The future of the U.S. Postal Service looks grim. One artist is putting up a fight to save it.

The gesture is small and largely symbolic, but for $25, Jennie Ottinger’s "Postal Mortem" project will subscribe users to a postcard delivery feed.

It's in the style of a Facebook timeline or Instagram, with updates three times a week.

To sign up, you can go online or actually mail a letter.

The Postal Mortem subscription buys two to three months of a postcard stream, as well as flyers touting the benefits of the USPS.

2014-04-28

Co.Exist

Sign Up For These Cute Subscription Post Cards, Do A Tiny Bit To Save The Postal Service

Artist Jennie Ottinger wants you to support the mail by subscribing to a physical postcard feed. It might not save anything, but the cards will make your day.

The future of the United States Postal Service looks grim. While the institution tries to scrape its way out of a $20 billion deficit, many fear that it’s on the brink of disappearing altogether: Staples can now sell stamps, after all.

It’s no surprise that we might find ourselves in this position in the age of the multi-billion dollar messaging app. But at least one artist is putting up a fight to save the Postal Service, even if the gesture is small and largely symbolic. For $25, Jennie Ottinger’s "Postal Mortem" project will subscribe users to a postcard delivery feed (in the style of a Facebook timeline or Instagram) three times a week. (You can sign up here, or mail her a letter.)

Ottinger says she’s no anti-tech Luddite. But her connection to snail mail is uniquely personal. "I have letters that my dad wrote to my grandparents, even from when he was really little all through college. I have the letter where he’s telling his parents about meeting my mom," she says. "They died when I was fairly young, and I never really knew them. [The letters are] the strongest connection I have to them."

The Postal Mortem subscription buys two to three months of a postcard stream, as well as flyers touting the advantages of communicating through the USPS. It’s no coincidence that many of Ottinger’s postcards will depict characters writing love letters to inanimate objects—in 2011, she launched a project drawing attention to the preciousness of the physical book, in which she hollowed out novels, replacing their innards with SparkNotes summaries. This past month, Ottinger also held a letter-writing drive to Rep. Darrell Issa, the congressman from San Diego who has made gutting the USPS one of his pet issues.

"I’m not going to save the Postal Service," Ottinger acknowledges. "But that kind of makes it more obvious. It’s so futile that it shows how great the problem is."

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4 Comments

  • Phil Terrana

    The USPS is being done in by Congress more than by their business practices. They don't operate too differently than UPS, and in fact they work together much of the time. A way of helping them is to return all those self addressed envelopes and post cards that private business sends out. It doesn't add to green house gases and the companies pay more than regular postage when they are returned. In the long run, mail has been pretty safe. In the short run, the Internet has been anything but safe. Not to mention, but I will, the Internet is costly and goes up faster than stamps.

  • Anne Kinzel

    Too bad you did not mention that the Postal Service has been forced by a radical congress to pre fund its pension system. This is why the service is in so much trouble.