The Hearth presents its annual holiday fundraiser with heartfelt stories by Hearth founder Mark Yaconelli. “True Tales of Wonder” will be an exploration of beauty, loss, and hope through story and song. Music by Wendi Stanek, Duane Whitcomb, and others. This is the only 2017 fundraiser for The Hearth which will help us continue producing a variety of community-building events. $10 suggested donation. Takes place Thursday, December 21 from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland.
PLUS, attend the fundraiser and get the first opportunity to buy tickets to The Hearth’s “Bridging the Divide Conference” featuring Anne Lamott. Held in Ashland April 26-28, 2018.

The Fall Hearth gathering is this Thursday, October 26th from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland (1800 E. Main Street). Six local community members will share their own tale of bravery and help raise funds for The Teresa McCormick Center, a nonprofit committed to providing resources, education, and relationships to those in need in Southern Oregon.  Tellers include Phoenix Sigalove, Debra Zaslow, Selene Aitken, Wendy Werthhaiser, Tom Pike, and Jef Fretwell. Music by Carly Joss-Bradley, Jef Fretwell, Duane Whitcomb, and friends. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. $5 suggested donation.

2016-04-09-16-21-09It started with a series of messages from local community members asking The Hearth to hold a gathering to help people process their fears following the November 8th, presidential election. Mark Yaconelli posted an announcement inviting the community to gather for “Hopes, Fears, and Tears” a post-election conversation. People from across the political spectrum were encouraged to attend. Over 200 people showed up at First Presbyterian Church in Ashland. After a Leonard Cohen song by Gene Burnett, Mark invited people to get into groups of four. Participants were told the evening would be a time of listening, not political debate. Questions would be asked and each participant invited to respond with other group members simply listening (without interruption, or questions, or debate). When a person finished speaking, the other members of the group were asked to respond simply by saying, “Thank you,” then the next group member would share their experience.

There were four questions that people were asked to respond to: Read more

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Two weeks after the horrific shooting at Umpqua Community College in which nine were killed and nine wounded, Mark Yaconelli was contacted by The Ford Family Foundation. “In the midst of the shock and pain of the October 1, 2015 tragedy, there was this generous, creative, compassionate response by local community members. The question was could The Hearth design a project that would collect and archive these stories so that the memory of this tragedy wasn’t only the violence and grief, but also the many acts of generosity and kindness that sought to bring healing.”

The Umpqua Story Project was formed with the purpose of providing compassionate settings where people across the Umpqua Valley could share their experiences of kindness in the wake of the tragedy. The project trained fifteen volunteers in compassionate listening, set up tables in coffee shops, libraries, schools and other public spaces across Douglas County and invited people to share their responses to the shooting at UCC. In addition to providing opportunities for the public to record their experiences, the project sent out staff members to record stories from individuals who had reacted to the tragedy with particular generosity and creativity. Read more

[On May 10th I sent out a Facebook message seeking to raise $750 to help purchase supplies to help refugees in Calais. I had been invited by The Church in Wales to go and collect stories from refugees for an upcoming event in North Wales. I did not want to arrive empty-handed so I procured a van and asked The Hearth Community to make donations to purchase food. Within twelve hours over $1600 had been raised. Enough to purchase needed proteins (canned fish, beans) and vegetables/fruits (tomatoes, mandarin oranges). Thank you to everyone who gave generously! Here are my reflections on the trip.]

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We were five men from North Wales: a welder, a carpenter, a government planner, a vicar, and me, the lone American. We had procured two vans and filled them with food, lumber, plastic tarps, fire extinguishers, construction tape, and other supplies. We were taking time from work and home to help displaced people in Calais, France. And the feeling? The feeling was good. It felt good to try and do something right, something useful. It felt good to follow the most basic of human impulses—to share what you have with someone who has little. Spirits were high. We shared music we loved, remembered epic concerts we had attended. We smiled while describing our children, talked admiringly of our spouses. We told stories of adventures we’d had in other countries—a speeding ticket in Death Valley, a bar fight in Belfast, a dangerous sheep outside of Liverpool. We were on a mission. We were doing something that mattered. Hearts awake, spirits high, the mind clear with purpose. Read more