USPS Legwork Community Calendar

Sample USPS Legwork Calendar Month
(Actual size: two 8.5 x11” landscape pages)
Post Offices... an Endangered Species
public (mail) art project proposal
PO4EVER
Remember how it felt when you couldn’t wait to grow up? I do. My primary obsession with gaining adulthood was having a mailbox of my own. Coming from a family of eight, I watched everybody get mail but me. In 1970, as my 10-year-old sister Nancy got letters from her Vietnam Vet pen pal, I watched jealously and researched how to get a pen pal of my own. About the same time, my dad’s business colleague, Yoshiyuki Watanabe, sent photos of his Japanese family along with beautiful, exotic gifts from Tokyo, by airmail. The USPS brought the corners of the world to our mailbox. And I wanted all the excitement of opening the mail to be mine. Alone.
 
For the last thirty years, I’ve had my own mailbox. I don’t mind sharing it anymore, fairly relieved when the name on a bill isn’t mine. But I will forever associate the US Postal Service with a sense of anticipation and infinite possibility.

The proposal I am submitting is on behalf of my hometown post office in North Mankato, MN 56003. However, the concept can (and should) be adapted and employed by any at-risk ZIP code.

Submitted by
Susan E.K. Foster
June 26, 2014

PROPOSAL
USPS Legwork Community Calendar

My mail art is a custom photo calendar that could be mailed in a 9x12” envelope but would more likely sit on the Post Office counter or be delivered to each address in the ZIP code.

Calendar Photo. My idea is draw attention to the difference between USPS and FedEx or UPS by focusing on the actual physical legwork involved in walking entire routes daily vs. driving all over and dropping packages on random doorsteps every so often.

Since the differentiator is daily legwork, I’m proposing a photo calendar that features photos of the legs of local letter carriers. Photos will feature:

• Male and female legs and feet, all sizes, shapes, and colors
• Shots from the waist down to direct all attention to the legs and feet
• USPS uniform pants, shorts, or skirts
• Region and season that correspond to the month
• Local identifiable landmarks (in the distance, behind the legs which must be front and center)
• Poses can be:
• Predictable (i.e., walking, climbing front steps)
• Funny (i.e., long string of gum hanging off shoe, small dog clinging by his teeth to pants or satchel or socks)
• Heart tugging (elderly person waiting by window—mail carriers are the only predictable human contact for many seniors)
• Iconic (Joe Namath, Cabaret)
• Group shot of all the legs in the post office
 
In addition to being infinitely customizable and inexpensive to produce and distribute, postal customers may keep the calendar around all year, reinforcing a personal connection to the local post office.
 
Calendar Dates. Postal customers will be motivated to keep the calendars around for more than just the featured leg photos. In addition to listing all federal and “Hallmark” holidays, the calendar will include:
• Community/regional events
• USPS fun facts
• Dates of postal food drives or other fundraising efforts
• Space to record appointments
Date squares (on the calendar, not talking bars) can include photos as well as or in place of text.
 
Community Contact Info. As a ready reference, the calendar can include phone numbers and websites for the City of North Mankato as well as:
• Local Branch contacts, hours and other information useful to postal customers or to promote the local USPS branch
• Space for frequently called numbers
 
Calendar Production
To garner community support for this calendar, the community must be involved in creating it. To that end, each calendar should be created by the population in that ZIP code. The North Mankato USPS calendar can serve as a road map for other ZIP codes to follow. Here’s how it could work.
 
Using the photo parameters established in the proposal (USPS legs, front and center), residents are encouraged to submit photos for inclusion in the calendar. A link to the PO website will display all of the entries for that specific month. Residents can vote on the winning photo each month. Each winner gets credit for his or her photo in the calendar.
 
Oversight
Each ZIP code will need three volunteers to divvy up roles. These people do not have to be employed by the USPS but they need good organizational skills. The roles will surround:
• Marketing. Residents will find out about the USPS calendar photo contest through local media. Local newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations can spread the word via a coordinated effort to commence in the beginning of September. This way, the contest wraps up the end of the following September which allows time to get the calendars produced for distribution in December. In addition to notifying local media about the calendar contest through press releases, the Marketing person will gather sponsorship (see below) to get the calendar produced.
• Photographs. All of the photographs of letter carriers will be submitted by ZIP code residents. Schools and churches can also spread the word and support the effort. Since people like to take pictures and compete in contests, AND exhibit their pride of place, a contest is likely to generate evocative photos of local interest. The Photograph person will monitor and post photo submissions and track votes to select monthly winners.
• Community Events.
• Events that are free to the public and of general local interest shall be listed for free. The Community Events person will research and gather all of the free community events to be included in each calendar month.
• Events that charge admission will pay for a listing to advertise in the USPS Calendar. This payment will qualify as USPS Calendar sponsorship and contribute toward the cost of calendar production. For example, if the community theater wants to list productions, it can contribute $X.00 and have its logo printed on the back of the calendar under Local Sponsors. If there is more money than is needed to produce the calendar, the surplus can be used to benefit the local community and strengthen ties to the local post office.
• State-wide USPS Calendar Competition. Every ZIP code that creates a USPS Community Calendar may submit it for inclusion in a state-wide competition for the best USPS Community Calendar. A panel of judges will review the entries and select the best based on design, content, and quality of photos as well as event listings. The winning ZIP code Oversight Team will win something significant. Maybe an all-expense paid trip to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum?
• After that... All of the photos from all of the USPS Community Calendars will be submitted to the Minnesota Historical Society and Smithsonian National Postal Museum to be included in a slide show for appreciation by a wider, global audience and to spread awareness of the plight of endangered USPS ZIP codes.
 

USPS Legwork Community Calendar

Adopted Post Office City or Postal Topic: 
North Mankato, MN 56003
Briefly describe why you chose this theme to represent the USPS: 
I chose this theme to emphasize the distinction between USPS carriers who walk a daily route and are fixtures of the community vs. FedEx and UPS drivers who drop packages on doorsteps. This version of my proposal details a production strategy for for the calendar concept.
Author: 
susanek
First Name: 
Susan
Last name: 
Foster