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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.

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.

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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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.