What is the goal of the project?
- Support the USPS by purchasing and using as many stamps as I can.
- Send little moments of joy to as many people as possible. When was the last time you got a treat in a hand addressed envelope?
- Collaborate with as many people as possible to collect USPS delivery times across the United States, and beyond.
How does this work?
- You sign up.
- I mail a sticker to you.
- You tell me when it arrives.
Is there a hashtag for the project?
There sure is: #StickersAndStamps
Use it when you post photos of the stickers when they arrive. Help spread joy!
I’d had a bunch of stickers printed up with my artwork, and was intending to give them away at upcoming events. But then Covid-19 happened and everything shut down.
So I had all these stickers and no one to give them to.
Why send mail outside of the United States for this project?
It provides context. If it takes 5 days for a letter to travel from San Francisco to London England, that makes a delivery time of 2 weeks to Phoenix Arizona stand out in stark contrast.
How much more does it cost you to send mail outside of the US?
International postage cost is around $1.20 and varies per country. I’m only using one type of stamp: the Ruth Asawa ‘forever’ stamps which cost me $0.55 each. To cover international mail, I use three of these. So, I spend $1.65 for each envelope I send outside of the US.
How many places have you gotten signups from?
As of November 8, I’ve sent stickers to 239 cities and towns in 32 countries.
Any in South America?
Yes, so far I’ve sent to Brazil and Peru.
Why do you send reply envelopes when requested?
I noticed very early that letters I sent within the San Francisco bay area arrived consistently quickly. But what happens with mail is sent *to* me? Will the travel times differ if the journey starts elsewhere?
Is it possible to see your work in-progress?
Yes, I’m posting updates when I get more data or make progress in the data visualizations.
How can folks help the project?
- Sign up and participate in the project.
- Share the project on social media and mention it specifically to friends and family. Encourage others to sign up, participate, and spread word of the project.
- Chip in a few bucks on my Patreon or GitHubSponsors.
What data are you collecting? What are you doing with it?
There are a few steps in data collection for this project.
- Incoming Raw Data
I’m using a google-form so that you can securely send me your email and postal mailing address. The form also let’s you choose which sticker you want, request an envelope that you can send back to me, and to ask questions or make comments.
2. Working Data Set
I save the information from the form into a ‘working’ spreadsheet, where I keep track of when each sticker gets mailed out and when it arrives at it’s destination. This is a private file, and is not shared with anyone.
In this set, I also add more data to each sticker request. These include
- The latitude and longitude of your town or city.
- The distance between your town-city and San Francisco
- The USPS ‘Sectional Center’ that your mail passes through, based on your zip code.
3. Visualization Data Set
This is the data file that I use in my charts and map. It’s most of the working data set, but names, street addresses, emails, and comments have been stripped out.
When is the end-date for data collection?
Ideally, I’d like to continue the project until the USPS is fully restored and functioning as it did before it was interfered with for political reasons.
However, that could take a long time. So, I’m seeing that as a stretch goal.
If signups continue, and I get more support for the project, I can see continuing through the inauguration. That seems like a natural story arc, starting with when reports of changes to the USPS were coming out.
Why do you use the stamps that you do?
Just before I started this project, I found out that the USPS was about to release stamps honoring Ruth Asawa. They’re beautiful! So I waited until the stamps came out to start mailing for the project.
Asawa was an amazing artist who lived here in San Francisco. More specifically, she lived my neighborhood (Noe Valley). As an artist in Noe Valley, it seemed poetic to mail my art with stamps honoring her legacy.
For most of the project, I’ve been walking to the Noe Valley post office, and purchasing several sheets of the stamps at once. But the stamps are limited edition, and my local post office is out of them. I ordered some online, but that’s probably the last batch that I can get.
Questions I’m still working on:
- How much has this all cost?
- What has surprised you in this project?
- Does this have anything to do with the election?