A couple of weeks ago I met with national book award recipient Colum McCann to discuss the medicinal qualities of stories. We began by piling up anxieties: political divisiveness, catastrophic climate change, wealth inequality, systemic racial violence. “We’ve become morally homeless,” Colum lamented. “Our lack of affection for others is at dangerous levels.” I shared his concern, but then remembered all the ways I have watched walls fall, prejudices dissipate, enemies grow in respect and understanding for one another. I thought of the recent workshop I led with participants from sixteen states and three countries. I remembered heads nodding among this diverse gathering as one participant confessed with emotion, “You all have given me hope for humanity.”
Story can save us. We step into the reality of another person’s existence and instead of judgement we feel a kinship. This happens in Hearth workshops and groups every time we meet. Someone gives testimony to their struggle and those gathered nod heads, “Yes. I feel you. I know what you mean. I’m no different than you.”
Story can save us because exchanging experiences is the most accessible, effective, democratic practice for fostering genuine, empathic connection. When I say “tell me your story?” what I’m really asking is can I re-live your experience with you? Can I try and see as you have seen, feel as you have felt, know the world as you have known it? Stories can save us because the honest listening and telling of personal experiences naturally endears us to one another. The illusion of separateness dissipates. I see myself in your story and am no longer able to demonize, ridicule, oppress or neglect. What’s so wonderful is that this is an instinctive, hardwired, human activity that anyone can engage to heal our families, our world, ourselves.
My work at The Hearth is to increase empathy and compassion in order to heal a troubled world. Despite the climate catastrophes, pandemic, increased political divisions–all is not lost. There is medicine for what ails us. It begins with cultivating trust. It begins with the listening and the telling.
How do you strengthen, heal, and bridge relationships? Story can be an accessible, creative, built-in practice for helping families, colleagues, and communities become more connected. Each year The Hearth produces a five-month certification training in community storytelling. The program includes two, three-day intensives, individual coaching, and monthly webinars led by Mark Yaconelli. There are both online and in-person tracks. Special early bird reduced pricing through December 31, 2021. For more information go here.
A little silence. Some heartfelt stories. Reflective exercises. And some real conversation about young people. It’s free. It’s online. Join us.
For the past ten years The Hearth (founded by Mark Yaconelli in 2010) has hosted public gatherings here in Ashland in which local folks have shared stories and songs to build community. We thought this is a great time to go through the archives and harvest the stories and songs we need to hear in order to help us connect to one another during this time of the coronavirus.
Home Bound Oregon is a podcast to help us to stay connected in a disconnected time. Featuring stories, songs, and conversations to help us remember what matters most. The first episode is titled Loneliness vs Solitude and includes a story and conversation with Kristy Laschober and music and reflections from Sage Meadows. Each podcast is hosted by Mark Yaconelli. Listen to our first episode here or go to our Home Bound Oregon page here to read updates and subscribe to future episodes.
The Hearth is offering an intensive certification program in community storytelling for those interested in the transformational power of stories. The Certificate in Community Storytelling offers a variety of experiential exercises, individual skill-building, practical teaching, online discussion groups, and written and online resources. Individuals who complete the certification course will:
- Understand how stories function in our personal and public lives.
- Learn how to create transformative events that deepen relationships within a local community or organization.
- Explore narrative practices that promote individual growth, social awareness, and community action.
- Learn how to create a variety of public story-sharing platforms that engender trust and vulnerability.
- Gain concrete skills for community storytelling including story recruitment, event promotion, audience building, public participation, media integration, and fundraising.
- Learn how to craft personal stories for speaking, teaching, and facilitation.
- Increase skills for coaching groups and individuals in personal storytelling.
- Discover methods for amplifying the voice of marginalized populations.
- Learn how to apply storytelling techniques within personal, professional, and community settings.
The Hearth Certificate Program is a one week concentrated intensive held April 19-24, 2020. Six months of additional teaching and coaching with Mark Yaconelli is available from May through October 2020 for an additional fee. You can register here.
