Your stories about places, matter.

Sense of Place Consulting offers tools, trainings, keynotes and programs that help connect people and place, so that both people and places can thrive.

Find your sense of place stories.
Boost creative thinking.
Gain tools to connect people and place.
Collaborate, team-build and engage.
Explore the power of place.

Gain a framework of proven tools and techniques that can be applied to your life, your business, your surroundings and your visitors, your team or your community.

Who is this for?

If you work at a site that offers programs for visitors, such as a park, museum, learning center or other natural or cultural heritage site, hiring Erica to work with your staff or team can help you improve your tours and visitor experiences.

If you work with communities and want to inspire sense of place tourism, planning and participation, hiring Erica will help you engage more people and activate new stories and fresh perspectives.

If you want to explore your individual sense of place and find your own stories, going to a public event or hiring Erica to provide a program will help you remember and explore your stories. You can start now by reading her blog, downloading her free e-book or listening to her music!

If you’re looking for a different approach for thinking about where you work, live or play, this work will give help you see the familiar through fresh eyes.

Training

Empower your Staff

  • Give the best tours and visitor experiences possible.

  • Gain tools, learn skills and practice techniques to engage diverse visitors.

  • Team-build and collaborate.

  • Increase capacity to mitigate burnout.

Learn More about Erica's Multi-Day Training

Proven tools and techniques that help both new and long-term staff gain a fresh approach to interpretation, program design, audience engagement and team-building. Helps to provide the best visitor experiences possible.

Keynotes

Inspire your Attendees

Take your attendees on an unforgettable journey across the American landscape and the lives lived there through story, song, reflection, humor and conversation.


Nurture the Next Generation

  • Integrate academic knowledge with personal experience

  • Empower self-expression in students

  • Help students discover a sense of place and belonging anywhere

  • Explore how a sense of place inspires leadership and sustainability

Learn more about Erica's Youth and Academic Programs

 

Cultivate leaders through integrative learning. We help to bridge academic knowledge and personal experience. Empower creativity in students and give them a sense of place and belonging, no matter where they are.

Community

Engage your Community

  • Increase caring and support for the work you do

  • Inspire new sense of place stories

  • Connect diverse audiences to diverse places

  • Boost partnerships, collaboration and alliances through shared stories

  • Recharge your passion for your work

Learn more about Erica's Community Engagement Programs

Sense of place performances, workshops and tours, customized to engage youth, families and adults. Help people to enjoy and appreciate places more, discover their personal stories and find their own authentic ways to make a difference.

Services

Training/Visitor Services:
Sense of Place and the Art of Interpretation (for Interpreters, Volunteers, Partners)

Interpretive Guide Training, Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough NH

Interpretive Guide Training, Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough NH

  • Generate fresh ideas

  • Gain skills and practice techniques to improve program content and draw visitors back again and again

  • Learn how to engage diverse visitors

  • Give the best tours and visitor experiences possible

  • Team-build and collaborate

  • Increase capacity to mitigate burnout

Learn More about Erica's Multi-Day Training

 


Professional Development Training, Conference Facillitation & Keynotes at National, Regional and Community Events
(for Natural and cultural Heritage sites, communities and Professional)

Underground Railroad Heritage Center, National Heritage Area Training

Underground Railroad Heritage Center, National Heritage Area Training

  • Inspire new sense of place stories

  • Increase caring and support for the work you do

  • Connect diverse audiences to diverse places

  • Boost partnerships, collaboration and alliances through shared stories

  • Recharge your passion for your work

Learn more about Erica's Community Engagement Programs


For Youth Leadership and Academic Programs

Youth Leadership Training for New Bedford National Historic Park,New Bedford, MA

Youth Leadership Training for New Bedford National Historic Park,New Bedford, MA

  • Empower self-expression in students

  • Integrate academic knowledge with personal experience

  • Help students discover a sense of place and belonging anywhere

  • Explore how a sense of place inspires leadership and sustainability

Learn more about Erica's Youth and Academic Programs

 

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What is the Soulful Stewardship
Method?

