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From page to stage

Six storytellers grab the mountain mike for Words and Stories



By Vivian Moreau

What: Words and Stories

Where: Telus Conference Centre

When: Sunday, April 15, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $10

When organizer Michel Beaudry approached local writer Feet Banks to get up on stage and tell a story at this year’s Words and Stories, Banks’ first response was: “Absolutely not. That’s why I write, so I don’t have to talk to people,” Banks said in an interview from his part-time home near Vernon.

But Banks thought about what it would be like to, for the first time in his life, stand in front of an audience and tell a story about growing up in Whistler. Banks, who moved to Whistler in 1989 at age 13, decided to take up the challenge to be one of six speakers at Words and Stories, presents by Pique Newsmagazine on April 15 at the Rainbow Theatre.

The storytelling gathering is one of 12 arts and entertainment events scheduled for the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

Other speakers for Words and Stories include locals Lisa Richardson and Beaudry, as well as Kootenay writer Mitchell Scott, skier Glen Plake, and photographer/writer team Eric Berger and Jack Turner, who will present a combined slide show-reading about their epic 1996 snowboarding trip to Iran.

Turner and Berger were the driving force behind the 10-year-old pro-photographer showdown, resulting from an impromptu slide show of the 1996 trip they made with four buddies to Iran. Back then Turner had not yet published the subsequent March, 1997 Transworld Snowboarding article about the trip. This time Berger will again be behind the slide projector but Turner will read from the Transworld article about the experience that still resonates for the duo.

“The story is interesting not necessarily because of the snowboarding but because of the experience to go to a place where nobody thought you could,” Turner said from Colorado. Turner, now a children’s entertainment producer, was a U.S. ski team member who found his athlete status gave entry into countries most North Americans couldn’t venture.

“The most important element of the trip to Iran was that there’s great people everywhere and things like sports and skiing and snowboarders are just universal things that people love, and bring people together instead of splitting them apart.”

Mitchell Scott knows what that feels like. Raised in Vancouver, Scott spent many years skiing in Whistler before moving to the Kootenays eight years ago. Editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine, as well as contributor to Bike and Outside magazines, Scott said he will speak at Words and Stories about the mountain/village dichotomy.

“A lot of times we look at ourselves as human beings as here’s the town and there’s the wilderness over there,” Scott said from his Nelson office, “but this story (that he will tell) looks at how the wilderness kind of bleeds into the town and how that affects the people that live here.”

Scott said his story is not specific to a particular mountain town.

“It’s really a story about any mountain town anywhere but you know everything in the story is real and happens somewhere,” he said.

Always real, Feet Banks said he will take time from working on his girlfriend’s hay farm to step up to the mike and tell it like it is.

“I’ve definitely got things to say about Whistler, about what it means, where it’s going and where it’s coming from,” he said. “I just have to muster up the testicular fortitude to get up there and get it done.”

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