Dear Stranger

Dear Stranger is a recurring letter-exchange project that connects Oregonians through the mail to share experiences, beliefs, and ideas. Since 2014, more than 1,000 people have exchanged letters through the project. Everyone is invited to participate—whatever your age, your place of residence, or your circumstances, Dear Stranger wants to hear from you. Check out this story from NPR to hear what past participants had to say about the experience.

Here’s how to participate: 

  1. Write a letter. Address it “Dear Stranger.” 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. You can write about anything you like. 

  2. Complete the Dear Stranger release form. We cannot exchange letters without a release.

  3. Mail your letter by June 30, 2024, to:
    Dear Stranger c/o Oregon Humanities
    610 SW Alder, Suite 1111
    Portland, OR 97205

    • Be sure to write your name and return address on your envelope or include it in your email so we can match your letter with your release form and exchange your letter.
  4. If you’re unable to mail in a physical letter, we invite you to send in your letter via email to programs@oregonhumanities.org. If you'd like to mail a letter but cost is a barrier, or if you are an educator who would like to have a class participate in Dear Stranger, we have limited funds available for postage support. To request postage support from Oregon Humanities, please email us at programs@oregonhumanities.org with your contact information.

When you write to Dear Stranger, your letter will be swapped with one from another writer. 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 eighteen must have parental consent to participate. 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.

If you have questions about Dear Stranger, contact programs@oregonhumanities.org . Want to start a Dear Stranger exchange in your own state or community? Check out our how-to guide or watch our webinar.