Into the Wild: True Tales from Environmental Activists in Austin

The Hearth Austin is hosting INTO THE WILD:TRUE TALES FROM ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS this Thursday, May 25th 7:30 to 9:30pm at The North Door. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli with music by bluegrass band Steel Betty and Justin Stewart. The event will present true stories by 6 local young adults involved in environmental activism in Austin. Tellers include Dave Cortez from Sierra Club, Amy Stansbury from EcoNetwork, Aly Tharp from The Festival Beach Food Forest, Josh Blaine from InGredients, Lukus Ebert from Texas Impact, and Kendra Bones from Austin Zero Waste Alliance. $5 suggested donation at the door goes to support The Festival Beach Food Forest. Hope all my Texas friends can make it out. Co-sponsored with The Front Porch.

Spring Hearth Presents “Survival Stories” April 20th

Our Spring Hearth will explore the theme “Survival” with proceeds benefiting The Geos Institute a local non-profit committed to climate change solutions. Come out and practice community with us on April 20th from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland. Together we will listen to six local folks share a true story of survival (in ten minutes or less). Tellers include Ellie Holt, Helen Jucevic, Alan Journet, Chris Hardy, Molly McKissick, and Ginny Auer. Hosted by Cat Gould. Music by Duane Whitcomb, Wendi Stanek, and friends. $5 suggested donation. Friends we need volunteers to help set up chairs and run concessions. Please email mark@thehearthcommunity.com if you can help!

A Trip To The Jungle

[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. Continue reading

Mark Yaconelli Trains Hearth Communities in Wales

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In the spring of 2015, The Heath founder Mark Yaconelli was invited by The Church in Wales to lead a day-long workshop on community storytelling in the town of Bala. The invitation came because the Church in Wales, was concerned about the decline of “social capital” (the network of relationships that allows a community to address problems and increase a sense of well being). Although the Church in Wales has a religious mission, they felt that The Hearth model (non-religious) could help communities address the increasing loneliness, alienation, and breakdown of social relationships.

In February of 2016, Mark accepted an invitation to do a six month residency as a “Community Innovator” for the Church in Wales. Central to his role will be to train twenty teams to develop their own local community storytelling projects in North Wales. In an interview with the BBC, Mark highlighted the importance of storytelling within communities: “When we tell stories in community settings we increase understanding, bridge differences, reduce shame, and uncover the values that matter most. The Hearth is simply a new packaging of a set of old medicines. When people gather together to share stories, food, song, and service they discover meaning, purpose, and a sense of belonging. Communities that have a healthy sense of belonging have less addiction, less violence, less loneliness and are more likely to address suffering and promote the common good.”

Mark is holding a number of training events across North Wales. The culmination of the training will be a Hearth event in the town of Llangollen. The theme will be “Strangers in a Strange Land” and will include stories from recent refugees seeking asylum within the United Kingdom. Proceeds from the event will benefit Share, an organization working in North Wales and England to assist homeless and refugees.

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“Seeing Color” in Medford and Grants Pass February 10th and 11th

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Our next Hearth event takes place in Medford (Inn at the Commons) on February 10th and Grants Pass (Tap Rock Event Center) on February 11th, from 9am to 12pm. The theme is “Seeing Color” and 7 locals will share a true story of race in childhood. This event is FREE but you must register at the link below. Following stories we will have a facilitated conversation on race in Southern Oregon. Storytellers include Jennifer Ware, Marquis Malcom, Norman Wakefield, Victoria Bencomo, Raf Mesta, Mary Lingenfelter, and Larry Slessler. Facilitators are Gilda Montenegro-Fix and Jennifer Ware. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli with music by Antonio Melendez and Gene Burnett.

To register to attend in Medford go here.

To register for Grants Pass event go here.

Both Hearth events are FREE.

The Hearth Holiday Gathering: Collected Stories with Mark Yaconelli

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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

Special Hearth Event November 14th “Rising to the Challenge”

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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.

Down and Out This Thursday Night!

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The Hearth will present “real stories by regular folks” on October 29th from 7 to 9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland. The theme is “Down and Out” and proceeds from the event will benefit Uncle Food’s Diner–a weekly community meal for the homeless and economically disadvantaged. Tellers include Claudia Alick, Lucinda Weatherby, Kay Brooks, Leigh Madsen, Kelly Cruser, and Fred Grewe. Music by Mark Gostnell, Wendi Stanek, Duane Whitcomb and friends. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. $5 suggested donation.

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.

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

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

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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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