Monthly Archives: July 2012

Storytelling and Compassion: Feature Article in the Jefferson Monthly

Author and journalist Jennifer Margulis has written a cover article on the Hearth storytelling series I direct here in Southern Oregon. The article was printed in the Jefferson Monthly and focuses on how telling personal stories in a community setting helps create compassion.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Best Thing in the Valley

“I just think it’s the best thing that’s going on in the Valley right now,” confides Mark DiRienzo, as if he’s telling me a secret.

“It’s like a quarterly grounding opportunity to check in with the big picture stuff and realize everyone has a story and their story deeply impacts the audience and everyone can relate,” contines DiRienzo, a father of two and a real estate developer who is a regular at these events. “It’s usually funny and moving and some are totally crushing. There are suicide stories. And yet the person standing before you in that vulnerable state is able to make the audience laugh.”

DiRienzo, though he’s not ready to get up and tell a story himself (yet), says going to The Hearth has made him a more sensitive and compassionate person, less quick to judge others and more aware that everyone has a story.

“The next day you walk down the street and you see someone and think, even if they may have been a jerk, everyone has a story, and you’ve got to give people a chance.”

Yaconelli believes that storytelling can be transcendent: “What happens on a good night, with a good story is that your imagination gets awakened to possibilities,” he tells me. “Someone talks about Mexico and you think, ‘I could travel there.’ Listening helps you release the unhealed wounds that oppress your life and keep you trapped. You realize, ‘I could be more than my wounds.’”

You can read the whole article here.