Sense of Place, a program of Mt. Adams Institute, is connecting people from all over the Columbia Gorge with Dear Neighbor, a letter-exchange project that invites those living in the Gorge to write a letter to someone they’ve never met. Sense of Place invites Gorge locals of all ages, both English and Spanish speaking, to share some of their unique life experience.
The aim of Dear Neighbor is to create shared understanding within the Gorge community of “neighbors” with different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. The premise is simple: write a letter, get a letter, and make a new connection. Sense of Place modeled the project on the Oregon Humanities’ program, Dear Stranger (statewide). Dear Neighbor will run concurrent with the Sense of Place Lectures, Season 11 (Oct 2020-April 2021).
Letters can be as short or long as a writer likes and can take any form that will fit in a first-class envelope. Participants should send their letters to Mt. Adams Institute along with a signed online permission form (available at mtadamsinstitute.org/dear-
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?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, different communities, elected leaders, and institutions have responded differently. What have you learned from the response to the virus? Has your understanding of the values your community holds or the systems that support it changed?
Whether you’re a 3rd generation orchardist, a member of the Yakama Nation, or a recent addition – we all have stories about how we’ve ended up living here in the Gorge. What’s yours?
Imagine that tomorrow morning, you woke up and read the news that the pandemic was over! Life everywhere could safely return to normal. Tell us about what that first day might look like for you. What would you want to do? Where might you go? Who might you see? What are you most looking forward to in the post-pandemic future?
Introduce us to someone who has made a positive difference in your life. A teacher, a spouse, a neighbor(!)…how did you and this person cross paths? Did you have any assumptions about this person prior to meeting? Did anything change once you got to know them? What did they do that made your life a little better?
Letters should be addressed to Dear Neighbor c/o Sense of Place, Mt. Adams Institute
2453 Highway 141, Trout Lake, WA 98650. Sense of Place will exchange letters mailed through April 30, 2021.
Questions about Dear Neighbor should be directed to Sarah Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details about the project can be found at mtadamsinstitute.org/dear-