Community Training

Community Training

Applicants Sought for The Hearth Community Storytelling Project

A Pilot Program Seeking to Strengthen Local Communities through Personal Storytelling


The Hearth Community Storytelling Project

In partnership with The Ford Institute for Community Building and with support from The Oregon Community Foundation, The Hearth is offering an eight-month pilot training program to assist other small and mid-size communities in developing their own local community storytelling programs. The training program begins with a three-day workshop March 19-21, 2015 and ends with a closing workshop November 6-8, 2015; both workshops will take place in Ashland, Oregon. Between the spring and fall workshops, participants will gather online for training, troubleshooting, and discussion and receive individual coaching with The Hearth founder, Mark Yaconelli. Participants who complete the program will:

*Learn how to create transformative community events that deepen relationships within a local community.
*Gain practical steps for producing their own local community-storytelling program including how to recruit volunteers, prepare storytellers, create an audience, relate to non-profits, and fundraise.
*Understand how to cultivate support from local businesses for community events.
*Deepen understanding of the art and craft of storytelling.
*Learn how to work with local musicians in a way that strengthens community.
*Become inspired to design creative programs grounded in personal storytelling.
*Develop coaching skills for helping others organize and present personal stories.
*Deepen individual skills as a personal storyteller.
*Learn how to inspire and organize a greater commitment to community service.

What is The Hearth?

The Hearth is a non-profit organization in Southern Oregon that creates community events that employ personal stories, song, and service to strengthen local community. At each Hearth gathering, six community members (receptionists, business owners, teachers, laborers, etc.) are invited to share a true story, told first-person, in ten minutes, in front of a live audience. Stories are focused on a particular theme (Wilderness, Bully Stories, Love Hurts, Crime and Punishment, etc.) and are interspersed with live music performed by local musicians. Each event asks for a $5 donation, and all proceeds from a Hearth night are given directly toward the support of a local non-profit. These non-profit service agencies and the community problems they address are highlighted at each Hearth gathering and audience members are encouraged to get involved.

How does a community benefit from a Hearth event?

*Storytellers receive understanding, encouragement, and support as their story is received and celebrated by their neighbors.
*The community cultivates greater compassion and connection as they hear the wide variety of experiences and struggles their neighbors have encountered.
*Youth are exposed to a variety of local stories from adults who serve as guideposts for overcoming their own struggles and pursuing their own passions.
*Local musicians receive exposure and use their gifts to strengthen community.
*Non-profits receive funds, volunteers, and a platform for communicating their mission to the larger community.
*The local audience enjoys a shared experience of story, music, and service and cultivates a greater sense of place.


Qualifications and Application Process

Entrance into the certificate program is by application and interview. All applicants must apply as a team from the same community (minimum of two and maximum of three people). Selected teams will be invited to be interviewed. Each team that applies will be asked to have one individual prepare a ten minute story. Teams must also be able to pay a $500 (total fee) for the training. This fee will cover all housing, meals, and training expenses for the entire team. To be considered for The Hearth Community Storytelling Project, each applying group must have (combining all skills and experiences within the group) the following qualifications:
*Experience in teaching, social service, or comparable community work.
*Experience in storytelling, public speaking, or community performance.
*Experience in event organizing, production or management.

All applying teams must be able to attend training workshops March 19-21, 2015 and November 6-8, 2015 in Ashland, Oregon.

To apply, or for inquiries and questions, email

11 thoughts on “Community Training

  • December 9, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Hi Mark,
    It’s Judy from Playback Theatre here interested in this program. Sounds wonderful and congrats on getting the grant to make it happen.
    I was at the last Hearth gathering and blown away at the following the Hearth has generated, as well as the touching stories of course. Much to be proud of and I know you’ve worked hard for it, too.
    I am writing to express my interest in applying and am hoping to assemble a diverse team that includes a man and a young person. Let me know what’s next and if there are other folks seeking a team that would fit that.
    Thanks. Happy holidays.
    PS. The website I included is a creativity project I brought about with two other women several years ago that was great, deep fun. Although we aren’t offering these camps now, I thought you might want to take a look.

    • January 11, 2015 at 12:19 am

      Hey Judy,

      Would love to have you involved. Is there a particularly community (town) that you would apply from? The hope of the grantor is that the training would help establish a “Hearth-like” program in other Southern Oregon communities. If you are not applying from a community, you can still do the training but there will be a fee. I’ll email you directly to set up a time to talk. Thanks Judy. I value your skills and wisdom.–Mark

  • December 30, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Gold Valley Fellowship has bought a bar in Gold Hill, Or. And we are converting it into a community center. We own the land and the building but due to zoning restrictions we can’t have a “Church” so we currently converting it. Gold Hill is a unique town that host the annual SPAM parade. I have heard great things about the hearth. And this could be a great fit I think for Gold Hill. Thanks Dave

  • January 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I would like to create a Hearth in my community in Washington State. How do I get training?

    • January 11, 2015 at 12:14 am

      Training in developing a community-storytelling program for your town will be open to the public beginning in March. This is a grant funded program designated for Southern Oregon communities but we do have permission to include other participants for a fee. The fee has not yet been set. To read about the training program go to:

  • January 7, 2015 at 12:52 am

    The power of story to individuals and community is vital to us all. So grateful you are doing this and will be emailing you with my desire to do this….Donna May (Etna, Siskiyou Co, CA)

  • January 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Hi ~ Donna May and I live in Scott Valley, west of Yreka. I have been on the board of the Scott Valley Theatre Company which oversees productions at the Avery Theatre in Etna. In the past 10 years I have produced over 100 productions including Etna High School plays, PoetryOutLoud, all kinds of music shows, Cowboy Poetry~ the list is long and varied and makes me sweat just to recall it all. I know the power of story telling, having shared it with my Etna High students in English and Drama and really enjoy listening to This American Life, The Moth and the guy in the next booth at the local coffee shop. I would really like to explore your workshops because I would like to bring something like what you do to the Avery. We have a lot of stories in the valley and I’ve been looking for a structure with which to showcase them. Thanks for offering this! Madeleine Ayres: 530 598 9157

  • January 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Hello, Mark!

    I’m currently finishing up an MA in narrative and social change, and I’m preparing to launch a radically inclusive regional storytelling program in June. Pomona Valley Story Network will draw on the methodologies of oral history interviewing, and seek and create publication avenues for the stories of our unique region. I’mean incredibly excited about the possibility of attending the Hearth Community Storytelling Project, and I’m still seeking a partner who can attend both sessions. I was wondering about the timeline for application– is there a deadline?


  • January 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Hello, this is really exciting and a great opportunity for support in such a necessary endeavor. How can storytelling be so ancient and seem so new? I am an artist and art teacher in Mt Shasta, CA and involved in the local land trust. My husband Neil teaches and is the Theater Director at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, CA. I’d be interested in joining a team in the northern CA region!


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