Picture this: You open your mailbox and instead of the standard junk mail and utility bills you are greeted by a stunning image that looks as though it is a frame from a Wes Anderson film. Well, no need to imagine this as it is a scene that is playing out countless times around the globe thanks in part to the new partnership between AWA & Postcrossing.
Since you’re here, we’ll assume that you know a little bit about AWA. What is Postcrossing? Glad you asked!
Postcrossing was started as a project that allows anyone to send and receive postcards back from friendly people around the globe. With our Community’s love for snail mail mirroring their love for all things postal, we knew that we’d make for a good pair in our efforts to share love and delight via your mailbox.
As avid mail senders, we released AWA, The Postcards so we could send more smiles via snail mail. And with all these extra postcards to send we needed some extra penpals! Postcrossing made for the perfect Community to join so we could share the postcards we love to those who love receiving them.
We like to think that the Postcard Book makes a great set for members of both communities to use as they write notes to friends, family, and new connections, making this world a slightly better, more exciting place to explore together.
The POSTCROSSING GOALS ARE SIMPLE to connect the world through postcards and bring smiles to as many different people and countries as possible
AWA had a chance to meet with the founders of Postcrossing and asked a few questions so that all of us could learn a bit more about the passion and purpose behind the project.
How did Postcrossing start?
Postcrossing started when Paulo (then a Portuguese university student) got a bit sad that his mailbox was empty most of the time. He really liked receiving postcards, and wondered if perhaps there were other people who missed opening a mailbox and finding something nice there. So he created a platform to bring him and these people together and invited his friends to join him in sending some postcards to each other. And then these friends’ invited their friends, who invited their friends… and now here we are, almost 70 million postcards and many happy mailboxes later!
What is it that makes receiving a postcard so satisfying?
A postcard might look like a simple piece of paper, but it’s much more than that. Someone took their time to pick a postcard and a stamp, write a personal message, and walk down to the nearest postbox to mail it — just to make our day a bit better. Because they take time and effort, they become a token of someone’s thoughtfulness and attention, which is something we treasure. This is why postcards end up on our fridge doors, or the office cubicle… and not whatsapp messages or emails.
How does the process work?
Our Community is free to join and getting started is simple: for every postcard you send, you’ll receive one back. But there’s a twist: you don’t get to choose where your postcard is going to be sent, and conversely, you don’t know where your next postcard is coming from until it arrives. It’s always a surprise! Today you might be sending a postcard to a student in Taiwan, and next week you might receive one from a grandma in Brazil. Every exchange is random and happens only once.
Do postcrossers ever meet?
They do, sometimes! There are local meetups in many countries, spontaneously organized by the community itself. People get together to chat, share their favorite postcards or visit a local museum. These are lively gatherings that give members the opportunity to meet and make new friends that share their enthusiasm for postcards.
What is World Postcard Day?
It’s an event we started that celebrates postcards and the people (like you) that love them. October 1st is the anniversary of postcards (they turn 153 this year! – 2022), and there are many events that take place, including postcard-themed activities in museums, libraries or schools, the launch of philatelic* products or just people taking the time to write postcards to friends and family. It’s a day of joy, with lots of postcards filling up the world’s mailboxes!
*It means the collecting of stamps and other postal matter as a hobby
What has been the most rewarding aspect of operating Postcrossing?
Just knowing that we’re making the world a tiny bit better by connecting strangers. Too often, we tend to imagine people outside of our own bubble as a big stereotyped blur, forgetting that each individual is unique and has their own thoughts, dreams and fears. By connecting 2 people who would never otherwise meet, we’re helping them see the world through someone else’s eyes — which creates more empathy and cultural understanding.
Any simple advice for a new postcrosser?
Just get started! Register on the site, request a few addresses to send postcards to, grab some stamps and nice postcards from your town, and write your first postcards. You can write about the place where you live, a new thing you recently learned, your favorite song or perhaps something interesting you saw on your last walk… Then apply the stamps and off you go to the mailbox. The sooner you mail the postcards, the sooner your mailbox will start receiving smiles and stories from all over the world. 🙂
Can you share a story about something that arrived that made you explore more about the person, where they are from, or what the card depicted?
There are many postcards that open up whole new universes for us! For instance, hearing about someone’s hobby of “bunny-hopping” made us go on a youtube marathon of research. Did you know there are actual championships where cute bunnies jump over mini-hurdles? It’s adorable!
We often discover new artists and illustrators from the image on the postcard, but also find out about new places we’d like to visit someday, what breakfast entails in a foreign country, what songs are popular across the world, or what thoughts cross the mind of a person in Uganda on a random Spring day…