, and to make your own cards. Excellent for teens, tweens, and DIY lovers alike.

2. Cards from Favorite Stationery Brands

Mix and match your favorite cards to make a custom bundle that suits your needs. Visit a Paper Source or your favorite neighborhood stationery shop to pick up some cards! Spotted above: Egg Press and Hello!Lucky cards.

3. Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze Pens

Every letter-writer needs a trusty set of pens. Look no further than Sakura for a wide range of high-quality, water-resistant colors for all ages. They can write on most paper types so you won’t have to worry about bleed-through or shadowing.

4. Vintage Stamp Pack by Send More Mail

The outside of the envelope is just as important as what’s on the inside. Pick up a few of these vintage stamp packs that contain enough unused vintage postage to mail a letter within the US. The receiver will love the added touch.

5. Juniper Ridge Tea

Letter-writing and drinking tea go hand in hand, so grab your favorite blend to help get the letter-writing juices flowing. Juniper Ridge has a huge selection of 100% natural and 100% delicious tea flavors to choose from, and they’re local to the Bay Area. This one is our personal fave, but we suggest going local when selecting yours!

6. Egg Press Social Preparedness Kit Tray Set

Designed to make sending notes easy, these social preparedness kits are made with high-quality American-made materials. Each kit comes with 4 thank you and 4 blank cards with coordinating envelopes, and a fun colored tray to help any budding letter-writer get started.

7. Ceramic Mug from Rare Device

Pair your favorite tea with a handmade ceramic mug, and you’ve set yourself up for some fantastic letter-writing. Better yet, find a local ceramicist when selecting your mug.

8. Egg Press Social Preparedness Kit Weekly Line-Up

In addition to a place for your daily agenda, this undated fill-in calendar helps you keep up on birthdays, to-dos and notes. Don’t forget to schedule some time to write letters to friends and family!

Write_On in 2018

Make giving back a part of your 2018 resolution

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Is your New Year’s resolution to do more for others? There are so many ways to achieve that: by physically being there for those who need a shoulder, writing letters of comfort and support, or offering financial aid. We’ve created this guide to get you started-

Write For Good

It truly is a win-win. Research shows that letter-writing and receiving promotes physical and mental benefits. It’s the perfect time to pick up that pen and make it a habit, and don’t just stop at friends and family, find resources and inspiration for making human connections beyond your personal network on our Write_On page. More Love Letters is just one of our highlighted non-profits that uses social media to write and mail letters to strangers all over the world who need love and support.

The Power is in the pen!

In 2017, millions of Americans put ink to action in order to amplify their voices. The Ides of Trump encouraged people to speak out, stating "So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and write from the heart". The Women’s March asked its followers to reach out to Senators about specific issues in order to stand up for policy issues that protect our rights. Countless artists and organizations offered up free printable postcards to enable letter-writers and change-makers alike. In a time where social media and technology is the cornerstone of communication, there’s never been more validity in an envelope.

Hello!Lucky has written a craft book that inspires youth to use their creativity to get involved in community service and civic action. Find out more about Be The Change here.

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Donations

Though giving back doesn’t have to mean opening your wallet, you’ll find endless organizations to pick from if you wish to go that route.

Choosing a charity doesn’t have to be daunting. For example, you can support something you enjoy every day by donating to your public radio system or maybe a specific podcast. You can also visit sites like Give Well for a list of surefire non-profits to donate to.

Before you write a check, we encourage you to do your homework by using resources like Guide Star or Charity Watch to find out where your money is going.

Here’s a list of Charities we love:

In Kind Donations

Looking for ways to help in your hometown and beyond by donating goods? While you’re purging 2017, you might consider dropping supplies and belongings at homeless shelters, relief services, and local schools. Teachers are always in need of basic school supplies, so donating a few things could really help increase opportunities for youth. Most schools receive a surplus of supplies at the beginning of the school year, but run low around this time. Not sure what to donate? Here’s an easy guide.

Alternatively, you can offer your skills in lieu of tangible goods. Online services like Catchafire can help you match your professional background to a relevant cause.

