Sign the petition to save USPS

If you haven’t had a chance to write your representatives in Washington, asking them to save the USPS without slashing jobs and post offices, you can get some momentum by going here: http://wh.gov/4kq and signing the petition (easy registration required).  There’s another petition there seeking to preserve six-days-a-week service: http://wh.gov/4fK, so sign it while you’re there, too! Can we get to 5000 signatures on these in 30 days so the White House will review?  Let’s tell our friends!

 

Take Action to Save the USPS

The Missive Maven pointed her readers to the Send the Love website, a site dedicated to saving the USPS.  The site lists actions you can take to save the USPS, like writing the Postal Regulatory Commission to ask them not to close small post offices across the country or end Saturday delivery. 

The site also suggests that you make a mark on all of your outgoing mail to show letter carriers and other USPS employees that you appreciate the service they provide.  Make a heart with a “P.O.” inside.  It’s simple and it’s a way of showing support as postal workers go through a tough time wondering what the future will bring. 

Also, write your congress people and ask them NOT to support the Issa-Ross bill, which seems to be a step toward dismantling the post office by cutting Saturday delivery and closing thousands of rural post offices. There are other ways that have been proposed to save the USPS without destroying the quality of the service they offer.

Head over to writealetter.org to find out more about the legislation that’s out there and what you can do to help.

Pixar Stamps and Letter Writing Campaign

Even before Claire McCaskill’s recommendation for the U. S. Postal Service to implement a letter-writing campaign, the USPS issued the “Send a Hello” Pixar stamps and coupled the stamps with language encouraging folks to send more mail.

The back of the stamp pane says:

Think of your delight when you find a letter, greeting card, or package waiting in your mailbox.  It puts a shine on the rest of the day–even before you’ve opened it. Despite all the ways we communicate with friends and family today, there’s still nothing as personal as knowing someone took time to choose a card…write a letter…wrap a package…and even choose a special stamp simply to “Send a Hello.”

The stamps feature characters from five Disney-Pixar movies: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars; Remy and Linguini from Ratatouille; Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story; Carl and Dug from Up; and the robot Wall-E.

Use them to send a hello to someone in your life.  These seem particularly suited to share with the kids in your life.  Instill a love of letter writing in them early!

 

Claire McCaskill and Jon Stewart on Snail Mail

I was catching up on Jon Stewart last night on the DVR and saw his take on Claire McCaskill’s recommendation to the Postmaster General that the post office start a letter writing campaign to make up some of their devastating losses.  Stewart had his typically hilarious take on the whole thing.

I was going to blog about this, but then saw that Viva Snail Mail had already done so and Melissa at VSM had a great idea.  She suggests that we send Claire McCaskill a thank you note for her support of snail mail.  What a great idea!

Then Sharon–a reader of both of our blogs–had another great idea, send Jon Stewart some snail mail love, too!

Pop on over to Viva Snail Mail to get both addresses and send your notes out today! Mine are already in the mail.

USPS Nears Default

This article in the NY Times today made me really sad.  It basically sums up all the other articles I’ve been reading about the U.S. Postal Service nearing financial collapse.  The article said that some people speculate that the USPS could actually close its doors later this year if they can’t get permission from Congress to do certain things like lay off workers (their union contract says they can not lay off any workers) or suspend Saturday delivery.  In addition, the USPS is required by law to fully fund their pension system in a way that no other government organization and no private organization is required to do.  It’s almost like the government has set the USPS up for failure.  And many are saying we should just let the USPS die and let private organizations (like FedEx and UPS) handle it without even giving the USPS the flexibility to try some of the cost saving measures that could move it toward financial viability.

It’s strange how the federal government has a constitutional right to create and maintain a postal service (just like it has a right to maintain a navy), the USPS’s actions are controlled by Congress, but the USPS gets no government funding and relies entirely on the revenue it brings in to operate.  I am hoping that all of the partisan games going on right now don’t get in the way of figuring out a workable solution for the postal service.  Fully privatizing does not seem to me like a real option.  A friend of mine who was just in Colombia for two months didn’t send postcards because that country does not have a national postal service and the private carriers were cost prohibitive.

The USPS is the great equalizer. If you can’t afford a computer or internet service, you can still get your checks via the mail, pay your bills via the mail, order your prescriptions and they’ll come to your door.  The USPS makes the world accessible, at a very cheap cost, for everyone, and I hope that our elected leaders can come together and help save snail mail!

Disappearing USPS Mailboxes

Just like public phones, USPS big blue mail boxes are disappearing from our streets.  This article shares the details on the mailboxes disappearing from San Franciso and the long trend (since the 60s!) of the USPS reducing the number of them in service.

