What happened after my TED Talk? I quit my job, wrote a book, grew my organization, and promoted a US postage stamp in Times Square

This is great. We need to jumpstart letter writing in the U.S. You’ve already started doing this. Good luck!

TED Blog

Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash Hannah Brencher carried a USPS mail crate with her when she spoke at TED@NYC. Photo: Ryan Lash

Hannah Brencher strolled onstage to give her TED Talk, “Love letters to strangers,” with a US Postal Service mail crate propped on her hip. And that mail crate full of letters turned out to be a metaphor for what happened next — a box of surprises and possibilities.

Onstage at Joe’s Pub in June 2012, Brencher told her story of writing love letters to strangers — yes, in her own handwriting — and leaving them on café tables, tucking them in books at the library, and sending them to anyone on the internet who asked. The project, which she began as a way to fight her post-college depression, took on its own life, so Brencher set up the website More Love Letters to help the letter-writing project expand to anyone who…

View original post 877 more words

Handwritten Letters to Save the Post Office

Featured

Benjamin Franklin letter

Benjamin Franklin letter

How do you feel when you get a real handwritten letter from someone, especially a good friend? Is it different than an email? Is it different than a typed note? My Mother used to receive handwritten letters from one of her friends and they were peppered with creative illustrations. It was a work of art and filled with humor. Even the envelope had illustrations on it in all colors. I don’t know what happened to those letters, but I remember them even today.

Handwritten notes and letters have personality.

Reading and looking at handwritten notes or poetry or manuscripts, you can feel the heart of the person who wrote them.

How about a campaign to bring back the handwritten letter. I’m starting my own campaign because I realized that email disappears, even texts. Someone can put an erase date on your emails. Even if it’s in your in box, you will only be able to keep it for a certain time, then poof, it’s disappeared by special software. Also, texts on your phone.

The other day I tried to access a news article and got the message, 404, Oops! It was disappointing. The news article was less than 3 years old yet it was disappeared. Is that what will happen to stuff people put on the internet?

Or, a website is redone and then you can’t find the link to the article or document you needed or wanted to share with someone? Then all the links you had to that article, video or document no longer work.

We think technology is so great and that the internet allows us to access anything that we want. Sorry, but that is totally false. After I had trouble accessing the news article I started thinking how ephemeral the internet really is. What happens if the software and hardware changes in the future and we can’t access certain data?

Some authors write their books on handwritten manuscripts. Even if they have an electronic version, the handwritten manuscript will outlast a computer hard drive crash.

Tell me your thoughts about handwritten letters & notes. I tried to give someone a little gift of note cards the other day and the person said, “What would I use those for?” I realized that some people never write letters. They have lived their lives emailing and texting. I decided to revisit the tradition of writing notes.

Do you write handwritten notes?

Also, if we write more love letters, handwritten thank you notes, and other letters and send them by U.S. mail, then we can help increase first class mail.

So, let’s all write at least one handwritten letter a week—or more. Once I started this adventure I almost ran out of notes to send!

Let’s send handwritten notes to our Senators, Congressmen, the President, and of course to Postmaster General Donahoe and the Board of Governors about our concerns. The management at USPS claims they want to listen to their customers. OK, let’s give them an opportunity!

Happy Writing!

 

Darrell Issa wants to End Door-to-Door Mail Delivery

Featured

Clusterboxes have been subject to theft in Sacramento

Darrell Issa R-CA, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants to end door-to-door U.S. mail delivery claiming it will save money. Darrell Issa and Postmaster General Donahoe hide behind the excuse that USPS is broke by billions of dollars and must cut costs. The cause of USPS fiscal problems, however, has been self-inflicted by Congress and by some top USPS leaders who have insisted on cutting services and jobs instead of creatively finding ways to generate new revenue.

The Truth About USPS Fiscal Woes

USPS’s current fiscal challenges were mostly engineered by Congress’s passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 which forced USPS to prepay its pensions 75 years in advance in just 10 short years beginning in 2007.

However, there are funds owed to USPS through overpayment to the government for various pension programs prior to 2007. Postmaster General Donahoe fails to address this issue and Darrell Issa denies any relevance to documents presented by The Office of Inspector General of USPS that estimated the U.S. Postal Service overpaid the government approximately $142 billion in other pension plans over the years (See USPS OIG Report Number FT-MA-10-002: Summary of Substantial Overfunding in Postal Service Pension and Retiree Health Care Funds).

