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.

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.

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!

[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

st. beuno training

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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