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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mute swan

The World’s Worst Interpretive Themes

Writing great interpretive themes is not rocket science. Why do we make it so hard? In the world of interpretation, we refer to messages as themes. The word ‘theme’ has different connotations and meanings. Sometimes I wish we didn’t use the term at all; it’s confusing, and this is one area that we really need to get right. Let’s see what the dictionary has to […]

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2016 Interpretive Programs Announced!

Some time ago, I was asked to submit a selection of programs for the upcoming season. Here are the ones I didn’t submit. Bugs, Bogs and Browbeating Our wetlands are in trouble, and it’s all your fault! Naturalist Tabitha Smugge plays a wacky “Judge” who enumerates all the ways that you’ve ruined our watershed for generations to come. Rodentia: The Musical Little Douglas Squirrel has lost his […]

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Lagoon Silhouettes

The Interpretive Voice: Find Your Spirit Guide

Finding Your Voice… On A Graph This is part two of a series. You should probably start with part one, here. In trying to craft my own voice as an interpreter and interpretive writer, I often look to some of the great interpreters I have seen over the years. And one of the things these inspiring people have in common is that they speak with a […]

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Barred owl

Dear Don: We’re Too Successful.

Welcome to the first in my Dear Don series, in which I do my best to answer questions from my readers about interpretation and visitor experience. (And if I don’t have the answers, I’ll be featuring wise experts who can help.) Dear Don: I attended your webinar on target audiences and have a question: We offer a variety of adult-only programs but there seem to be […]

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