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Just who is this Brandon Spars?

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"Well, first off, he’s at least eight feet tall. You can’t tell by looking at him if he’s entertaining.  Some people look like they have interesting stories to tell. Some look like they may work in finance. Brandon sorta leans toward the finance side. Or a high-school teacher, which makes sense, because he is a high school teacher. But that just adds to his mystique."

—Bil Lepp

A nationally renowned storyteller—five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, author, and recording artist

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About Brandon

Brandon has been a college and high school instructor for twenty-five years, primarily at UC Berkeley and Sonoma Academy. He has also taught at the College of the Marshall Islands, The Padang Teaching Institute in Sumatra, The University of Mahasaraswati in Bali, Indonesia. He received his doctorate in an interdisciplinary program at UC Berkeley in 2002.


As a teacher of both high school humanities and college writing, Brandon has always brought storytelling into his lessons, whether focusing on ancient history or English language acquisition. He has contributed to countless workshops and conferences on the intersection between storytelling, ancient history, and pedagogy. Brandon is a regular Bay Area storyteller as well as a TEDx speaker and a five-time champion of the Moth StorySLAM (including two GrandSLAMS).

Events

  • Keep Ukrainian Scholars & Journalists Safe
    Keep Ukrainian Scholars & Journalists Safe
    Thu, Jul 06
    Online Fundraising
    Jul 06, 2023, 12:43 PM – Jul 07, 2024, 12:43 PM
    Online Fundraising
    Jul 06, 2023, 12:43 PM – Jul 07, 2024, 12:43 PM
    Online Fundraising
    I have worked closely with individuals at a Ukrainian organization dedicated to promoting the gift of storytelling and scholarship about folklore. The people in this organization are dynamic, insightful, and dedicated, and now... unfortunately... they are fearing for their lives.
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  • Bay Area Storytelling Festival
    Bay Area Storytelling Festival
    Fri, May 03
    Sonoma Academy
    May 03, 2024, 5:00 PM – May 04, 2024, 8:00 PM
    Sonoma Academy, 2500 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, USA
    May 03, 2024, 5:00 PM – May 04, 2024, 8:00 PM
    Sonoma Academy, 2500 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, USA
    In 2024 the 33rd Bay Area Storytelling Festival will be held at the beautiful Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California. With sweeping views of the surrounding hills and a new, state-of-the-art 500-seat theater, it’s the perfect location to gather as a storytelling community.
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  • Coyote Tales 2024
    Coyote Tales 2024
    Sat, Mar 09
    SA Community & Performance Arts Center
    Mar 09, 2024, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
    SA Community & Performance Arts Center, 2500 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, USA
    Mar 09, 2024, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
    SA Community & Performance Arts Center, 2500 Farmers Ln, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, USA
    This incredible event, hosted by our own award-winning storyteller and Humanities teacher Brandon Spars, has been a community favorite since 2017.
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Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali

August 10, 2020

Rangda: The Legendary Goddess of Bali examines the layered origins of this premier Southeast Asian goddess. As prominent as Pele of the Polynesian Islands, Rangda is perhaps the most familiar, most feared, and most revered deity, regularly represented by her unique and horrifying mask in the temples of Bali while also adorning the tourist pamphlets and t-shirts of Kuta Beach. Even though prominent, she has been both misunderstood and misrepresented. This book delves into her textual origins in the lontar tradition (palm leaf manuscripts) and combines that with a close look at her crucial role in Balinese cleansing rituals before arriving at how modern Indonesian writers are trying to free this goddess from her imprisonment by state and patriarchal powers. In an illustrated section, the author and illustrator combine their talents to portray Rangda’s power to captivate and enchant today and through the ages.

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Setting a Plot: The Impact of Geography on Culture, Myth, and Storytelling

August 24, 2019

"Capacious in its coverage and compellingly written, Brandon Spars reflects on how the stories we tell—not only their settings but their plots, characters, and themes—are conditioned by the environments we inhabit. With refreshing candor, Spars describes experiences teaching various oral traditions that have emerged from valleys, islands, deserts, and mountains. This book is smart and fun to read."


Bryan Wagner, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley.

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Live to Tell Again: Tales of Self-Discovery and Healing

June 18, 2019

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category

Live to Tell Again is the second book in this series that explores the art and craft of storytelling. This volume explores storytelling as a means to discover meaning and purpose in one's life, using moments in which difficult decisions are made as material for generating powerful personal stories. One story even highlights the potential for storytelling to aid in the process of healing after a tragic event. The October fires of 2017 in Santa Rosa devastated a community. Live to Tell Again captures some of the stories told at a live event the author hosted called "Thicker Than Smoke," weaving them together in a way that reveals not only the personal loss t suffered by the storytellers but also the hope, dignity, and humor that are helping to heal and renew the community. Live to Tell Again provides excellent opportunities to study the structure and development of personal narrative, as well as a unique and lively manner of learning spoken English.

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Live to Tell: Six Award-Winning Tales

February 22, 2017

*Winner of the Storytelling World 2019 Honors for Special Storytelling Resources category


Live to Tell explores the art and craft of storytelling in such a way that readers can appreciate the dynamic between the written page and the live stage. The scripts for six award-winning tales are anthologized in this collection, with links to live performances from storytelling competitions, including The Moth StorySLAM. Additionally, Live to Tell brings storytelling into the ESL, high school, and college classroom, providing excellent opportunities to learn spoken English and reflect on the elements that make up a lively tale told in an animated way. This collection will inspire students and storytellers alike to bring their own personal narratives to life--and possibly even to the stage.

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More heroes: Brandon Spars at TEDxSonomaCounty
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TEDx Talks

More heroes: Brandon Spars at TEDxSonomaCounty

Brandon Spars is a high school humanities instructor at Sonoma Academy, where he teaches non-Western history and literature. He has traveled and lived in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands for more than seven years, which has shaped his academic interests in Asian and Pacific Island folklore and provided the rich experiences that he shares in stories of his own. Brandon attends many conferences on pedagogy with a special focus on incorporating storytelling within the high school classroom. He loves nothing more than to liven up a slow, sleepy afternoon class with a loud, scary folktale from Indonesia. In his TEDxTalk, Brandon asks the question, "Why don't my students have heroes?" By exploring this humorous personal tale that takes places somewhere in Indonesia, this master storyteller shows us that everyone has the potential to be a hero, and that heroes sometimes take surprising forms. About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations) Creative direction, event AV and full service video provided by http://repertoireproductions.com/