I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but summer vacation is almost over. Those long, lazy days of sipping lemonade in the backyard while writing to friends are almost at an end. Postcards mailed from exotic locales have reached their final destinations; the recorded vacation is quickly becoming a fuzzy memory in the face of shopping for back-to-school supplies (of course I still haunt the school supply aisle of my local Target/Office Max/indie stationery store, even though I have no need whatsoever to shop for even more office supplies…)
The last few months have gone by in a flash, something I’ve mentioned before (see: most recent post). What’s been keeping me busy? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of talking about that (see: most recent post), however, there is one thing I haven’t had a chance to mention: the Correspondence Co-op project.
“What’s that?!” you may wonder – and I am here to tell you! The Correspondence Co-op is a monthly meeting of like-minded mail art folks and letter writers, who get together in various locations around SF to socialize and make mail art happen. But mainly, we do A LOT of socializing.
Letter writing socials are pretty “hot” right now, (Letter Writers Alliance has a monthly “Imbibe and Scribe” event at Greer (Chicago); the PAL-SAC (Post a Letter Social Club) in Toronto was recently featured in Uppercase magazine) but oddly enough such a thing did not exist in San Francisco. In May of this year, Red Letter Day established the Correspondence Co-op, and our first meeting was held.
What makes the Co-op so special? Well, the folks, for starters. Many Co-op cohorts knew each other through the mailbox; upon meeting in person, they realized their connections were even closer to home, so to speak. Whether it was riding the same bus on one’s daily commute, or walking pets in the same neighborhood dog park, attendees at our first meeting realized there was more than just a mutual love of mail art/letters – there was an immediate sense of community.
Every club needs goodies, and the Co-op is no different. Attendees at the inaugural meeting received an official Correspondence Co-op Passport; at each monthly meeting, Red Letter Day issues a new artistamp, which members can then put into their passports. And of course, members are encouraged to create and swap their own artistamps!
A question I’m asked fairly often is how one can meet other mail artists, find people to send mail to. In this digital age, it seems like it would be easy, right? But in a way, it’s almost too easy to find people to write to – social networks such as the IUOMA and Facebook are filled with mail art groups and letter writers. How do you choose who to correspond with, especially if your time is limited? It’s an important thing to consider, in this age of easy access info.
Correspondence Co-op takes mail art out of the mailbox (or post office, so to speak) and sets it squarely in front of you, face-to-face. Attendees get to meet folks with shared interests (beyond postage stamps and airmail envelopes, of course!) and find common ground.
What does the future of the Co-op look like? The things I can tell you about include guest speakers, mail art demos, and a holiday party (look out Santa!); I’ve got few things on the horizon that will be a surprise! Members are encouraged to skill share and show-n-tell. And guess what? We’re even planning a field trip to the Kurt Schwitters show over at the Berkeley Art Museum!
A single mail artist working alone often feels as if they’re creating in a vacuum, that they are the only person doing this “weird” thing called “mail art”. The goal of the Co-op (or any sort of letter writing social, really) is to introduce people to each other, learn from one another, and foster a sense of kinship – one of the fundamental ideas behind mail art Networking.
I leave you with our Co-op motto: “Hand in Hand, Letter by Letter”. Creating community is as easy as picking up a pen, or licking a postage stamp.
PS: our next Correspondence Co-op meeting will take place on August 24th in San Francisco; if you are interested in more information, please send an email to: email@example.com