Smoke and Mirror Talking Points

Darrell Issa and PMG Donahoe’s constant talking point of USPS “declining revenues” to justify Draconion cuts in services and closure and sales of post offices reflects a lack of vision and creative solutions from Congress and the top management at USPS. It is a bare-faced excuse to cut postal services even though USPS currently accepts no tax dollars from the public. At every opportunity Issa and Donahoe give the illusion that postal services must be cut because of the fiscal problems of USPS.

In 2006 USPS was voted the best postal service in the world and it is the second largest employer in the entire United States. Today in 2013 it is the largest unionized employer in the U.S.

Issa and Donahoe constantly bad mouth USPS and continue to forecast its decline. The true reality must be revealed. The American people can choose to create a more thriving USPS that protects and appreciates its postal assets instead of selling them off, especially it’s historic buildings and precious postal art.

We need leaders in Congress and USPS who provide solutions to create a thriving USPS that prides itself on preserving its historic postal buildings and art and expanding services for Americans instead of those who are claiming fiscal responsibility by gutting and destroying USPS through their misguided policies.

If someone ideologically is geared towards always cutting public services because they think government is too big, then one must question the objectivity of decisions made by such a person. When will the mainstream media find out the real philosophy and vision behind Postmaster General Donahoe’s views? Who will ask the USPS Board of Governors Chair his real views of USPS’s future? Do the USPS leaders in the top echelons of power care about their unionized workers? Do they care about our historic post offices or art? Or, are these leaders at USPS just carrying out philosophically flawed efforts outlined in Cato Institute white papers to destroy and privatize the U.S. postal service by getting rid of postal infrastructure and union jobs?

When is “fiscal responsibility” an excuse to Cut Services to Americans?

Americans want to keep their historic USPS post offices open in their community and want USPS to find ways to capitalize on its fabulous historic buildings and postal art to attract more customers and services to increase revenues. Adding some village post offices in locations that have no existing historic post office may be welcome in some communities. However, communities with existing historic post offices and public art are unwilling to trade their special post offices for a “relocated” post office at the back of a card store or in a former pet store. Postmaster Donahoe and Darrell Issa seem to think that “relocating” an historic post office to another location is perfectly ok because USPS will still provide postal services to its customers. Their thinking is flawed and completely contrary to the will of the people who have a right to keep their historic post office buildings and public art that was paid with tax dollars prior to 1970.

Saving the U.S. Postal Service by Senator Bernie Sanders

Did Darrell Issa Ask Americans at 37 million delivery points if they Want to Keep their Door-to-Door Delivery?

Did Darrell Issa ask the people of California or the nation about whether they want cluster boxes and curbside delivery instead of door-to-door delivery? No.

Did Darrell Issa ask the elderly if they support the end of door-to-door delivery and cluster boxes somewhere outside where they would have to go to collect their mail? No.

Where did this horrible idea of ending door-to-door mail delivery originate from, and why is Darrell Issa pushing it in his “postal reform” bill?

Tell Darrell Issa and Congress that Issa’s “postal reform” bill is wrong for USPS, and wrong for this nation.

Here is Ralph Nader’s 8/21/2013 letter to Darrell Issa clearly explaining and refuting Issa’s policies within his flawed postal reform bill H.R. 2748.

Tell your Congressperson Issa’s bill is wrong for USPS, wrong for America, and wrong for postal workers.

Here is an example of how the leadership of USPS has engineered”excess capacity” in the Reading PA beautiful historic post office that has served its community for decades in order to close it and sell it. This is disgraceful. This is undemocratic and unjust.

Musical Chairs in Reading PA leaves historic post office without a place at http://www.savethepostoffice.com

Why is the USPS leadership like VP Samra of Facilities deliberately claiming he listens to the concerns of each community and then ignores them and closes, relocates and sells the beloved community historic post offices? There is only one reason, to sell off our treasures as fast as possible before people can act. Where is President Obama to stop this? Where is Congress to stop this? The people must stop stand up now to stop the sell off of their postal buildings and art.

Issa’s “postal reform” bill is an attack on working families. It is an attack on our Constitutionally driven right to have our mail delivered to our homes.

Possible Motives for Issa wanting to End Door-to-Door Delivery

Since 2001, Postmaster General Potter and now Postmaster General Donahoe who was the deputy to Republican PMG Potter in prior years, have systematically cut the USPS union workforce through attrition and buyouts of union jobs. At least 200,000+ jobs have been lost in recent years at the same time delivery points have increased by over 17.1 million locations.

