2019 Theme: Resiliency

February 1, 2019


Throughout 2019, the Garden will explore resiliency. What does this mean for us – and for you – in the season to come?

First, let’s begin with how we define resiliency. For the Garden, this goes beyond a notion of sustainability. Resiliency is about restoration, regeneration, and adaptability in the face of adversity and pressure. As our climate continues to change, how can we – as gardeners of all experiences – wield our collective potential to make our communities stronger?

Students at Plant Adoption Day

It begins with acknowledging that our gardens can and must be more than the sum our plants. Author Benjamin Vogt in his book, A New Garden Ethic, says it best: “Your garden is a protest. It is a place of defiant compassion. It is a space to help sustain wildlife and ecosystem functions while providing an aesthetic response that moves you. For you, beauty isn’t just petal deep.”

With this ethic in mind, what comes next – how are we going to achieve this through the Garden?

Student Receiving Plant at Plant Adoption Day

We’re focusing on building a community of change. Put another way, we’ll be working to foster a collective of empowered, passionate, informed, and inspired individuals who work together to make our community resilient. All of this kicks off at our annual spring symposium, Resilient Landscapes, on March 23. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here. Five national leaders (including Benjamin Vogt quoted above) and three local champions will be joining us in Madison to jump-start this conversation.

Following the symposium, we’ll be launching a pilot community-based research project in partnership with the Environmental Design Lab at UW, the Resilient Landscapes Project. We’ll be challenging you – our community – to join your peers and neighbors by making a “Pledge of Resilience.” You’ll be able to choose from a curated list of suggested actions that enhance the resiliency of our community. These actions will be connected with a series of events throughout the year that are hosted by a slate of diverse community organizations who already champion resiliency in the landscape. These events will provide opportunities for you to connect, network, and share your stories of success or challenges you encounter, continuing to foster a community of learning and change.

Interns Working in English Garden

Over the same time period, May–November, we’ll work with you to gather data to identify the positive collective impact we make as gardeners. This data also will help us identify any barriers you might encounter in fulfilling your Pledge. This will inform our future work to reduce or remove those barriers so that everyonecan contribute to making our community more resilient in their own way.

So stay tuned. I invite you to join us at our symposium on March 23– it will be a phenomenal pep rally and a full day of inspirational ideas. We’ll launch the 2019 Resilient Landscapes Project calendar of events in early April; at the same time you’ll be able to make your 2019 Pledge.


Let’s dig in,

Ben Futa | Executive Director