Border Crossings June 11th

crossing bordersThis may be our most important Hearth event yet. “Border Crossings” is the theme for our summer Hearth gathering. Six brave souls will tell personal stories of crossing racial, social, legal, and physical borders on Thursday, June 11th from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland (1800 E. Main St.). Cost is $5 and proceeds collected at the door will benefit the Rogue Valley office of Oregon Action, a non-profit organization that works for health, racial, and economic equity here in Southern Oregon. Tellers include Alma Rosa Alvarez, Andrea Anderson, Ricardo Lujan, Jeff Golden, Marvin Ratner, and Julie Lockhart. Music by Wendi Stanek, Duane Whitcomb and friends including Abe Neimark and Talen Heater. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. Bike, walk, or carpool if you can, to reduce our carbon footprint and allow parking for those who need it.

Over $1400 Raised for Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice

Each Hearth event is created by a group of “amateurs.” The etymology of amateur refers to someone who does something “for the love of it.” Last Thursday night at our Spring Hearth event, “Letting Go,” we had beautiful songs and stories shared by local amateurs–people willing to perform for the love of their local community. Over 380 came out and together we raised over $1400 for Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice as well as another $300 or so directly for The Hearth.

Thanks to all of our volunteers, especially Shirley and Michael Remington who manage the concessions. Thanks to all of our “amateur” storytellers–Jim Titus, Emma Durbin, Adam Marx, Cat Gould, Dee Anne Everson, and Jack Wiens. Thank you to musicians Lisa Spencer, Karen Wennlund, Nancy Spencer, Susannah Cole, Noah and Joseph Yaconelli. Our next event is June 11th.

You can listen to this past Hearth event at KSKQ (89.5) this Wednesday at 1pm or download it at The Hearth Radio Hour on KSKQ here.

The theme is Border Crossings and funds will benefit Oregon Action. See you there.

Bring Kleenex to March 19 Hearth Event


The theme is “Letting Go” for the Thursday, March 19th Hearth event at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland. The stories are heartfelt by locals Cat Gould, Dee Anne Everson, Emma Durbin, Adam Marx, and Jim Titus. Doors open at 6:30, cost is $5 and all proceeds collected at the door will benefit The Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice.  Music by Duane Whitcomb and friends. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. Wine and homemade treats will be available. Spread the word.

We need volunteers to set up chairs, sell concessions, and work the front door. If you can help email Mark at

“Stories make us human.” An Interview with Mark Yaconelli

This interview was conducted by John Pattison for The Ford Family Foundation:


What does the popularity of storytelling programs like The Moth and The Hearth tell us about who we are and the time we’re living in?

We’re living in a time of loneliness. People feel alienated from one another. We have increased our connection to technology but in some ways those technologies have left us feeling more alone. As we get more high-tech, there comes a desire for more “high-touch.”

But it’s rare for us to share physical space anymore. We’re seeing a decline in some of the traditional institutions that used to help build intergenerational relationships—Elks Club and Lions Club, for example, as well as mainstream churches. So there is an increased longing to be connected to other people, because we are social creatures.

We want to be connected, and stories do that. Stories make us more human. They bring us to our senses in a way that other ways of connecting don’t always do. Stories are like a little transportation system. Neuroscientists are discovering that the way your brain processes a story you are telling, stimulates the same part of my brain as I listen to it. When you tell me something scary, my adrenaline goes up. I feel it. In some ways, I can join you in your experience.

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Stories of “Letting Go” on March 19


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.

Deadline for Blues Pilgrimage

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 by January 30th. Space is limited.

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Community Storytelling Project


The Hearth is looking for individuals and communities interested in starting their own community storytelling project. The Hearth recently received a $10,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation as well as support from the Ford Institute (out of Roseburg, OR) to run a pilot program to train other Southern Oregon towns in developing their own Hearth-like storytelling project. The training includes two retreats, online teaching, and individual coaching by Hearth founder Mark Yaconelli. For those selected, expenses will be underwritten. If you know of Southern Oregon communities (outside of Ashland) interested in the training have them look at the information here.

The training will also be open, for a fee, to individuals and communities interested in receiving training in personal and community storytelling. For more information email

A Lump of Coal, Mother Mary in a Car Wreck, and the Joy of Disco this Thursday!


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.