Learn how to use story and story facilitation to bring more compassion, connection, and beauty into your life, your family, and your community.-Lucinda Moeglein 2019 participant
Whether you do this course for personal or professional reasons, it will give you hope for humanity.–Khaliqa Baqi 2019 participant
You will be empowered to impact and love others through the practice and power of storytelling.–Ted Hammett 2019 participant
Some people thing we’re made of flesh and blood and bones. Scientists say we’re made of atoms. But I think we’re made of stories. When we die, that’s what people remember, the stories of our lives and the stories that we told.–Ruth Stotter
Join the SPU School of Theology, Office of University Ministries, and Pivot NW in a morning training in personal storytelling with Mark Yaconelli.
This morning training will be an exploration of personal storytelling in ministry. Through presentation, contemplative exercises, theological reflection, and a variety of narrative practices, participants will encounter the power of personal storytelling for spiritual formation, outreach, social justice, and other ministries. The workshop will give participants practical skills for telling stories, creating narrative events, and assisting others in “giving testimony” to the work of the Spirit in their lives.
-Coffee and light pastries will be served.
-Child care can be provided upon request by February 1st to email@example.com or leave a message at 206-281-2654
-Proceeds from the event will be used to support storytelling events for local churches.
-Parking will be free on streets or on lots as there is space. Passes will be emailed out to ticketholders the week of the event.
Practicing Compassion: A Personal Retreat is for anyone who wants to deepen their capacity to respond to difficult people, divisive issues, and destructive emotions from a more grounded and graceful place. The event will be led by author and veteran retreat leader Mark Yaconelli, based on his work as co-founder of the Center for Engaged Compassion. The day will include a combination of presentation, contemplative exercises, and group discussion. The retreat will feature a morning conversation with author Anne Lamott on the inner work of compassion.
Retreat participants will increase their ability to receive compassion, cultivate skills for practicing self-compassion, and learn how to identify and transform difficult emotions. The event is ideal for parents, teachers, spouses, social workers, nonprofit leaders, activists, and anyone who wants to increase their capacity to heal suffering in self, others, and the world.
Sponsored by United Way of Jackson County and Rogue Valley Manor and part of The Finding Our Way Conference.
Date & Time: 9:00-4:00pm Saturday, April 28 (12:00-1:00pm lunch break)
Venue: Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Cost: $45 workshop fee
Tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com
The Hearth presents three days of public workshops, facilitated discussions, and story gatherings focused on practicing compassion-based skills within our personal and public life. The featured attraction of the conference will be a Friday evening talk and Saturday morning conversation with celebrated author Anne Lamott. For full schedule and tickets go here.
THURSDAY, APRIL 26
The Hearth presents “The Kindness of Strangers.” Six local residents will share a true tale of transformation inspired by kindness. Tellers include Bill Rauch, Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble, and others. Hosted by Mark Yaconelli. 7:00-9pm at Temple Emek Shalom in Ashland, OR. $5 donation to benefit the Ashland Food Bank.
FRIDAY, APRIL 27
9:00-10:30am “Finding Our Way with Racial Differences.” A community conversation on race in Southern Oregon facilitated by Adam Davis of Oregon Humanities and Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble from Southern Oregon University. Held at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Ashland, OR. FREE
11:00am-12:30pm “Finding Our Way with the Unhoused.” A community conversation on homelessness, transciency, the housed and unhoused in Southern Oregon. Facilitated by Oregon Humanities. Held at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Ashland, OR. FREE
2:00-5:00pm. Various workshops around the city of Ashland on the practice of compassion. Locations and workshops TBA. FREE
7:30-9:00pm. “Rediscovering Mercy: An Evening with Anne Lamott.” Celebrated author Anne Lamott will give a talk based on her latest book Hallelujah Anyways followed with Q & A and book signing. Held at the SOU Music Recital Hall in Ashland, OR. $25 general admission. $35 reserved seating. Tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com and Bloomsbury Books in Ashland beginning February 1.
SATURDAY, APRIL 28
9:00am to 4:00pm. “Practicing Compassion: A Practical Retreat.” Led by Mark Yaconelli including a morning conversation with Anne Lamott on the inner work of compassion. $45. Held at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Ashland, OR. Tickets available through www.brownpapertickets.com and at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland beginning February 1.
Mark Yaconelli will be leading a one day workshop/retreat entitled From Anxiety to Love: A Contemplative Approach (based on his book Contemplative Youth Ministry) at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California on Saturday, March 17. The Youth Ministry Symposium is open to youth workers, parents, pastors– anyone who cares for the spiritual lives of young people. There are scholarships available to Episcopal youth workers and pastors–including funds for travel! Go here for more information.