About The Hearth

Our Mission: Transformational Storytelling

The Hearth trusts in the power of personal stories to heal, connect, enrich, and mobilize communities for good.  We believe that in an increasingly fast-paced and fractured world, sharing stories can be a radical and deeply human practice for strengthening common values, combating loneliness, cultivating compassion, and uncovering the ties that bind us to one another. We know that when stories are told in community there is often an invitation to act—confront a social problem, bridge divisions, embody a new awareness or understanding—we work to assist communities in discerning the actions their stories invite. Often this means creating safe and transformative settings where marginalized and suffering people feel empowered to share their experience. We also know that honest storytelling can be playful, evoking humorous self-recognition, delight and gratitude for the pleasures of life.

There are as many ways to share a story as there are people. Over the years, The Hearth has developed a variety of tested, transformative, accessible storytelling methods inviting people to write down, audio record, sing, photograph, upload, gather in circles, or stand in front of a microphone to share what they have lived. Through providing safe and welcoming spaces The Hearth is committed to transforming residents into neighbors, enemies into friends, and towns into communities. We have worked with traumatized communities to encourage healing, small towns to foster connection, marginalized populations to increase awareness and respect, and trained lots of community leaders, nonprofits, pastors, teachers, and professional groups in the art of community storytelling.

Ultimately, we believe that gathering to share stories is one of the deepest, transformative, and most pleasurable activities we do as human beings.

A sampling of recent projects include:

About The HearthThe Hearth has produced public events in Oregon, North Carolina, Texas, California, Indiana, New Mexico, Minnesota, Washington, Florida, New York, and the United Kingdom – raising awareness about a wide variety of social, economic, and environmental issues. In the process, The Hearth has raised money and volunteers for dozens of nonprofits within the United States and United Kingdom. In addition to producing events, The Hearth has led numerous workshops and retreats for community leaders, religious workers, and community and environmental activists across the United States and United Kingdom. Through all of our work, we’ve helped hundreds of people experience compassion, public acceptance, personal empowerment, and the pure joy of neighborliness by providing safe and transformative spaces for people to share their journey with others.

About The Hearth - breaking wallsFounded by Mark Yaconelli on Valentine’s Day, 2010, The Hearth (a registered nonprofit) is a new model of community building based on personal storytelling, reflective listening, and community service. The Hearth develops community gatherings in which people explore, craft, and share stories from what they have lived.  The Hearth has been particularly effective in assisting communities in healing from trauma, deepening awareness around racial and social conflicts, and mobilizing local people to address environmental injustice. The Hearth has worked with a variety of nonprofits and community-based organizations across the United States and United Kingdom including the Oregon Department of Human Resources, Austin Theological Seminary, The Greenbelt Festival, The Ford Family Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, Geos Institute, The Center for Congregations, GirlForward, Grassroots Leadership, The Wild Goose Festival, Asante Hospice Services, The Church in Wales, and many other worthy nonprofits.

In addition to working with various social agencies, once a quarter The Hearth gathers a handful of local folks in Ashland, Oregon to tell a true story, first person, based on a theme, to raise funds for local nonprofits.  Past themes include: “Love Hurts,” “Tales from Childhood,” “Letting Go,” and “Wilderness Tales.” Each event includes live music (from bluegrass, to folk, to Celtic, to jazz) coordinated by Ashland fiddler Duane Whitcomb. Events charge $5-$15 sliding scale to get in the door and all proceeds go to charities based in Southern Oregon like the Ashland Emergency Foodbank, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Dunn House, Rogue Valley Farm to School and others. If you have a story that fits the upcoming theme, contact us.

The Hearth is a nonprofit registered in the State of Oregon (ID 46-2554780).

Board of Directors

Davis Wilkins, Board President
Ben Bellinson
Emily Strong
Mark DiRienzo
Jill Yaconelli


Karen Carnival, Operations Director
Erica Ledesma, LatinX Program Coordinator
Wendy Conner, Volunteer Coordinator