When I was in college, I discovered PostSecret. For those of you unfamiliar, the concept is ingeniously simple. Started by Frank Warren as an art project, the site posts people’s secrets, which it receives from postcards on which are written confessions that people mail in anonymously, the act of which is supposed to bring the secret sharer some solace and closure. Many of the secrets are shocking and personal, things that might never get shared in a face to face situation. Others are humorous and relatable. One person once confessed to murder, a claim which was investigated by the FBI, and is suspected to be a hoax. And the confessions keep coming. Since its creation, PostSecret has produced six books, a live show, numerous museum installations, at least a dozen international website variations, and has received over 1 million anonymous secret postcards.
I used to follow PostSecret closely, and visit the page each week when the new secrets went up on Sunday night. The website was obviously the main hub of activity, but it was interesting to see the kind of social, satellite spinoffs that emerged from it. (For example, UW-La Crosse had its own “La Crosse Secrets” Facebook page for a while where people submitted confessions of university life.) When the book was published, there were lots of stories from people who went to Barnes and Noble, bought a copy, and then found that somebody had stuck a real secret postcard in the book for the buyer to find. In fact, for a while it may have been just as popular to put your secret postcard in a book to found randomly as it was to mail your postcard to the site.
I’ve never sent a secret to PostSecret, nor have I hid a confession in one of its books, but I did find the entire concept fascinating, and the things that people were willing to confess fascinating as well. It seems to me equally heartwarming and tragic the community that was built from so many people searching for a place to reach out, needing an opportunity to shout into the void, wanting someone to listen, and finding it, anonymously, on the pages of a website. The act of reaching out and releasing the secret was hopefully enough to lessen the burden that it was obvious some people carried. For others, I wonder if the secret still haunts them. Seeing a real need in the pain expressed by some of its secret tellers, PostSecret has become a champion supporter of mental health and suicide awareness, issues that need attention and advocacy. But we don’t really need millions of anonymous secrets to know that there’s no shortage of hurt in the world.
That’s why, on this first week of my summer vacation, I began, what I’m calling, the gINKgo project. Why gINKgo? Well, for starters it’s a word with “ink” in it, so that seemed fortuitous. Also, Target had classy looking notecards with ginkgo leaves embossed in gold on them, so that also worked out nicely. But beyond the convenience of the logistics of using ginkgo, the ginkgo tree symbolizes: hope, peace, strength, longevity, and balance. And these are the things that I want to the gINKgo project to produce. What is the gINKgo project? The gINKgo project is like PostSecret in reverse. Instead of people sending in anonymous secrets and waiting for the validation and affirmation that comes with seeing that secret posted, I’m sending out anonymous validation and affirmations. How does this work? It’s quite simple. I write some note, inspiring quote, or message of affirmation on the card; I address it “For you…yes, you!”; and then I put it somewhere, and it waits to be found. If you ever tried to intentionally go looking for them, you probably wouldn’t find one. They aren’t in weird places, though they do tend to be in places where you’d come across only unexpectedly, which is the point! I don’t stick around to see if/when they are found, and in putting out the first batch, I was never caught putting one in place. Avoiding detection is half the fun of it!
Do I think the gINKgo project will take off like PostSecret? Probably not. But wouldn’t it be great if it did?! I daresay I don’t have a corner on the market for positive affirmation. You can play along at home if you’d like (wherever your home may be). You don’t even have to use a ginkgo notecard, but they’re out there and they look cool, so maybe try to find one! 😉 Oh! and bonus! Starting this week, Friday Kudos recipients will also receive a gINKgo project note. If I know you, I’ll probably deliver it in person! If I don’t, I’ll probably leave it somewhere for you to find. Like I said, avoiding detection is half the fun of it!
Friday kudos to…
The guy who’s not “just the tech guy”
Firstly, I was going to use your real name, and then realized I hadn’t used anybody’s real name except my own, so I hope you don’t mind that I used a different moniker that I know will allow you to identify yourself accurately! According to my phone records we chatted nine times this week, and sent another 37 text messages while you helped me coordinate everything from getting the school building doors unlocked, to finding a pair of staircases, to getting said staircases in place, to helping a student take his/her final exam, all so that I didn’t have to make multiple trips back and forth to PIHS. You sir, are a hero of this first week of summer vacation, and should I ever purchase that official “Kudos” bottle of wine, I will gladly share it with you.
Earlier this week I did this very strenuous thing called…putting on a shirt, and apparently because I’ve crossed the magic age line of 30, that was enough to cause my entire neck to seize up, and I suddenly couldn’t turn my head. Fortunately, my chiropractor had an opening. Unfortunately, I particularly dislike neck adjustments, a fact that she knows and acknowledges as we frequently skip them altogether. Still, there was nothing to be done but to adjust and realign, and she was wonderfully slow and patient in getting things to move, and making sure I got some relief before sending me on my way.
Jessica Yin – Rogers and Hollands Jewelers
I’ll use a real name here because it might help people support the business and that would be a good thing, as opposed to violating someone’s privacy, which would be a bad thing! After three years of marriage, my husband and I decided it might be time to actually size my engagement ring and wedding band. I normally wear a spacer on the back of it to keep it secure on my finger, but it turns out the ring is actually a full size too big, so an actual adjustment is in order. I went in this week and Jessica couldn’t have been more accommodating. There was no up-sell, no high pressure “do this or you’ll ruin your ring forever,” mumbo-jumbo. Could it have been that they looked up the account, saw that every piece of jewelry my husband has given me has come from their store, and decided they didn’t need to up-sell? Possibly. But there’s also a reason he goes back there, so I’m just saying. Customer service isn’t dead! Kudos for a great experience. You’ll keep our business!
Wine for your weekend
Gazela Vinho Verde
I found this wine by accident one day in the bargain bin. Turns out the only reason it was marked down was because they were changing their branding and labels. My good fortune! I should have bought every bottle they had. Gazela is crisp and refreshing with a hint of carbonation, so once you open the bottle, you’ll want to finish it. It’s very light on the palette, with hints of tropical fruit and just a trace of sweetness that keeps it from being called “dry.” It’s best served ice cold, and would pair well with fish, chicken, and fresh fruit. Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine, and, as a type, can be difficult to locate. Gazela is relatively widely distributed however, and has a very friendly price point of under $10 a bottle.