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The Power of Pen and Paper: Love Letters to Strangers

2012 November 21

You don’t truly know a woman (or a man) until you have received a letter from her.  Ada Leverson

love lettersAs we prepare to officially launch ourselves into the Holiday Season, I can think of no better message to share with you than Hannah Brencher’s heart touching TED Talk presentation – Love Letters to Strangers.

Hannah Brencher believes in the power of pen and paper, and has started a global initiative that encourages strangers to exchange love letters.

Brechner has always loved that her family communicates via handwritten letters. In October of 2010, she began writing love letters intended for strangers and tucking them away in libraries and cafes across New York City, for people to randomly discover. Soon, she offered on her blog to write a letter to anyone who needed one.

Over the next year, she mailed out more than 400 hand-penned letters.

Today she runs The World Needs More Love Letters, a letter exchange dedicated to connecting strangers across the globe through the art of letter writing.


To learn more about Hannah’s project, or to get involved, visit her blog

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17 Responses
  1. November 29, 2012

    I collect stationery since I was nine until now that I’m all grown up. And I still love sending letters to friends abroad via snail mail. I just love it when there are people like you who marvel at this idea.

    • November 29, 2012

      What a lovely hobby Calra! So glad you enjoyed the article, and really appreciat that you’ve taken the time to contribute to the conversation. It may be the kid in me, but I hope I will always feel that little rush of anticipation when I check my mail and actually get a handwritten letter. Doesn’t happen often these days, which I guess makes it that much more special :-)

  2. November 29, 2012

    Pen and paper is never passe. Because their quality is something that electronic mail can never contest. I’m really delighted that you get to send letters to strangers.

    • November 29, 2012

      I’m with you Kelly! What was a little ironic about coming across this presentation was a few months ago I signed something and all of a sudden noticed how just awful my handwriting had become – I used to have really nice handwriting! Bugged me so much I started handwriting more things just to practice :-)

  3. November 27, 2012

    It’s like letters to Juliet but real! This is a very charming and amazing idea, writing letters to strangers is your way of helping other people that you don’t know to brighten up to the challenges of life. And for that, you’re a person after my own heart.

  4. November 27, 2012

    I think love letter and letters made through pen and paper are still more heartfelt and personal compared to those sent through electronic messaging. And letters to strangers? That’s a wonderful and very interesting idea. Keep it up!
    Stacey recently posted..Using Web Hyperlinks in Visio 2010My Profile

    • November 29, 2012

      Hey Stacy, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. So glad you enjoyed the article. I know what you mean about the concept of writing to strangers, but the sad truth is sometimes strangers are the only ones willing to offer a word of encouragement. About a hundred years ago when I was in high school I volunteered at L.A. County General Hospital – now you talk about sad! Here we were complete strangers, the only ones willing to sit with some of the patients and offer a kind word. Good experience, but I admit I only lasted a few months.

  5. November 26, 2012

    After reading your post, I’d actually want to go back to those days when pen pals were the best thing in the world and the best way to connect with strangers.

  6. November 26, 2012

    I believe that even in the presence of electronic messaging, it’s still heartwarming to get a message from a card, a snail mail, or just a note of love in paper.

  7. November 26, 2012

    You know, even with the advent of email, Instagram, and instant messaging, I still love how letters could bring smiles and messages to people with a personal touch, Very charming.
    Joy recently posted..Architecture and nature co-existing happily together – is it possible?My Profile

  8. November 25, 2012

    I used to love writing letters, but with so much of advanced technology available, hand written letters r things of the past. Miss good old days. Wish your book loads of success, Marty. Happy holidays :)
    Veronica recently posted..New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney 2012 Harbour Fireworks Cruise!My Profile

    • November 25, 2012

      Thanks for stopping by Veronica … you may be right, at least as far as many people are concerned. Still, I’m an optimist at heart and as such applaud those who choose to find ways to create more meaning in life. :-)

  9. November 24, 2012

    Great post, Marty! I had a few pen pals when i was in Kuwait and Iraq. I must admit that I didn’t follow up very well when I got home, but it is great to know that there are people keeping this art alive.
    Steve Nicholas recently posted..Appreciating Those Who ServeMy Profile

  10. November 24, 2012

    Well, I know my mom doesn’t like to receive a printed letter from me because it isn’t personal, but I will confess she wouldn’t get any letters from me at all if I had to write them by hand. I don’t write much any more because I get writer’s cramp so quickly. Keyboard writing is ever so much easier for me. I like Hannah’s idea, though. Most people wouldn’t give a second glance to a typed note, but a handwritten one is an irresistible invitation to open and read.

    ~ Willena
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..Am I a Fraud? – Thoughts from a Scattered PerfectionistMy Profile

  11. November 24, 2012

    What a fabulously off the wall idea … I have no clue what would drive someone to do something like this initially;- as in the love letters to the strangers but I’m pleased for sure we have people in this world who think so differently to me and make the world a more rich and interesting place. :)

    My friend’s mother has just started writing memories in the form of a letter story telling for her family, she is hoping the rest of the family will, be inspired to do the same between themselves … for the moment they rest of the family are not jumping in! :)
    Sadie-Michaela Harris recently posted..The way we do businessMy Profile

    • November 25, 2012

      Glad you enjoyed the presentation Sadie-Michaela. Have you ever heard of Henry Root? Henry wrote letters to very prominent people around the world – you know, like the Prime Minister of Australia. Thing is, they were completely tongue-in-cheek and irreverent – to say the least. I shed many a tear laughing so hard and some of the things he wrote to people! There is even a book of his letters – it’s ridiculously expensive, but I finally broke down and bought it.

  12. November 23, 2012

    Oh Marty,

    I just love writing letters! When my niece was younger a few years ago, we wrote letters to each other from one end of the US to the other. Letters are so special. There is such a personal touch and it is something one can keep.

    The way we communicate now with texts and FB messages are not so personal. Letters give the personal touch.

    Donna Merrill recently posted..15 Holiday BluesMy Profile

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