NEW YORK — It’s something Sheryl Oring has done every election year since 2004.
The artist sets up shop in a makeshift office in a public space, offering passersby the opportunity to send a message to the incoming president.
As they dictate, she types away on an old school typewriter.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that you never know what someone is going to say until they actually sit down and talk to you,” Oring told PIX11 News Tuesday, as she prepared for a day of typing up postcards for visitors at Madison Square Park. “We can’t have preconceived notions of people – that’s one of the big lessons of this project.”
From Los Angeles’ Skid Row to Navajo Nation in Arizona, Oring’s project “I Wish To Say” has grabbed the attention of thousands.
Those messages collected, eventually make their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
“The one that I just typed up the other day, I almost started to cry,” Oring said. “A student in New Jersey at Monmouth University and he basically just said there are thousands of people out there who could change the outcome of this world just by receiving one chance – he was talking about the cost of higher education.”
With a dozen years under her belt of traveling the country and listening to Americans, Oring had more than enough to put a book together. “Activating Democracy: The ‘I Wish To Say’ Project” captures an authentic snap shot of concerns, struggles and advice to the next president – whomever he or she may be.
“My message right now is listen to the young people because they are the future of our country and I think that the concerns of the young people [and what they] are dealing with right now are much more intense than they were a couple of generations ago,” she said.
Oring said after writing to the President for 12 years, she has never heard back. She insists it’s not going to stop her from continuing to provide a platform for voters looking to vent.