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Sustainable and Resilient Communities

This academic year, the UW-Stevens Point Department of Geography and Geology in the College of Letters and Science will host the Sustainable and Resilient Communities Series, sponsored by the Thompson Center on Public Leadership. Participants are invited to attend and consider sustainability and resilience issues facing Wisconsin communities and their essential natural and cultural systems.

The public, especially those interested in urban planning, climate resilience, natural resource management, and energy policy, are welcome to attend series events at no charge.  View descriptions and event details below. Events will be livestreamed.

Our 2023-2024 series is sponsored by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership. The series is hosted by the UW-Stevens Point Department of Geography and Geology and the Center for the Small City in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences. 


Tuesday, Oct. 10 – 6:30 p.m.

Resilience Planning and Public Policy

Pinery Room, Portage County Public Library

How can resilience planning and public policy be designed for the greatest impact? Learn
from a three-time Chief Resilience Officer on frameworks that can be applied to prioritize climate action and climate equity for any community. Marissa Aho, AICP, is the director of the Executive Climate Office in King County, Wash. She is a lead figure in supporting environmental equity and justice to improve diversity of representation in issues of climate resilience. Aho will explore lessons learned on the quest to increase preparedness, mitigation, adaptation and recovery to climate change and other major events, prioritizing our most vulnerable people, places, and systems.


Tuesday, February 6 – 6:30 p.m.

Designing for Sustainability and Resiliency: A Tale of Two Towns

Dreyfus University Center Theater

Strategic design planning begins with understanding landscape patterns and dynamics as well as the livelihoods and sense of place for local communities. Geospatial Solutions Director Janet Silbernagel Balster, brings her expertise to a presentation that touches on the challenges of successful design for sustainability and resilience. In 2018, Janet’s local town in southern Wis. experienced unprecedented flooding. Invited to be part of a consulting team to plan for flood protection, she shares how they integrated landscape ecology with geodesign to strategically locate green infrastructure features within the Black Earth Creek watershed. Sadly, a similar size town in Hawaii that might have anticipated flooding suffered tragic wildfires this year. Were there unsustainable landscape patterns or ecological signals that could have been heeded? What strategies can help build resilience against such unexpected events?

Tuesday, March 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Navigating Solar Energy Deployment in the Urban/Rural Divide

Pinery Room, Portage County Public Library

Communities that are being asked to host the clean energy future are facing land use dilemmas, concerns agricultural economic base, and transformation of the rural landscape.  Great Plains Institute’s Brian Ross, vice president of renewable energy, will address environmental justice considerations and ways communities are navigating fairness in clean energy policy and planning, consensus building, decarbonization, and local government implementation.

Tuesday, April 9 – 6:30 p.m.

Panel on Challenges/Opportunities

Dreyfus University Center Theater

The series will culminate with a panel of local mayors and administrators to consider the opportunities and challenges in implementing sustainability and resilience policies locally and regionally.


UW-Stevens Point Department of Geography and Geology faculty, Dr. Samantha Kaplan, Mr. Douglas Miskowiak, and Dr. Ismaila Odogba, are the principal investigators of the series.

Doug Miskowiak

  • GIS Instructional Administrator
  • Geography and Geology Chair

Ismaila Odogba

  • Professor
  • Co-Director, Center for the Small City
UWSP cupola graphic

Samantha Kaplan

  • Professor of Geography