It 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: Continue reading
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. Continue reading
[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.]
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. Continue reading
December 17th from 7:30 to 9:00pm at Temple Emek Shalom
The Hearth founder Mark Yaconelli will share some of his favorite stories at this special holiday fundraiser. Accompanied by musicians Kim Starkey, Daniel Sperry, and Duane Whitcomb, the evening promises to be a mixture of true, heartwarming tales set to live music. If you want to laugh from the belly and cry from the heart then you won’t want to miss our special Hearth Holiday Gathering. Suggested donation is $10-$20 at the door. This is our yearly fundraiser for The Hearth so bring your friends and your checkbook. Mulled wine, spiced cider, and homemade holiday treats will be available. Doors open at 7pm
The Hearth is hosting a special storytelling event in support of The Ashland Climate Challenge. The theme is “Rising to the Challenge” and we have 6 storytellers from Ashland and across the west coast who will share true, inspiring stories of facing difficult challenges. This is co-sponsored by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and will be held at the Thomas Theatre on Saturday, November 14th from 7 to 9pm. Cost is $5 and funds will support renewable energy projects for the Ashland school district. The event will be hosted by Mark Yaconelli, tellers include Tonya Graham, Lesley Adams, Shaun Franks, Jacob Lebel, Scott Denning, and Leslie Becknell Marx. Music by Mysha Caruso. Only 275 seats, so show up early and bring your neighbors. This will be an important event for mobilizing to reduce and prepare for climate change.
Our next Hearth night of live stories from local folks takes place on Thursday, March 19th from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom (1800 E. Main in Ashland). Six brave souls will share a true story in ten minutes on the theme “Letting Go.” Cost is $5 and all proceeds collected at the door will benefit The Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice. Storytellers include Dee Anne Everson, Cat Gould, Jeff Golden, Emma Durbin, and others. Music by Duane Whitcomb and friends. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. Wine and homemade treats will be available. Spread the word.
The Hearth was recently profiled on Immense Possibilities. The focus of the episode is on the power of storytelling. You can watch the episode on the link here:
Here is information for our upcoming Blues Pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon February 18-20th. The trip will be a mixture of beautiful settings, soulful music, good food, and sharing stories of grief and loss within a safe and compassionate group. We need to book rooms and tickets so if you plan to go YOU MUST SEND AN EMAIL (“I’m going!”) to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 30th. Space is limited.
Be prepared to laugh from the belly and cry from the heart at The Hearth Holiday Gathering this Thursday, December 11th from 7:30-9:30pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland. $10 suggested donation. It’s our once-a-year fundraiser for The Hearth Community. The evening will include some of our best storytellers including Lorraine Cook, Joshua Boettiger, Mary Landberg, Juliet Grable, Michael Fitzgerald, and Mark Yaconelli with stories on the theme “All in the Family.” Music will be performed by Hearth favorite Wendi Stanek. Other performers include Jeff Stanley, sisters Kate Joss-Bradley and Carly Joss, and Duane Whitcomb.
We encourage you to bring your checkbook and make a tax-deductible gift that night to help us develop new programs including The Hearth Pub Sing-Alongs, Elder Tales, and The Hearth Blues Pilgrimage. This will be a great evening to gather with your neighbors and celebrate a year of doing good work for our community through the Hearth. You won’t want to miss it.
Our summer Hearth event is June 19, from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland, OR (1800 E. Main). Our theme is “Temporarily Insane.” Tellers include Steve Scholl, Neil Mangicaro, Renee Miereanu, Tedi Tate, Mary Landberg, Fred Grewe. Proceeds from this event will benefit the crisis hotline at Community Works in Medford, Oregon. Ashland Co-op is our sponsor for this summer storytelling event. Mark it on your calendar and see you there.