For the past four years I have directed a personal storytelling series here in Southern Oregon called “The Hearth: Real Stories by Regular Folks.” Four times a year I gather together six local folks and invite them to share a personal story, told first person, in ten minutes based on a particular theme. Interspersed is live music, food, wine, and reflections on the message and meaning of the stories. We charge $5 and all the proceeds go to support a local non-profit connected to the theme.
Since 2010, the Hearth has produced twenty community events in which over a hundred local folks from forest rangers and receptionists, to lawyers and cafeteria workers have stood in front of their neighbors and shared true stories from their own lives. We have hosted over eighty local musicians and raised awareness of and funds for eighteen different non-profits in our area. The Hearth has developed a creative, meaningful, compassionate approach to strengthening local communities. We want to create more programs so that people can engage the practices of the Hearth more frequently and in more informal settings.
I honestly believe we’ve developed a new model of “church” for those who don’t like church (nor religion). We’ve created a set of practices that allow people to share their lives (fears, struggles, longings, hopes) with one another in a way that deepens community, heals suffering, and inspires service.
We are seeking to raise $12,000 to get this new organizations off the ground. We need as many people as possible to donate (even if it’s a small amount) in order to procure grants. To learn about the campaign and to make a donation go here.
Here’s our video laying out our vision for the Hearth.