Oregon Humanities’ Letter-Exchange Project Connects Writers Across the State through the Mail
This winter, Dear Stranger, a letter-exchange project from Oregon Humanities, invites letter writers to share their thoughts on what lies beyond the here and now and connect with someone they’ve never met.
Oregon Humanities is a statewide organization that brings people together to talk, listen and learn from one another. “The need for human connection feels more urgent than ever,” says Ben Waterhouse, communications manager for Oregon Humanities and creator of the Dear Stranger project. “It feels like we’re in a constant state of crisis, with fires and the pandemic and partisan conflict, and that makes it really hard to reach out and learn from other people. Dear Stranger is an opportunity to hear from other Oregonians and to be heard — and hopefully learn something new.”
The aim of Dear Stranger is to create shared understanding among Oregonians with different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. The premise is simple: Write a letter, get a letter and make a new connection. Oregon Humanities has operated Dear Stranger since 2014, with each round of the project asking writers to address a different question or theme. Over one thousand people have exchanged letters through the project.
This season’s prompt is, “Write about what lies beyond the here and now. When you think of the future, what do you see? Think about yourself, your life, your surroundings, the world in general: What are your hopes, your dreams? What are your fears? Do you see parts of the past, or something completely new — or perhaps both?”
Writing prompts and instructions for participation are available at oregonhumanities.org. Letters are swapped anonymously, and each person receives a letter from the person who received the one they wrote. What happens next is up to the writers. If they’d like to write back, they can do so through Oregon Humanities.
Letters should be addressed to Oregon Humanities, Attn: Dear Stranger, 610 SW Alder St., Suite 1111, Portland, OR 97205. Oregon Humanities will exchange letters mailed by February 28, 2022.
Questions about Dear Stranger should be directed to email@example.com.
Oregon Humanities connects people and communities through conversation, storytelling and participatory programs to inspire understanding and collaborative change. More information about our programs and publications — which include the Conversation Project, Consider This, Humanity in Perspective, Public Program Grants and Oregon Humanities magazine — can be found at oregonhumanities.org. Oregon Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a partner of the Oregon Cultural Trust.