February rolled in with biting temperatures, yet stalwart romantics flocked to an empty storefront bedecked in sheets of cardboard painted red. As the night progressed, so did the interactive art installation called One Thousand Love Letters, a project conceived by Dalia Shevin, an artist in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Dalia’s goal is to save the love letter, which she considers an endangered species.
She began to raise money to rent the space, provide complimentary hot drinks, paper, pens, and stamps, and maybe even to pay some volunteers, through Kickstarter with a goal of $1,200. In no time, she received $4,184, a clear testament to the charm of her vision: to have the community as a group write 1,000 love letters in two weeks.
For two weeks, 47 Flat street will provide shelter from the cold where you can sit down with a hot cup of cocoa and write your heart out. The project will conclude with a special reading of selected letters on or around Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry; directions are provided.
At the end of the first night, 131 letters were written. My daughter, Luci, who wrote a love letter to me, her very grateful Mom, wrote letter number 10. I wrote a love letter to my house later in the evening coming it at number 83. My fiance, Bob, was Mr. 100. He wrote a letter to a pair of birch trees he admires from the living room window each morning as he sips coffee and writes poetry.
There were letters to babies, fathers, mothers, grandmothers, teachers, the graduating class of BUHS 2013, friends, lovers, houses, trees, and the first letter, written by Dalia herself, is a love letter to the town of Brattleboro.
As Dalia said in her Kickstarter video, “Brattleboro had some really some hard times in recent years. We had a hurricane, and a major flood, and some violent deaths, and a major fire. I want this as an opportunity for us to come together…. Being a place that values art and the written word and just being a small town that knows how to take care of each other.”
I was most struck at how one person with heart and vision transformed a empty storefront, splashing a dismal dingy space with color and light and filling it with warmth and creativity.