Introducing "Dear Stranger"
Dear Stranger is a new letter-exchange project that connects Nebraskans through the mail to share experiences, beliefs, and ideas, modeled after a program by the same name at Oregon Humanities.
Dear Stranger encourages people to reflect on their experiences and beliefs and make new connections by writing letters to strangers: write a letter, get a letter, and make a new connection. “Dear Stranger” is designed to allow anyone, of any age, to participate, and to do so anonymously should they choose. We also ask participants to complete a participation form indicating their understanding that Humanities Nebraska is not responsible for the content of letters and that, if they are age 18 or younger, they have a parent or guardian’s permission to participate.
The deadline for the current prompt is July 31, 2020.
Here’s how to participate:
1. Write a letter addressed to “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, or respond to this prompt:
When you look back at your life in 2020, what stories do you think you will tell about this time and what you learned about yourself?
2. Print and sign the Dear Stranger participation form. If you don't have access to a printer, please use this online form. We cannot exchange letters without a release.
3. Mail your letter and signed release form to Dear Stranger c/o Humanities Nebraska, 215 Centennial Mall South Suite 330, Lincoln, NE, 68508
4. When your letter is received, it 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.
5. Letters will be removed from their original envelopes, placed in HN envelopes, and mailed out to the selected recipient.
6. If a participant wants to respond to the letter received, we ask them to include the address in the body of their reply and mail it to us. Then we will send it on to the person they were paired with, and the parties can continue their exchange directly.
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. Humanities Nebraska staff read all letters before they are exchanged.
Letters will be mailed to participants on a rolling basis beginning in August 2020.
If you have questions about Dear Stranger, please send email.
Please use this form only if you do not have access to a printer.
We want to know what you think about "Dear Stranger".
How did it feel to write your letter, and to receive a letter in response? Did you learn anything about yourself while writing your letter? There are many ways to let us know:
· Post a photo of you and your letter on Instagram and tag it @HumanitiesNE and #NEDearStranger
"Dear Stranger" is sponsored in part by:
While this is a relatively inexpensive program for HN to run, there are costs related to postage and staff time. HN seeks sponsors ranging from $250 to $1,000. Benefits of sponsorship include visibility in promotional materials (ie. press releases, eblasts), recognition on the HN website, and in our statewide outreach to media outlets, libraries, and literary organizations and other organizations. For sponsorship questions, please email Heather Thomas.