Ski2LRT: Systemic Design to Transform Winter Community in Edmonton

Format: Papers, RSD4, Topic: Cases & Practice

Authors: Michelle Jehn and Shauna Rae

Edmonton is very lucky for many reasons. Light Rail Transit (LRT) and extensive green space are just two reasons. During the winter months, however, the green belts that surround our neighborhoods and run along our utility corridors become white belts. We’ve seen attempts to battle the cold and recreate warm-weather commuting: increased ped-ways, large malls, heated bus terminals, and other mechanisms. Yet the more we treat winter as something to be accommodated and worked around, the more we retreat, hibernate, and use our cars, the greater our negativity about winter. And so the question remains: How can we shift our thinking around winter and reclaim our abundant public space and corridors in a way that is inherently meaningful for Edmontonians? What if we could ski to work, or to the LRT? Systems mapping, using rich picture as a design method, helped a group of community enthusiasts understand commuting practices and available green space (white space) in the area. What we found was a vast amount of interconnected white space linked to the train line. The group used causal layered analysis to better understand the systemic causes, worldviews, and mental model underlying why these two transportation systems had never interacted before. As the group dove into an understanding of these two systems, what became clear was a common link around a broader overarching system: winter. The group framed a new mental model for how to tap into this potential. From this premise, a participatory, community based initiative, #Ski2LRT, was formed. #Ski2LRT launched as an emergent movement that attempted to shift mindsets around three concepts: Winter, cross-country skiing in urban settings and LRT usage. A simple Facebook page was designed and a cross-country ski rack was placed at the Century Park LRT station. What happened next and the unintended ripple effects went beyond the original intention. It was unknown that neighborhood ski enthusiasts felt isolated. Unintentionally, this initiative connected a community and gave like-minded individuals a space to convene. This initiative and shift impacted the identity of the city and a new municipal group called “SkiWay” formed, connecting the ski clubs in the city, alongside urban transportation initiatives, to reinvigorate cross country skiing in the city

Citation Data

Author(s): SEPTEMBER 2015
Title: Ski2LRT: Systemic Design to Transform Winter Community in Edmonton
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 28 July 2015
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Peter Jones
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In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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