Q&A: Isadora Connor and Emma Shannon on the Political Power of a Postcard

The current political climate has sparked a wave of activism and involvement in the U.S.—with young women at the forefront. Isadora Connor and Emma Shannon, best friends since kindergarten, saw that as an opportunity.

In January, on the heels of the Women’s March, Connor and Shannon launched Let’s Go Postal—a protest company that makes it a little easier for people across the country to sound off to their representatives. With their own creative minds, they drew up designs for postcards, and with some help from friends, their vision became a reality and LGP was born. For only $15, anyone can order a box of 100 feminist postcards—as well as a corkscrew—right to their door. The LGP website helps customers track down their representatives and provides them with a list of talking points, as well as some inspiration in the form of the “best in sass” listings of postcards sent by previous postal protestors.

Connor and Shannon were generous enough to answer some questions for Ms. about their small, independent woman-owned business—and send a sample postcard protest party kit to the office so we could get involved ourselves!

Isadora Connor and Emma Shannon

When did you first become involved in political activism?

IC: My mom is an immigrant to this country so from a very early age, I recall her telling my brother and me how important it was for everyone to participate in the electoral process. She always made a point of bringing us with her on Election Day to help cast her ballot, no matter how small the election.

ES: My parents would do the same, I used to love going with them behind the little curtain and watching them pull the levers! But it was 2004, when I was in college in Virginia and Isadora was in Washington D.C., both our moms came down to D.C. for the March on Women’s Lives in the Mall and we really understood the power of the protest. It really sparked something within us.

How did you come up with the idea of creating a postcard protest party?

IC: We were having dinner together in New York City a week after the inauguration and Women’s March, eating away our sorrows. I’d been reading a lot about how protesting makes people feel like they took action but that such events rarely lead to direct change; it’s the individual and sustained contact to Congress that results in action. I mentioned someone else’s plans to get together with girlfriends and write postcards to Washington. We both agreed that was a genius way to harness the powerful feeling of a protest with actual action for change.

ES: But we knew it would only work if it was easy, because no one wants to go to the Post Office… Between my creative background and Isadora’s business brilliance, we realized we could actually create this simple service, and thus Let’s Go Postal was born!

Our sample kit came with 50 postcards, 5 pens, a list of talking points, addresses of elected officials and a corkscrew for all your party needs!

Why do you think protesting and reaching out by mail is so effective?

IC: One of the most frustrating things we found post-election was that we kept getting busy signals when we called our representatives. And we knew our emails weren’t being read, but the mail? That always gets delivered. It’s old school, but writing works better.

ES: And when we heard about elected officials avoiding their constituents (HI, PAUL RYAN!) we were disgusted, but thought postcards were a way around that. So, we designed our cards to be a powerful visual. Your senator can’t ignore an avalanche of postcards covering his or her desk. Plus, the postmark is powerful; these aren’t “paid protestors,” these are real constituents, from their districts, and they really need their votes.

What are some of the pressing issues that you yourselves have been writing to Congress about recently? What are some future issues you intend to write about?

IC: My husband and I are expecting our first child in October—so healthcare us extra important to me right now! And so is the environment. I don’t want our daughter to grow up on a polluted planet.

ES: Seriously, it seems like there is so much to write about it’s hard to decide. We are constantly updating our Talking Points resource page to reflect the latest issues, and I would spend all day, everyday adding to it. In addition to healthcare, which is super urgent right now, I’m demanding more transparency from the White House.

IC: I am also very passionate about racial and religious tolerance. I’m the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and I’m appalled at the nasty, racist, xenophobic types of policies and rhetoric this administration is creating.

One of the many bold postcards we received.

Have you or anyone who has purchased your postcards (if they have reached out) seen success? If yes, what is an example of an issue that you (or they) wrote about, and then saw positive change as a result?

IC: There are a few issues that we have championed in our What to Say section and we feel confident that the efforts by our postcard writers helped to garner success. One that sticks out is California Representative Devin Nunes. He was running back and forth to the White House briefing President Trump when he himself was supposed to be leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. He was forced to rescue himself from that job after enough people expressed their outrage.

