BY MARIE VEILLETTE
“The world needs more love letters,” said Hannah Brencher, founder of moreloveletters.com. Brencher, a resident of Connecticut, traveled to MSUM last Friday to share her story and get students interested in joining her campaign.
When anyone says “love letter” most people think of romantic, pour-one’s-heart-out-on-the-page content between two people who are much more than friends. Brencher explained her love letter movement is much different.
To share how she became inspired to start the movement, Brencher told the audience about her experience directly after finishing college. Being only 25 years old and graduating just three years ago, Brencher has accomplished a lot in a short time.
An English and sociology major, Brencher said she loved words and wanted to work in non-profit communications. “If I could have found a way to take a semicolon to the prom, I would have,” she said. “I was that nerdy.”
She started out talking about passion. She said the word is often associated with being pretty or tidy, but really is based off a Latin root meaning “to suffer.” She explained people should count their passions as something “to suffer for, to give up sleep for.”
She also added that people have an “ache to be known, to be told somebody would notice if you were gone in the morning.” From these basic human wants, Brencher said she discovered the idea for her love letter campaign.
She said she was fresh out of college and working in New York City at the United Nations for a mere $25 a week. Though it was what she wanted to do, she didn’t feel like she mattered.
After falling into a depression, Brencher was riding on the subway one day and looked up to notice a woman who looked as sad as she did. Though Brencher wanted to approach her, she explained, “my mother knew actions, but I only knew words.” So she began to write a letter to the woman she didn’t know, containing things such as, “you’re worth it. You were made for mighty things.”
By the time Brencher had finished the letter, the woman had gotten off the train, but the love letter movement had begun. Brencher began leaving her encouraging notes around the city of New York, in envelopes stating, “if you find this love letter, then it’s for you.”
She also blogged about her new hobby and offered to anyone reading that she would write a letter specifically for him or her. By that evening, Brencher had over a hundred requests. In one night, she wrote 357 letters to be mailed to people who had requested them. She also purchased the domain name moreloveletters.com, committing herself to the cause.
Soon the press caught on to her movement and she was asked to do an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Since then, her movement has expanded to all 50 states, 53 countries and 100 campuses.
Brencher also commented on how technology and social media have changed life today. “We don’t fully pay attention to each other,” she said. “You’re sitting right there, but I miss you.”
She added, “Sometimes it’s so much easier to be scrolling through other people’s pictures than deal with our own junk. This is real life right here. And it isn’t edited. And it isn’t filtered.”
Brencher’s love letter campaign is for both those who want to write and those who wish to receive. Through the website, people can sign up to receive email notifications, as well as look at current letter requests.
People wishing to nominate someone for a “letter bundle”, a bundle of love letters written by people who have joined the movement, can do so on the website as well.
There are kits for students wishing to start their own chapter of letter writers on campus, and a place for people to report found letters left around various cities, countries and campuses.
Brencher had many inspiring stories to share about how her campaign has affected many different people throughout its short history, but ended her presentation with some big ideas for the audience to ponder.
“A lot of times your greatest points of impact will be the ones you never get to know about,” she said. “We spend so much time trying to survive the world, we forget we are called to change the world.”
Brencher and her More Love Letters movement can be followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well as on her website, moreloveletters.com.