“[St. Francis] shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace,” Pope Francis says in his Laudato Si encyclical, in which he explains the urgent call, as people of faith and goodwill, for us to care for God’s creation. The CMC recognizes that low income and minority people are often hit first and the hardest by the consequences of environmental degradation. Thus, in serving our brothers and sisters in need, it is also essential that the CMC is a good steward of creation.
In Fall 2014, the CMC installed 45 solar photovoltaic panels on its roof to produce some of its own electricity from clean, renewable energy. In summer 2016 the CMC completed Phase II of the project, adding more solar panels to maximize use of solar with the roof space available. These panels lessen the Center’s energy footprint and lower its electric bill, meaning more funds can go directly to serving the community. Reducing our energy footprint also helps lessen pollution caused by coal plants, which contributes to thousands of respiratory illnesses and deaths each year especially in low-income and minority communities.
In Spring 2012, the CMC installed a demand controller for its heating and cooling system. Temperature in different parts of the building can be controlled separately based on occupation and use throughout the day. Compared to the previous year, the controller reduced summer energy consumption by 10 percent the year it was installed. The CMC has future plans to install energy-efficient LED lighting in the parking lot and throughout the building to further reduce its energy usage. Using less energy means less pollution, such as the mercury from coal plants that makes it unsafe to eat too many fish from Madison’s streams and lakes. Many of our guests who are low-income fish for sustenance nearby with little regard to consumption advisories…they simply need to eat.
Spring 2014 the CMC conducted a community rain garden program which led to the installation of a rain garden on
CMC property near Park Street. This rain garden is designed to capture and filter stormwater runoff so it can soak into the ground, stopping pollution from running into our lakes and streams while recharging our groundwater water supply. Program participants helped plan and design the garden and came together with volunteers to install the garden, in collaboration with program partners UW-Arboretum Earth Partnership and Friends of Lake Wingra.
Community Environment Program
The CMC community environmental education program provides opportunities for the South Madison community to learn and grow together via community-based environmental education and working together on local environmental projects. This bilingual program aims to include a diverse group of people in environmental stewardship opportunities affecting our own neighborhood. All are welcome to participate in workshops and community projects hosted throughout the year. Past initiatives include a community harvest dinner, repurposed art project, energy open house, and clean-up of Wingra Creek. Together these initiatives aim to create a healthier, more vibrant neighborhood to overcome the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by low-income and minority communities such as ours.