As we have seen from the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) effort to promote anti-union, anti-collective bargaining legislation attacking public and private unions in Wisconsin and other states, another way to limit unions is to limit the jobs people actually have. That is exactly what has occurred at USPS from 2001 to 2013.

The USPS takes no taxpayer dollars and hasn’t since the reorganization of the postal service based on the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act. USPS pays for itself with the sale of postage and mail services.

So why does Darrell Issa want to end door-to-door delivery? He claims it will save money. Whose money? If USPS makes money from selling postage and mail services, isn’t ending door-to-door delivery cutting back on the “service” of the mail service? Yes, it is. And, it doesn’t make much business sense unless perhaps someone doesn’t want to improve the USPS business. By saving money, does Darrell Issa mean paying for less postal workers to deliver mail? Why, yes, he does.

That means Darrell Issa wants less postal workers to deliver mail to clusterboxes on a curbside. He doesn’t seem to care about better customer service for American customers of USPS who would prefer to continue having door-to-door delivery. Have you heard people clammering for an end to door-to-door mail delivery? No.

Isn’t Congress supposed to listen to the people of the U.S.? Yes, they should.

What are Elements of Good Business Common Sense?

Most businesses want to provide good customer service and also to expand their company’s services for higher profits. It makes sense that you will get more customers if you provide a better service and more value to people. A business gets happy customers, return customers and new customers when they provide a service people want.

However, under PMG Donahoe and some in Congress like Darrell Issa, it seems they have adopted a ridiculous policy of limiting the footprint of the postal service and reducing mail service to customers through:

  • Consolidating hundreds of mail processing centers
  • Closing hundreds and potentially thousands of post offices in rural and urban centers despite angry appeals from communities to keep their post offices open
  • Selling off important historic post offices with New Deal Era Murals despite numerous community efforts to keep their post offices functioning in their historic post offices (Venice, Ukiah, Santa Monica, La Jolla, CA, Bronx NY, Greenwich CT)
  • Cutting the postal union workforce in spite of a constant increase in mail delivery points
  • Slowing mail service and the mail standard
  • Cutting mail service hours and days of operation
  • PMG Donahoe and his management team repeatedly have failed to listen to their customers in local communities who want creative solutions to keep their post offices open instead of “relocating” them from their historic buildings to places like a former pet supply store in Greenwich, CT.

Darrell Issa’s proposal to end door-to-door delivery would only serve those who want to destroy the postal service by making it less responsive to its customers. That’s why Darrell Issa’s postal reform would harm the postal service, and why the public must tell Darrell Issa and their Congressional representatives that they want to keep door-to-door delivery and keep postal workers employed. 

Why is the U.S. raiding $45 Billion of the U.S. Postal Service Health Retirement Plans?

Featured

U.S. Post Office, Los Angeles CA

U.S. Post Office, Los Angeles, CA

The Postal Service has lots of money, $45 billion, in its Health Retirement Pension plans for its workers. Why, because in 2006, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) forced USPS to prepay its retirement health plans 75 years in advance in just 10 short years beginning in 2007!

The Ed Show – US Postal Service remains under attack

PAEA Crazy Poison Pill for USPS

Sounds crazy right? Yes, it’s absolutely crazy. But it gets even nuttier when this mandated payment of $5.5 billion/year started in 2007 after the U.S. economy tanked and many businesses laid off hundreds of thousands of workers. Also, the businesses cut back on many services, including mail, to its customers. In this harsh economic environment, the PAEA pre-funding mandate kicked in when all businesses in the U.S. suffered due to the wild speculation on Wall Street.

So, when the United States had it’s most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1929, Congress forced USPS to begin paying $5.5 billion – $5.8 billion a year. The timing for this poison pill to undermine the financial health of USPS was just amazing. You would think that perhaps Congress would then rescind this horrible prefunding mandate because no corporate or public institution has ever had to prefund 75 years out in a mere 10 years. Yet, some in Congress, who never bothered to put their names to the PAEA bill because it was passed in the middle of the night on a voice vote, decided that USPS could handle this massive prefunding mandate. Are you with me? Doesn’t this sound absurd to you?

Yes, it is a deliberate poison pill and it has been used to claim USPS is bankrupt and must slash jobs (Postmaster General Donahoe has cut 300,000 jobs since 2006), close 3700 post offices and consolidate processing centers.

