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Open ears, open minds

Why it makes sense to use our senses

Last weekend, destination:development had the honour and pleasure to attend the Sonophilia Winter Retreat in Salzburg, a meeting point for open-minded leaders who believe in the creative potential of cross-conversations and seek inspiration through music and the arts. Martin and I (Kerstin) were invited as fellows together with Coworking Salzburg and had the opportunity to present the Chocolate Road project to a top-crowd of inspirational scientists, musicians, engineers and leaders in various fields. One might wonder, what brings all these different people together – apart from the charming hosts Seda and Matthias Röder ? After the first coffee break the answer came to me quite easily: All participants share a holistic and creative view on the world and the things they do, and everybody enjoys listening – to music as well as to other people.

One week after this very inspiring and fun get-together, I have had enough time to digest the many interesting things I learned, and to recapitulate the lessons learned for destination:development as well. At Sonophilia, there was a general consent on the importance of creativity and listening in all fields of work: microbiologist Gabriele Berg encourages us to listen to our gut feeling, innovation specialist Ulrich Dietz reminds us that creativity is not a question of IQ and that we need to allow the unadapted, career&management consultant Dorothee Echter inspires us to find and follow our ambition, venture strategist Cindy Chin  invites us to tickle our adult brain cells by learning languages, playing instruments and dancing (the only ways for an adult brain to grow), journalist Elisabeth Wasserbauer demonstrates that good answers always need good questions filled with knowledge and the founder of Sonophilia, Seda Röder, shows us how listening can bring out the music in us and in the things we do – she even managed to make a baking tray tune in with her piano. Now, you might wonder what all this has to do with sustainable development, responsible tourism and destination:development?

U/lricvh Dietz about innovation at the Sonophilia Winter Retreat 2016 SavedImage_20160123_200343_01~2_resized

The sustainable development of responsible destinations needs innovation, which needs inspiration, which needs –among other things – a lot of creativity and listening. Only if we listen can we find what we need for innovation. In the case of the destination:development project The Chocolate Road, we listened to the farmers and members of the El Ceibo cooperative in Bolivia in order to find out about their world; their needs, hopes, expectation, ideas, capacities, potentials and sometimes also about their lack of knowledge – or ours. Only listening made us realize where to start with the design of the future tourism destination, the Chocolate Road. Only by listening did we learn about and understand the rhytm of the region, its people and its nature. And only by using our creativity could we literally paint pictures of the places and pleople we are dealing with and find new combinations of things to make a destination work responsibly.

Sapecho Gespräche mit Chef der örtlichen Kooperative Sapecho Martin und Kerstin mit Hoved Pacara

Maybe this all sounds rather esoteric to you. But why not ask ourselves from time to time if we have a wide enough variety of channels we get our input from? Why not include creativity in our ways of thinking and working? Why not listen to the sounds of places we seek to explore or find relaxation at? And why not listen to the people who live in those places? Wouldn’t it make sense to use all our senses?