How to make a Newsletter for your Postal Code

A couple of years ago I got interested in learning more about postal codes and, specifically, ours: C1A 4R4.

That C1A 4R4 applies to only 24 households stuck in my mind as a thing I could hang my hat on someday; someday arrived when we all went into lockdown: neighbours are now more than neighbhours more than ever before.

Hence C1A 4R4, the newsletter. The first edition was published today, and is now in the mailboxes of our hearty compatriots.

First edition of the C1A 4R4 newsletter.

This first issue–which you need to live in C1A 4R4 to read, because otherwise what’s the point–has contributions from one end of the postal code to the other. And a call for submissionss for issue № 2.

Want to do the same thing for your postal code? Here’s what I did.

First, to find out what addresses are in my postal code I used the Canada Post search tool, but rather than entering an address to look up a postal code, I entered my postal code to look up all the addresses therein:

Canada Post postal code lookup tool searching for addresses in C1A 4R4

(This really only works if you live in the city, or in a rural area that’s had street-level postal codes assigned; in rural areas it all falls apart because hundreds of households share the same postal code, so you’ll need to find a different geo-conceit).

I identified some neighbours that I already knew, and sent them an email seeking submissions; here’s what I sent out last week:

As a little pandemic diversion, I have decided to start a newsletter, a real printed newsletter, for the 24 households in C1A 4R4—the east side of Prince Street from 96 to 124.

I am thus soliciting contributions. Anything up to 200 or 300 words, on any topic, C1A 4R4-related or not. Prose, poetry, coronavirus-related or completely not.

For the first edition I got three submissions from my neighbour Norman and one from my neighbour Karen; added to a little piece of my own, and an introduction, these fit nicely on a double-sided piece of letter-sized paper when I pasted them into a Pages document on my Mac:

Obfuscated C1A 4R4 newsletter.

I printed 24 copies, double sided, put each in an envelope, and hand-delivered them to front mailboxes, (recruiting Norman to deliver to his building at № 124). I washed and sanitized my hands before and after delivery, avoided any people along my short route, and was out and back home in under 3 minutes, so I think I’m good on the Dr. Heather Morrison front.

If you follow my lead, please leave a note in the comments.


Lori's picture
Lori on April 14, 2020 - 19:39 Permalink

The graphic design and stationery enthusiast in me is in absolute awe of your envelopes. Stunning.

Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on April 15, 2020 - 08:20 Permalink

What a great idea. Our street has 30 households within our postcode, so about the same number as your postcode. Doing it on paper is great (a physical object won't get lost in all the ephemeral messages that also reach our phones and screens). I'd suspect that augmenting it with a follow-up possibility online (not just for submissions) might help move from a hub and spokes only model (you as the hub) to one with more n-to-n connections.

Are your 24 addresses already regularly connected (as in they know to find each other to lend a tool or ladder), or also people that don't know each other at all? Of our 30 addresses we know 6 and are aware of 4 others, so about 33%.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 15, 2020 - 10:13 Permalink

Of the 23 other households, I know the people in 7 by name, so about the same proportion.

Kevin L's picture
Kevin L on April 15, 2020 - 14:45 Permalink

Thanks Peter.
I echo Lori's comment on the envelope design. There are 17 addresses on our postal code but there are 24 residences, some of which are duplex. In the 2 years since we moved here, I know the names and have had conversations with people in 16 or two thirds of the residences. but using the Canada Post list, it is 94%. From what I understand from the neighbours, I know more people on this block than anyone else here.

Bob's picture
Bob on April 15, 2020 - 22:46 Permalink

Of course I did. All the apartments in our building are the same postal code of course, and no one else has it. Therefore:
Hi Neighbour,

Following on the heels of some neighbourhood newsletters which have sprung up during the current situation, I thought I would do the same for us. I will put together a very small, newsy, humourous (maybe!) weekly newsletter of our own news from our own apartments -- just a modest effort, deliverable on Wednesdays. I WILL THOROUGHLY WASH MY HANDS (as I have done with this!) both before and after printing and delivering, so there are no germs on the paper.
This will be simply some short pieces (100-200 words at the most) written by you and me (for example, perhaps inviting people to participate in the “make noise for health workers each day at 7 pm” thing) about what’s happening in the building and what we are up to while we’re passing the time in our apartments. I hope it will be a way to stay a little better connected.
So, if you’d like to contribute (please please please!) EMAIL me some short thoughts about what’s happening. These will not be anonymous – please include your name(s) and apartment number(s) on the email. Deadline will be Fridays.

Thanks. Hope you’re doing well!

Bob Gray
Apartment 214