Being called a monkey can, in many cases, incite a negative reaction. According to Wikipedia: The hundredth monkey effect is a supposed phenomenon in which a learned behavior spreads instantaneously from one group of monkeys to all related monkeys once a critical number is reached.

In Whistler’s case, we’re hoping our hundredth monkey is hanging around ready for progressive action. And what might this be in Whistler? Seatbelts? Littering? Smoking? Nope, most of North America can already check these off the list. So how about oh, I don’t know? Let’s just throw one out there: how about behaviour that helps make Whistler a better place to live, work and play?

Well, given that most Whistlerites have a pretty natural ability to see the environment, economy and society together as one interconnected whole, we could have literally thousands of monkeys acting to make Whistler more successful and sustainable, rather than just a hundred.

Think about the number of actions executed by each monkey in our little resort town every day: actions to purchase, to travel, to dine, to recreate, to transport, to package, to clean, to build hundreds of thousands of actions? More? And each of these actions has an impact an impact that usually has integrated economic, social and environmental aspects to it.

Then imagine if each monkey started to shift their thinking one decision and action at a time? If we have hundreds of thousands of monkey actions being executed in Whistler every day and usually (hopefully?) each one is preceded by some kind of decision-making process, then there exists the awesome opportunity to shift our collective behaviour to more closely align with and contribute to a more successful and sustainable Whistler.

This is exactly what the new iShift challenge is going to start tipping in Whistler.

iShift is a new Whistler2020 take action challenge that will help to accelerate our resort community’s progress toward our Whistler2020 vision of success and sustainability. It is comprised of two parts: iShift Business and iShift Citizen, each targeted toward motivating a cultural and behavioural shift within Whistler. It is being facilitated by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler, with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment.

Through a workshop series followed by one-on-one assistance from WCS staff, iShift Business will support local organizations to develop and implement a sustainability action plan. The benefits to each business participant will go beyond the very valuable outcome of a better resort community to include:

  • Reduced operational costs associated with reduced energy and waste production
  • Brand lift due to leadership in more environmentally responsible operations
  • Increased and more loyal customer/client base
  • Greater employee satisfaction, recruitment and retention
  • Improved communications that create a competitive advantage by connecting with customer/client values

iShift Citizen will engage groups of Whistler citizens to create solutions and achieve measurable and practical shifts in behaviour that lead to positive, long-lasting impacts in areas such as food, energy, water, and waste. Benefits to households beyond the prize incentives that will catch your eye can include reduced energy costs, reduced waste, and improved health in your home and your community by reducing C02 emissions and improving air quality. Making changes is easier when we do it together – with friends and neighbors – rather than working alone. By participating in an iShift Citizen group, you can make simple but tangible differences, which amount to significant savings.

Contact us or stay tuned throughout October for the iShift launch and how to become part of the community-wide challenge that will have a ripple effect into the future and beyond our town.

Let the challenge begin to shift Whistler’s hundredth monkey.

by Shannon Gordon