[The following letter was sent to participants in the 2020 Certificate in Community Storytelling and Facilitator trainings scheduled for April 19-24]

March 11, 2020

Dear Community Builder,

Spring greetings. I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to provide an update on our response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). On March 10th we held a board meeting to discuss whether or not we should move forward with the scheduled training for the Certificate in Community Storytelling. Board president Davis Wilkins, MD, gathered and presented relevant information to help us in our decision making process. As you know, the situation continues to evolve. This morning, Oregon governor Kate Brown suspended all gatherings of 250 or more people within the state. We have noted that other organizations within our region are canceling events and moving classes and other events online. These are all preventive measures to reduce the spread of the virus. Given these recent measures and advisories from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority we feel it is prudent to postpone this April’s Certificate in Community Storytelling training. While this is very disappointing for us, we believe it is the most practical decision to ensure the safety and well-being of participants and staff.

We are currently working to find alternate training dates for this fall and next spring. We are also exploring online options. We hope to provide you with new dates and training options in the coming weeks. Our hope is that you will be able to join us for one of these alternatives, and simply apply your registration fees to a future training. If for any reason you are unable to attend one of our future trainings, we will provide a full refund to you or your organization.

In this current climate, as communities become more polarized and divided, and as people become more isolated and lonely, the need for true community is more crucial than ever. The hope of our training program is that we might recognize, strengthen, and nurture more honest, generous relationships in our lives and communities. We need others in order to become ourselves. We need relationship in order to access the deepest gifts of our humanity. Sharing stories is how we make a home within ourselves and one another. Story is how we identify and heal the suffering among us. The practice of storytelling, particularly when sharing the real stories from our own living, tethers us to what matters most—our families, our friends, the natural world, the hearts we carry, the Sacred Mystery of life itself.

You are the people upon whom communities depend to address the private and public struggles of this present age. As I look over this year’s registrations, I am humbled by the diversity of vocational and lived experience–you are teachers, artists, activists, academics, trainers, pastors, writers, nonprofit executives, therapists, city government officials, health care providers, mediators, and various other community-minded people. Such a skilled and intentional group gives me hope for humanity.

We are so sad to miss out on convening this group in April. Hopefully the alternate training dates will fit your schedule and we will get to meet up in the near future. Meanwhile, stay close to what matters. Sleep. Eat good food. Drink water. Take note of the light outside. Listen to some music. Read a good book. Engage in a creative act of love. Call a neighbor who could use a listening ear. Find a simple way to ease the fear and isolation of a friend. Offer thanks for the gifts the world offers to you. In other words, despite the anxiety and uncertainty, be yourself. Trust that you are a gift to this world.

Please contact us by phone or email if you have any questions or if we can provide additional support regarding our response to the coronavirus. We will be in touch soon about future opportunities and resources.




Mark Yaconelli

Executive Director

The Hearth