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.
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.
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.
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.