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The art of exchanging letters – The Peak

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Illustration: Maple Sukontasukkul

By: Molly Lorette, Peak Associate

Does anyone else remember when getting mail used to be exciting? Getting a birthday card in the mail with a bill tucked inside used to be the most thrilling experience as a kid. These days, while getting a package due to my unquenchable online shopping habits gives me a nice dash of serotonin, my mail mostly consists of bills, bills, flyers, and more bills. 

I’m not 100% clear on when the highly coveted art of writing letters died out, but it certainly precedes how long I’ve known how to read and write. Apart from the occasional thank you note to grandma, I was never an avid letter writer until a few years ago.

Then I started pen palling. To put it simply, pen palling has gifted me the joy of checking the mail again. Cards from grandma are certainly fun, but now that I have treasured friends sending me heartfelt letters, I have even more joy associated with my mailbox. If you’re at all interested in creating some cool friendships with people across the globe, I would highly recommend seeking out a pen pal or two.

With the internet being so expansive, I’m not clear on why it never struck me that there would be a thriving pen palling community nestled amongst its landscape. However, upon being introduced to it via Tumblr, I was intrigued.

Typically, I’ve found that social media has been a great tool for meeting new people. Currently, the Instagram hashtag #penpalswanted has 76.6k posts, and I’m certain that similar hashtags exist across Twitter and other related platforms. Personally, I sought out a Tumblr blog that permitted submissions where I could post a short description of me and my interests so I could find like-minded people. The benefit of submission was that I was able to protect my identity, and only responded to people if I genuinely felt a connection with them. Naturally, the idea of disclosing my address to a complete stranger was also quite frightening, so I emailed with a lot of them prior to actually exchanging anything. All that stuff that was drilled into our heads about internet safety? Use it. Unless you feel comfortable with someone, do NOT disclose your address. Use that coveted common sense.

I’m not going to lie and say that my experiences are 100% always positive. It’s pretty common that people might stop communicating after a while or may never send a single letter in the first place, which can be disheartening if you take the time to craft a package for them. I even had a long-distance relationship with a pen pal like the hopeless romantic that I am. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for me and I would not recommend it. That being said, I’ve managed to build some lovely lasting friendships with a few amazing people from across the globe. 

There’s something quite special about writing a letter to someone. It’s rare to get to know someone purely through paragraphs on pages, and it creates a really intimate space between the two writers. Given that my letters tend to span several pages, I find that I end up communicating to my pen pals in a candid and vulnerable way about my life. Even though I’ve never met them in person, we’ve still managed to craft a close friendship built upon opening up to one another. Communicating socially with people face to face isn’t always smooth sailing, so there’s something truly unique about getting to know someone purely from the physical letters and trinkets that they send to you. Think I’m getting too sappy? Wait until you hear about the wall in my room I literally have dedicated to taping up the amazing things my lovely friends have sent to me.

In the modern world, returning to letter writing has been really therapeutic for me. Building lasting friendships existing purely through these exchanges has given me a very interesting outlook on the ways in which we can all communicate and build trust. 

If you’re sitting around home missing some social interaction, check out what your local pen pal network can offer you!  Establishing meaningful human connections is vital now more than ever, and now is a great time to seek it out. If pen palling doesn’t interest you, I would also suggest writing a letter to a friend. At the very least, you will bring a spark of joy into someone’s mailbox.

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Kootenay Gallery of Art virtual store project well underway – Castlegar News

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The Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar is in the process of creating a new virtual gift store.

Art curator Maggie Shirley said the virtual store is slated to go online in July and will feature up to 300 pottery, jewellery and woodworking items created by West Kootenay artists.

The gallery started the project to help make up for lost revenue since it has been shut down since mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The new website will have an accessible layout for everyone, according to Shirley.

“We’ve been categorizing each art piece as we put it onto the virtual store,” said Shirley.

“One category will let customers search for different objects on the site while another category will let people search for individual artists.”

The art gallery is setting up a completely new website for the virtual store and will have debit and credit card payment options. Links will also be put on the art gallery’s existing website and social media pages to direct people to the virtual store.

Shirley said the project has been time consuming, especially since it takes staff up to 30 minutes to photograph, weigh, measure and put each object online.

Customers will either be able to pick up their items at the art gallery or have them delivered or shipped to their door.

While the items will be able to be shipped across Canada and the United States, Shirley said the high shipping costs could deter some customers away.

Despite the difficulties, Shirley said now has never been a better time to launch the store.

“This is a really important transition time for us and a lot of local businesses. We really want to survive these difficult times and grow,” said Shirley.

“This is a big risk were taking, especially since we don’t know if we’re going to get enough traffic to the virtual store to make it worthwhile. However, this is the future of how people will buy things and its a perfect time to get on the bandwagon.”

Shirley hopes that the art gallery will be able to open its physical store again in September.

READ MORE: Kootenay Gallery of Art offers hand-made gifts

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@connortrembley
connor.trembley@castlegarnews.com

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Levi Nelson art on display in downtown Pemberton – Pique Newsmagazine

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Hydro boxes in Pemberton just got a lot more exciting.

Pieces by Levi Nelson, a Lil’wat Nation artist in his last year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, are now installed on hydro boxes along Portage Road and on the utility box at the Downtown Community Barn.

“We are incredibly grateful and honoured that Levi shared his artwork with us,” the Village of Pemberton said on a Facebook post on Friday, June 5.

Nelson’s work has been exhibited at the Talking Stick Festival, the Museum of Anthropology, North Vancouver City Art Scape, and the Emily Carr University of Art & Design Aboriginal Student Art Show. He also recently became the first Lil’wat Nation artist to have a piece in the Audain Art Museum’s permanent collection.

The recent hydro box wraps were made possible thanks to a contribution from BC Hydro’s beautification fund.

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Applications being accepted for public art funding – paNOW

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Macleod Campbell explained they are also happy to support public art projects as they help to improve the overall quality of life for people in the city.

“It’s nice to have public art for viewing at this time as well as of course supporting the artist,” she said.

Eligible groups can include a range of organizations from local art groups to private businesses. In order to be eligible, the group has to be working with a professional artist and the piece must be displayed publicly.

There is not a hard deadline for people to apply for funding. Macleod Campbell said applications are subject to approval from the art working committee and city council.

Macleod Campbell explained the city is also working to make people aware of the art which is on display in public spaces around the city, as they have created a public art tour brochure. The document is currently available on the city website and they are looking to get physical copies out into the public.

“That’ll be something as well,” said Macleod Campbell.

MichaelJoel.Hansen@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @mjhskcdn

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