Palo Alto High School’s Postcards for Change club seeks to increase youth engagement in politics, and in a rather unique way — writing, decorating and mailing out postcards.
The club, founded and led by sophomores Isabella Daly and Ella Rosenblum, branched out to a couple of community-oriented projects following election season, but its current focus is turning back to a political issue: government tax on menstrual products.
“Currently in the state of California, there is a temporary hold on menstrual products being taxed as luxury items, and we want that to be permanent,” Rosenblum said. “Menstrual products are not a luxury; they are a necessity.”
This upcoming project involves members writing to California state representatives about the importance of removing the tax, and will start with Daly and Rosenblum working together with fellow club leaders, like Vice President sophomore Katie Dorogusker, to assemble and then distribute packets of supplies.
Participating members are able to begin writing upon receiving their packets. Ten postcards take an average of one hour to complete, time for which is sometimes provided in the club’s bimonthly lunchtime meetings. However, writing the same script over and over again becomes “muscle memory” in no time, according to Rosenblum.
Postcards, she thinks, are the perfect medium for teen activists both because of the human touch of handwritten messages, as well as their contrast to phone calls, the form of communication arguably least favored by teens. This allows teens to feel capable of taking action, something Rosenblum feels they don’t always believe.
“A lot of the time, teenagers and young people are told that they can’t do anything about anything they’re actually passionate about,” Rosenblum said. “[But] just because we are younger, doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything to help with our future.”
For Daly and Rosenblum, the inspiration to form Postcards for Change came from joining a nonpartisan postcard campaign over the summer, in which Dorogusker had also participated.
Equipped with postcards, stamps, and addresses to unregistered voters from critical swing states to the 2020 election, they had each hand written hundreds of postcards urging these potential voters to register for their absentee ballots.
“[We] thought maybe other people at school would like to do this,” Rosenblum said. “There was some time before the election, and the more people you can get to write the postcards, the better.”
In the weeks leading up to the election, members of the newly-formed Postcards for Change club were able to join in on writing postcards to potential voters. Then when a runoff election was announced for the Georgia senate, the club turned its focus to the state in particular.
Postcards for Change members’ efforts — which when combined, summed up to upward of 1,500 postcards providing voter registration information between the two elections — seemed to really pay off.
“When we were writing [postcards] for the Georgia runoff election, we wrote to this one county called DeKalb County, and I remember on election night … they said that it had the highest voter turnout in history,” Dorogusker said.
Moments like this are what Rosenblum says is most fulfilling about running the Postcards for Change — hearing positive feedback from club members about how they feel participating in the club genuinely makes change.
“It’s a feeling that’s so amazing, being involved in something like [Postcards for Change] and seeing the results,” Rosenblum said.