UPDATE, Sunday, 1 p.m.: The location of the meeting has been changed to a larger facility, First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, 1615 Clark Ave., Ashland, just south of the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Walker Avenue.
ORIGINAL STORY: We need to talk. We need to be listened to. That’s what the community seems to be saying in the days after the presidential election and Mark Yaconelli, leader of “The Hearth: Real Stories by Regular Folks,” is responding with a gathering at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Ashland library dubbed "Hopes, Fears and Tears."
“People are hurting, in shock and afraid,” says Yaconelli. “I’m getting lots of emails, especially from people of color, the LGBT community and (people with young daughters) who are hurting, angry and feel unseen. It’s really been an insult for them.”
The gathering will break into small groups, who will respond on a personal level — no politics — to a series of questions, Yaconelli says.
“What are your fears? The focus is on listening, personal stories and experiences, no debates or rehashing of the politics,” surrounding the surprise election of Donald Trump as president, Yaconelli said. “The object is to help people get grounded. We’re all freaking out and not being heard. We have to not feel isolated. We can talk about what is hopeful for us also and share those stories, and talk about the wounds that got triggered.”
Yaconelli says people can explore what actions they want to take, but the “processing” of the enormous load of feelings is a catharsis, not a debate about what the community or nation is going to do together.
The event will be in the Gresham Room, downstairs in the library. It is free and open to the public, including, he says, to Trump voters. “It’s about fears and hopes of everyone. I hope they do come. We need to hear from them. They have their own hopes and fears and need to be heard.”
He adds that the gathering can be thought of as a metaphor of breathing masks on an airplane, where you’re advised to strap your mask on first, so you can be functional before assisting others. In doing this, “we have to practice listening to each other.”
The next Hearth event, scheduled for Dec. 8, was to be about "Tales From Childhood," but has now been changed to “Growing Up Girl,” with all female speakers, “because of the hateful and misogynistic statements in the campaign,” Yaconelli said. It’s at 7 p.m. at Temple Emek Shalom.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.