International Geek Girl Pen Pals (http://geekgirlpenpals.com) is a website that matches geeky people with others to write letters. Actual paper snail mail letters. And they refer to themselves as Iggles. I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of the Iggle Network, thru sending mail, posting on the forum, and even taking part in the online Summer Camp. And I’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing Stewie, one of the founders of the website.
1) So you’re a founder of International Geek Girl Pen Pals, what’s that site about?
The site originally started as a way to match people with their nerdy soul mate from another country. We organized people into “Houses” named after famous fandom women and the Houses are divided into age groups. Then we asked people to submit to us a form with their “Top 5 Geek Loves” as well as their location. Then – using the old-fashioned method of hand selecting and pairing geeks, we matched people in the same house with someone who had similar geek loves, but was from a faraway land. Since then – the site has expanded to include a lot more activities – the goal of the site really is to encourage online community and true friendships, online and offline, among geeks. We’re a safe space for women and we’re inclusive of all genders or non-genders, and we just love geeking out together.
2) What are some challenges of managing the whole thing?
Communities are like critters, and it does its own thing. The site members (and there are a lot of them!) always have new amazing ideas and want to run with their creative plots and help to contribute fun content and activities for the community, so my challenge is always finding the time to facilitate these activities to make sure everyone can join in and partake!
3) You do your own thing as well, what’s your site about?
My blog (which is sorely under updated) is a geeky lifestyle blog, where I talk about the projects I am working on, showcase photos of my cosplays or real life, and try to spread a lot of geek love and positivity with the cosmos.
4) What has drawn you to the kawaii style?
I grew up in Japan, and I think that first sparked my love of the asian-inspired cutesy things. They’re so happy and fun, kawaii characters and things just always put me in a good mood!
5) How does it feel to know that the IGGPPC community is so huge?
It feels awesome and some days it feels overwhelming. I hope it continues to grow though, I do plan to keep on trying my hardest to keep the fun going as long as it will go!
6) Do you feel that more geek girls are getting comfortable with who they are thru sites like IGGPPC?
I have received a lot of emails and letters from geek girls, suggesting that they were either going through depression, or a tough time, or just had some sort of social anxiety and had trouble making friends. They’ve all said that through the IGGPPC they were able to make new friends, overcome shyness, get comfortable out of their comfort zone, and are having an awesome time. I’m so thrilled to get those messages and they are the reason I keep on trying to facilitate friendships and make magic happen for people through the mail and the interwebs.
7) What is one piece of advice for geek girls that you want to pass along?
Try to extend kindness to each other daily! Spread the love, and care for each other – and it will come back to you <3
8) What’s the appeal of snail mail in today’s digital age?
There’s something so much more personal about a physical handwritten letter or a gift coming to you in the mail. It having physically been in contact with someone else, as well as the care and craftsmanship that goes into something like that, makes it seem a bit more loving and real, than just a simple email. Having to hand write a letter or construct a package for a pen friend fosters patience, and gets us off the computer (which I know I feel like i am on the computer ALL the time and it gets old!). It encourages us to try to learn what we can about the friend we’re mailing to, to be sure we are sending them something they like – be it a swap, gift, piece of candy, photograph, or even the stationery or stickers we send. Plus it gives me something to do with the literal boxes of cute stationery I have acquired 😉
9) What is your fave fandom?
These days I’ve been seriously geeky out over Disney Parks and My Little Pony. I have the interests of a 5 year old girl.
10) If you could have one famous pen pal who would it be?
She’s like every fangirls favorite person ever, but I think Felicia Day would be a hilarious and geeky pen pal to have. She’s hilarious (I just loved her recent book, “You’re never weird on the internet”) and she is like me in that she is trying to create an online geek group (Geek and Sundry) where creativity and community happen daily. She’s rad, and I love that she inspires women and geeks everywhere to be themselves and to love their fellow nerds.
Find Stewie on Twitter @darlingstewie