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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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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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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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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Song sparrow, singing

The Interpretive Voice

… have you found yours? Have you ever tried writing interpretive text as a committee? It’s about as delightful as being pecked apart by mergansers. Each writer contributes a piece, and each piece might be lovely on its own, but you put the bits together and they just don’t get along. And so you talk and you edit and you re-write and edit some more… until you […]

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Honey bee and lavender

 The Interpretive Soapbox

  Interpreters are purveyors of wonder. Never, ever forget it. Those of us who work with endangered species (or endangered resources of any kind) tend to feel fairly passionate about them. We also tend to be have long personal histories with our subjects, and a high level of knowledge about them. As a result, we are prime candidates for committing what I’d like coin as Enright’s Cardinal […]

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Learning And The New Visitor Experience Paradigm

Let us talk less about learning, and more about connecting with essence of place, about the forging of links, the fostering of emotions and the long-term making of meaning. This is the conclusion of my series on the Visitor Experience (VE) Revolution. You might want to start with the first chapter, here. I consider myself both a champion and a casualty of the new visitor experience […]

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Lighthouse, Ucluelet

Hiring Talented Interpreters

“You can hire talent and give it experience. You can’t do the opposite.” -me In my previous entries in this series, I have tried to build the argument that a) traditional sit-down interpreter interviews are a waste of time and select for the wrong qualities, and b) interpretive workshop interviews, though much better, are a waste of the candidates’ time and still select for the […]

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