Lost in the Wilderness!!!

Snowshoeing Moon Lake

Help!!!  We arrived in “total desolation” not knowing what to expect.  It was a “barren wasteland”.  The waiver we signed said “not responsible for death caused by wild animals and parasites”.  Oh-oh! They said this was going to be fun.  They said we were going to learn to partner, to build relationships, and to experience the “T” (tourism) word in a funky value-added format. This was going to be new, fun, interactive, exciting and ultimately beneficial to the bottom line. Ok…sure..whatever…  We had our doubts initially…but now we’re believers!!

The next day was looking up…a bit, at least.  Breakfast was great…generally a good sign, so all was not lost.  Our group was obviously in the same frame of mind.  They didn’t know what to expect either.  However, after a little tongue-wagging we soon learned that their trepidations and expectations were quite similar to our own.

Earth Rhythms was phenomenal!!  The experiential outings were enlightening.  We were drawn to the local customs and traditions.  We were absorbed in the uniqueness of a distinct culture and way of life, feeling as if we belonged to it ourselves and that it had always been our own.  That’s the power of experience and it’s something that everyone can benefit from.  We never dreamed we would dance a traditional Ukrainian jig that looked so amazing in its natural state…until it was utterly destroyed by a couple of rookie bluenosers.  Fortunately for us, we weren’t alone.  The others in our group were as equally “talented” and forgiving.  We felt much better!

It all boils down to this…no matter who you are, or where you go, everyone is the same.  We’re all interdependent and herein lies our strength as human beings.  Together, we can tap into a vast supply of resources that, with a little ingenuity, can benefit one and all.  Together, we can experience, learn, adapt, grow, and profit from each other’s experiences, perceptions and opinions.

We’ve learned to look in our own backyards for the plethora of valuable resources that go un-utilized every day.  These do exist and they’re there for the taking, but sometimes they aren’t revealed until another point of view is expressed.  The full value of those hidden treasures then manifest in a flash of insight, and the hidden economic potential that lies just under our noses is finally revealed.

Our backyards, like the Manitoba “wilderness” may at times seem barren, cold and forbidding, but they can also be warm and inviting.  A cozy bonfire, starting with a tiny glowing ember of warmth – friendship, camaraderie, revelation, and knowledge – eventually grows into a fiery, consuming blaze.  That’s the power of “experiencing” over “observing”.  That’s the power of networking, building solid relationships and lasting partnerships. That’s the power of Best Practices Missions in Manitoba.

Thank you Earth Rhythms!

Blog post by Gem Johnson & Dave Hovey,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

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Babas, Bread and the Ukrainian Beat

We spend so much of our time looking inside the physical space of churches; we never take the time to look at what goes on beneath.  Through the church hall doors, we could hear the pulsating, joyous beat of an Eastern European rhythm that led us down into a world beyond our own and yet so familiar.

Ukrainian ‘Babas’ are grandmothers to the community. And included in their community is anyone they meet.  Coming into their presence we were met with warmth and love.

Most grandmothers are eager to share their stories and traditions, and the Babas are no different.  Making Easter Breads in Dauphin ManitobaAnxiously pulling us over to the table, we were immediately put to work in learning the fine art of crafting ceremonial bread.  Taken under their wings, we kneaded and rolled, braided and decorated the Pascha bread.   Not written on the ingredient list was the huge dose of laughter and joy that goes into every loaf.

Food is the backbone of Ukrainian life.  Sustaining and celebratory, you can taste the pride in every hand crafted cabbage roll and pillowy perogy.  You are called upon to eat heartily and eat some more – so as to physically ingest the love that is put into every bite.

Then, you dance!

Learning Ukrainian dancing in Dauphin, Manitoba

Life does leave its mark on the faces of the Babas.  There have been hardships.  There have been trials.  But, at the end of the day, there is always celebration, joy, community and a respect for tradition.  Pulled out of our seats, we were swept up into lively dancing and laughter.

