Facing Adversity with Aplomb

Marcia Caton Campbell is Executive Director of Center for Resilient Cities in Madison. Launched in 1996, the center’s mission is to “cultivate robust and thriving communities that are healthy, just, economically viable and environmentally sound.” Photo by Valerie Tobias

By Amy Pflugshaupt NBC15 Anchor | Photographed by Valerie Tobias

Madison is growing at a record pace. The latest U.S. Census shows more than a quarter of a million people call Wisconsin’s capital city home.  And the surrounding communities—Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and Verona—are among the top-10 rapidly growing cities in the state.

With everything from the landscape to community dynamic changing, the Center for Resilient Cities has taken on the task of making sure we as a community are creating sustainable and thriving neighborhoods.

The nonprofit was launched in 1996. The executive director, Marcia Caton Campbell, says the organization is driven by community members who are envisioning their space and putting those plans into action.

“The resilience of cities depends a lot on a city’s ability to provide services and infrastructure that’s efficient and cost effective, as well as compact, so you’re not just sprawling out into green spaces surrounding the city,” Caton Campbell says.

But what is resiliency and why do communities need it?  Caton Campbell says it’s how individuals, the economy and the environment respond to stressors and difficulties allowing them to find ways to not just survive, but to thrive.

As an example, Caton Campbell says, “A community garden can help enhance a sense of togetherness.  It can help by increasing social connections, access to healthy foods and provide an outlet for physical activity.”

She says that, looking forward, the organization has some major topics to address.

“We’re going to wind up working on aspects of addressing the impact of climate change at the neighborhood scale,” says Caton Campbell. The devastating flooding last summer, for instance, is a timely example of climate change that can be studied and discussed. “We need to think about how we’re going to address those kinds of issues.”

The group is based out of the Badger Rock Center on Madison’s South Side and offers a number of programs including community gardens, art and music—often at no cost to participants.

“Come see us,” Caton Campbell says. “We have a community dinner the second Friday of every month at 6 p.m.”

 

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