Whistler 2020 

Meaningful purpose and learning

By Shannon Gordon

RMOW Policy & Program Development

How do we create the energy that drives people to achieve big and bold results? “Invite people to something meaningful, purposeful and learningful,” advises Goran Carstedt, former executive at Volvo and Ikea. He goes further to say that desired outcomes are made meaningful, purposeful and learningful when framed within the context of why they matter in the bigger picture — and when people are given the opportunity to co-create those outcomes.

Think about the circumstances under which children learn and thrive. They get excited about something when they understand why it’s important (“Why Mom?”) and when they actively contribute to its outcome.

So is Whistler2020 that “something” for Whistlerites to get excited about and contribute toward? Is it meaningful, purposeful and learningful enough to engage the community in helping to make change happen on the ground?

Whistler2020 is a vision, strategies and a community engagement process aimed at securing Whistler’s economic success while actively contributing toward a more socially and environmentally sustainable future. Very simply stated, the ultimate outcome of Whistler2020 is the enjoyment of a high quality of life by Whistlerites today and for generations to come — while contributing to global sustainability. This is meaningful purpose!

The meaning of Whistler2020 is further underscored by the fact that it was created by hundreds of community members, and is refined on an ongoing basis by more than 160 committed, knowledgeable and community-minded folks on Whistler2020 task forces — see the end of the column if you’re interested in getting involved.

The Whistler2020 vision becomes increasingly meaningful on the ground through the efforts and actions of the many committed individuals, businesses and organizations throughout Whistler. To date, this column has highlighted how our community’s plan is becoming reality in areas that include community energy systems, materials and waste, business success, improved visitor experience, enhanced transportation options, as well as affordable recreation. The “On the Ground” section of the Whistler2020 homepage presents these, and many more, stories.

Whistler2020 seems to meet the meaningful criteria. Is it also “learningful” — in other words, is the resort community learning from its actions and improving as it moves forward?

Certainly, Whistler2020 was developed along a steep learning curve. We are the first community to develop a long-term, comprehensive sustainability plan that uses an approach called “back-casting from principles”, where we imagine a future in which our community aligns with scientific sustainability principles, and prioritize actions to move toward this future. Now and into the future, implementation of the plan will stretch our thinking as, one by one, community members and organizations learn to use it increasingly well in their daily actions and decision-making.

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