Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

Hello & Welcome!

Hello amp Welcome

My passion is awakening stories and memories of connections to places in people.

I am a nationally recognized speaker and educator, as well as an award-winning songwriter and a sense of place advocate. My work helps integrate knowlege and information with feeling and expereince. And becasue we take care of what we love, finding these stories also inspires stewardship. Basically, I help people listen to the language of place.

TEDx, Shelburne Falls, MA

The Soulful Stewardship Philosophy

Places need us and we need places. It’s the reason I wanted to be a wildlife biologist in college, and then became a touring songwriter with songs rooted in evoking a sense of place.

It’s the reason I went from being moslty an entertainer, to partnering with organizations and agencies that could help me further my mission to be a catalyst for connecting people to the nature, history, towns and places we have left to love...and to take care of.

The Soulful Stewardship Philosophy is Personal stories of connection + facts, knowledge & information = a sense of place.

Having a sense-of-place creates relevance, which leads to caring, which forms the baseline for engaging in stewardship.

Your sense of place includes how you see places, how they relate to you and your life. Your place might just be a moment: a sunset or rain on a city street. It might be the room where your mother would read you stories at night.  It might be a howling wilderness or a busy street. Finding that connection can happen in a moment, or a lifetime or an afternoon.

You may just need permission, a time and space, to slow down and feel that connection, or a way to explore what that connection even means.

That internal journey is one worth taking.

For a long time in human history,  “where are you from?” revealed profoundly meaningful information. "Who are you?" was easy to answer.

Today we have more freedoms to move about. For some, people live in places they wouldn't choose. For others, that movement is not a choice but a necessity.

Yet all  of us still need to feel we belong to a place. It's a basic human need that often goes unnoticed.

Find your stories. Find your place. Find yourself...and learn how just that can really make a difference in the world.

Partial Client List

  • National Association of State Park Volunteer Coordinators
  • National Park Service
  • National Association of State Park Directors
  • National Association for Interpretation
  • Land Trust Alliance
  • National Religious Partnership for the Environment
  • American Horticultural Youth and Garden Symposium
  • Social Venture Network
  • Teton Science School
  • Antioch Graduate School
  • The Thoreau Institute

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An offical bio: Speaker, Songwriter, Educator & Sense of Place Advocate

Erica Wheeler is an award-winning songwriter and a sense-of-place speaker, educator and advocate.  Her performances and educational programs help to enrich lives, engage communities, inspire stewardship, and evoke a sense of place and belonging that is deeply needed in our world today.

In addition to public programs, she specializes in working with parks, conservation organizations, educators, and others whose work involves connecting people and place. Her experience includes keynoting at events from the American Horticultural Youth and Garden Symposium to the National Association for Interpretation and offering professional development trainings for national and state parks across the country.

With six CD's to her credit, her music has charted in the top-ten on Billboard's "Gavin Americana" chart and she has been a featured interview on NPR's "All Things Considered." Her most recent CD, "Good Summer Rain" was sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization.
Her work connecting people and place has been feature in Orion,Yes! and Yankee magazines.

Through her work Erica helps people remember what they value, so they can enjoy places more today, and take better care of places for the future.


Erica's sense-of-place work 30 years ago began when she attended Hampshire College as an aspiring wildlife biologist. It was there she also discovered the power of story to inspire conservation and stewardship, often more than research and data alone. She titled her self-designed course of study  "A Sense of Self, a Sense of Place," which explored the relationships between people and place.

She went on to become an award-winning singer/songwriter whose songs were rooted in her own sense of place and passion for protecting the places she loves. In 2001 her work came full circle. She expanded her performing career to include teaching, speaking and advocating for the land, its history, and our connection to it.

Today, she combines her skills as a performer and educator to provide unique sense-of place programs that inspire stewardship and conservation. Through her performances and educational work,  she guides individuals, communities, professionals and organizations in exploring their personal connection to place.


Erica's music is described as “cinematic” and “poetic.” She has released six albums that take listeners on journeys though the American landscape and the lives lived there. Her music has charted in the top-ten on Billboard's Gavin Americana Chart and has been featured on syndicated radio programs such as "All Things Considered" and "Voice of America.

Her most recent CD "Good Summer Rain" was sponsored in part by the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization. The album was also the winner of the 2008 National Association for Interpretation Media Award for “Best Interpretive Music.


Raised in Chevy Chase, Maryland Erica was exposed to traditional folk and bluegrass music through family escapades to the surrounding regions of rural Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. In college, when she began writing songs in earnest, Erica was inspired by independent singer.songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Nanci Griffith, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
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Erica has also been deeply inspired by writers such as Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams and the poet Mary Oliver.
Erica's music career began in Northampton, MA, an area known as "home" to a host of touring songwriters, and a hotbed for the New England revival of the acoustic music scene. At a local club of national fame, (The Iron Horse Music Hall,) Erica quickly developed from an opening act into a headliner. She honed her skills there, watching artists like Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Suzanne Vega in the 170-seat room.

Erica was also a frequent participant in the Northampton Songwriter Group, which then included fellow songwriters Dar Williams, Cliff Eberhardt, Annie Gallup, Jim Henry and more.
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In 2001 she offered her first "Soulful Sense of Place" workshop, for the Spring Earth Festival at the Murie Center in Jackson, Wyoming. Home to Mardy Murie, often referred to the as the mother of conservation (who she got to sing for!) It was there she back to bring her work full circle.

After a decade of touring and witnessing the growing sprawl that was changing many of her favorite places, she decided to more actively offer her Soulful Landscape programs. Over the past decade, she has offered her work connecting people to place at conference, learning centers and public events across the country.

Erica lives north of Northampton, Massachusetts in the hilltown of Colrain in a 100-year-old little house beside a rushing brook, surrounded by her neighbor's 750-acre dairy and maple sugar farm.

updated: 2 days ago