EcoSuperior Year in Review - Written for The Walleye Magazine, January 2024 Issue
By Ashley Priem and Erin Moir, Co-Executive Directors, EcoSuperior
EcoSuperior celebrates another successful year! After 28 years supporting Thunder Bay towards a sustainable future, EcoSuperior continues to engage community members, create connections to Lake Superior and our living landscape, and increase climate resiliency. As the organization has grown over the years and the environment has changed, so have the programs, including categories like active transportation, water, land connections, education, waste, and energy.
From programs to the way the organization operates, sustainability is always top of mind. Early 2023 started with disrupting leadership models and creating two co-executive director positions that draw on the strengths of both individuals and increase sustainability and resiliency as a small not for profit. The co-executive director model also contributes to staff well-being by reducing leadership burnout and sharing the creative and operational responsibilities of the organization.
Spring meant hosting the 27th annual Spring Up to Clean Up campaign, which engaged over 7,500 residents, school groups, and businesses who removed litter from city streets, parks, and alleyways. Spring Up to Clean Up promotes civic pride and reduces the amount of debris entering our local waterways before ending up in Lake Superior.
By the end of June, over 1,200 students were inspired to help build a healthy future for people and the planet through classroom and schoolyard workshops, and a Climate Change Youth Forum. Students learned to take action and address where they can make sustainable choices in their lives. The learning included a new pollinator program that highlights the need for increased biodiversity and greenspaces in the city.
September saw another successful Rain Garden and Green Infrastructure self-guided tour. Over 200 gardening enthusiasts toured five of the 17 newly planted gardens in 2023. These gardens not only enhance the beauty of your yard, but they also help slow down stormwater run-off, attract pollinators, and reduce the risk of flooding in your neighbourhood.
In the fall, the community showed its excitement for the annual Pumpkin Parade at Hillcrest Park. Almost 700 pumpkins were on display and lit along the park wall and then collected for compost, which diverted 32 metric tons of waste from the landfill.
The year wrapped up with the launch of a reusable mug exchange program in partnership with Calico Coffeehouse and the Huskee Swap Program. You can join the club at Calico by purchasing a Huskee mug for $20, ordering your favourite beverage, and then bringing it back (clean or dirty!) during your next visit to refill. No need for a disposable cup again!
EcoSuperior is grateful for the support of all levels of government, numerous community groups, and individuals that support the organization. In 2024, EcoSuperior will continue to offer meaningful environmental programs and initiatives to build a healthy future for people and the planet