Whatever your religious or cultural affiliation, you walk away with a sense that these Babas are the true church – loving, sharing, caring and forgiving.  They hug you with their warmth and regret your having to leave.  But when you leave, you do so with the knowledge that you have left friends behind.

When and if we go back, we know the bread will be ready for us to braid and that a large plate of love and kinship will be set before us, with the inevitable smile and exclamation of “eat” whispered in our ear.

Blog post by Pat Hudson & Phaedra Charlton-Huskins,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Best Practices Mission to Manitoba tops expectations

We snowshoed, we baked bread with babas, we carved ice sculptures at Festival du Voyageur, we learned about honey bees and how to weave cane seating for furniture seats, we learned about Hutterite traditions and ate organic food with Prairie Seasons Bakery, we learned Ukrainian dancing and watched a cymbale being played; we went behind the scenes to reflect, to discuss and to share the kinds of practical ideas that could be put to work as unique tourism experiences.  A cultural GPS adventure quest with Tourisme Riel in which we encountered unique characters, actors and moments of Francophone history within the St. Boniface area was outstanding.  And, finally, an evening of incredible cuisine with Chef Alex and his wife Daniele at Bistro 7 1/4 topped off the entire trip.  How to do Manitoba in six easy days!!

Tourism Atlantic Best Practices Mission participants learn to bake Ukrainian Easter Breads in Dauphin

Atlantic Best Practices Mission participants make & bake Ukrainian Easter breads in Dauphin

A Best Practices Mission it was called…. to learn about experiential tourism, in winter!  This was a professional development opportunity for 16 Atlantic Canada tourism operators initiated supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.  Earth Rhythms was asked to create and deliver this Best Practices Mission in its backyard – Riding Mountain National Park – where we have been successfully crafting and delivering unique tourism experiences with our local community partners for over 13 years.  

One of the participants, Anne Arsenault, from western PEI  shared her enthusiasm for what she encountered during a week in Manitoba in the middle of February…….”I just wanted to thank you all for making this mission the best I have ever attended. You were all inspiring, from Celes and his associates to Johanna and all you fellow participants, it has been a pleasure!  

There were a few ah ha moments for me which opened my eyes to new opportunities in my own community and region. The process now begins to enrich and build upon the experiential product offering we have already developed and that gives me great hope and excitement for the future…..

It has become very apparent to me that we all have beauty and uniqueness in our respective communities but what makes it most special and interesting to our visitors is the passion that the local authentic people bring to it……it is all about making that personal connection to place…..with that being said I have great memories of Manitoba largely due the special people we had a chance to meet including everyone of you!”

Earth Rhythms offers customized itineraries and unique experiences in 4-seasons for corporate groups, women’s groups, getaways, and family celebrations.  Call us at 1.204.848.4680 and ask us just one question..”What can we do to uniquely help you take away memories of things to do in the Riding Mountains, that you have never done anywhere else in the world?”

Planning Meeting for Best Practices Mission

 

Best Practices Mission Planning Meeting in Dauphin, Manitoba

Best Practices Mission Planning Meeting in Dauphin, Manitoba

Today, a group of us met in Dauphin, Manitoba to confirm planning arrangements for a number of unique experiences that will be taking place February 17 in Dauphin.  A group of tourism operators coming from Atlantic Canada will be taking part in outdoor activities in Riding Mountain National Park on their way to Dauphin.  They will visit a local honey producer, experience Ukrainian hospitality, cuisine, and music.  

Earth Rhythms, specializing in the crafting of customized learning adventures, is hosting this Best Practices Mission.  The participants in this week-long business development study trip will be taking part in a variety of Manitoba experiences to learn new aspects of experiential tourism product development, business partnerships, and will be doing so in a “hands-on” way with many of Earth Rhythms facilitators and partners.  It’s great to see that Manitoba has an export product in the form of experiential tourism.  We look forward to hosting these folks in mid-February.