The power of letter writing in the digital age


Letter writing. When was the last time you wrote one? Hand-writing a letter is one of the most useful and informative ways to pass on information. But in this age of typing 40wpm the art of a handwritten letter has become somewhat of a novelty. Time, energy, and producing large quantities of communication information have been main deterrents from the age-old method, but what about their efficacy? Is having all this information effective? Or are we too quick to dismiss and disseminate information? How much of it are we actually absorbing, and what parts of this information is actually producing positive change? 

With the online social-media activism community all a-Twitter about efficient and meaningful change-making activism, it leads us to wonder if the most meaningful changes will occur on or off-screen. A project spearheaded by ECUAD Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Culture + Community, Duane Elverum, intends to gather the strength of the masses, and produce letters for social change. Duane writes:



Shakespeare described the entire human experience using only 26 letters. This got us thinking…

You may have heard that a few of us are working on a project to see what it takes to get involved and make change on issues we personally care about. It should be pretty simple to feel connected to our city, and get involved in the process of decision-making that affects our lives, right? We’re aiming to make the connection between our personal concern and the public world, and here’s how we’re going to do it…

Politicians and behavioural experts tell us that writing a single letter about an issue has very little effect on change, but regularly hand-writing a letter per month on a particular issue to the leaders who are responsible to the issue can have a profound effect on the direction of policy. Turns out consistency, pressure and follow-up are key factors.

We have decided to try this out; we’re each taking an issue that is personally important to us and beginning the process with a single letter to those in power; so far we’ve talked about issues like water, noise, electoral reform, light pollution, garbage and ecological footprint.

It doesn’t matter what the issue is, just that it matters to you, and that you find – and write to – the people who make decisions about it at the various levels of leadership.

What would you choose?

Rather than trying to stop climate change, or create sustainability, we’ve decided to each take on a part of our world thinking that the whole might bend in the right direction under the pressure of consistent targeted concern.

Do you want to find out more? We’re holding a party on Oct 16 to eat and drink and talk about this. Please bring some food, drink and ideas to share and we’ll see what we can do with 26 letters. Location TBA.

Here’s a link to a 10 minute TED talk  that started it all, from a politician’s point of view.


See you on the 16th,



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