Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Year of World Leaders

InCoWriMo is just around the corner, and I've been dutifully collecting my addresses for letters. Ultimately, I'd like to write and receive a letter from every state in the U.S., every continent, and -- after a lot of letters and money for stamps -- every country on the map (my letter to Antarctica is on its way...).

But where do I start? Where do you get addresses from? What do you write?!

My students have asked me these questions countless times over the last couple of weeks, and before I joined InCoWriMo last year, I had the same questions. Depending on who you write to, Google can be your friend. Additionally, the forums on InCoWriMo have an address swapping thread for people who want to participate. While I don't recommend students post their own address, I do encourage them to write letters to family and friends. Or better, to a favorite singer or actor/actress. Better still, your favorite author!

Then the next set of questions rolls in:
     "Does anyone ever write back?"
     "Of course."
     "Like who?"
     "Well, I've been writing back and forth with someone from Sweden, and another from Australia."
     "Yeah, but anyone famous?"
     "How about the Prime Minister of Canada and Buckingham Palace?"

At this point, I usually just shake my head and move on, but I was excited to get those letters back. It has inspired me to write to more world leaders as well. Nothing ground breaking or deeply emotional. Just a "Hi! How's it going?" kind of letter with a "Do you use a fountain pen?" thrown in for good measure. Who knows? Maybe they will write back (I'm talking to you, Mr. President. I am still waiting on my reply from last year.)

I'll include a list of people who I've got addresses for, and if anyone can help make the last on happen, you'll be my favorite.

So, who are you writing to?

"The List"

  1. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
  2. The Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott
  3. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key
  4. The Mythbusters (okay, not a world leader, but I'd vote for them)
  5. Mike Rowe (see Mythbusters above...)
  6. The Mayor of Greenwich, England, Angela Cornforth (this would be a letter from the beginning of time... Get it? Greenwich, England? The Prime Meridian?)
  7. The President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano
  8. His Holiness Pope Francis (yup, The Pope!)
  9. His Holiness the Dalai Llama (yup, him too!)
  10. The Emperor of Japan, Akihito
  11. Robert Iger, CEO Walt Disney Company (again, not a world leader, but I do love Disney)
  12. Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks (I drink enough of his coffee, might as well)
  13. The King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf
  14. The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgings
  15. The President of France, Francois Hollande
  16. The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon
  17. Alton Brown (I used his turkey recipe this Christmas and wanted to thank him)
  18. The President of the United States, Barack Obama (again...)
  19. and (though I'm not sure how I can ever get this accomplished...) the International Space Station (Thanks Mrs. Champion for that request)
There will be more, and I'll post when I get them (and when I get a reply!).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

InCoWriMo (Vintagel Social Media)

I honestly can't take credit for that title. I read it on a pen blog Anderson Pens website (yes, I read pen blogs...), and I thought it was too clever to pass up.

InCoWriMo stands for International Correspondence Writing Month. It was started by the Fountain Pen Geeks (FPGeeks for those of us in the know) last year as an off-shoot of NaNoWriMo. InCoWriMo takes place in February and tasks you with writing a letter or postcard a day to anyone. I participated successfully last year, and it was a blast. Not only did I receive letters from across the country, but also Sweden, England, Australia and Canada. I even got a letter back from the Prime Minister of Canada (with a signed photo), and a letter from Queen Elizabeth's Lady in Waiting.

This year I am broadening my scope. I'm in the process of collecting addresses from every state, as well as the Heads of State for various countries. I'd like to be able to send and receive a letter from all 50 states in the US (I only got 8 letters back from the US last year), as well as every continent (still waiting on that letter back from Antarctica).

If you are interested, I invite you to head over to the FPGeeks blog and check out their posts on InCoWriMo. There is an address share in the forums, and you can get lots of addresses there (and maybe even find a new pen pal). Additionally, Google is a wonderful resource for looking up addresses of just about any public figure you can find (I'm on the search for the Mythbusters' address...). If you really want to get into the spirit of InCoWriMo, head over to the Anderson's website (they are generous sponsors of the HMS Young Writers) and purchase the first ever InCoWriMo Writing Kit, where you get a fountain pen, bottle of ink, note cards and envelops to start your letter writing adventure.

I hope that some of you will join me in February as we send handwritten letters around the world. My address will be there, and I'd love to hear from you.