Tuesday, November 22, 2011

American Samoa Interpretive Panels

I just posted some jpgs of interpretive panels I'm creating on my Facebook page. Go to http://www.facebook.com/ericafielderstudio to see the latest postings. These panels are being produced for American Samoa in the South Pacific. While doing research for the educational panels, I discovered that the Samoan Islands are among the least westernized of of Polynesian islands. 

Since the Samoan language and culture are mostly intact, our panels display both Samoan and English text. Although I have no idea how to pronounce the words properly, the spelling and the way they sound with my pronunciation, reminds me of the sound of ocean waves. This makes me wonder if languages formed in distinct habitats, like islands or jungleshttp://www.facebook.com/ericafielderstudio, somehow reflect the sounds of those habitats and the critters that live in them. Does anyone know? If so, I'd like to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How To Write Interpretive Text That Stimulates Your Visitors’ Minds and Hearts

Interpretive text writing for wayside displays, interpretive panels and visitor centers has become specialized during its one hundred year history. On a hiking trail, for example, such text must be easy to read quickly, convey important facts, and inspire an emotional connection to the natural or cultural feature your visitors are looking at. We would be so happy if your visitors fell in love with your site, inspired by the displays we make for you.

Here are some guidelines we at Erica Fielder Studio would use if we were to write interpretive text for your wayside panels.

To begin, we make the viewers experience easy and direct by picking a single focus such a particular old tree at a park filled with acorns. Then we ask ourselves these questions:

1. Does the text describe the theme as part of a larger story? Does it include expanse of time and space, how the site is being modified today, what we can expect in the future?

2. Does the writing evoke a sense of place? Does it help your visitor create an appreciation or attachment to this site? Are there cultural and spiritual values we can weave into this theme that will enhance your visitors’ understanding? Can this theme be presented as part of human history?

3. Does the text help your viewer make connections? Does it include analogies, similes and metaphors that relate to personal experiences and help lead to understanding the theme’s deeper meaning?

5. Does the text engage your visitor on an emotional level? Most of us tend to forget facts. However, when we simultaneously experience feeling, we are more likely to remember facts and their meaning over time.

Average panel viewers spend 43 seconds in front of a wayside panel or other outdoor exhibit so obviously we can’t fill it with all the facts and personal experiences we can think up. However, you’ll want them to gain as meaningful an experience as possible as they jog by. So, the text we write for you is concise and to the point. 

Here is the final text our talented text writer, Maraya Cornell, wrote about the old granary tree at Cache Creek Regional Park in northern California. She used interpretive guidelines to make it lively and personal. The colored text highlights the personal characteristics woven with the facts.

To see more tips on how to write for interpretive displays, view archived newsletters http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs075/1102292071623/archive/1102454491371.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Speak to Your Friends About Climate Change

The Art of Framing Climate Change: As a nature/culture interpreter, I try to make scientific facts and social issues inspiring and personal so park visitors, including children, can better understand and absorb them. Thus, a workshop for interpreters on Climate Change, one of the biggest challenges world populations have ever faced, provided important tools for my work, and also for anyone who encounters a Global Warming Doubter.

Three reasons many people don’t believe in Climate Change or Global Warming and are not engaged in helping to turn it around: they believe scientists have developed only theories, not facts; they think this is too big an issue and we can’t do anything about it; their values do not embrace the issue and are not negotiable.

Here are some keys for framing a discussion with park visitors and your friends and families about Climate Change so the conversation brings insight.

One: Listen and develop trust. When beginning such a conversation, use eye contact, open body language, paraphrase what the other person says so they know you are hearing their concerns and confusion, ask questions. Keep your opinions to yourself. Simply listen.

Two: Say things such as, “It sounds like you are concerned that we cannot solve this problem.” Or, “It sounds like you don’t believe it is happening because the scientists seem to contradict each other.” Be alert and truthful to what you are hearing.

Three: Tell your friend what you do just in case Climate Change is real. “Some species in our park are disappearing due to warming temperatures so we are expanding our park to include higher elevations.” Or, “I bought a car that gets great gas mileage.” Or, “ Weather stripping my home saved me a lot on heating bills this year.” Note that personal finances and Climate Change usually go hand in hand. Most people are willing to learn new ways to save money. And, park visitors love wildlife and are willing to do what they can to protect it.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Interpretive Panels Unveiled at Cache Creek Regional Park in Yolo County, California.

Today, six interpretive panels are being unveiled and the funder will be present to sign off on the entire project. This is one of the panels. The people at the County offices were wonderful to work with. Creating the art for these panels was really challenging, due to the large size 36" x 60". This project inspired me to change the way I make the art for panels in general. I'll be using these new techniques in the future. If you want to see more panels, visit my site at www.ericafielderstudio.com.