An 11-yr-old's daily tic-tac-toe game with her mail carrier is quietly a metaphor for America in 2020

The United States Postal Service has dutifully delivered mail to Americans from deep in the heart of Manhattan to deep in the heart of the rural Midwest for nearly five decades as an official entity and centuries longer than that as a service. Even as electronic communications has taken the place of handwritten letters, most of us still rely on the regularity of mail delivery as part of our daily routine.

Even this 11-year-old knows she can count on USPS delivery, as evidenced by the tic-tac-toe game she started with her delivery person. She taped the "board" to the inside of the lid and takes turns with the mail carrier each time the mail gets delivered.

"My 11 y/o daughter had insisted on checking the mail the last couple of days," wrote BallCoach79. "Today, I checked it. This is what I found."


The image is sweet. But it's also an opportunity to talk about the dire situation the USPS is currently facing—one that could drastically impact the integrity of our upcoming election.


With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of slowing down in the U.S., and with far too many Americans refusing to take the necessary steps to mitigating it, our fall is not looking too promising. The pandemic lull that was expected during the summer months hasn't happened, and there was already a second wave predicted as we move into the autumn months. It's quite likely that Election Day on November 3rd will coincide with an extremely dangerous time to go to the polls in person, which means millions of Americans will want to or need to vote by mail.

Despite the fearmongering from certain factions, including the president, voting by mail can be done safely and securely. Several states have voted entirely by mail for many years without any major issues. In fact, Washington state which has allowed all voters to vote by mail since 2005, and the state is ranked second in the nation for electoral integrity.

But voting by mail will only work if our mail system works. And right now, USPS is being effectively destroyed not only by the decreased business mail due to the pandemic, but also by a uniquely weighty congressional mandate to prefund all of its employee pensions, ongoing budget deficits, and demonizing attacks by the president of the United States.

The postal service is something we all take for granted. Because it's always been reliable, we assume it will just always be there. But it's in real danger of running out of money and having to shut down, which would be devastating to our elections, not to mention the other personal and business disruptions it would cause.

We can all help. Here's how:

1. Sign a petition to send to Congress and the U.S. Treasury here.

2. You can also sign a petition by texting USPS to 50409.

2. Help the USPS directly by buying stamps here. (Sales of postage and products is 100% how the USPS is funded. Despite being overseen by the government, no taxpayer funds go to funding it.)

3. No, you can't donate directly to the USPS. Seriously, commit to writing some old-fashioned letters to your loved ones and buy stamps. (Bonus: Buying a bunch of "Forever" stamps now will save you money down the road, since they never expire. And there are tons of cool designs to choose from.)

Also, make sure your order a mail-in ballot now if your state requires you to do that, and send it in at least two full weeks before election day.

Let's all show the USPS some love, both by being kind to our individual mail carriers and by supporting the work they do. The best support we can give is making sure this long-standing institution survives these tough times.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

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Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

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