Our 2021 Certificate in Community Storytelling Program has graduated! We completed our 6 month online certificate training with 35 participants (unfortunately we were online so have to substitute this photo from our 2019 graduates…imagine the same beautiful souls with different faces…).

“We must make just and liberated futures irresistible….it is a healing behavior, to look at something so broken and see the possibility and wholeness in it.”

— adrienne maree brown

I recently experienced the irresistible future as I gathered for the final intensive with participants in our Certificate in Community Storytelling training. We were a humble group. Social workers. Environmental activists. Nonprofit staff. Teachers. Pastors. Parents. Therapists. All of us wanting to respond with healing behavior to the loneliness, anxiety, separation, and division cultivated by our culture. All of us aware that these growing divisions are damaging our sense of self, our families, our towns, the sacred earth itself. And yet among these humble people there was genuine, felt hope.

I’m learning that within every true connection hope is born. Hope is the irresistible reality that becomes tangible once we dispel the illusion of separateness. Hope is the natural outgrowth of healing.

It is nearly impossible to live in North American culture and not be overcome by despair. The problems we face (the pandemic, global warming, economic inequality, entrenched racial injustice, political extremism…) appear insurmountable. A recent editorial in the New York Times claims we are becoming “fatalistic”—without hope. And yet, among the training participants (those who serve on the frontlines of our collective sufferings) there was humor, and tears, and playfulness, and hard conversations, genuine compassion and creative possibility. In evaluations at the close of the training it was not uncommon for people to write how the time together gave them “hope in humanity.”

How do you give people hope? You create opportunities and space for genuine connection. That’s it. When people see, hear, and are moved by one another, hope flowers. This is the work we do at The Hearth—create opportunities for real connection. The more connected we are to others, ourselves, the earth, the more we become resilient, creative, joyful, healed, hopeful. This is why The Hearth engages story. Sharing stories is an accessible practice for removing the separation. Story is how we heal despair. “Every story we tell is a prayer,” the Oregon writer Brian Doyle once said to me. Our prayers are answered when they are heard and felt and responded to by one another.

We have a number of opportunities to help reduce despair and foster your hope in humanity:

If you live in Southern Oregon, you can still experience the interactive Almeda Walk to help you move from gratitude to grief to giving—learn more here.

Read about the inspiring work of Tecca Thompson, one of our Certificate graduates here.

Listen to a funny, inspiring story on finding meaningful work by 2020 Certificate graduate Fumiaki Tosu here.

Grow personally and professionally by joining us for our upcoming November intensive in community storytelling here.