ES: We’ve focused our site on national issues—for now!—but we see postcards being even more effective at the local level. We recently had a group in Texas throw a Let’s Go Postal Party targeting state legislation that limited reproductive rights. And one of our friends has been writing to the New York City Municipal Transport Agency because her subway rides have gotten so bad—and last week Mayor DeBlasio started taking the subway so he could see the problem firsthand. It might not be just our postcards, but all these actions, including our postcards, are making a difference.

How do you suggest people begin to organize a postcard protest party?

IC: As we mentioned, we knew it needed to be easy, so that’s how we built our site and products. You simply buy a kit and invite your friends over. You can get addresses and talking points from our site so even if you aren’t completely up to date, you can find an issue that’s important to you, and who to write about it.

ES: We’ve also been working on larger scale projects with groups to create a line of custom cards for them to have at their events.

A close-up of the powerful and compelling postcards!

Do you consider yourself a feminist, and do you remember the moment you first knew you were one?

ES: Absolutely, and I remember the moment so clearly. I was probably eight or nine, and my dad asked me, “Are you a feminist?” I was young and so I only had a vague idea about what that word meant, so I asked him. Ans he explained that a feminist was someone who thought men and women should be equal. And I was like, “Well, duh. I;m a feminist then. Who wouldn’t be?!” As I grew up I realized that not everyone greeted it with such enthusiasm, but I’m glad to see women, especially young women, rally around it again.

IC: Yes, I consider myself a feminist. I read something recently, I wish I could remember where, that argued that every woman is a feminist. I’m not sure that I can pinpoint when I realized that I was a feminist but I’m fairly certain it was before I’d reached my teenage years. In America, women all have the right to vote, work, assume elected office, marry whomever we chose, drive a car, own property, make decisions about our bodies and much more. We have these rights because women—and some men!—before us fought for them. There is still plenty of ground for us ladies to win before we are truly equal to men. I cringe whenever I hear a woman say, “I”m not a feminist.” I always want to respond by asking something cheeky like—”Oh, you’d rather only the career options of a housewife or secretary and the inability to open a bank account in your  name!?” But I hold my tongue.

Why do you think it is so crucial for young women specifically to take action against unjust political systems?

IC: Since I’m going to be the mother to a (very) young woman, this is everything to me. And it will definitely be something I reinforce with her, just  like our moms passed it on to us. It’s crucial that she takes action. Complacency is not an option, or we risk being forced into roles that our mothers and grandmothers fought to keep us out of.

ES: The fact is, when you’re a young woman, the odds are stacked against you, and unfortunately, no one’s going to fight that battle for you. From the playground to your professional career, you have to stand up for yourself, and stand your ground for all women. And I think Let’s Go Postal’s sales prove this.

IC: The vast majority of orders are placed by women. So far men just haven’t been as motivated to protest. So, it’s up to us women to say, “This is unjust and it’s not okay.”

What advice can you give to young activists who want to make a difference?

ES: Bare minimum, we need to make sure we’re registered to vote and on Election Day, and not just [voting in] the Presidential elections! We need to do our civic duty and cast our ballots.

IC: And not just vote: Young activists need to run for office! As a country, we’re way behind other western democracies when it comes to the number of women in government.

ES: Young people in general are completely under represented! Congress looks like my grandparents’ retirement home. And in the special election in Georgia, Jon Ossoff’s opponent is saying he’s too inexperienced to run, but he’s 30! Don’t forget, I—and Isadora’s future daughter—have as much political experience as the President!

IC: But in addition to voting, running, and writing postcards of course, I recommend you volunteer with any campaign that speaks to you! I think the best thing to do is go out and canvass. Face-to-face contact with potential voters is a way to make personal connections that are proven to help increase voter turn-out on Election Day. Maybe you’re too shy for all that face-to-face so volunteer to support the canvassers by doing something like putting together clipboards and information packets at the campaign headquarters for others to hand out as they canvass a neighborhood. I’ve also found that volunteering with a campaign has brought me into contact with other volunteers I probably never would have had the chance to meet otherwise and their stories are fascinating.

Joelle Rosenberg is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a student at Santa Monica College studying Sociology and Women’s studies. She has worked as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood and dedicated much time and effort into raising awareness about rape culture and sexual assault in colleges around the United Sates. She enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, hiking and rock climbing, as well as exploring L.A.’s food scene and spending time with her cats. You can find her on Facebook or Instagram

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