Artist Types Your Letters to the Next President Artist Sheryl Oring worried that too many people's voices were shut out of the political process. Oring decided to help fix that by setting up a typewriter in public places and taking dictation for the next commander in chief.
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Artist Types Your Letters to the Next President

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Artist Types Your Letters to the Next President

Artist Types Your Letters to the Next President

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(Soundbite of On the Blog music)


(Singing) Bum, bum, bah dum. Bum, bum, bah dum.


What are you doing?

PESCA: I can keep doing that, or...

MARTIN: Don't.

PESCA: I could introduce Laura Conaway, who is here to talk about a segment that was once called On the Blog, but you know, it's so much more than On the Blog. It's really On the Site, On the Whole Site.

LAURA CONAWAY: I still think of it as On the Blog, actually.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: You've got to change your thinking, Laura! Get out of the box.


PESCA: That's old, man.

MARTIN: Change your thinking.

PESCA: That's so first few months of 2008.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAWAY: Hey, well, look at our show's name, the Bryant Park Project.

PESCA: That's right. Look at it.

CONAWAY: That's where we were in pilot and that's what we are today.

PESCA: It's a project.

CONAWAY: You know, we asked people yesterday to take a look at our logo, and some of them pointed out something that I'm embarrassed to say I had never, ever seen in our logo.

MARTIN: Oh, me, too!

PESCA: It's misspelled.

CONAWAY: N - thank you. No. N-P-R.


CONAWAY: The N-P-R in Bryant Park Project are pulled out and in black. Have you noticed this, Win Rosenfeld?

WIN ROSENFELD: Oh, yeah, of course.

MARTIN: I didn't know - that was a lucky accident. I read one of the comments was like, ooh! You guys are so clever for picking that name so you could extract those...

CONAWAY: Oh, yes, I'm so clever. I never even noticed it was there, yeah.

ROSENFELD: I'd looked at that slate a lot of times and it's on everything we do, so...

CONAWAY: So you've seen it.

ROSENFELD: Once or twice.

CONAWAY: It's pretty strategic how it lines up. I'd never thought of it.

PESCA: Win's killer apathy pays attention.

CONAWAY: We opened a listener challenge today, for those of you paying attention. Alison Stewart sent a picture of baby Ike and he is setting up a good wail. What we need is for you guys to write a caption. The first couple are in. Somebody said what he is saying is he wants teeth. I think - you know, we hear what happens. I've also brought in Win today, because Win just finished a video about an artist who types up your letters to the next president. Win?

ROSENFELD: Yeah, it's actually - she's - her name is Sheryl Oring and she's been doing this - it's called her I Wish to Say project. She goes around the country - she's actually been all around the world - and finds passers-by. She dresses up in a 1960s secretarial outfit, and she's got a little, old, manual typewriter.

And she just asks people on the street to stop by and dictate a letter of what they'd like to say to the president. So right now, she's in the middle of sort of the last phase of this, which is the letters to the future president. And she was down in Bryant Park yesterday, you know, typing up people's letters and she hopes to deliver them to the president after the inauguration.

MARTIN: She's just going to post them, just put them in the mail?

ROSENFELD: Yeah, well, she wants to deliver them in person.


ROSENFELD: She's working on that, working on the details. It was actually really interesting. I mean, the genesis of the project was just the idea that she wanted to sort of get an idea of what regular people say, that it wasn't something that was so well, in her opinion, expressed in the mainstream media, and that people in the street maybe could provide some wisdom to the commander in chief, who's so far from that. So...

CONAWAY: What I like in the video, Win, is that it's raining and people are standing out there in the rain under umbrellas, waiting for a chance to dictate their letter to the next president.

MARTIN: Oh, wow, they were queuing up.


CONAWAY: Pretty interesting.

PESCA: But Win, didn't you add those effects in post...?

ROSENFELD: Yes, rain, it's the George Lucas plug-in.

CONAWAY: Yeah, we can afford that. But there's more, there's the next step.

ROSENFELD: Yes, well, so, what we've done is we've actually - we had a couple of - about a week ago we put a call on the blog out to our listeners to say, you know, if you had to say something, you know, to the president, what would you say? And we recorded a couple of their wishes, and this one is from Teddy King (ph), a listener from California.

(Soundbite of typing)

Mr. TEDDY KING (Listener): Dear Mr. or Madame President, Congratulations on your new job. My son is only 17 months old. I worry that all he will know in his time is instability and human suffering due to weather changes, failed crops and terrible storms. Please do what you can to save this world of ours. This mom would really appreciate it.


ROSENFELD: Yeah. I mean, what was really interesting is that a lot of letters - and even, you know, when I was down there, I mean, they're not mostly partisan, and they're not mostly angry, and they're not mostly, you know, particularly polarized. In general, they are people sort of saying personal things about their children and their sort of...

MARTIN: What they want the world to be like.

ROSENFELD: Yes, just general fears.

PESCA: Are you saying they have hope?

ROSENFELD: A little bit. Hope during (unintelligible)...

MARTIN: You know, I wrote a letter to Reagan when I was little.


MARTIN: Yeah. I was really afraid that they were going to drop bombs on us, the Russians.

ROSENFELD: Did you get a form letter back? Or...

MARTIN: No. I got nothing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: A solicitation for donations.

CONAWAY: At least you didn't get a bomb back, too.

MARTIN: I got nothing.

PESCA: When I was little, I was a little, you know, savvy and I wrote a letter to chief of staff Don Regan. And he actually implemented...

(Soundbite of laughter, spluttering)

ROSENFELD: You would.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Yeah, some policies as a result. I also wrote a letter to the Office of Management and Budget director, but he was on the outs with (unintelligible).

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