“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

When writing to my grandmother, my very first pen pal, I’d sign my name in cursive with a looping heart attached. It flowed easily from the tip of a glitter pen.

Grandma always wrote back, indulging my love of correspondence with neat longhand on faded floral paper. I kept every letter; she did too.

Fifteen years later, my legal signature had lost the heart. But still I drew it for Grandma, sending postcards from every place I visited. She died while I was away, an unsent postcard from the Swiss countryside in my backpack.

I’ve grown up to be a woman whose love of the written word extends beyond letters. In college, I studied creative writing. Afterwards, I wrote speeches for CEOs, started a book club, and sent a poetry newsletter to friends. Still, the writing that matters most is the kind I can tuck into a mailbox, a handwritten reminder to someone that I love them.

I want to connect people through words. As traditional forms of media start to slip, so much is at stake. How can we keep telling stories, exposing hard truths, fighting through the darkness of misinformation? To preserve society’s democratic core, media’s business model needs to change. I want to be one of the changemakers. Just like with Grandma, though, I won’t leave out the heart.

— Rory Finnegan