Spotlight: Ashley West Leonard “Mailbox Series”

There is a level of contention in the US for many who are being affected by Post Master Louis DeJoy’s budget cuts and implementation of changes at the United States Postal Service. Americans are seeing a lag in everyday mail delivery, some having to wait for important medications delivered through the post. Fear is on the rise of how all of this will affect the delivery of absentee ballots and the overall outcome in November’s Elections.

I spoke with Ashley West Leonard recently where we discussed her new print project aimed at helping support the post office…

 

Ashley tell us about your new project and what you are trying to accomplish?

I had been feeling creatively stagnant since March when we entered lockdown.  I was working on a photography project which required closeness with people in their homes so I had to find a more solitary pursuit.  Health and creative concerns grew quickly into fear that our country was becoming irreparably divided and like so many, I felt powerless to stop it.

Walking the hills in my new neighborhood of Glassell Park, Los Angeles, I was drawn to mailboxes.  They are old, new, decorated, standard issue, shiny, dull – but mostly old. And everyone has one.  Americans’ approval rating of the post office is near 90%, which has to make the United States Postal Service one of the greatest unifying government agencies in the country’s history.

I knew immediately that I wanted to post pictures of these mailboxes and support the USPS by raising awareness to their plight.  I thought I could go one step further and mail postcards of the mailboxes – after the election – to anyone who wanted one and that way, I would also be patronizing the post office.

I will be posting a picture every day accompanied by USPS history and trivia, until the election on November 3.  Follow me on Instagram @endersister to see the series and anyone interested can write to ashleywestleonard@gmail.com with their name and address to request a postcard (while supplies last).

For those who dont know, why now?

The United States Postal Service has been in crisis since June of this year when Louis DeJoy, the new postmaster general, implemented widespread structural changes to the agency.  DeJoy is a Trump donor and took actions in his role that would directly affect the Postal Service’s ability to process mail-in ballots for the 2020 Presidential election.  DeJoy banned the use of overtime, causing major mail delays, and ordered hundreds of mail sorting machines to be dismantled and removed from facilities across the country.

Trump has stated plainly that he opposes funding the USPS because he doesn’t want it used for mail-in voting in the election.  He has claimed without evidence that mail-in voting is teeming with fraud, which casts doubt on the integrity of our democracy and undermines the amazing efforts state elections offices make to ensure a fair election.

If we can unite for a cause that will improve our lives and help to ensure a safe and fair election for US citizens, I want to be a part of that.

Have you gotten the reaction from people you were hoping for?

So far, I have only been posting to my little audiences on Instagram and Facebook so the responses I’ve received have been supportive and enthusiastic.  So many of my friends are now inspired to write letters to friends, which is great on a number of levels.

What can people do to get involved?

You can help by buying stamps!  The Post Office receives no tax dollars and relies on the sale of stamps, products and services to fully operate. Bugs Bunny has a line of stamps that will have you yearning for a visit to Albuquerque. Or, if you’re more of a I want women to have rights type of person, you can buy 19th Amendment stamps!  https://store.usps.com/store/home

 

Author: C. Priority

painter / curator / slap tagger @ GSWW ~ Principal @ ladderandkey

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