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Mark Yaconelli is an author, a pastor, a nationally known speaker and retreat leader and founder of The Hearth: Real Stories by Regular Folks, a community storytelling project in Southern Oregon. Mark is also co-director for the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont School of Theology. The CEC seeks to heal broken people and communities through contemplation, creativity, and compassion. Mark's recent work with the CEC includes compassion formation with the incarcerated as well as people who work in prisons. Mark spent ten years directing the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project at San Francisco Theological Seminary which focused on integrating contemplative practices and awareness within congregational youth ministry programs.

On Valentine’s Day, 2010, Mark founded The Hearth Community as 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 Community also raises money for non-profits in Southern Oregon through community storytelling events. Once a quarter they gather a handful of local folks to tell a true story, first person, based on a theme.  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). We The $5 fee to get in the door and all proceeds go to charities based in Southern Oregon.