blue hydrangea flower

Stakeholder is not a dirty word.

As an interpretive planner, part of my job is helping parks, heritage sites, zoos, and aquariums identify the people around them whose lives or work will be affected by what they’re doing. So, early on in the interpretive planning process, I ask if we can sit down and identify their stakeholders. And more and more, …

Mining Online Reviews for Fun and Profit

As an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor, I’m a big believer in evidence-based decision making. When I start a new project, the first thing I ask for is data: visitor surveys, gate revenue statistics, comment cards… anything I can get my hands on.  Recently I started an exhibit planning project where my client knows …

sunset over water

Consultation: Some Lessons Learned

In the last two years, virtually all of my projects have taken on a consultation component. At some point in an interpretive plan, an exhibit project, or a visitor experience strategy, the client needs to involve the community. These include Indigenous groups, naturalist organizations, historical societies, neighbourhood associations, and the like. Not all of these …

Shuttered church, Battleford SK

Interpretive Storytelling and the Problem of Appropriation

“Can I tell this story?” As an interpretive planner and writer, I find I’m hearing this question more and more often: how do we Settlers know when a story is appropriate for us to tell? How do we know if we have the right to tell it? When is interpretive storytelling a form of cultural …

A Community Advisory Group

It is becoming a well-known—dare I say best—practice in the heritage sector for each organization to assemble a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) advisory group. If you haven’t done so yet, you might really give it some serious thought. Who are these people? A DEIA Advisory Circle (or whatever they choose to name themselves) …

Staring down the rabbit hole of change

I am an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor. I work with museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, and parks helping them evaluate and improve their relevance, revenue, and attendance. In other words, you call someone like me when things aren’t going as well as they used to—or when you have a vision of how much …

What is Experiential Interpretation?

In the fall of 2020, I will be offering a workshop in Experiential Interpretation. Thinking ahead to the course, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time researching and pondering what that actually means. Interpretation is experiential when the interpreter uses a recognizable activity as the structure of the program, and imposes passive listening on …

Interpretive Planning: Spice Girls Edition

I’m an interpretive planner and visitor experience consultant, and when I start a new project with a client, we spend a fair bit of time identifying goals. We often start with a blank-slate, blue-sky approach: “So! What are we trying to achieve here?” But the more I do this goal-setting business, it occurs to me …