The Soulful Stewardship Method is grounded in the philosophy that personal stories spark meaningful connections, which cultivate memorable experiences that draw people back to their favorite spots again and again. The key to activating these stories and connections is discovering a sense of place.

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What is a Sense of Place?

Sense of place is that "sweet spot" where what you know about a place; research, data, and information, intersects with what you feel; feelings, story and memory.

Knowledge + Experience = Sense of Place

The emotional and profound experiences that spring from a sense of place are intrinsically connected to the location, so visitors will continue to remember and return to relive and reconnect with those experiences and emotions.

Normally, finding a sense of place can be a lifelong discovery process. Erica’s experience and tailored methodology provides a springboard for that process so you and your visitors can start seeing better results right away.

How it Works

The Soulful Stewardship Method uses a Sense of Place Discovery Process that evokes personal connections to foster caring and inspire action. This approach is a 7-step journey that guides participants to discover, explore and share sense of place connections.

This process offers tools and techniques for discovering stories, meaning and ways to take action to change the way visitors see and experience your location. This approach has been honed and refined through more than a decade of working with groups across the country. and can help your visitors enjoy much more than just a beautiful view.

The 7 steps of this process will lead you on journey to:

  • Discover your unique Sense of Place Story

  • Uncover meaning and connections

  • Boost your staff’s story-crafting and delivery skills

  • Explore strategies to bring visitors back again and again

Why it Matters

In the not so distant past, knowing the nature and history of a place was key to our ancestor's survival and identity. Who people were individually and collectively was firmly rooted in place. Today, in our fast paced mobile lives, we may live far from our ancestral home and far from where we grew up. We may know little about the place that surrounds us and have a longing to feel more rooted to a place.

Tourists and travelers are now, more than ever, looking to rekindle that sense of place. They are looking for amazing adventures, experiences and memories that will not only stand the test of time, but that they cannot find anywhere else. Something unique and new is novel, and visiting new places has always been about novelty. It’s the promise of a new experience that brings people to the most amazing places in the world, and it’s the promise of reliving that experience that draws them back.

And you have the one rare resource needed to give people a new home for their most cherished memories - a special, historic, and breathtaking location. A sense of place can be discovered, evoked and restored first in staff, and then passed to customers.

Why sense of place stories?

What I know for sure is that everyone has stories about connections to places. Some you know already, they’re obvious. Other stories may be just waiting to be remembered, evoked and revealed.

What I also know for sure is that every place has layers of story. These stories are held through time and all the diverse meanings and perspectives of all the people who have connected with that place in one way or another over time.

This work is about exploring internal and external landscapes. It’s about finding the door in for connecting people and place. It helps us contemplate the past, experience the present and consider the future. It helps us make more sense of our lives and our world.

I help people find these stories.

What does it mean to not have a sense of place? Some people call it feeling disconnected or as just an unnamed yearning. Others aren’t sure what to call it. They feel out of place. Not grounded. Unsettled. Dislocated.

What does it mean to feel a sense of place? When people uncover their stories (from their past or present) that connect them to a place, some people call that feeling at home or feeling a sense of belonging. Some people describe it as feeling rooted, or comfortable or a sense of well-being. Others see it as a pathway for connection, for understanding and making sense of their lives and the world.

I call it finding a sense of place, and it is at the heart of my work woven into everything I offer, from the songs I write and sing, to the tools and training methodology offer.

