Looking for ways to feel more connected to the community? Local resident Monique Stanley-Davy’s new initiative gives us all a way to reach out and connect!
Monique is a published writer who moved to Vancouver from Toronto in early 2020 with the intention of spending some time alone so as to focus on their writing. After quite a rocky start to the year, with the new move, the loss of a job due to the pandemic, and the not-so-voluntary isolation from friends and family for months, Monique looked for ways in which they could find a community and feel a sense of connection with those around them. The result was the New West Letter Xchange Project.
We sat down with Monique to have a chat about how this project came to be and where they hope for it to go.
“I really wanted to get involved in the community, as I was someone who kept to themselves back in Ontario.” They talk about the ways in which not only did they want to feel a sense of belonging and connection themselves, but also wanted others in the community to find a way to connect with each other.
When asked about the process of creating the project, Monique admits that there was definitely quite a bit of trial and error before they settled on the final version. There were issues anywhere from empirical measurements to taking Public Health Order restrictions into account when designing the mailboxes. “It was definitely a ‘measure twice cut once’ kind of deal” said Monique. They also highlighted the importance of organization in creating a project such as this.
The way that the letter exchange will work is through the participation of residents from all communities and neighborhoods. With two separate mailboxes found at the beginning of the Waterfront Esplanades boardwalk, anyone with access can participate!
First, participants will write a letter about something they’ve learned or wish to share with the community. Then they will leave their letter in one of the mailboxes, and pick up another letter in exchange. The process is simple and effortless!
For those who are passionate about sharing their message, Monique has also launched an Instagram page where participants can send in a picture of their letter to be shared with everyone publicly. Monique has already started writing some of the letters, describing all that they have learnt from the challenges they overcame throughout 2020. An exciting addition to Monique’s letters is that they will also be including seed paper along with some of their poetry in with the letters.
“Even if one person who felt alone due to the pandemic feels a sense of connection because of this project, I would consider that a success.” With support from the Downtown New West BIA, this project is set to launch on June 5th. Make sure to drop off a letter first chance you get and to follow the project on Instagram at @nwletterxchange