Products that give back

Would you like to be a more conscious consumer? Some of your favorite brands have products that give back to causes you love. At Egg Press, the Goods for Good section donates 100% of the proceeds to organizations that fight for our basic human rights. At Hello!Lucky, “Ginny’s Collection” gives a portion of proceeds to The Nature Conservancy, and donates 100% of proceeds from the Wild Feminist pin to Planned Parenthood, and Stay Woke pin to The ACLU. Toms, Warby Parker, STATE bags, and Patagonia are also notorious for their philanthropic commitment. Look into apps/extensions like Orange Harp and DoneGood to keep you on your toes and to discover sustainable and ethical companies.

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Have resources or ideas for how we at Write_On can give back? Write a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

Good luck in the New Year, and remember every little bit counts!

Making Time To Write

Letters, and their associated paper, envelope, stamps and ephemera, are so much more than just tools for communication with others. They can also serve as beacons: for slowing down, for noticing, for connecting with our own selves.

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In a world which seems to push us toward such focused doing - and with haste! - letters offer the opportunity to decelerate, to take stock and reflect. Handwriting forces our brains to ease toward the pace of pen on paper. There’s sensory pleasure in the colors and textures of stationery, and something visceral about hunkering over a piece of paper, pen in hand, making marks to an actual page. It’s translation and transformation, as if folding your own self inside that little envelope. Even the art of addressing, sealing, and stamping an envelope can feel like an act of magic: preparing a small parcel for its own disappearing trick into the mailbox - and waiting for it to reappear in a postal box across town, across the country, across the globe. Back in your own mailbox, or in the Dead Letter Office.

 

Letters are tactile. They beg for presence. That is, if we pause long enough to soak it all in. The trick is in carving out the intentional time for it. When we craft that time, letter writing is an act of self care and intention - even when you don’t have a penpal to write to. Sometimes we just have to make that time.

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Make Time is a full-day retreat allowing participants to leave the tugs and pulls of daily life at the door, and dedicate purposeful and non-distracted time to any desired project. I started Make Time over two years ago when I came to see just how much the to-do list, the constant beckon of technology, household chores, and work obligations were crowding the center of my life, and I was letting them. I was looking for an antidote, a way to set these pulls aside and create space to dive into creative projects. So now we gather each month to make time, not as a workshop or a class, but to hold space and write permission slips to focus on the endeavors that make us shine. Some show up to work on creative projects. Some come to tackle Ph.D. dissertations, writing projects with hot deadlines, or map travel plans. Our tools include guitars, sewing machines, ink, books, hammocks.

In the summers we gather at Make Time Farm in Beloit, Wisconsin, spreading out across the picnic tables, hay fields, pastures, and hammock to spin fiber, compose music, journal, or just fall asleep reading a good book. In the winter we cozy up inside the creative walls of Madison’s Arts and Literature Laboratory. In all seasons we hold each other accountable to a technology-free morning (your phone goes in the bushel basket), and savor a delicious potluck lunch and conversation. Each Make Time starts in the same way: we launch our special day with a different creative prompt each month.

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The morning creative prompts vary from scavenging the farm for found objects to drafting two-sentence short stories to tasting different varieties of apples. It’s all about warming up the senses, tapping into our self-awareness, and escaping the pathways we regularly use in the world. Letter writing appears at least twice a year - the perfect mix of reflection, quiet, and quirk.

Everyone seems to have preconceived notions about writing letters, maybe scarred by those required thank you notes we penned as children, or because there’s no one on the other side of the mailbox. But there are a million ways to write letters that don’t start with “Dear Aunt”, and the Write_On Party Pack helps Make Timers get to that place as quickly and joyfully as possible. In the past we have penned letters to deceased historical figures, drafted our own MacArthur Genius Award biographies, and in January wrote ourselves long list of all the mistakes we hope to make in the year ahead. Sometimes these letters get dropped in the mailbox addressed to Einstein or Nana...and we wonder where they’ll end up. Other times we address them to ourselves and they are squirreled away and mailed back to us months later...like little paper time capsules.