Mailing early in Springfield is a pretty tough job if you... UPI

Debbie Delaney, former Miss Lexington Kentucky, tries to drop mail in an oversize speaking mail box that gives mailing instructions for the Christmas season in 1964.  Debbie was advertising for the post office who wished to remind patrons to mail early.

(Photo: UPI, via San Francisco Chronicle)

Check out this slideshow that features USPS mailboxes through the ages.

The article shared these numbers:

365,000: Number of mailboxes nationwide in 2000

160,000: Number of mailboxes nationwide in 2011

25: pieces of mail a mailbox must receive each day to remain in operation

35%: Drop in first-class mail since 2006

32%: Drop in the number of mailboxes in San Francisco in past few years

42%: Drop in amount of mail collected from mailboxes in San Francisco over past five years

I have always loved dropping letters into these boxes on random street corners, knowing that an intricate system of people are dedicated to getting my missives to their recipients.  There’s something a little magical about it.  I understand the need to gain more efficiency in USPS service, but I hope that these big blue boxes remain part of our landscape.

Rural Mail Delivery in West Virginia

My Dad, who lives in central West Virginia, mentioned recently that the U. S. Postal Service is considering closing his local post office at Orma as part of a money-saving measure.  Rural postal delivery has always been a challenge for the post office; but the USPS has gone to great lengths to provide service six days a week, even to those in harder-to-reach areas.

Dad also shared with me this brief article from the Hur Herald, a web-based news source for Calhoun County, WV, where I grew up.  The Hur Herald reprinted a 1954 National Geographic article with photos featuring Burt Vaughan’s rural postal delivery route through the hills.  Vaughan took the daily route by horse because there was no better way to make his way through the sparsely-settled, hilly area.

Here’s a picture of postman Vaughan (third from left) handing out mail at the local post office/general store in Chloe.  That store, in the original building, is still open today and it’s where my parents pick up a gallon of milk or loaf of bread when they don’t want to go “into town” 40 minutes away.

(photo from National Geographic via the Hur Herald)

Vaughan operated a “Star Route” which meant he was a contractor and not an official post office employee.  It was cheaper for the USPS to contract out certain routes than to provide the service directly.  To save cash today, the USPS is considering contracting out the provision of postal services to local grocery stores and other existing businesses to save the money of having to maintain post offices and staff. Seems like the U.S.P.S. may be returning to the post office/general store model that was popular in the first century of the postal service.  Funny how history repeats itself!

 

Merchant Marine and Owney the Postal Dog Stamps

I just picked up a couple more sheets of stamps at the post office (pics from U.S.P.S.’s Postal Store).

The merchant marine stamps provide a wonderful feel of maritime adventure to my envelopes:

And I just love the “Owney the Postal Dog” stamp.

 

The back of the Owney stamps sheet has the following story:

During the late 1880s, a dog, likely a terrier mix, appeared in the Post Office in Albany, New York, where clerks took a liking to him and named him Owney.  Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains, where Railway Mail Service employees considered him their good-luck charm.  As Owney traveled the country, clerks affixed medals and tags to his collar to document his travels, and Postmaster General John Wanamaker gave him a special dog-sized jacket to help him display them all.  Owney later toured the world by steamer and became an icon of American postal lore.  His adventures highlight the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service, and today he enjoys a place of honor at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

What a great story! Urban Hounds has a post on Owney with pictures of him on the train, in his fancy vest with medals, and of his display (yes, it’s him in all his taxidermy glory) at the National Postal Museum.

Postage Fun!

I love picking out just the right stamp(s) to add the finishing touches to my letters.  Sometimes, I like to pile on lots of old, unused stamps to make up the current 44 cent first-class rate.  But I also enjoy using new stamps–especially some of the great options the U.S. Postal Service has out now.  For those of you who haven’t been to the post office lately, here are a few of my current favorites (pics courtesy of the USPS):

The American Scientist stamps are full of nerdy fun, and their pastel colors go nicely with some of my girly stationery:

The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps sport some great images of everyday items from the 20th century (the Brownie camera!) and the stamps’ silver-black-white-and-bold-color designs look great on bright envelopes!

The Go Green stamps are quirky and cute and share great tips for going green every day:

And last but not least, my favorite recent issues from the U. S. Postal Service are the Garden of Love stamps.  Their colors and heart-shaped designs make my envelopes look amazing!

To improve your letter-writing batting average, make sure to have some stamps on hand.  Pick up some of these beauties at your local post office and you’ll be ready to send some snail-mail-love in style.