The Love is in the Mail

I thought I would get a jump start on my year end reflections, get started on my new year’s blogging and take a shot at de-cluttering some of the drafts in my WordPress dashboard. These pesky little unfinished posts have a way of just… sticking around, like the various post.it’s on my wall ‘gently reminding’ me each day the drafts are still sitting there, waiting for their day to shine. I think this one was particularly easy to procrastinate about because it leans into sentimentality, nostalgia, and genuine connection with other human beings which can sometimes be a scary thing to write about on a public document with your name on it. At least that was the story I’ve been telling myself. This is also going to reference a concept called “analog life”, which in the ever increasing and overwhelming digital world might be considered going against the grain, particularly from someone like myself who has spent so much of my career trying to be an expert in technology and education.

Before I go too off the rails here, I have to explain the title of this post. “The Love is in the Mail”, because “the mail” is exactly what I was planning to write about. Snail mail. Posted letters and cards that are addressed and sent physically from humans to other humans, by humans. With a fair amount of machinery and technology filling in the gaps no doubt, but essentially the service has been unchanged since it began as far as the sender and receiver are concerned. The user experience, as it were, has changed relatively little. The sender assembles the package, labels it with the address and purchases the necessary postage. A bunch of delivery stuff happens. Then the package arrives on the doorstep of the receiver. The magic never gets old. Today our mail delivery system is dominated by consumption and capitalism more so than human connection, but this is not a post about that. This is about the other thing, that messy magic of authentic human connection and the business of being real in ever increasing artificial and virtual reality. The love is in the mail!

"love in the mail" a collection of correspondence sent to me in 2022. letters, seeds, art.
I was fortunate to receive so many lovely correspondence in 2022. There is nothing like the feeling of receiving a letter with your name on it.

My original idea for writing this post was to acknowledge a trifecta of mail I received about 1.5 years ago all within a few weeks of each other, a total anomaly. This was at a time when I was dealing with a high degree of work related stress and I was yearning (without realizing it) for some professional/personal contact that reminded me of the work that I love doing. Three packages from three friends who took the time to assemble their contents, purchase the necessary postage and send it on its way to little ole’ me. I was inspired enough at that time to begin writing this making this post already 1.5 years in the making and assemble the contents I received in the above photo. I mean, just look at this stuff. Drawings, art, activities, letters, words, seeds. Meaning. Promise. I have to go through them one by one.

Fast forward to today, quite a bit has happened since I got as far as the three paragraphs above (Last Modified 2023/11/22). Specifically, we have entered a new year and it is 2024, so most of the timeline I mentioned above all needed to be edited. Seeing how far I’d gotten on this entry previously, and as I attempt complete this now for my first entry for the year (and not the last since I have made it a goal to write more in general), I will NOT be going through each of the packages I received one by one as I originally thought, but rather spreading them out over a series of posts. I think this will give me a better chance of success. I should mention, because it ties in nicely with my first reflection that I have an upcoming ‘micro course offering’ for BCCampus called, Please Share with the Class — Creating Online Gallery and Portfolio Spaces in which I will be discussing how to create an online media gallery or portfolio for educators, so this this seems like the perfect opportunity to both promote the event and demonstrate some of my techniques. That’s not asking too much of single post is it? On to my first, Love is in the Mail reflection!

Katarina Thorsen. Kat first captured my attention while leading a small drawing workshop for the “Vancouver Draw Down“, in October 2016. This was a ridiculously inspirational time for me, meeting an incredibly diverse set of artists and participating in their drawing activities, exploring so many new techniques. It was also the first energy blast that really set me up to put together the Sketching in Practice Symposium, in which Kat would become a regular presenter, and treasured alumni. I am adding my first image gallery below of the photos I took of our first drawing session together. These were downloaded from my google photos collection, and uploaded to this post using the simplest technique WordPress has to offer, the “gallery block”.

Jason at drawing Owls with Kat. Vancouver Draw Down 2016

You can check out this larger collection of images of the Draw Down event from my google photos collection here https://photos.app.goo.gl/PSboLtBUNuYFuNWi6

So, Kat and I stayed in contact over the years, after I left Vancouver to explore life in the Interior, having the odd zoom call, perhaps meeting up when I was back in town. But getting this package from her was another level of connection entirely. The mail she sent was an early sample of her upcoming graphic novel project which she will be releasing this year (2024) Remember, I received this lovely artifact in the winter of 2022. It was one of the first prints of her ‘broadsheet’ format newspapers she was using in the project and an early outline of the issues she was planning. The last time we had connected she was SO excited to tell me about the Newspaper Club she had discovered to get these printed, how awesome a format it was for her since she primarily works on newsprint, even when we had our first workshop together, and here is was, in my mailbox and in my hands. WOW.

The love really is in the mail, is all I can think of to finish this rather rambling, unedited, un-grammarly post.

Thinking about mailing things, making art, and sharing it with others, led my wife and I to make and send our own Christmas cards this year. Something we have been talking about for several years now. I have a back log of friends and colleagues that I want to connect with in this way, and I’m going to do it! More so now than ever. I see possibilities here for making connections with loved ones, promoting activities and events, and even in the realm of teaching and learning I have long been curious about using mail to support students, particularly in these days of digital, virtually electronic communication. How quaint, eh? What about you? What mail have you been holding off on sending? When was the last time you bought a stamp? Are the kids these days even interested in this form of connection? Do they know that the mail can be so much more than saving you a trip to the mall? It must seem so foreign. I will be back here to continue with the next reflections, as I am about to hit PUBLISH and go have some soup.

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