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This year we used the Write_On Kits in a different way. On a sunny June morning we set out to write the hard letters, messages we needed to write to set our own selves free. Letters that never need to be delivered or read by anyone else. Notes we write with the intention of just letting go. Letters offer us this, the chance to meet a blank page as if it were a conversation, and practice starting that hard conversation that’s stuck or too scary for real life. All without actually meeting the eyes or ears of another person. These types of personal letters offer us the chance to get stranded energy outside of our bodies, sealed up in an envelope, and sent away in a mailbox. Maybe it's addressed back to your own self to read in the future, or maybe it's addressed to no one - but there's power in physically plunking these hard-to-write letters into an actual mailbox and off our own backs.

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Although we gather only once a month to Make Time, it becomes its own little practice. By setting aside that one full day, it teaches and reminds us to carve out our own quiet spaces and moments throughout the remainder of the month. I also secretly hope some of those quiet moments Make Timers set aside can include sending more good mail, and I think it’s starting to stick. “I've been carrying the Write_On Kit with me every day,” says Jac, a graduate student attending her first Make Time over the summer, “I haven't written any letters yet, but I feel the ideas growing and bubbling. Honestly, I think I want to write more letters to myself as a form of self-care, processing, and documenting this summer in Madison before I travel next year.”

 

Bio: Vanessa Herald is lead chicken wrangler at Make Time Farm in Southern Wisconsin, where she hosts monthly creativity retreats, scribbles endlessly, and makes as much trouble as possible. In the wee hours you can find her handwriting letters, crafting art with vintage typewriters, and committing to a daily creative practice. You can find her on Instagram at MakeTimeFarm

 

Photo Credit: Lauren Rudersdorf of The Leek & The Carrot and Raleigh’s Hillside Farm

The Gratitude Campaign

Today’s Reason to Write: Write a letter of thanks to someone who has "pushed" you in life.

We’re very excited to highlight the Gratitude Campaign that marks the launch of an inspiring new film, I’ll Push You: A Camino Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends and One Wheelchair. The film is launching November 2nd -- plenty of time to grab a friend or two and stock up on tissues. For now, please join us for some writing!

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In today’s world, we are inundated with negativity. So much of the news is filled with pain and darkness. While these events that negatively impact so many people are a part of our world, there is also a lot of good. But the good often goes unnoticed. We want to change that.


So much of our story has been made possible through the helping hearts and hands of others. At the end of the day, we have much to be grateful for and most of our blessings point back to people who have pushed us to be better in life.


We have partnered with Egg Press to create a special way people can let others know how important they are. The film I’ll Push You is about community, kindness, and love. What better way to build community, spread kindness, and cultivate love than through acknowledging the people we are grateful for. I’ll Push You and Egg Press have created a limited edition write-on-velope that offers people a great way to say, “Thank you for pushing me to be a better person!” These unique letters provide a fun yet meaningful way for people to send a hand written letter to someone they are grateful for.

--I'll Push You

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Patrick and Justin, the friends in I'll Push You have made it so fun and easy to participate in this letter-writing campaign with three easy steps (they even have a great sample script if you're feeling at a loss for words!):

Step 1.

Identify Three or More People

Pick three or more individuals who have had significant impact on your life. These should be individuals who have helped shape who you are such as friends, family, or mentors.

Step 2.

Write a Letter/Note of Thanks

Write a short note identifying how they have helped shape your life. Maybe they helped you in a dark period of your life, mentored you, or helped raise you.

Step 3.

Post & Tag via Social Media

Use your notes to write a social media post thanking the individuals who have impacted you. Tag each of them and challenge them to do the same. #illpushyou


We're looking forward to seeing your posts on social media and learning about the people who have challenged, inspired, and helped you grow!





 

Letters of Thanks and Encouragement

Hard times bring the chance to come together. With so many people affected by the natural disasters of this Summer, there are so many letter writing opportunities. Why not gather some of your favorite people for some comforting togetherness and a little letter-writing to express gratitude to all the inspiring folks on the front lines of helping, from those involved in animal rescue to teachers ushering children to safety to politicians working for necessary firefighting resources, to those in the coast guard working in risky conditions?

Portland firefighters at Multnomah Falls via  Willamette Week

Portland firefighters at Multnomah Falls via Willamette Week

We loved learning about the the Holy Smoke Thank You Letter Campaign where Southern Oregon kids have been writing thank you cards to firefighters which are packed in their lunches along with Calamine lotion.

