It’s getting toward Science Fair time, so we’ve been looking at other kids’ projects for inspiration.  I was impressed by this study by grade 8 student Leah A. Hatayama.

Leah addressed letters to her own PO Box, but some were written to “Grandma” and 3 other addressees including a business name.  She dropped them off on random car windshields with a note: “I found this by your car. Thought you might have dropped it.”  She dropped 1/2 in bigger cities, and 1/2 in smaller towns — so how many letters were sent back?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more came back from the small towns… and more of the ones addressed to “Grandma” were returned than other addressees.  In fact she received a massive 70% of letters from the small towns.  But even in the cities, over 50% were sent on.

For those of us outside those intimate communities, we live in a time of profound disconnection.  Among my friends and colleagues, few of us live where we grew up, and most of us have moved many times.  Yet there are common threads, those “letter to grandma” memes to which we can all relate.  There is something “old fashioned” about these basic experiences – who actually sends letters today?  And perhaps we’re too cool for these primitive motifs.

Yet if we’re going to foster vibrant communities within our postmillenial pressure cooker, Leah’s project reminds us that kindness grows from the simple human connections.

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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