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EcoSuperior Iceberg Exercise

In June, the City of Thunder Bay is participating in a “Commuter Challenge”. It aims to encourage citizens to use active transportation (walking, biking, wheeling, city transit) instead of relying on a vehicle to get around. The goal is to promote the physical and environmental benefits of choosing sustainable modes of transportation. At EcoSuperior we will be aiding the community with sustainable modes of transportation through school and community programs. To prepare, I wanted to try the Systems Iceberg on our office staff to see how it can be completed with community groups, while also highlighting the barriers we face to making changes internally. 

I started by using the “I see litter in the park” example to help my coworkers understand the sections of the Systems Iceberg. Once we established the background, we decided on an event that fit the promotion of active transportation. We started with the event “I always drive to work” and “Too many people are reliant on cars”. The first is a personal view and the second is the event we are choosing to start the conversation with community groups. We used the Systems Iceberg to look at our own experiences with sustainable modes of transportation and to identify barriers within our personal lives, as well as within our organization. The barrier we felt we had the most control over was the mental model of “All or Nothing”. The mindset of I can’t do it all the time, so I won’t do it at all. We discussed that making change can be small and one time a week is better than nothing. As a group, we were able to provide solutions to a barrier we felt we could control.  

For a group of adults, this was a great method to discuss a “problem” in a constructive way. It organized our thoughts and allowed us to see the bigger picture and establish an understanding of barriers and the perceived barriers. For community change, this tool will be useful in helping the public understand that living sustainably doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Breaking it down into sections allows you to anticipate patterns in your behaviour and helps to see systems that need updating to identify manageable barriers.  Applying this to United Nations SDGs education would benefit myself as an educator to use the Systems Iceberg as a tool to make those goals seem more attainable to people. By breaking them down into smaller barriers to overcome can provide individuals with a sense of contribution and belonging to the cause. 


Picture of Keelyn Tougas

Keelyn Tougas

Keelyn Tougas lives in Thunder Bay Ontario. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher and "retired" Dental Hygienist. Being a part of EcoSuperior has been a dream! She gets to be involved in environmental education for all ages and work with a great group of people. She feels fulfilled in the work that she does and that allows her to enjoy her off time. She loves music, reading, and watching TV with her cats and husband. She enjoys watching hockey, playing cards, and having coffee with her family.

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