Eco Challenge: Write Me A Letter

“Write me a letter.” This is a phrase that many of us have probably never heard uttered out loud.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to another person?

Have you ever written a letter, on paper, by hand, to another person?  Perhaps you typed it up in a typewriter or used a word processor and printed it out instead?  Business, or personal?  What was it about?  

What compelled you to write the letter, as opposed to sending an email, or a text message, or using social media?

Using only our minds and bodies and basic writing implements as tools: How do we use language to describe our experiences and surroundings?

What is worth writing down to share with another person?

What is worth the trip to the post office (or mailbox) to send a letter?

“Write Me A Letter” – Complete this challenge….

In order to complete this “Write Me A Letter” Eco Challenge, the first thing you need to do is find a window of time where you can document your own life for a 24 to 48 hour period.  Take notes about your activities as often as you see fit within this time period.  If at all possible, these notes should all be handwritten with pen or pencil on paper.

In addition to documenting your own activities, you should find time to do some research about the place where you live: the built environments (such as municipalities) and the natural environments (such as watersheds).  Use this website from the USGS to figure out which HUC (watershed) you live in.

Once you have completed your note taking and research: if necessary, collect your notes and rewrite them to clean up the documentation.  Preferably, do this rewrite by hand, with pen or pencil, on paper.  If necessary, type them up and print them out as a single document.

“Write Me A Letter” – The “Eco Experience”…

Let’s call this resulting document the “Eco Experience”.

  • If you have access to a photocopier: Make a photocopy of these handwritten notes and put them somewhere for safekeeping.
  • If you must: scan or photograph these handwritten originals with a smartphone to generate a copy for safekeeping (somewhere in “the cloud”).
  • If you’re feeling bold: Make a clean copy of everything by hand.

Choose a friend or family member that you would like to send your Eco Experience to.  The farther away geographically this friend or family member lives, the better!  (But don’t fret about international postal rates, or anything.  Keep it local to your current nation on Turtle Island…aka North America.)

Again, using a pen or pencil and paper, write a brief letter to your friend or family member, contextualizing the Eco Challenge and giving them a little background as to why you’ve chosen to complete this challenge.  Take a few paragraphs to engage with them longitudinally as well.  (What have you done in the past few years that you can revisit or reflect upon in the context of this challenge that would be important to tell them?)

“Write Me A Letter” – It’s a Collaborative Effort

In this letter to your friend/family, include instructions:

  • Ask this person to complete the same Eco Challenge.  Feel free to include a printed copy of this document to ensure they understand completely.
  • Have this person mail his or her Eco Experience documents back to you within one month of receipt of the letter from you.  This person should also include the envelope that you originally used to send the letter (as well as your original letter and Eco Experience documents), since you will need all these items as proof that the Eco Challenge has been completed.

Using the United States Postal Service, mail your letter and your Eco Experience document(s) to your intended recipient.

Upon receipt back to you, read the contents of this person’s Eco Experience document(s)  and compare it to your own Eco Experience document(s).

Submit your work!

Once you have completed the challenge, contact the Upper New editorial staff via email (challenges@uppernew.org) to receive a private link to submit your project at no cost.

You will need to submit a package of digital documents containing the following:

  • Your letter and Eco Experience document(s) – scanned if necessary
  • Your envelope (with canceled postage) – this can be a photo taken with your smartphone
  • The recipient’s response letter and Eco Experience document(s)
  • The response envelope (with canceled postage) – this can be a photo taken with your smartphone – scanned if necessary

Should the production quality be suitable, and the content themes appropriate, we will follow up with you to publish the artifacts and a meta-narrative about these Eco Challenges in the Upper New Review.

Upper New EC (eco challenges) logo used to promote the Write Me A Letter Eco Challenge.