The firefighters have been fighting for us like our whole entire lives,” Eager exclaimed graciously.

Aside from the good that letters of support provide for the recipient, writing letters to those dealing with hardship can also help us from feeling powerless and even improve our mood and anxiety in unsure times.

Need some tips and inspiration for hosting a get together?

  • Gather addresses to have on hand for animal rescue groups, fire stations, Governors -- whoever you're moved to write to.
  • The purpose might be serious but the mood doesn't need to be! Check out our letter-writing playlist.
  • Pass the hat and raise some funds for the charity of your choice. While letters are important and care packages are well-intentioned, the need for funds is great and every little bit counts.

SUMMER OF HAPPY MAIL!

Hello August, when did you get here? This month's post provides an inside look at what Write_On partner, Hello!Lucky is up to this summer. Read on for tips and inspiration to keep your writing strong all summer long!

Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky constructing a card inspired by the Happy Mail book

Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky constructing a card inspired by the Happy Mail book

Sabrina Moyle of Hello!Lucky writing a letter to summer pen pal, Andie

Sabrina Moyle of Hello!Lucky writing a letter to summer pen pal, Andie

Does anyone else romanticize summer? Turns out it’s not all sunscreen and s’mores...or if it is, please share your secret!  It’s time to slow down and soak it up.  One way we like to pump the brakes is by writing to our friends and family. We’ve created the Summer Pen Pal Challenge to help you recharge and reconnect. To get the creative juices flowing, check out the new Happy Mail tab on our website for pro tips, tricks and inspiration! You'll find FREE downloadable letter-writing prompts, coloring pages, stickers, and hand-lettering practice pages like these...

Andie and Lyla, our summer pen pals!

Andie and Lyla, our summer pen pals!

Join our Summer Pen Pal Challenge and be entered to win a copy of Happy Mail and Sakura of America pens! Check-in with us at the end of summer and let us know how your pen pal experience went and you’ll automatically enter to win!

Send letters here by September 1st:

Hello!Lucky | P.O Box 170605 | San Francisco, CA | 94117

For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram- @helloluckycards! We're sharing all kinds of ideas through our Instagram story and our #summerofhappymail campaign!

Happy Mail is more than just writing, it’s an art! Hand-lettering is easy to dive into, even for new artists, and Happy Mail is here to take your DIY projects to the next level! Now accepting preorders! Find out more about the book here.

Let Freedom Write!

Today is the 4th of July. Backyards fill with smoke from the grill, wedges of watermelon chill in buckets on the lawn, and American flag themed sheet cakes with bright blueberry stars and broad raspberry stripes are the norm. When night falls, the dark sky erupts in flame and boom, and we celebrate our independence.

Egg Press'  Lady Liberty Postcard Set  shines a light on friendship, freedom, hope, and democracy.

Egg Press' Lady Liberty Postcard Set shines a light on friendship, freedom, hope, and democracy.

With liberty as our beacon, the Write_On team is taking this time to pay homage to one of our most cherished freedoms — speech — in a more quiet way, by writing letters. The privilege to put onto paper our truths and send them into the world without being intercepted while en route (this was not necessarily the case prior to the establishment of the United States Postal Service that we know and love today * ) allows us to share knowledge and become informed, educated humans, family members, friends, and citizens of the world.

When we send our letters — not only to loved ones — but to civic leaders and influencers, our voices have the opportunity to be heard, and to make a difference; our words possess the power to shape the world.

So, on this 4th of July, we invite you to consider your freedom to write. What is it that you have to say? Who needs to hear it? Whatever it is, may freedom ring, in every word.

What will your Freedom Letters looks like? Here are some ideas to get you started. Why not write...

  • A letter to an elected official to thank them for their work, or to advocate for change.
  • A thank you to a mentor who bolstered your sense of self worth by helping you discover your own unique voice.
  • A letter to yourself; a confession of the ways in which you wish you felt more free.
  • A letter to the Write_On team. You know we love hearing from you, and are eager to know what freedoms you most cherish.

* Roman Mars “ The Revolutionary Post” Podcast.  99% Invisible. Episode 244. January 24, 2017.