FAther and kids walking through Troy Gardens

Our model is helping communities create resilience.

Center for Resilient Cities’ planning and design projects are shaped by the unique interests and desires of our partner communities.

At the Center for Resilient Cities, we believe that the quality of places and spaces matters to people’s health and well-being. We understand that people’s ability to access high-quality green spaces and natural environments has a bearing on their health and ability to thrive. We recognize that, especially in cities, there is a lack of equity in access to such places.

CRC has modeled a practice of resilience planning and design through asking communities about their assets and their desires; evaluating potential challenges at the neighborhood, citywide, and societal levels; and identifying strategies that help communities maintain their values and effectively address their needs.

Our physical projects have increased green infrastructure, managed stormwater runoff, reduced the urban heat island effect, modeled renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, and led to placemaking that engages community, improves healthy food access and spaces for safe physical activity, and offers learning opportunities for all ages.

Troy Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin

The Troy Gardens project is a nature-based development on Madison’s Northside. One of the earliest collaborative projects CRC worked on (as the Urban Open Space Foundation), Troy Gardens is a unique, community-designed development pattern of green-built housing units (20 permanently affordable and 10 market-rate), urban agriculture (community gardens, CSA farm), and natural areas (restored woodlands, prairie area). Developed by the Madison Area Community Land Trust and managed by Community GroundWorks, this 31-acre parcel is now a vibrant community hub for local food production, gardening education, and experiences of the natural world for all ages.

As a collaborative partner in the Troy Gardens planning and development process, CRC helped provide initial landscape and site design services, natural areas restoration planning and volunteer management, and organizational capacity building. CRC holds a conservation easement on the 26 acres of open space at Troy Gardens.

Alice’s Garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

At the request and vision of community members, in 2009-2010 CRC redesigned Alice’s Garden, a 2-acre urban farm located in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The garden restoration was Phase 1 of the Johnsons Park Initiative. Guided by its vision of “providing models of sustainable farming, cultural community development and economic agricultural enterprises for global landscapes,” Alice’s Garden programming is guided by its grassroots Program Committee.

At Alice’s Garden, CRC facilitated community design workshops, provided landscape architecture and design services, conducted a capital campaign for the garden restoration, and provide project management during construction. CRC also provided land management support during the first year following the garden’s restoration.

Brown Street Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Completed in 2012, the Brown Street Academy Schoolyard Greening project transformed a 4-acre uninviting asphalt schoolyard with no shade or seating into a high-quality outdoor space for elementary school-age students. Now, over half of the schoolyard is living surfaces, with over 50 trees, lush plantings of grass and flowers, and two outdoor classroom areas. Also used by the Brown Street Academy Boys and Girls Club after-school and summer programs, the schoolyard is open to the community during non-school hours.

The project (Phase 2 of the Johnsons Park Initiative) recognized that schoolyards are ideal places to start the process of environmental restoration and renewal that leads to resilience. In partnership with Brown Street Academy educators and families, and the Nature Explore program, CRC facilitated community design sessions that reimagined the once-bleak schoolyard into a series of spaces for active learning and play. CRC also conducted fundraising and project management during construction.