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Place Letter is a weekly newsletter that publishes original content reflecting on the idea of places and spaces we inhabit. We aim to help our readers reflect more deeply on movement and travel; consider surprising connections and details; keep a curious eye to what is close at hand; and be transported to new corners of the world from their inbox.
We are interested in geography, history, travel, architecture, food, mapmaking, religion, sport, movement, borders, changes, serendipity, what you see when you look out the window, unsung corners of the internet, making the mundane fascinating, unique methods of travel, overlooked details, that one person on that trip five years ago you always remember, the books you read, the places you felt uncomfortable, the people who welcomed you in, and so much more. Wherever you’re going, wherever you’ve been, we want to come too.
Our goal is to champion creative and diverse perspectives, and give up-and-coming creators a space to share work outside the news cycle -- though we will take pieces that are connected to the current conversation. We are accepting pitches for personal essays and light reportage, as well as video, audio, art, photography and illustration (or a combination). We are location-agnostic and our contributors have written from Australia, Chile, Ghana, India, Ethiopia, Canada, USA, Germany, Russia, Philippines, Morocco, the United Kingdom, and more. You do not have to be a journalist or published writer to contribute.
Here’s a brief rundown of what we would expect from each medium (but if you have a different idea for format, reach out and we’ll discuss):
Writing: 1,000 to 1,500 words of personal essay or reportage
Photography: 5-10 photos with captions, along with a brief introduction
Illustration: 5-10 illustrations with captions, along with a brief introduction
Video/Audio: 3 to 5 minute documentaries or footage, either as one piece or broken up into shorter segments
Art: We’re open to your ideas -- send us an email!
The best way to get a sense for what a Place story looks like is to go back through our archive, and see what these ideas bring up for you. Even if you aren’t sure that it fits exactly, send us your idea and we can work with it.
If accepted, we will set a deadline and at least two editors will give you detailed feedback. We will discuss pay at that time. Please send pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For writing pitches, please send a 100 to 300 word paragraph that covers the basic idea(s) of your story and gives us a sense of your writing style, along with a brief bio and any clips to previous work you’d like to share.
For photo and illustration pitches, please send 5-10 original photos with a short description (up to 100 words) of your idea.
For other multimedia, please send a 100 to 300 word paragraph detailing the idea behind your story as well as the vision for the visuals, along with examples of your previous work.
For example, the ~200 word essay pitch for Serendipity Beneath Satellites:
When I studied abroad in Morocco in 2012, I had limited wifi, no data and a burner phone to text my host family using T9 word if I would be late for Friday couscous. When I returned in 2019, I had a smartphone with free-flowing data anywhere in the world. I noticed that the biggest difference between my two experiences in the country was having GPS in my pocket. Without mapping data, I was forced to learn to navigate the twists and turns of the medina, and give into the serendipity that comes with wandering. With mapping data, I had the confidence that I would never be lost, but felt the tug of the blue dot asking me to double check my location with every step, making me less present in the moment. I want to write an essay tracing these two experiences, reflecting on whether Google Maps is a good travel companion and the importance of mapmaking as a formation of place.
As we build up the voice and identity of Place Letter, here are some prompts below that we have been using to explore ideas. These are by no means exhaustive, but feel free to use these as a jumping off point.
How the experience of place intersects with gender, race, sexual orientation and/or other identities
Moments that made you think -- how did I get here?
An instance that brought a place into perspective for you
Reflections on modes of transportation
Buildings, urban landscapes and/or landmarks that have personal meaning
Finding/losing old parts of yourself somewhere new
What homesickness looks like in different locations
People in places that you’ve met and that have changed the way that you think about something
Sensory experiences -- taste, smell, texture, temperature
How the same place has changed for you across time (ie, who you once were and now are, can be as specific as a changed haircut, broad to an extent - we don’t want sweeping accounts of experience)
Finding a certain sense of place in two disparate locations
Digital spaces and places that you are drawn to or fascinated by
Parts of yourself that a place revealed to you (a new hobby? A new favorite food? A new way of dressing or speaking?)
Travel words relating to traveling mechanisms (ie words on a plane) or words you learned while traveling, words that put our experience of place into new understanding (ie another language)
Stories about people who travel differently, in a novel way, are changing travel as you or the wider public have understood it
Stories about an effort to change or conserve a place
Researched history that connect place with food, fashion, architecture, art, landscape, environment, and/or culture
How places and/or cultural values are changing as a result of larger events (pandemic, climate change, conflict, digitization etc)
Stories of extraordinary people who have crystallized some part of a place
How to honour or be the ‘best’ you can be in a place, drawing on concepts of colonialism, privilege and other ways of knowing or being
We look forward to hearing your ideas!
-The Place editorial team