Spreading love to strangers in Edmonton, one letter at a time
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If you look closely, you may find a folded note at a bus stop, in your mailbox, sitting on the counter at a coffee shop, or tucked into a new or borrowed book.
Or someone may simply hand one to you. When opened, a hand-written and decorated love letter will be revealed – for a stranger, from a stranger.
Edmonton photographer Ashley Green started the Love Letters 2 Strangers project a year ago.
“I had so much love coming from my friends and family and the community I was in… I just wanted to do something to give something back in a way that I knew how,” said the Drumheller native, who moved to Edmonton six years ago.
Using inspiration from notes her mother wrote to her growing up, the project grew to include a website, Facebook and Twitter, and then small crafting workshops to write the letters within only a few months. Those workshops, generally held monthly, now feature between 20 and 25 people, and Green even held ones geared toward youth over the summer.
It’s that kind of reach the project has that won her a $1,000 grant from the Edmonton Awesome Foundation last week.
Green plans to put the money toward hosting a larger workshop in January for up to 100 people.
“It’s going to push Love Letters into a whole new world,” she said.
In the meantime, the next workshop is Oct. 18 and Green is expecting it to be her biggest one yet.
“A lot of people at first are a little tentative; they don’t know what to say,” she said. “But I write a lot of love letters, and am thinking ‘somebody else out there must be having a day like mine.’”
Overall, sometimes people just need that little reminder, she added.
“Love Letters 2 Strangers wouldn’t have grown the way it did if we didn’t need it. There can always be room for more (love).”
Cam Penner received a love letter while in the Second Cup on Whyte Avenue and Calgary Trail a few days ago that told him to keep on shining.
“I think it’s just a great thing to be putting out there,” he said. “It made me feel good.”
While most notes made at the workshops are handed out in Edmonton, Green has dispersed them throughout five countries.
Emails of thanks have come from as far away as France, she said.
“That just tells me I have to keep going.”
My love letter
When I met up with Ashley one morning at Transcend Coffee on 109 Street, she had already slid a love letter onto the counter for the staff.
She had brought many for me to look at – and even one she said she handpicked for me.
“This world is a better place because you are in it. Thank you for being you. Because you are REMARKABLE.”
She said to keep it in my wallet or hand it out to someone else.
I haven’t yet decided what to do with it, but it most definitely put a smile on my face.