New York Man Writes Free Letters for Strangers

A manual typewriter.

A performance artist in New York is offering to type letters and mail them for people for free. (Image: klimkin via Pixabay)

In this age of email, only a few people would actually take the time to write letters and send them through the traditional postal system. New Yorker Brandon Woolf is a performance artist who decided to bring letter writing to the spotlight. He recently set up a workspace near a Brooklyn mailbox, consisting of a chair, table, and typewriter, to provide letter writing services for free.

Writing letters

The 37-year-old Woolf is a full-time faculty member at New York University. His letter writing service was part of a project called “The Console” and was inspired by the old tradition of writing consolation letters. Sitting on his foldable chair, Woolf put up a chalkboard sign stating: “Free Letters For Friends Feeling Blue”, asking people to make use of him as somewhat of a cross between a confidant and a scribe.

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The old tradition of writing consolation letters.
‘The Console’ was inspired by the old tradition of writing consolation letters. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Woolf hoped that the letter-writing service would do some social good by enabling the people of NYC to deal with grief or to make stronger human connections. “Whatever type of experience you would like to have — I’m happy to provide letters, envelopes, stamps, and my body to type your message… 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?” he said to Patch.

The idea of setting up a letter-writing performance came from Woolf’s previous stint in the theater. He remarked that theaters are ailing right now since the pandemic has brought down attendance. While lamenting how people cannot be inside the theaters under current circumstances, Woolf suddenly had an idea — what if he brought performance into public spaces? Eventually, he decided on the letter-writing performance. People are invited to sit near him and work out what they want to say to their loved ones. One kid sent a letter to a stuffed pea-pod back home while a mother used Woolf to write a letter to her son who is serving in the military. 

Benefits of writing letters

Most people do not realize that writing letters provides a therapeutic benefit. Lauren Garvey, a facilitator at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, notes that the ability to express how we feel and what we think affects us on a cellular level. This is the reason why writing has a deep psychological effect on people. By writing a letter, you can express exactly what you want since you can make all the necessary changes and finalize the content you wish to convey. Writing letters can also make you happier.

A man writing something on a piece of paper.
Writing letters can make you happier. (Image: via Pixabay)

Steve Toepfer from Kent State University says that if you make a habit of writing letters of gratitude, you will feel more satisfied and happy. In addition, symptoms of depression will reduce. A personal letter is a great way to communicate with the people you love. When you write a letter, you will inevitably put a lot more thought into the content. The person receiving the letter will also feel your warmth and appreciate that you took the time to write something thoughtful. Even in business, writing a letter to a prospective client or an important customer can go a long way in making them feel valued, thus helping you to gain new business and retain existing customers.

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