A Fond Farewell



by: Josée Méthot & Jessica Marais

Vision 2020 was incredibly ambitious, and as the whole thing draws to a close we’re in the mood for reflecting. As we collect the numbers for final reports, we’re reminded that Vision 2020 really was the largest, most far-reaching and collaborative sustainability project ever undertaken at McGill: it involved over 1500 participants engaged by an evolving team of 10 and a steering committee of 25. It featured 37 community events,17 new projects, 757 twitter followers, 10 210 blog views, 1460 newsletter subscribers… and 1 official Sustainability Strategy for McGill University. That last number, while the smallest, was pretty huge for us.

But while we can point to many concrete outcomes of the project, Vision 2020’s impact is so much more broad and significant than the numbers can easily summarize. It gave rise to dozens of new partnerships, cross-cutting conversations, and opportunities to reflect and share. Countless friendships and professional connections have been established around the exploration of sustainability, and more pathways of communication and dialogue between the grassroots and administrative realms have been cleared.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, we can see that Vision 2020 has really changed the sustainability game at McGill (and if you want to learn more about how, take a peek at our two videos here and here). With a crowd-sourced and administration-vetted vision for sustainability, 23 goals to strive for, and 14 priority actions to focus on, we have what we need to move forward concretely in the coming years. Of course, these concrete steps are only possible because, over the past two years, a big, jumbled community of people has come together to learn, connect, and make things happen.

For us, the V2020 co-coordinators, it was a fascinating journey. Vision 2020 was such a huge community effort, involving literally thousands of students, staff, and faculty from many areas of the university who all had different backgrounds and sometimes conflicting viewpoints on what sustainability even was, what it would look like at McGill, and how we might make the changes – big and small – needed to truly foster sustainability. Together we experienced a host of positive impacts and learned from a slew of definitive failures. All of the unexpected setbacks and exhilarating developments demanded that we continually pay attention not only to the work we were doing but how we were doing it – were we communicating well? Was the group alright? Were we receptive to feedback? Were we finding a balance between planning and emergence?

Vision 2020 felt both messy and long, and reminded us that both of these qualities are a natural part of any meaningful social change work. They’re actually both to be expected. This is because change, especially change within human systems, is a process. Vision 2020 taught us that that even after policies are made and strategies are printed and concrete outcomes materialize, the most important conversations really do go on and on and on.

Maybe this is why at the official close of Vision 2020 we feel that things are really just beginning. The momentum is here. The fact that we’re able to wrap up this ambitious project with a sense of growing positivity and empowerment is testament to the major impact of theSustainability Projects Fund. We’re grateful for the confidence that the SPF working group showed in the project from the beginning, and for the opportunity this presented to so many of us – to experiment with, learn from, communicate and champion the exciting process of social change-making here at McGill.

And we’re grateful to you. Thanks for being so curious and so skeptical, so critical and so supportive, so confusing and so clear. Thanks for being by-the-book and being bad-ass, and for using one hand to point to all we’ve accomplished and the other to point to how much further there really is to go. Thanks for everything McGill. It was amazing.


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