Sarah Couture McPhail is an artist, resident of the Brockton community and the creator of Neighbourhood Fan Mail. She’ll be at the Dundas West Fest again this year on June 6th between 11am and 2pm. Instead of being in the St. Claren’s parkette, look for Neighbourhood Fan Mail in a tent at the corner of Dundas and Margueretta.
■ – What is Neighbourhood Fan Mail?
Sarah Couture McPhail – The Neighbourhood Fan Mail project encourages handwritten fan letters to local shops, restaurants, neighbours and friends —letting them know how they are appreciated.
This community engagement endeavour explores city life through handwriting letters about people in specific neighbourhoods and delivering other writers’ works. Participants are encouraged to think about what makes their community better and then discover new places they might not know. The results functions as creative expression and social exploration of participants surroundings, and also reaffirms individuals and their place within the community.
■ – Who are you a fan of in the community?
SCM – My neighbour, the one we call Grandpa Joe. He has boundless energy and runs and plays ferociously with my kids. In his seventies, he is a model of health, strength and good nature. Neighbourhood kids know him and love him. When my kids see him, their eyes sparkle. If he isn’t deserving of fan mail, I don’t know who is.
Many people in this neighbourhood deserve acknowledgement. Our local grocer, whose smile never fails to brighten our worst day. Our favourite coffee shop, who saves our heads from aches with their delicious and always fresh coffee. The person down the street who curates the most amazing garden and has inspired our own verdant thumbs.
■ – Who can participate?
SCM – Participation has no age requirement, no language barriers, or requisite social standing. It doesn’t even necessitate that participants reside in the community. People must however acknowledge the neighbourhood’s greatness.
■ – Are there any other rules of Fan Mail?
SCM – First Rule of Fan Mail: In order to write a fan mail people MUST FIRST PROMISE to deliver someone else’s fan letter. Once this commitment is made, participants write/draw/decorate their fan letter. When they are finished, they drop their letter off in “Outgoing Mail” (attach letters to the hanging display using a clothespin), where they can also pick up someone else’s mail. Then they are expected to deliver the mail while they are walking through the neighbourhood. Keep it positive. Be creative. Have fun.