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The Art Of Letter-Writing Isn't Lost On These Scribblers

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The Art Of Letter-Writing Isn't Lost On These Scribblers

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The Art Of Letter-Writing Isn't Lost On These Scribblers

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See if you can remember the last time you wrote a letter - not an email, an actual letter on paper, sealed in an envelope and sent. Millions of Americans just don't do that anymore, meaning that millions of Americans don't receive very many letters, either. It's reached the point where, according to the post office, the average American home receives just one personal letter about every two months. Yet some people are doing their best to keep a dying art alive. Here's Jennifer Weingart of member station WCMU in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

JENNIFER WEINGART, BYLINE: A tweet is 140 characters, a text is 160. Emails, Facebook messages - these things are all designed to be quick, to convey information efficiently. But what if you don't want to be efficient? What if you want to go full retro with a good, old-fashioned letter? You know, those things you don't get in your mailbox anymore.

DEB BRUZEWSKI: It's becoming a lost art.

WEINGART: So, maybe you can think of Deb Bruzewski as a language artist. Every day, she curls up on her plaid couch in her home in Auburn, Michigan to write a few of her 60 letters for the week. Bruzewski started her hobby in sixth grade with a single pen pal. Today, she writes to friends, family, students she's met in her 50 years as a teacher. To hear her talk, she'll write to anyone - really, anyone.

BRUZEWSKI: When my kids were in college, I wrote them a letter every day. And the joke became that the mailroom would say: You guys get mail every day. So one day, I wrote the mailroom.

WEINGART: Bruzewski covers her envelopes in stickers. Turkeys and pilgrims are big right now. And her handwriting? There's no other way to describe it: It's pretty. But, that aside, she says it's all about the thought.

BRUZEWSKI: I'm sure young people think, oh, that's so old-fashioned. Who wants to bother with that? It takes too long. You have to think about what you're saying. That's OK. And you never know who you're going to connect with, or who you're going to meet.

WEINGART: Maybe Deb Bruzewski should meet this group of people.


WEINGART: It's a new student group at Central Michigan University. Today, 10 students are gathering in a classroom for their weekly meeting. They call themselves "A Letter for Better." Their aim is to spread positivity across the U.S. Yup, that's what they say: positivity. Travis White started this group last fall, with a bang. A police officer visited him at his student job in the provost's office.

TRAVIS WHITE: I was in the middle of writing letters when he walked into my office and he said: What is this about? And I told him, I said it's my student organization. You know, we write letters to random strangers across the U.S. to spread positivity. And he goes, you know, I kind of thought that it was something like that. He goes, but the person who was on the other end of your letter was about in her 60s, she lived alone, and she was afraid someone was stalking her.

WEINGART: Now the group includes a business card with each letter. Freshman Carly Walter says getting a letter in the mailbox beats seeing a text on a phone screen any day.

CARLY WALTER: It's like a totally different feeling when you get mail. Like, oh, somebody really cares about me, than if you get a text, and it's like, oh, another person texted me.

WEINGART: According to a Pew survey, the average college student sends about 2,000 texts every month - 2,000 texts. It's likely that they don't even write one letter. Meanwhile, our champion letter-writer Deb Bruzewski says she writes about 2,000 letters a year, and hopes more people will take the plunge and at least write one or two. For NPR News, I'm Jennifer Weingart, in Mount Pleasant.

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