Basically, PMG Donahoe decided to “right-size” (their special buzz word for selling off their historic already paid-for post offices and other postal buildings) and sell off America’s infrastructure of beautiful post offices. The real estate organization tasked with this is C. B. Richard Ellis Real Estate company. One of the largest real estate companies in the United States.

According to a recent interview with Mr. Cliff Guffey, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), on the Ed Show, the U.S. government is deliberately raiding the USPS $45 billion prepaid retiree health plans to get extra money for other purposes in case the Congress decides not to raise the debt ceiling–for example. This is happening while Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe guts the infrastructure of USPS by selling off historic post offices throughout the United States together with many New Deal era post office murals.

What You Can Do

Tell President Obama and Congress to reverse the prefunding mandate and stop the sell off of our historic post offices and art. Stop the Postal Heist going on by those who want the real estate for their own profiteering. Stop the Postal Heist designed to undermine the entire U.S. Postal Service, union jobs, and infrastructure. Stop the Postal Heist to privatize our precious postal service by those who fail to understand the need for public services like USPS. Even though USPS takes no tax dollars, it is still in our constitution and it is a public service, a public good and should be saved from privatization by those who have tried to do this for decades.

Meanwhile, on the SavethePostOffice.com blog, please check out this great new article, “Betrayal without remedy: The unwinding of the Postal Service,” by Mark Jamison.

“The Postal Service is supposed to serve the entire country, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the companies and industries that see themselves as the primary stakeholders in the postal system from demanding a more corporatized structure and mission that will serve their narrow interests.”

“That’s not the real story, though, and it never has been.  The real story is just beginning to come into focus: The leadership of the Postal Service, using the laws already in place, is engaged in their version of that most American of economic phenomena — the leveraged buyout.”

We must save our U.S. Postal Service for present and future generations.

Rep. DeFazio calls for Postmaster General Donahoe’s resignation because he just “cuts things”

Featured

Representative Peter DeFazio was interviewed by Businessweek and said:

You called for Patrick Donahoe’s resignation. How come?

If we go to five-day delivery, that will put them in a death spiral. If you degrade first-class mail to three- to five-day delivery, which he would by closing these regional sorting centers, you have the potential of letters taking five days for first class. As far as I can tell, this guy really wants to destroy the Postal Service.

That’s right, Congressman Peter DeFazio sees that Postmaster General Donahoe “really wants to destroy the Postal Service.”

Why?

Rep. DeFazio says instead of asking for authority to creatively innovate to save money and make money for USPS, Postmaster General Donahoe just “cuts things”. Here is the excerpt from DeFazio from the Businessweek article:

So I would look for a postmaster general who would say, “I need authority to innovate.” But that’s not what we’re hearing from this postmaster general. He’s, like, “Ah, I’ve just got to cut things.”

DeFazio, Oregon legislators, and Postal Service employees rally to save the postal service

The above video demonstrates that Postmaster General Donahoe instead of demanding that Congress reverse the notorious 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), just calls for cutting jobs, selling off our national treasured historic post offices and art, and slowing mail.

Postmaster General Donahoe called for closing 3,700 post offices and consolidating 152 processing centers on July 26, 2011, the birthday of when Benjamin Franklin was first appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775 under the Continental Congress. Great timing Mr. Donahoe – what a birthday present for the American people! This alone would foolishly reduce service to millions of Americans, especially our elderly, who depend on USPS to deliver their medications to their homes.

In addition, C. B. Richard Ellis (CBRE) received exclusive conctracts to sell USPS properties and manage their leases. CBRE is chaired by Richard Blum, UC Recent and spouse of Senator Dianne Feinstein. One wonders how much profit CBRE makes from targeting and selling off our precious historic post offices like the La Jolla Post Office, Redlands Post Office and Berkeley Post office with New Deal Era murals inside?

The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was passed on December 20, 2006 in the middle of the night on a voice vote. Did anyone want to put their name on this bill that forced USPS to prepay their health-care retiree pensions 75 years out in only 10 years? This is something no other corporate or public organization has ever had to do. The PAEA required that USPS begin paying $5.5 to $5.8 billion/year for this pension payment scheme meant to bankrupt the postal service. USPS was required to begin this $5.5 billion payment in 2007, the first year of the worst economic downturn since the depression of 1929.

