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Living Lightly column


By Anne Stelling, Facilitator, Wodonga Urban Landcare Network

The question common to people in Landcare is how to get people to care about our environment. How can we get our message heard, and more importantly, make the hearer care enough to make a change? How can we share our passion in a way that ignites others?

It is not enough to simply present facts and expect a person to ‘get it’. We are all bombarded with facts every day, one way or another, yet rarely change what we do or the way we do it because of that! Nor is it enough to show someone our wonderful work and expect them to feel moved to join us. We all see admirable things every day too, but don’t necessarily feel connected enough to them to think it’s any of our business.

To change, we need to be able to have that ‘Aha!’ moment; to connect what we are experiencing with something we know on a personal level to be true. Bringing that moment to us is the art of Interpretation.

We see examples of Interpretation in many of our local parks and reserves. It may take the form of a sign as we walk through the gate, a storyboard under a shelter, a sculpture or artwork. Poor Interpretation we’ll all likely ignore. Good Interpretation will stay with us.

Successful Interpretation communicates ideas and feelings to help us enrich our appreciation of the world and our role within it. It presents our message in a way that enriches a personal experience and leads to a deeper understanding of the subject. This then has the power to shape the way we behave.

The tradition of Interpretation has its roots in the American romantics like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Luminaries in the field include writer Freeman Tilden and the modern Interpretation guru Sam R. Ham. Their work enables us to better craft our Interpretation to communicate meaning in universal and compelling ways.

As part of the Albury Wodonga Sustainable Living Festival, the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network presents ‘Interpreting your Patch’ on Friday November 30th, 9.00-11.30am at Felltimber Community Centre, led by Fleur Stelling. Workshop is free but bookings are essential via Eventbrite.  The workshop is supported by the Victorian Government.

To see the full Sustainable Living Festival program visit: alburywodonga.gov.au/slf