I feel like it’s been a thousand years since that ACLU training session. Apparently 29 days is now a thousand years. I’ve been out at protests and rallies every weekend since the inauguration and I’m thinking about buying a huge pack of chemical hand-warmers. However, I also hosted a postcard-writing party and it was pretty great.
IMPROVEMENTS: It would have been GREAT to have a list of key issues, legislative bills, etc, and who we should write to about those issues. I didn’t have a chance to do that but I will next time. Also, everyone brought cookies and coffeecake and so on, so if you have that kind of people, don’t buy cookies. I wish I had known this. I have a LOT of cookies right now.
My inspiration was a pair of postcards sitting on my table unwritten for a week. Which is ironic because I didn’t get a chance to write them during my party, either. Like every other major event in Boston this month, way more people showed up than I expected. It was a very warm, sustaining, communal event. I had people from work, college friends, local friends, kindergarten friends, family members, etc. Everyone was delighted to meet everyone else. (I had name tags too.) Afterward everyone kept saying: “Thank you SO MUCH for doing this, I feel better.” It was restorative for me too.
Here’s what I did: I provided coffee, tea, snacks, and a lot of postcards. I kept them all and I’ll stamp and mail them. Many of my guests brought their own, too: some tourist cards, some notecards with the backs torn off, some pre-printed with slogans or information. One guest brought a bunch of pre-printed address labels which were great–although it’s probably more effective to hand-write the addresses. If anyone has trouble/pain writing by hand, this would be a great resource. Many people really enjoyed selecting postcards with specific images. You can get these printed easily and cheaply at Staples, Kinkos, etc. You can just print four images on a regular sheet of cardstock (I used 100 weight white) and quarter them.
A friend shared this set of documents that can be printed as fronts and backs. I chose the heart-made-of-tiny-people (“collaborate in love”) and “Everyone is Welcome Here”, and also a set with the Women’s March logo. I printed them at my university copy center and the customer behind me was also picking up a set of similar postcards. One guest also brought a hundred pre-stamped postcards from 1988 with 15 cents of postage on them! I bought 21 cent stamps to make up the difference. This will probably not happen to any of you.
Some people just wanted to express themselves. Some people wanted community. We wrote a lot of thank-you notes to our reps, because in my area our reps are pretty well on board. If you have the information, it’s great to thank them for specific actions. “Thank you for your affirmation of Somerville as a sanctuary city.” “Thank you for supporting the ACLU Freedom Agenda.” “Thank you for supporting the Safe Communities Act and I hope you are also supporting the Fundamental Freedoms Act.” Or, ask for specific things. “It’s time to take a stand and declare MA a sanctuary state. It’s what your constituents want!” You could also write solidarity messages to local mosques, queer organizations, immigrant groups, your local BLM or NAACP, etc. I didn’t get that info but I want to do it next time.
I spent some time looking up extra addresses for people. I also suggested wording; it didn’t take much. (For instance, my mom asked what to say to our local mosque and after some thought I settled on “Dear neighbors” and then it all clicked into place.)
A bit more preparation could have made it run a lot more smoothly, but we did manage to write a few postcards though. Some people thoughtfully, reflectively wrote four or five; some whipped through fifteen. In the end, we produced 140 postcards and a feeling that we might be okay. I recommend it.