Goals: The Definition of Success

A primer on the setting of goals A few years ago, I was involved with the organization of a giant event. It was a one-day outdoor festival and concert in a big city. It was a lot of work and a lot of money on the part of the organizers and, well, to make a long story short, it rained all day. Not just drizzle; […]

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two rowers

It’s Finally Time to STFU.

Start to think of yourself as narrator, stage manager, and prop assistant. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of interpretation in the rapidly-expanding world of experiential tourism. What is experiential tourism? It’s the future. Actually, it’s the present—the world of tourism began moving to an experiential model at least fifteen years ago. Where once it was enough to see Florence, to see Old […]

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What makes an experience memorable?

It’s a fairly simple formula, actually. Take a moment to think back to one of your most cherished travel experiences—something that goes back, say, more than five years. Close your eyes and let the images and feelings of that trip surround you. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? What were the images and feelings that came back to you first? What were the strongest among […]

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girl in crowd

Interpretive Capital and the VE Cycle

How are you spending yours? I just spent a week working with interpreters at three different national historic sites in Alberta, and what a blast it was. Is there anything more energizing than workshopping programs with passionate, engaged people? I would like to share an insight I had while working through a script about the history of a particular discovery. We were at a point in […]

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interp panel with grammar error

Proofread Twice, Print Once

As an interpretive writer, I really enjoy reading panels and exhibits as I travel across the country for my work. Occasionally, of course, I spot something that makes the writer-editor in me really cringe. I really sympathize with writers whose errors end up in interpretive panels. It’s one thing to see your mistake online, and rush to correct it. It’s quite another to see your […]

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gull in flight

Do you need a new interpretive plan?

If you’re a manager at a park, historic site or other heritage attraction, I’m guessing you know where your old interpretive plans are. Almost every site has them, gathering dust in a cabinet or stacked up on a shelf like geological strata going back decades. Is it time to get a new one done? Here are a few things to consider. Two terrible reasons to commission a new interpretive […]

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Rays: Seven sense are better than five.

Dear Don: I suck at themes. Help!

Don! I’m struggling with themes. I’m terrible at them. They’re awful. I need to get better. And I’m struggling with themes that have cropped up in other programs. They are still so fill-in-the-blank. I feel this is something myself and my team need to revisit. Some more specific case examples – what are your thoughts on “Ray are the “aliens” of our oceans”? It doesn’t have […]

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Slug crawling down wildlife sign

Branding Your Attraction: It Ain’t About The Logo

There’s no such thing as not having a brand. You have one, even as you read this. Branding is a vague and distasteful term. Particularly in the ecotourism and heritage sectors: nobody really wants to think of your cherished resource as a brand. So I’d like to establish what I mean by branding from the start: it isn’t your logo; it isn’t the look and […]

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Woman curtseying in street

Dear Don: Is theatre still interpretive if it has no storyline?

This week’s Dear Don question comes from my friend and colleague Caroline, who asks, “Have you ever seen great interpretive theatre that doesn’t have a strong narrative or plot?” I have been giving this one quite a bit of thought. All theatre is interpretive, of course, and some of the most powerful theatre I’ve ever seen had no narrative or plot that you could articulate in […]

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Tulips

Profit in a Non-Profit World

In recent years, a lot of my interpretive planning work has been with smaller non-profit and government organizations. And in both of these worlds, I think it’s safe to say that the emphasis on fiscal sustainability (a.k.a. “making money”) is getting stronger. If you’re like me, you’ve probably got some strong feelings about the role of revenue generation in the heritage sector: how much should […]

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