Writer invites Toronto to spread the love through letters
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Susan Wright pauses outside the Love Lettering booth at the Junction Flea Market, pen in hand.
The last time she wrote a love letter, she never sent it.
“It was five years ago, to a boy I was absolutely crazy about,” she says. After pouring her heart out, she lost her nerve — but still has it tucked away in a drawer somewhere.
This time, her letter is addressed to Toronto, not to a lover.
She’s taking part in a project launched by Lindsay Zier-Vogel, the prolific wordsmith who first began leaving anonymous love letters all over the city eight years ago.
Zier-Vogel has tucked more than 500 handcrafted notes into bike spokes, tree branches and letter boxes over the years.
While at first the letters were personal, she began writing about things she loved about Toronto after a brief, ill-fated move to Vancouver five years ago.
“You can love a place like it’s a person. It’s a visceral feeling, in your heart, when you miss your home,” she said.
She has found the project so rewarding, she’s sharing it with others — by setting up booths with pens, stationery paper and glue sticks, and inviting passersby to share what they love about Toronto.
She snaps a photo of each note before it’s sealed.
“Dear Toronto, I love your flea markets and sunny days,” one reads. “Dear Toronto, I love you most when you’re being yourself.”
After near-weekly events all summer, Zier-Vogel guesses about 750 letters have been written and left all over the city.
At the flea market Sunday, the booth was a hit with families and children. Wright, with her 2-year-old son Owen in tow, eventually writes, “We love the indoors and outdoors adventures of the city.”
She said she’d likely hide the note in Owen’s favourite park in Seaton Village.
“I love the idea of it being found, of someone opening it up and taking a moment to think about what they love in the city,” she said.
Not everyone is as positive — one man declines to write anything, saying glumly, “I don’t love Toronto right now.”
Zier-Vogel said often the naysayers will come back, remembering at least one thing they do love about the city.
“It’s really easy to think about what you want to change about Toronto,” she said. “It’s a difficult place to be sometimes, but I do think it’s important to remember those moments of joy.”
After eight years of practise, her best advice when it comes to writing a love letter is: Be specific, and listen to your heart.
“Whatever the first thing you think of is, that’s probably it,” she said, recalling one participant who just wrote “waffles.”
“I was like, ‘Yes, waffles!’ If that’s the thing you love, go for it.”
Humans of Toronto