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Oregon Humanities' annual letter-exchange program kicks off in May; more than 250 people participated in 2020.

PMG FILE PHOTO - First launched in 2014, Dear Stranger was formulated to create a better understanding among Oregonians with vastly different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs.

Dear Stranger, Oregon Humanities' annual letter-exchange project, will soon begin for 2021.

"As Oregonians practice social distancing in hope of slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, many are searching for ways to find and maintain social connections across physical distance," a release from organization last week said. "Dear Stranger … offers a chance for connection by inviting Oregonians to write letters with someone they've never met."

First launched in 2014, Dear Stranger was formulated to create a better understanding among Oregonians with vastly different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. More than 250 people from 29 states participated in 2020 and the process could not be simpler: write a letter, get a letter, make a new connection.

In past years the effort has also assigned a theme to the letters accepted. This year's theme is about possession: "What is an object, trait, knowledge or belief you possess that has value to you? How did you determine its value? Why did you begin to recognize its value?"

"The need for human connection feels more urgent than ever," Ben Waterhouse, communications manager for Oregon Humanities and creator of the Dear Stranger project, said. "We can't bring people together in person right now, but we can still provide ways to reach out and be heard."

Letters are anonymous and each person receives a letter from the person they wrote to via the organization. The program continues through the end of May.

Instructions on participating in the effort are available on the Oregon Humanities website at oregonhumanities.org. Send letters to Oregon Humanities, Attn: Dear Stranger, 921 S.W. Washington St., Suite 150, Portland, OR 97205. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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