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Bridget Wingert: Happy to Be Here -- Old-fashioned but warm and friendly

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During our enforced stay at home orders, Michael Miciak advises sending postcards – not just to friends and family but to strangers around the globe.

Join Postcrossing as he did and you will not be lonely or bored. He is writing and receiving postcards. “Vaccines,” he said, “may be on the horizon, but between now and then, grabbing a hot cuppa of something good and writing out postcards to new friends around the world might just be what the doctor ordered in the march through the down days of this winter of our covid discontent.”

“I encountered Postcrossing when my wife, Kate, gave me a boxed set of postcards from the New York Botanical Garden as a stocking stuffer gift during Christmas, 2018. There was a line somewhere that said it was “perfect for Postcrossing.” He looked the word up and that was the start of a new adventure.

Two years later, he has been the happy recipient of postcards from more than 500 people from places all over the world. Looking over the group recently, he found that about 100 cards were from or about Bucks County, Hunterdon County, and their immediately adjacent counties of Lehigh, Northampton, Burlington, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Warren, Mercer, Somerset, and Morris. “I didn’t plan it that way. Just like you,” he said, “I love the Delaware Valley and naturally shared it as I could.”

Miciak lives in Everittstown in Hunterdon County. “We’re so in the boonies over here that we’re lucky we have gravity and light on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The rest of the week, you’re on your own,” he said. “But no matter what, we do have the Bucks County Herald at the Corner Store in Baptistown (corner of N.J. Route 12 and County Route 519).” He and Kate travel often to Bucks County when they’re allowed to cross state lines – they pick up the Herald at Caleb’s American Kitchen and Nonesuch Farms.

When Miciak saw the postcard images created for a show by the Arts Council of Bucks County on the front page of the Herald’s Living section July 9, he wanted to share his own postcards and their story.

But first he shared the Herald postcard page. “And share it I did with over 1,500 people so far on the Postcrossing Forum.” Postcrossing not only connects postcard writers with others, it has an online forum that allows members to share their experiences.

Miciak has been sending and receiving postcards all his life, including to like-minded chess players. That was “ages ago,” he said, “to countries that don;t even exist anymore (think East Germany).”

Postcards, Miciak laments, “are a kind of lost art, what with social media and the general rush-rush-rush of everyday life nowadays – not to mention drastically reduced travel because of COVID-19.”

The beauty of Postcrossing is that don’t really have to go anywhere to send a postcard We can acquire, send, and receive them aided by the Internet.
Paulo Magalhães, a Portuguese computer programmer, created Postcrossing in 2005 to facilitate the sending and receiving of postcards to his friends and relatives. His modest beginning grew to more than 800,000 members, who have sent nearly 60 million postcards around the globe, making Postcrossing a worldwide phenomenon.

Maciak joined two years ago. He recently reached a 500 card milestone.
“Paulo loves to receive mail and postcards in particular; from friends, family — or from anyone in the world. Finding a postcard in the mailbox always makes his day,” the Postcrossing website says.

He knew more people shared the same interest, so now, he connects people across the world through postcards, no matter what their country, age, gender, race or beliefs.


Paulo created the website on his free time and friends helped test it. Ana Campos designed the first logo and the Postcrossing Project was open to everyone on July 14, 2005 and it grew within days.

It started with an old home computer but soon Paolo saw that was not adequate.

“Right from its early years, a large worldwide community started to form around the project. Postcrossers started to organize Postcrossing meetups all over the world where they got together with other postcrossers to share, write, sign and send their postcards,” the website says.

Today, the Postcrossing Project is directed by Paulo and Ana who work on it every day with the support of a small team who help run the project’s website and its forum, a place where members can communicate online. The members also play an important role with keeping the website running by helping support the project and giving feedback and suggestions about where to go next.

By January 2020, Postcrossing had processed 60 million postcards.
The project became a way to contribute to or participate in causes like the Sichuan Earthquake (raising donations), LupusCrossing, museum exhibitions and school projects.

In 2011, the Dutch postal services (PostNL) created the first Postcrossing themed stamp. Many other stamps followed. Starting in 2013, Postcrossing partnered with Deutsche Post in a postcards for a good cause campaign. In 2014 Ana presented Postcrossing in a Tedx event in Porto, Portugal.
And as one would expect, Postcrossing members organize meetings across the world, sometimes traveling across the planet to join other postcrossers on meetups.

But with all its participants, the goal is still simple – to connect the world through postcards and to bring smiles to as many different people and countries as possible.

Paolo wrote in an email message this week, “The Postcrossing project is supported primarily through displaying advertisement banners on the website. The community also helps with voluntary contributions to help the project.”

But, he said, “Access to the website (accounts) are completely free.”

Postcrossing is full of positive possibilities. Check out postcrossing.com to see them.
 
 

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