Douglas Banner

Doug is a professional storyteller with comprehensive understanding of the role of narrative in culture and society from thirty plus years of researching and applying classic myth, legend, and folklore, from diverse cultures, into educational and private sectors.

Most profound experience in 2012

One day I was feeling like I didn’t have the power or the energy to continue the work on the Changing the Story for Our Time project. It all seemed so futile. Soon after I watched a piece of space junk streak across the evening sky. It was a yellow and orange fireball trailing thick, black smoke. It crashed in a farmer’s field 15 kilometers from my home. I couldn’t help but think how silly we humans are. How small we are in the scheme of things. I wondered if we would ever find our way back to that place of oneness I believe we once felt with the world. I realized that I needed to continue the work for the sake of the work. I am pulled toward the greatness of the work the same way that piece of metal was pulled back to earth. If I burn up in a fiery ball what a glorious exit that would be.

What I want to bring to the world in 2012

Owning our stories is the most important thing we humans have. In the modern context I believe others have usurped the stories for the purpose of manipulation and domination. We don’t live our own heroes’ journey but the journey defined for us by power brokers promoting consumerism, religion, scientism, and other forms of disempowerment.

Humanity needs to understand the power of their stories and appreciate the connectedness that can be found in the story field. My intention is to find that Meta-narrative  from which we can build a new world collective based on mutual respect and compassion.

What I hope to achieve professionally

I feel that I am being called to the work by something greater than myself. Thus far I have done so without compensation or recognition yet I feel that the task must be done. On a professional level I would like to see affirmation that what I am doing has value to the world. Paying the bills would be a nice bonus.

My Favorite community

I am an active member of the arts community here in Bellingham. The focal point is Allied Arts of Whatcom County.

My favorite article

I generally read articles for information for my research so I don’t really have a favorite. My favorite book at the moment is Karen Armstrong’s “A Short History of Myth.”

A glimpse of an art form I enjoy

I play music with several friends. We call ourselves the Monkey Puzzle Orchestra because we play primarily experimental music. We often blend traditional sounds and instruments with world sounds and indigenous instruments. I also invent and build instruments and those have become a regular part of our sounds as well.  We are primarily studio musicians but occasionally we are asked to play for special events. The event portrayed above was for the visiting Arjin Rinpoche. We played a blend of traditional Buddhist meditation music and Indonesian Gamelan. It was quite sweet.

The next piece is a mask I carved based on the Legend of Octopus Woman of Northwest Coastal Salish. I worked in collaboration with my artist friend John D’onofrio whose painting style was influence by William DeKooning. We wanted to do a modern re-interpretation of an ancient art form with a new, post-modern approach. I have carve over 20 masks. Each mask is completely unique, the result of often undefined variables that emerge from combining disparate elements like paint, photography, bone and feather as well as the inevitable give-and-take of collaborating with another artist.  An inherent unpredictability which really adds vitality to the process. My background as a storyteller adds yet another element to the work as  I have introduced elements of world folklore which puts flesh on the bone and connects the work to the powerful archetypes that define us in diverse, yet unified ways.

I also build musical instruments. My favorite thing to do is build them out of recycled materials. My Satori Flutes are an example. The flutes are made from reclaimed plastic pipe with hand carved wooden mouthpieces. They are based on the Native American Love Flutes and make a lovely sweet sound.