Project IDeas

The first postcard was introduced in 1869. At the height of their popularity in the early 1900s, billions of postcards were sent every year – they were essentially the "text message of the time," according to World Postcard Day.

Today, postcards represent a glimpse into history and an opportunity to better understand how landscape and place define and shape individuals and communities. Contemporary postcards may take the form of a traditional print postcard, with an image on one side and a personal letter on the other, or they may take electronic forms, such as a digital story or video.

The Postcards Project project seeks to highlight the diverse communities in Lake County and explore identity and place using a variety of mediums, from physical mediums such as postcard-sized drawings and paintings, to digital mediums such as digital/film/animated postcards, to interpretive postcards, such as dance performances inspired by locations within Lake County.

The Postcards Project seeks both literal and metaphorical interpretations of the postcard. Think of a postcard as a glimpse into a specific moment of time, a small-scale art project, or a story in brief. Postcards are slivers of life, captured in a 4" x 6" frame (real or imagined) – the gift of voice from the creator to the recipient and a reminder that during times of missed communications and disconnect, we all just want to be heard.

Project Ideas

Here are some project ideas to get you started. There are project ideas for various disciplines, but there is a lot of cross-over and flexibility, so please don't think that you are limited to these ideas or the projects listed in your specific discipline. You are welcome to implement any of these ideas, or develop a Postcards Project of your own. If you have an idea for a project that you would like to be included on this site, please contact us!

We are accepting submissions from anyone affiliated with CLC, but strongly encourage faculty to integrate a Postcards Project into their fall and/or spring courses. We want to highlight the voices of our diverse student population!

All Disciplines

  • Participate in World Postcard Day on October 1. Students can create their own postcards and use them to support a local nonprofit organization, connect to residents in a nursing home, or offer advice for high school seniors. You might also consider sending a postcard to a refugee child, sending a love letter postcard to people in need of kindness and a pick-me-up, or sending a postcard to a sick child or patient in a local hospital or long-term care facility.

  • Research a historical time period in Lake County or an iconic Lake County landmark or place, and create a digital story (moveable postcard) that highlights their research.

  • Create a digital story that is representative of their unique voices and lived experiences. The digital stories can be personal narratives or researched stories connected to specific historic sites, buildings, or places in Lake County. Click here for sample digital storytelling assignments and resources.

  • Collaborate on a "Postcards from Lake County" blog, where each student writes about places in Lake County that are significant to them, conduct research about Lake County communities, or interview Lake County community members.


Art

  • Create postcard-sized artwork of local Lake County places.

  • Collaborative collage – Students in a class can create a communal still life with aspects of food and objects from personal histories and cultures.

  • Collaborative collage/ Landscape montage – In an exquisite corpse style, students stitch together a series of postcard-sized drawings which create one large collage. Students photograph and draw spaces or places in Lake County that are meaningful to them. A student sends their image digitally to a classmate, and the receiving student stitches their drawing to the first one. They continue to send the drawing to each student in the class until there is one large collaborative work which represents a series of spaces meaningful to the class. Print the final image to be displayed.

  • Research and imagine how you want their town & community to be in the future. Students can take an original landscape, social space, or image, and then transform it to reflect an imagined future. Mediums can include photography, drawing, painting, or digital drawing in the scale of a postcard. Make copies and mail them to friends, relatives, or local figures to message regarding the future of the town or community.

  • Postcards in Movement – Animation, frame by frame, or rotoscoping. Students consider a space that is important to them in Lake County – public or private. Students film the space at different times of the day with differing amounts of activity. They rotoscope parts of the video to highlight aspects of motion, rhythm, and activity to animate and describe the experience they have in that space.


Communication/Humanities

  • Record podcast that discuss their connection to home and place, or where they interview interesting members of the Lake County community, particularly those whose voices are underrepresented (BIPOC-owned businesses, immigration stories, etc.).

  • Create "postcard documentaries" – short, 1-2 minute nonfiction narratives that explore cultural, environmental, racial, or societal questions relevant to Lake County populations. These could consist of narrated slideshows or video.

  • Create "Instagram postcards" with short narratives centered around a theme or topic relevant to Lake County.

  • Design print or digital postcards to call promote a local nonprofit organization, business, student group, or social justice cause.


Dance

  • Elements of Dance Composition students can use the skills of dance-making to create short works utilizing movement to tell their stories. These works could be site-specific, showing connection to place or community, or could be culturally or socially relevant, interpretive of personal narrative.

  • Dance Technique students can engage with historical, cultural and social relevance of the dance discipline and draw connections to certain aspects of the technique as it pertains to their stories. Examples can be provided of pioneers from each discipline who have done the same.


Digital Media & Design

  • Portrait of a Place, video – Create a portrait of a place with B-roll style footage, rhythm, and editing to convey a sense of emotion, memory, or experience in that space.

  • Daily rituals, video – Use principles of continuity to film a ritual or daily activity that they do here in Lake County that connects them to that place (or another place) or their culture in some way.

  • Research and imagine how you want town & community to be in the future. Students can take an original landscape, social space, or image, and transform it to reflect an imagined future. Mediums can include design as postcards, posters, or web. Make copies as postcards, and mail them to friends, relatives or local figures you want to write a message regarding the future of the town or community.

  • Create a field guide of Lake County focused on a particular theme (personal, small businesses, local plants/wildlife or natural spaces – have the class or designer decide or work collaboratively). Mediums can include brochures or web.


English

  • Write Where I'm From” poems based on the poem by George Ella Lyon. Students can create "Where I'm From" postcards, with their poem on one side and personal image or drawing on the other.

  • Creative writing students can write micro flash fiction stories (stories that are typically 300 words or fewer) or short prose poems and create postcards with their work.

  • Composition students can write a short personal essay about home or a place in Lake County that is significant to them, and create a postcard connected to home/place.


History

  • Postcards from the Past – Research a specific historical moment or time period in Lake County history, and create a fictional postcard from the perspective of a key historical figure. Students can use Canva to create a free digital postcard.

  • Find vintage postcards from Lake County (search the Illinois Digital Archives) and conduct research about the historical time period/place. Write a nonfiction narrative to correlate with the postcard.

  • Recreate a historical event through a series of fictitious postcards.



Music

  • Composition of Music students could work on a composition based on folk melodies related to their culture and/or diversity. Students could compose for instruments that are reflected of the sound of their culture or compose lyrics that tell a story about their identity and culture.

  • Compose music in collaboration with the dance and/or theatre departments and create a digital postcard that includes music and a video of the performance.



Theatre

  • Diversity in American Theater The Play Project and the Monologue Project The inspiration for these projects is a civil rights inspiration and/or present cultural conflict in our society. Students can write and act out a monologue in the voice of a key Lake County historical figure or write/act out a play that explores current cultural conflicts in our region.

  • Costume Design – Hat Project Inspired by the fashion culture of Black women’s church hats, a student could design a hat that makes a statement about themselves in today’s society in any way they choose, then create a postcard with the image of the hat and story about the design process.

  • Postcard Theatre Stories – Inspired by theDear audience” postcard dramas mailed to homes, students could write a monologue or one-act play in a series of postcards, and mail them to local homes within Lake County. The stories could culminate in a performance of student-written and directed one-act plays.

  • Postcard playscripts – Write a script limited to a 4x6 postcard.


World Languages

  • Write postcards using the language of study and send them to people around the world through Postcrossing or PenPal.

  • Research a cultural tradition and create a podcast explaining its importance on a postcard.