Interpretive Training

"We brought Erica in to help us master the art of storytelling and to learn how to share the meaning of these places even more effectively. When we worked with Erica before, it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my career. I was thrilled by seeing the growth in rangers and the inspiration they gleaned.” National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, DC

"I observed my staff applying Erica's approach and feel that the level of programs this year was just outstanding. Even our more "science based" interpreters brought in more of the emotional, reflective techniques.  Her ideas were especially effective for creating that baseline of connection that leads to meaningful dialogue. I personally used her techniques in my programs and found they were incredibly powerful every time, with all ages. We're looking forward to continuing to use what we learned." Cape Cod National Seashore, MA

"You are missing out if you aren't trying to book Erica for your upcoming workshop or training event. Her work with the ‘sense of place’ concept through her Soulful Landscape workshop provides excellent hands-on exercises in an area that is so often perceived as intangible, while her keynote was just the dose of inspiration we needed.” Chief of Interpretation, Arkansas State Parks and Tourism

Training Participants

"As a marine, I don’t always feel comfortable expressing philosophical or emotional feeling with strangers. However, these activities encouraged just that and the universally positive responses encouraged me further.” Yosemite National Park, CA

"I've attended numerous session throughout my career, and I honestly feel that this was the best, most energetic, true feeling workshop about what we do and love." Howard County Parks and Recreation, Columbia, MD

"Erica creates a kind of alchemy in the room where even the most timid of us is inspired to find the writer within. She gave us new tools and reminded me of tools I once knew and had long forgotten. She inspired me to get back to an interpretive project I had put aside which I am now working on with renewed enthusiasm and focus." National Association for Interpretation

 

Land Trusts

“Erica had all of us in the room reconnected to the land, to our special memories, and to our passion for the work." Lee Hayes, Vice President, Sippican Land Trust, MA

"We invited Erica out for a week to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Big Sur Land Trust with a variety of events. Her positive impact reverberated throughout our community and continues to this day. Erica's ability to connect people and place beautifully aligned with our mission to strengthen communities and inspire stewardship"
Bill Leahy, Executive Director, Big Sur Land Trust, CA

Educators

"With its emphasis on integrating writing, music, and a sense of place, Erica's workshop was incredibly inspiring... [She] gave us all an invaluable opportunity to reflect on our connections to the land, our personal history, and our best selves."  Faculty Director, University of Vermont, VT

“Erica has an impressive versatility. Her warm personality and knowledge of her subject matter gave our students a gift: she empowered them to express themselves and connect to the land in a way many of them had never experienced before." Margot Martin, Journeys School, (K-12) Jackson, WY

"Using Erica Wheeler's ideas, I developed writing prompts incorporating nature. These were some of the best writing prompts I have ever used. The students were excited, had vast amounts to write about, freely expressed their thoughts without fear of right or wrong, and made a connection to nature/place and themselves." Saratoga Elementary School, Saratoga, WY

"Erica magically turned each students poetry into a folk song which she sang beautifully and spontaneously in the classroom. Students were mesmerized by her talent and eagerly shared their creative writing in the class.” All Saints Episcopal Day School, Carmel, CA

Public Workshops

"If I had one word to describe Erica Wheeler's Soulful Landscape workshop, it would be 'magical.'“
Claire Dacey, Naturalist, Artist, Historian, MA

"At the end of the 3- part writing prompt, I had enough material to write several powerful essays as well as a new idea for an inspirational card deck. If that wasn't enough, Erica listened to what I wrote and in less than a minute had whipped up a terrific song. If anyone can rally the preservation troops to get "a sense of place" off the endangered species list, it's Erica Wheeler." Giulietta "Julie" Nardone, Participant, Upton Forest State Park, MA

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Erica Wheeler is a visitor experience specialist, speaker, educator and performing artist who has helped people across the country find and share their sense-of-place stories through her inspiring programs.

Over the past decade, Erica has worked extensively with natural and cultural heritage sites across the country and recently brought her training to over 30 National Parks.

Erica specializes in helping the staff of parks, museums and learning centers give the best visitor experiences possible. She also works with communities, organizations and stakeholders, helping them find and share their sense of place stories.

Her Soulful Stewardship techniques have been proven effective in evoking sense of place connections anywhere, from urban to historic sites to the wilderness.

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