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Eric's Heroes: One woman's fight to keep the art of letter writing alive

A woman warrior fights to keep the art of letter writing alive. (KOMO News)

From the heart, to the brain and flowing through the fingertips, it is a sound that has accompanied some of the most enlightened ideas that human beings have ever conjured up and saved for eternity.

Her name is Rachel Brandzel Weil and she takes her time, forming thoughts and putting them down on paper, with pen and ink.

"I think there is a thought process and an intention of communication. What do I want to say. How do I want to say it. Is this the right time, is this a kind way, is it direct or indirect, but it is about how to intentionally message," Rachel said.

At Rachel's home, the writing is on the wall.

"These are just things that have meant something to me that people have written to me," she said.

Rachel also keeps a book of favorite letters and correspondence from her life.

Maybe you wouldn't suspect it at first, but this woman is a warrior.

"I went to a food truck rodeo in Brooklyn with my niece and I looked and thought why does it have to be food all the time, why can't it be food for the soul?"

Rachel is a one-woman army, venturing out to wage mortal battle against lazy, thoughtless communication.

She puts out little tables and chairs, stationary and envelopes, buckets of pens.

Rachel calls herself "the letter farmer." She is here to help you reach into your soul and express yourself, on paper, to the people you adore.

She is here to keep the art of letter writing alive.

"I don't want it to be static...I really want it to be an active thing. I think a lot of people's perception of letter writing is ho-hum," Rachel said. "You grab your pen and sit down and I've got to thank her for having us for dinner. I want it to be more alive. I want it to tell our stories of our lives as the day is going."

And so a man named Roland stops by to send love to his family in France.

"The word is much more meaningful I think when it comes from your hand on a piece of paper," Roland said.

Megan sits down to jot her best wishes for a friend.

"It's just always nice to get some of my childhood, old fashioned letter writing as opposed to emails, you know," Megan said.

And Courtney, who works down the street, writes a condolence letter through tears.

"I just moved form North Carolina to Seattle and my girlfriend's dad passed away," Courtney said. "And I've been like, 'I need to write this letter, I need to write this letter,' and I see this truck and I'm like, 'I'm going to write this letter right now and I'm taking the opportunity to do so.'"

All three of them used stamps provided by Rachel, and they melted wax on the envelopes to seal them in style.

They then dropped their letters into the box that the letter farmer provided.

It's true, there is something special about the hand-written word. It cuts through time.

My mom gave me a box of my dad's letters from the Korean War years, and there were others from when they were dating long distance.

A window into your parents' hearts when they were young is a precious gift.

Rachel takes her van to brew pubs, schools and street fairs.

"I think digital communication is amazing...I don't think it's as much of a soulful connection and I don't think it really...um...it doesn't scratch that same itch of, 'I really have something I want to say to you and I'm going to take the time.'"

And, of course, she is destined to fail. The billions of text messages and emails and emojis and other bits of instantaneous electronic data will surround her tiny one-woman army, and ultimately swallow it up.

"I won't stop trying," Rachel said.

But Rachel Weil, the letter farmer, who challenges all of us to communicate in a more intimate, human level, is a warrior.

And warriors don't go down without a fight.

From the heart, to the brain and flowing down through the fingertips.

Editor's Note: "Eric's Heroes" is a weekly series airing every Wednesday on KOMO News in the 6 p.m. newscast. If you have a good story about a good person doing good things for the right reasons, share it with Eric by sending an email to heroes@komonews.com.

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