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  • Dear Stranger...

    Oregon Humanities is sponsoring a program to support connection among us, an opportunity to share our experience with someone we don't yet know--a dear stranger. This is how they describe the program:

    Oregon is a big place, home to a great diversity of geography and experience. It’s hard to say anything about the state that holds as true in Nyssa as it does in Neskowin. How can we hope to understand the experiences of people living in such different places? How can we work together for the good of all?

    Dear Stranger, a letter-exchange project that connects Oregonians from different parts of the state through the mail, strives to create a little understanding across the vastness of this place. For this year's edition of Dear Stranger, we're asking people from all over the state to consider some of the questions at the heart of Bridging Oregon, our ongoing cross-community conversation series.

    Here’s how it works: 

    1. Write a letter. Address it “Dear Stranger.” Write about the place where you live or a community where you feel at home. What makes it unique or unusual? Is there anything about your place or your community that you feel is misunderstood by people outside of it? What might help people understand it better? Fill a page or two, or more if you feel inspired. If you’d like, feel free to include a photo or a drawing or a recipe—anything that will fit in an envelope.
    2. Print and sign the Dear Stranger release form. We cannot exchange letters without a signed release.
    3. Mail your letter and signed release form to Dear Stranger c/o Oregon Humanities, 921 SW Washington St., #150, Portland, Oregon 97205

    When you write to Dear Stranger, your letter will be swapped with that of another writer from elsewhere in the state. They will get your letter; you will get theirs. The exchange is anonymous, and you can share as little or as much information about yourself as you like. Please keep in mind that photos, even ones without people in them, may contain information that could be used to identify you.

    Dear Stranger is open to everyone, though writers under the age of 18 must have parental consent to participate. (Click here to download the consent form.) Letters are paired at random, though we do our best to match participants with someone outside of their ZIP code. Oregon Humanities staff read all letters before they are exchanged.

    Letters will be mailed to participants on a rolling basis beginning in August 2018. We will continue exchanging letters received through October 26, 2018. Instructions for replying to your stranger will be included in your letter. If you have questions about Dear Stranger, contact Ben Waterhouse at b.waterhouse@oregonhumanities.org or (503) 241-0543, ext. 122.

    I think I'll be participating this year. I encourage you to notice whether or not this feels like a meaningful opportunity to you as well.