With storytelling seeing something of a resurgence in popular culture, the Bellingham Storytellers Guild is offering free coaching sessions in the hour before its monthly performances.
Several budding writers and raconteurs show up to practice their delivery or to get feedback on their stories, said group member Doug Banner.
"One of the things the guild is about is promoting storytelling, not as a profession - because you have to have a good day job - but as a community-building exercise," Banner said.
"If you have a story and want to share a story, we'll coach you," he said. "It's been great fun. Families show up to find out how to tell stories to their kids."
It's part of the nonprofit group's mission to preserve and celebrate the traditions of storytelling by nurturing young talent, he said. He said participants learn confidence as they hone their delivery and gain insight into how an audience is reacting to their presentation.
Performances are free from 7-8:30 p.m. on the third Friday of the month (Friday, March 15) in the Fireplace Room of the Fairhaven Branch Library, 1117 12th St. Free coaching sessions are from 6-7 p.m.
This month's theme will be fairy tales, Banner said, in keeping with St. Patrick's Day. Performances are appropriate for all ages.
Guild members have been offering monthly performances at the library for 13 years, and the group has grown from six members to about 30.
Banner, who is on the human services faculty at Western Washington University, said he sees the pique in interest about storytelling as a reaction to omnipresence of the Internet, especially social media. Shows such as "This American Life, "The Moth Radio Hour," "The Vinyl Cafe" and "The Prairie Home Companion" thrive on radio and other electronic devices via podcast.
"The new connectivity still demands a human touch," Banner said. (Social media) doesn't satisfy a basic human need. We're herd animals - I think people are starting to realize that they still want human connection, and storytelling is a way to do that."
"Storytelling has been around for thousands of years" as a way of early communication and to document history, before there was written language, Banner said.
He said he sees a direct correlation with storytelling and literacy, especially in regard to children.
"It helps kids connect with books," Banner said. "Everybody loves a good story."
For more information about the Bellingham Storytellers Guild, see the group's website at bellinghamstorytellersguild.org, or contact Doug Banner or Lyn Spangler at 360-714-9631 or at email@example.com.
Guidelines for performers can be found at the website under the "about us" section.
Robert Mittendorf is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Suggest your ideas for local family-friendly events, hikes or day trips at 360-756-2805 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.