Man Sits on NYC Sidewalk with Typewriter to Help Strangers Send Letters

Before the invention of text messaging—which makes it super-easy to send a note to a friend—and before there…
Man Sits on NYC Sidewalk with Typewriter to Help Strangers Send Letters

Before the invention of text messaging—which makes it super-easy to send a note to a friend—and before there were telephones in every home that could connect you instantly with a loved one, there were letters.

Sure, you might need to wait a few days or weeks for the postman to deliver it, but the special feeling it contained made it worth the wait.

Although a letter offers no instant gratification, handwritten correspondence were always highly anticipated and savored. Their stationery, envelope, and stamp were saved as mementos to be read and re-read—and treasured.

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In the face of worry over the coronavirus pandemic and all the stress it has placed on New Yorkers, a Brooklyn-based performance artist and English professor Brandon Woolf came up with the idea of reviving the letter-writing tradition as a means to reach out and comfort one another.

Knowing that people have lost loved ones, jobs and businesses, and given up simple pleasures like hugs from a friend, Woolf began to ponder how to help people make meaningful connections.

in an interview with The Park Slope Scribe, Woolf pondered

When interpersonal connection is risky, what are other ways where we can be together? What is a better experience than getting a piece of mail in your mailbox from somebody you didn’t expect to hear from?

Woolf

Using a vintage portable typewriter and seated on a folding chair alongside a mailbox, his sign says, “Free Letters for Friends Feeling Blue.” Woolf spent several hours, a few days a week for four weeks, typing letters for his Park Slope, Brooklyn neighbors.

The 37-year-old New York University teacher dubbed his “post-dramatic” street performance “The Console”—short for consolation.

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