Q305: Quintessential Lettering

When I graduated and left Ithaca for the big city (capital THE), I didn’t know fuckall about how to write like an architect.

Everywhere I looked everyone I asked explained that this was a skill no longer supported or taught, yet it was expected. It simply required practicing all the time.

I made a vow that year to write in capital letters with guides for letters, my journal and even my do-lists. It was grueling and time consuming. Ironically, within the first year of my employment the Interior Architecture firm where I worked made a commitment to computers. We jumped from Macintosh to PC by the next year and the shift to computer aided drafting and design CADD was all but complete.

Hand lettering grew less onerous for me as the muscles in my hand learned the moves and grew stronger. Keeping this style of writing in letters and journaling for the next decade or more is nothing more than a conceit. I confess I no longer use the triangle for verticals and don’t use penciled guide for the horizontal spacing. Yet, my hand lettering is reminiscent of the quintessential architectural style.

Why am I posting about this? This week I finished addressing almost 600 envelopes to all of the residents in the mobile home parks in my community. Along with a well known community activist I made a commitment to back two candidates for the city council. I wrote about taking this step back in August when I hosted a meet and greet.

I intend to build a database of the 700 different addresses for a continuation of work with building this community block of people into a unique voice, a voice of the traditionally disenfranchised. For me, we represent a perfect living lab of citizens who live more sustainably and we need to be supported by our community. Instead, we are terribly vulnerable to the developers and the current conservative mandates, aka ‘you are on your own’ nurtured under the last few decades. But, that is down the road, after the election. Now I only have a hard copy list of addresses with very few names right now.

We started by walking the parks on a sunny Saturday a couple of weeks ago. That was a FAIL. Very few people were home and besides, I am physically struggling with this now. On top of that I absolutely hate this kind of campaigning, as a recipient or as the campaigner. Instead, we came up with a mailer that stated our reasons for asking others in the mobile home parks to vote for the two candidates who support our lifestyle.

Back to the envelopes . . . I took as much care as I could to letter with style. The idea I had was that a personalized piece of mail would be taken more seriously. And, my reasoning was that using my return address would make this neighbor to neighbor request stronger. I used up all of the hundreds of return address stickers I had from Amnesty International, the Nature Conservancy and others. But, the last several hundred had to be hand lettered at the return address too.

My companion activist provided the list, the drive, the envelopes, printed mailers and postage. He was out of town this week when I ran out of everything. I had to spend almost $100. Although I don’t begrudge the candidates, the cause – I wish I had more of a cushion. On the other hand, these things always, always, always work out.

I’d be lying if I said what I am doing is better for my candidates than if I could simply write a check for a few thousand dollars. That is the reality of this culture we’re all soaking in right now. Big money is still the prize, the glue, the motivator, the justification and the goal. *sigh*

What I don’t give to all the causes I care about in money, actions or chutzpah, I want to give as much of myself to what I do contribute as I can. Out of 600 households who receive my hand lettered envelope – I am picturing hundreds of smiling faces of neighbors flattered that someone took some time to reach out to them. That would be made of WIN. A woman can dream.

Hat tip Dwell

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