Goodman Center is More Than Fancy


A few weeks ago we attended a fundraising dinner for the Goodman Community Center in Madison. I have to mention the promotional pieces they put out for the event because they did such a super job.

Each of the pieces was spot on—uniformity of branding, educational information, and a “fancy-filled” style. Madison, by nature, is a casual town, but when the invitation uses key words like “fancy” (four times), “investment,” “secure future” and “sponsorship,” you know not only should you dress up, but you also need to bring your checkbook. That is, after all, the objective of a fundraising dinner.


Graphic design and copywriting aside, I was excited to get inside this building!

According to its website, the Center’s architecture “demonstrates a classic factory form characterized by an abundance of ground floor windows and two rows of high central clerestory windows, maximizing natural light and ventilation.” Built in the turn of the last century, the 30,000-square-foot building has a diverse industrial history.


In 2005, with the help of local philanthropists, the Center bought the building and began a complete renovation. Today, it houses classrooms, art rooms, game rooms, a fitness center, a café run by teens training in the culinary arts, a food pantry and offices. A covered walkway connects the building to a newly built 12,000-square-foot gymnasium.

Isn’t the steel gantry shown above cool? Once part of an iron works operation, it now it forms a giant gazebo over the gardens and playground.

Inside the Goodman Community Center, Madison, WI

THIS  is why I wanted to see inside this building! Isn’t it beautiful?!

Eppstein Uhen Architects and Vogel Brothers Building Company, both of Madison, did the renovation. They mindfully considered environmentally friendly techniques and the building’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside the Goodman Community Center, Madison, WISo, yes, the dinner promotional pieces were well done. And, yes, the building is stunningly beautiful.

But here’s why the Goodman Center really shines:

Each day it provides food, educates young people, cares for older adults and supports the families of four Madison communities. As the Goodman Center says, it strengthens people’s lives.

GCC_5Now that the Goodman Center has room to expand in this wonderful building, it offers new and improved programs. Here are those they highlighted in their fancy-filled and well-designed dinner program:

  • Seed to Table: Gives at-risk students the chance to learn through an urban agriculture curriculum with hands-on propagating, planting, harvesting, preserving and cooking.
  • Dane County Nutrition Site: Fed 8,000 affordable meals to older adults in 2012.
  • Food Preservation Program: Teens preserve abundant local produce for the center’s food pantry customers.
  • Thanksgiving Basket Distribution: Distributed holiday meals to 2,600 families in 2012.
  • Parent Programs: Strengthen the link between parents, children, school and the Center.
  • Madison Empowering Responsibility in Teens (MERIT): Helps Madison teens make good decisions about their sexual health.
  • Vocationally Integrated Pathways (VIP): An alternative high school program where students earn credits through academics and work.
  • 5-Star Childcare (Young Star rating): Programs provide quality care to Madison’s youth.

 Want to support this caring organization? Check out their site here



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Wednesday Webs: Summer’s Super Foods!

Dill growing in garden

This is such an exciting time of year. Each morning I go out to my garden and find the super food fairies have been hard at work during the night. We’ve had perfect garden weather so far—lots of rain a few weeks ago and now intensely hot sun. This beautiful dill is just biding it’s time, waiting for the pickles growing behind it to burst on to the scene. And they soon will. In just another week, we’ll be making dill pickles galore!

Visual communication is huge for marketing food. So are public relations, the media, and an overall emotional bond to delicacies we eat. Lately, I’ve found so much that supports this theory.

  • Here’s a case study for What We Eat and Why It Matters. Case studies are inordinately useful for managing the project, but they’re also educational for anyone looking to learn.

  • Earlier this month one of my favorite cheese companies, Crave Brothers, suffered a devastating blow when it had to voluntarily recall three of its specialty cheeses. This is devastating not only for them, but for the whole artisanal cheese industry. I’m watching with interest in how they handle this PR crisis (so far, I think they’ve done well). I’ve worked with owner Charles Crave in the past, and he and his family are wonderful people. I know they’ll come back better than ever. In fact, I’ve ramped up buying their mozzerella and mascarpone—oh, so very good!

  • Speaking of pickles, did you know Wisconsin has a Pickle Bill? It allows food entrepreneurs to sell certain home-canned foods without a license. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of your own home-based food business? Be sure to check out your state’s Cottage Food Laws.

  • My client, Rock County Historical Society, is well into its year-long Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon Exhibit. It’s a fascinating celebration of the county’s culinary history!

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Appreciating Artisanal Foods

basket of organic strawberries

While relishing the 10-year cheddar he received as a Father’s Day gift, my husband commented that he can only remember eating processed cheese as a kid.

Are you kidding? Ye, who has lived in America’s Dairyland all of thy days?

Truth is, back when we were growing up in the 1960-70s, food selections were much different than they are now. In some ways they were better. High fructose sugar and super-gluten weren’t major ingredients. Nor were the fruits and vegetables genetically modified and void of flavor.

On the other hand, nowadays some of our foods are actually better. As the dairy and strawberry days of June come to an end (wow, so fast!), I can’t help appreciating the culinary artisans we have now that we didn’t back then. Cheesemakers, like Chris Roelli of Shullsburg, WI, have moved beyond mass-production boredom and back to the traditional handcrafting of age-ripend cheese. Farmer’s markets and CSA farms, like Hillsong Ridge Farm, of Springfield, WI, get us out of the over-processed grocery stores and into cooking with locally grown fruits and vegetables. All in all, both food consumers and producers are much more sustenance savvy.

But consider this:

Creating quality food takes time and effort. The mouthwatering strawberries in that basket? Fresh-picked today and completely organic? Just saying that a lot of back-bending, manual labor went into producing them. They’re so worth it, but I can’t imagine doing this at a scale larger than I do for my family. Knowing this, I wonder about the work that goes into running a CSA. Or an organic bakery. Or pasture-raised pork. These food artisans certainly aren’t doing it for the money—we all know Americans don’t want to pay much for their food, after all.

Will the day come when these hardworking foodies simply get tired? Will they someday decide they need to make a more lucrative living? Is this just a passing culinary moment in time?

I sure hope not. What communication can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen?


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Wednesday Webs: Earth Day

Earth Day garden plant

I think we should make Earth Day a weeklong event. One day a year simply is not a big enough nod to the importance of taking care of our Earth. Our very beautiful Earth!

So I’m extending my Earth Day celebrations all week.


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Congrats to My Earth Day Client!

JWR Inc, Johnson Creek, WI

It’s been online for a while, but there’s no better time than the week of Earth Day to congratulate JWR Inc. on their new website! And how fitting, considering JWR and its sister company NewWay Global are innovative leaders in the waste and recycling industry. They are my 2013 Earth Day clients!

Last year, the JWR marketing team came to me wanting an updated website. I did their site five years ago and it has served them well. It’s helped them earn recognition and they’ve built a reputation based on their quality products and reliable service. With this company image well established, JWR now wants to emphasize its forward thinking. As owner Dave Wolf says “JWR has always been successful with niche products. We’re always trying to be a year or two ahead of the game.”

What better way to communicate such eco-moxiness than a new website!

JWR’s team had a list of ideas of “must-haves” for their site. Earlier this year they were featured on The Environmental Report so they wanted a way to showcase this and any future videos. They wanted a responsive layout for a variety of communication devices. And they wanted to maintain their own content. Thanks to Ben Seigel, of Versa Studios, we came up with a great Expression Engine framework that allows easy CMS capabilities. JWR is doing a super job with it.

So congratulations JWR! And happy Earth Day to you!


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