Did you know that schoolchildren aren’t required to learn cursive anymore? A set of national benchmarks for public schools in America, called the Common Core State Standards, has removed script-writing from its guidelines, setting off a firestorm of debates. Boy, when I was a kid, all of us third-graders were so excited to learn the cursive version of the first letter of our names, because then everyone in class had to practice writing our names on the board. (Or maybe I was just craving attention?)
Handwriting, it seems — both script and print — is becoming a lost art. My grandmother, for example, has the most beautiful penmanship I’ve ever seen. Her loops are perfect ovals; the slant of her words are always consistent. Now that I think about it, put that talent together with Grandma’s penchant for animal rights, and I would bet my Bic that she would simply adore “Animal Writes,” a new program by Adam Orand which encourages thoughtful, hand-written correspondence on behalf of animals.
“With a simple postcard,” states the website, “you can help an animal by connecting with another human to make a difference on an issue you’re passionate about.” Animal Writes gives you a plethora of ideas to get you started on picking an issue, ranging from writing a postcard to a politician, a company (“tell a business what you think about their treatment of animals”), law enforcement, an animal advocate (“send them an encouraging thank you to let them know how much you appreciate them”), a reporter, a neighbor or friend, or a celebrity.
In a world of digital fury (in all honesty, I type faster than I think), why handwritten? What gives? Why not typed? Doesn’t it seem easier and faster to just bang out the message and press “send”? Animal Writes demystifies this:
In today’s digital age, we are inundated with constant texts, tweets, posts and pokes. But have you ever stepped back to think that through all of this it’s really hard to actually connect with someone? Doesn’t it seem like posting a message to a couple hundred “friends” ends up with no one really listening? One of the easiest ways to show someone else you care is by taking an extra moment to hand write something. Not only does it show how important the issue is to you, your message will stand out amongst the electronic chatter and make a memorable statement.
Animal Writes also includes handy tips for the Future Postcard Writers of America (my term — not theirs). There, you’ll find the more obvious pointers like making sure you have enough postage, not forgetting to provide a return address, and being absolutely polite. But beyond those no-brainers, I for one appreciated the more out-of-the-box tips, such as the one encouraging us to keep our correspondence green by repurposing a cereal box into a postcard. Crafts and advocacy? I am in!
Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of Animal Writes is that, in addition to helping us come up with the ideas and strategies, it also provides the opportunity to buy repurposed postcards, which can be obtained from thrift stores and yard sales, resulting in a “large collection of overprint, retro and odd ball postcards that have been saved from landfills.” You can purchase Animal Writes postage stamps, too.
Grandma, if you’re reading this, start flexing those hand muscles, and I’ll do the same.
In a world laden with oppression, let’s get back down to basics. It’s time to become an Animal Writes activist.