DeFazio says the Chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, Mickey D. Barnett, appointed by President G. W. Bush in 2006, had to be reminded of the cost of a first class stamp! ($.46) when making a recent public presentation. See the video above.

It is time to take your concerns to President Obama who doesn’t have to run for President anymore. Please call President Obama and write him by US postal mail to save the United States Postal Service now.

Mr. Postman Our Post Office is Not for Sale!!!

Sung by Passionate Berkeley CA residents singing to save their beautiful historic Berkeley Post Office.

Sign an online petition at: http://www.savethepostoffice.com

The Travesty of the Relocation of the New Deal Era Ukiah CA Post Office and Mural

Gallery

This gallery contains 8 photos.

What Happened to the Ukiah California New Deal Era Post Office and Mural? Despite outcries from thousands of people in Ukiah, the USPS sold its beautiful New Deal Era post office through a “relocation” rule. The people of Ukiah are … Continue reading

Stop USPS Dismantling New Deal Legacy through Sell-Off of Historic Post Offices

Featured

Why is the US Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, trying to Sell Off America’s Historic Post Offices?

Lower East Side Mural in Madison Square Post Office in NY by EdenPictures on Flickr CC

Lower East Side New Deal Era Mural in Madison Square Post Office in NY by EdenPictures on Flickr CC

USPS leaders seem determined to sell off our precious New Deal era historic post offices as fast as possible with the help of the major real estate company CB Richard Ellis Group (CBRE). An article in Commerical Property Executive by contributing editor Barbara Murray on July 21, 2011 entitled, “CBRE Wins Exclusive Rights to 300 MSF USPS Contract” states:

“Clearly, CB Richard Ellis Inc. didn’t mail it in when bidding for a big contract with the U.S. Postal Service, because the commercial real estate services firm has just become the chosen one. CBRE is now the exclusive strategic corporate real estate solutions provider for USPS and its 300 million-square-foot portfolio of owned and leased properties.”

CBRE received exclusive rights from USPS to manage all of the billions of dollars worth of USPS properties.

Instead of selling off our brick and mortar post offices which are technically owned by the American people, especially those built before the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, let’s revitalize them with creative solutions to keep them as Post Offices and expand services for communities.

Ontario California Post Office Mural by Jimmy Wayne on Flickr

In addition, there needs to be a new law that entitles the American people to say what happens to their own post offices. Unfortunately the USPS has been very busy undermining the ability of citizens to stop the steam rolling misguided leadership of USPS from selling off its historic post offices.

In recent years through changing various rules, the USPS uses “relocation” as a means to prevent citizens from being able to legally file appeals with the Postal Regulatory Commission. It is a devious way to undermine due process of the citizens in a community to be able to stop sales of their precious post offices which serve their cities and towns.

Santa Monica CA New Deal Post Office in Jeopardy

The Santa Monica community and all interested Americans who care about preserving our national treasures and the New Deal era architecture and art, need to know that the US Postal Service is deciding if it will sell off an historic icon in Santa Monica. Of course, one must ask who is guiding the hand of the USPS to make these choices despite the outrage or confusion of the communities that these post offices serve. Again, one needs to look at the manager CBRE of the postal facilities.

America’s Commons: Historic U.S. Post Offices built and bought–at least before 1970–are more than Real Estate Property, They Belong to the People of the United States who Paid for Them

What will the people of Santa Monica and Los Angeles and all of California do to protect the heart of their community — their beautiful Art Deco Post Office?

It is time for America to wake up and realize that through sinister design or through ignorance, some people in the halls of power in the U.S. Postal Service have decided to sell off our history. What is frightening is that as the following New York Times article, “Post Office Buildings With Character, and Maybe a Sale Price,” by Robin Pogrebin points out, in 2009 the New Deal Era Virginia Beach post office was sold and torn down, and a Walgreens was built despite pleas from the community to keep their post office.

The NYT article quoted above had interesting comments from readers. The passion of the readers to save their historic post offices came through. Here is a quote:

Patricia Allan of Hamburg NY, March 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm (Recommended by 57 people) replied in the Comments of the March 8th NYT front page article about the USPS:

“What will be gained by selling these jewels? Who gets the ransom money for them? If our government cannot restore and build, it will soon lose the power it has to govern…….it seems to me that if National Parks and environmentally endangered sites can and should be preserved for our cultural and physical wellbeing, then these jewels should be, as well. Doesn’t history have to be handed on to enrich those who are our future citizens?”