“What if we consider this time as we would consider the Shabbat?
The most sacred of time?
Cease from travel. Cease from buying and selling. Give up, just for now, on trying to make the world different than it is. Sing. Pray. Touch only those to whom you commit your life.
Connect with the goodness of creation.
And when your body has become still, reach out with your heart. Know that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. For we can hardly deny that now.
Know that our lives are in anothers hands. We need not reach out with our hands today. We can reach out with our hearts. Reach out with our words. Reach out to all with compassion to move invisibly where we cannot touch.”
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day – Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make” 1382 Geoffrey Chaucer – 1382
“Sveti Valentin prinese ključe od korenin, zato so v nekaterih krajih na ta dan začeli z delom v vinogradih in vrtovih”
Despite the high cost of postage Britain was sending 60,000 valentine cards by post in 1835. Fancy Mechanical Valentines (cards) were available for a price. Produced with real lace and ribbons they could be signed with one of the many sentimental verses found in the ‘Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ that had been published nearly 40 years before.
But it was by inventing the postage stamp and reducing the postal rate in 1840 that Britain gave birth to the popular practice of mailing a valentines card, often anonymously, that has lasted to this day.
With 400,000 cards sent the first year alone the Hallmark Holiday was born.
Today this mostly commercial celebration has expanded to include roses, chocolate, diamonds and almost any heart-shaped piece of plastic you can imagine. Not to mention the untold millions of e-greetings and animated gifs.
And so ..in honour of the saint of good health, the patron of beekeepers and pilgrims, we wish you the warmest of Valentines Greetings.
Like the plucky little rooster that it is, it looks like International Correspondence Writing Month will be with us again for another year this coming February. While not yet complete, it appears the site is up, running and pretty much functional seeing that the whole deal is only about three and a half months away.
Given there’s a major holiday season and several other events happening between now and then, it isn’t too early to start thinking about this years flurry of mail. It appears some things are yet to be expanded on the site, but you can already leave your name and address and get on this years list. As always the FAQ, instructions and pledge are back, including a downloadable certificate. And it looks like an address book and planner are shortly on the way.
It’s good news for all. And if you haven’t participated before, or are wondering what all this is about click here and go have a look or copy and past their new address — https://incowrimo-2017.org and be sure to share it with your friends. (I’ll be keeping the link on my sidebar until the spring).
For a number of reasons, I decided to stick to the official Incowrimo site this year even though there were other ‘hidden’ ways to participate in this project. The fact that I’m still seeing traffic, searches and enquiries from India, Europe, and Australia halfway through March tells me that there is some real interest in a month of International Letter Writing.
Apparently a quite a few people poked about here and at Incowrimo after searching for it. In they end they didn’t take part in this years Incowrimo thinking it was cancelled. There were others who were inspired to write but left very little trace on the site. And there were a significant number of posts and links recommending Incowrimo 2016 but unable to provide reliable information. Information was scarce.
Personally, I think Incowrimo is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever participated in and it would be sad to see it slip away. This year, I tried to keep tabs on things in hopes we can make 2017 another successful year.
Last year, there were over 400 participants spread all over the world.
The first thing I noticed this year was the difference in participation. There were only 31 people who added their names to the Incowrimo site. This meant that very few letters were shared between participants. For the 40 odd letters I sent out only 6 came in; and not all of them from this years project.
In addition to several smaller individual projects, 2 online forums heartily supported Incowrimo 2016 with open invitations to participate. Many forum members involved in 2016 were already members, or had followed the project there from previous years. As a result it was pretty much hermetically sealed but yielded great results within.
Don’t get me wrong, both ‘Fountain Pen Geeks’ and ‘A World of Snailmail’ are fabulous forums for anyone interested in handwritten letters, writing and writing instruments. If you have even a passing interest in the subjects, I would highly recommend joining. But in the end neither is focused strictly on promoting Incowrimo, and quite rightly so.
There were 72 people who had clearly posted their addresses to other members on the 2 forums as was their preference. What I found really interesting was the fact that 80% of them were from the United States. This compares to 55% on the Incowrimo site. Given the additional number of people who popped in and left in confusion,frustration or dismay, it seems like the number of truly international participants would remain constant or drop slightly.
One of the things I liked most about an International correspondence project is the International part. Personally I would like to see this flourish and grow even more. Writing to individuals by hand and online has shown me that there’s a distinct difference between the two and the humanity involved in sending a physical letter is no small thing.
Most disturbing this year, was the 75% drop in participation. Whether it was because the insanely great 2015 site had gone missing in action this year I’m not sure. How or why it wasn’t updated remains a mystery, but I am committed to seeing that the project moves forward into 2017 with community support. I’m a big believer in Open Source and know it is a way of making amazing things possible.
To this end, I posted a survey about maintaining a list of addresses or database for Incowrimo. The results are interesting and I’m planning a separate post for them. If you haven’t taken the survey, I’d encourage you to take a minute or two now. It will be up til the end of the month. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone that made this year what it was!
I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes my brain is not the fastest thing on two wheels and some things can take time before properly muddling themselves out. But it still isn’t halfway through the month (barely) and this means it’s far from being too late.
I have added a link to the column to the right that redirects to both the official Incowrimo site (here) and one to the people who have signed up for this year. And get this – under the list left over from last year – which is I admit, a real vote of confidence and pretty tricky thing in itself. (that would be here)
If you visit the second of these two links and scroll on down to the bottom.. just above the comments section is a ‘Sort by Best’ option that can be changed to ‘Newest’. Scroll down a ways and you will find the following post.
If you choose ‘see more’at the bottom.. you’ll find the list of people signed up for this year.
Just above the comments it says, “If your name is not on the above list but you would also love to receive InCoWriMo 2015 correspondence, feel free to use the comment section below to add your name and mailing address (for all the world to see).” Change this to 2016 and it means that if you too would like to recieve letters, putting your address in the comments will add it to this years list and you can get started on your own correspondence right away.
I know this is all pretty pedestrian, but it’s all there is, and until the site undergoes a revision so far it seems a reasonable and convivial way to make it work :)