Everyone, meet Ben. Ben sent us a letter last year with an interesting proposal. He has this fantastic notion of hand-delivering mail. He's delivered some letters to his pen pals in person and wanted to branch out by delivering the mail of others. He wanted to know if he could deliver any letters for us.
Well... yes and no. You see, that sounds like a grand idea, but we can't just go about handing out addresses to a guy who wants to show up at people's front doors without their knowing about it. Yes, that's what we're getting the mail carriers to do, but they are regulated by people other than us. Basically, it boils down to a privacy issue. So we wrote him back with a couple of options.
First option, I ask my pen pals if they want to get a hand-delivered letter from a non-government sanctioned mail person. If they agree, then I'll send their letters to Ben and he'll be on his way. Second option, we post about it here, and if people see it and want to participate, they can let us know directly and we can either write them letters and send them via Ben or they can write their own letters and send them to Ben to deliver.
Here's what Ben had to say about all this:
As to your ideas, I think I like all of them. If some of Donovan's penpals would be happy to have a hand-delivered letter, and more importantly would be happy to let me carry on the chain of hand-delivery, that would be great. That's the key to this idea - as well as getting people writing to each other I want to become a sort of maverick personal postman for the world (I'm aware how gently unhinged that sounds) and see how well the six degrees of separation theory holds up in practice. I appreciate that a little of the surprise will be lost, but I don't think any of the fun will be and I hope the personal touch will inspire people. I'm hoping this project is going to become a one-man show that I stage next summer and I'd like the travelling round delivering letters to become a key component.I'm more than happy for you to do a little write-up of this and invite people to write to me with letters for the UK (or Northern Europe at a push...) for hand-delivery. The more publicity the better! One thing I've been putting in all the letters after the one I sent to you two, which I think best explains the philosophy behind the idea, is the Facebook status my friend Rachel put up that originally inspired me:
“I’ve just received a letter from my Gran out of the blue. Handwritten, on proper paper and everything. She tells me about the weather in Enniskillen, how her garden is doing in the cold and how many hats she’s knitted for charity recently. I haven’t spoken to her for ages. She’s amazing. Am off to find a pen.”
I definitely think that's worth putting in your post. You're also more than welcome to post my address so I can receive mail, plus my Twitter handle (@benvandervelde) and my website (www.benvandervelde.com) if people want to check me out, just to make sure I'm not a terrifying axe-murderer. As they'll see from it, I look a lot like I was manufactured in a Jim Henson workshop, so there's nothing to be afraid of. ---Ben
So what do you think?