How I will create change in my community in 2018

[Happy New Year! It is that time of the year when you start seeing articles about how you are probably already failing your new resolutions, and tips to help you keep them. At I Ctrl Shift we may have a few articles like that…. So this year to switch it up a bit, I have asked my lovely mother, Donna Carlyle, to write a blog post about here new years resolutions, and her goal to be more involved in her community. When my mom was growing up, she moved around a lot, attending several different schools and living all across western Canada. When she moved to Ontario she really put down roots, and for as long as I can remember, she has derived a great deal of joy from turning her house into a home. In 2018, with a little convincing, she has decided to include a New Year’s Resolution about improving the community she has lived in for the past 20 years. In this post, she outlines her experience with social marketing thus far, the method that she will be using to track her goal progress this year, and her personal goals for 2018. We will be checking back in with her a few times this year to see her progress. Happy 2018!

Looking back, the first time I remember being “socially marketed” to was when I was a child in the 60’s and 70’s with the behaviour-altering concept that I shouldn’t just drop my candy wrappers onto the ground. “Pollution” was the word that was used.  It could happen to earth, air, or water.  We were all going to die if we didn’t smarten-up.  I could stop littering but felt I had no control over what was happening to the water or the air and we were all going to die… this was replaced by a fear of dying from a nuclear war …but those were the times I grew up in.

The Definition of Social Marketing and my Introduction to Rain Gardens

While behaviour change marketing continued to influence my life, I was eventually made aware that it had a name by an enthusiastic daughter who not only studied social marketing, but enjoyed using her behaviour change strategies on her friends and family. She taught me that social marketing is the practice of using marketing for things that help society, such as health or the environment. In the summer of 2015, she was living at home, and working with a local environmental charity to encourage uptake in rain gardens. It was through her that I learned about how municipal stormwater is managed. In our community, when it rains the water runs off the roof and onto the driveways, over the roads and into the storm drains and emptying into our lake. On this path, it picks up all the oil and other dirt from the pavement, carrying it into our lake. On days after heavy rainfall, the beach sometime shuts down because there are too many contaminants which make the water unsafe for humans to swim in. This is the same place we get our drinking water from! In order to clean up our water, the local Conservation Authority was offering funding to residents for installing rain gardens. A rain garden is designed to take water from the downspouts and slowly filter it down through the soil, and into the water table. The more people doing this, the less contaminated water into the sewers. I had wanted a garden in that location already, but learning that it could have a positive effect on our lake, sounded like a wonderful idea. The fact that there was a government grant involved was the clincher. My daughter encouraged me to talk it up with the neighbours and initially there were four of us that were interested. In the end, two of us went through with it. It was a bit time consuming submitting estimates and drawings and applying for the grant, but it helped that two of us were working together. I think if I had been the only one, I may not have followed through. That tends to be my biggest obstacle; if it’s too complicated and too much effort I tend not to bother.

I can honestly say that I am thrilled with my rain garden and so happy I went through with it.  I love its wild natural look and the birds, butterflies, and squirrels like it too.  Going into my third season it will now require very little watering as the plants are native and can survive with the water the rain provides. It was definitely worth the effort.



The Next Big Thing: Textile Recycling

Last May my daughter was living with me again briefly (these millenilas never really leave home) and I was telling her about something I had read in the paper. A city nearby had just introduced textile recycling and I thought “why doesn’t our city do that?”.  My daughter suggested that I send a copy of the article to our city waste management department and find out if it was something that could be started here.  I do donate most of our used clothing, however there are a lot of textiles that are not in good enough condition to donate, and I feel uncomfortable just putting them in with the garbage.  Surely there was something that could be done with this kind of waste.  I thought someone should find out why our city doesn’t do this but that it wasn’t necessarily up to me.  For one thing I’m sure they are already aware of the program and have a number of reasons why they would not be implementing it here.  After all, they are in that business and would be aware of what’s being done in nearby municipalities.

Most of my friends and neighbours would use this kind of service.  It has been 8 months now since I saw the article and have not made the call.  The only reason it is even on my radar, to be honest, is that I have a box of various fabric from clothing or bedding that is growing in my crawlspace, and my daughter asks about it occasionally.  Technically I have stopped sending textiles to the landfill, I just haven’t done anything with them. I suppose, however, there is no harm in asking, more inquiries would show more interest and that is ultimately how change is made.  With little effort I could satisfy myself with an answer as to why it isn’t feasible here.

The Plan for Achieving my Goals in 2018

So inquiring about textile recycling is something my daughter feels I could do this year, and I need a plan to make sure I reach my goals. I was reading a regular columnist in the paper one day and he was explaining about a goal setting method he called a “dashboard”. I immediately thought that my social marketing-expert daughter would be interested in this, or more likely, had already heard of it.

It was something that sounded very useful for a person like me who gets lots of “great ideas” and good intentions but has a lot of trouble following through.  It consists of using a modified form of a “to do” list which is great because I LOVE making lists of things I want accomplish.

The dashboard is set up with goals that are divided into four categories and within each category you set up your individual targets.  You don’t pass or fail you just get red, green or amber lights depending on how close you come to meeting your targets and where you are lacking or veering off course. The middle of the dashboard contains the big picture of where you are headed, similar to what you are heading toward out the front window of your car.  Your monthly goals fluctuate and change but you see the big picture of where you’re headed based on performance.  He also pointed out in his example how the two goals on the bottom part of his chart, which where best family and best self, supported his goals on the top of the chart which had two do with personal growth in learning and career.  This would be a much better method than making a “resolution” at New Years, guiding your life towards your core values and a way to help someone like me….wanting to make changes but needing the encouragement of a “check engine” light.

The dashboard goals that I was thinking of while reading the article were about health and fitness, and  spending time learning something new.  A picture of my dashboard for 2018 is below,  with my target for textile recycling under growth, (and my only red category for January).


So, I have my dashboard, and I have my plan. I will make a call to find out more about where the city currently stands on this issue.

[If you live in Barrie, ON and have thought about textile recycling, or want to know more about rain gardens, let us know!]


Donna Carlyle does not want her picture here. She has no twitter or LinkedIn, and this is her first blog post. She has in the past, been pressured into doing things for her daughter, such as using less energy when her daughter was doing a dissertation on energy conservation, this blog post, and soon cycling or walking to work, as her daughter now works for an active travel charity. Look out for more blogs in this series in 2018.






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