Dear Stranger, a letter-exchange project from Oregon Humanities, offers a chance for connection by inviting Oregonians to write letters to someone they’ve never met. The ongoing program provides prompts for each round of letters and the current prompt asks writers about memory: “Who or what should we remember? How do you make new memories and how do you process old ones? When do you choose to document them and when do you hold them internally?”
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. More than 1,000 people have exchanged letters through the project to date.
“Dear Stranger asks us to intentionally reflect and share about our experiences,” says Lucy Solares-Steger, the coordinator at Oregon Humanities who runs the Dear Stranger project. “While at first this can be daunting or challenging, many letter writers find that they’re able to work through these experiences by writing them out, and through this, make a really impactful connection with another person.”
Instructions for participation are available on the Oregon Humanities website, 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, Oregon, 97205. Oregon Humanities will exchange letters postmarked by October 31.
Questions about the program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.