A language other than English at home are spoken by 11.5 percent of Minnesotans (around 614,000 people) (Ryan, 2013). Behind English, the most common languages spoken in the homes of Minnesotans ages 5 and older are Spanish (about 193,600 speakers), Hmong (56,200 speakers), and Cushite* (38,135 speakers) (American Community Survey, 2015). Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota display signs in both English and Somali languages throughout the hospital.* Includes Oromo, Somali, Sidamo and other East African languages.

Multilingual Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Little Mermaid sculpture is perhaps one of the most prominent tourist attractions of Copenhagen. Cities with a symbol that people can relate to, are better able to communicate their story and relevance. The story goes that a Danish brewer, Carl Jacobsen, went to see Hans Beck and Fini Henrique’s ballet “The Little Mermaid” (based on Christian Andersen’s tale) where he wanted to celebrate the ballerina Ellen Price performance of her role as the Little Mermaid. He commissioned sculptor Edvard Eriksen to design the Little Mermaid in 1913, which now stands in the harbor, by the Kastellet. According to Denmark.net, it was “a part of the city’s initiative to decorate parks and public areas with classical and historic figures.” The statue’s infinitely longing gaze resonates with visitors and has garnered love and attention, evident today through the many selfies taken with the statue.

Little Mermaid Sculpture

Copenhagen,

Chairs that are movable allow people to form informal groups to socialize, turn toward the sun or toward a view of passerby and enjoy an afternoon.  These light, bright colored chairs invite people to sit in any way they want while feeling a sense of ownership. The plazas around the city’s waterfront and Ofelia Plads have views of the Opera house as well as CopenHill, also known as Amager Bakke, a Copenhagen-based heat and waste-to-power plant designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group and built in 2017. What is striking is that this industrial plant doubles as a ski slope as its roofline is designed to engage with the community, relating the value that a “sustainable city is not only better for the environment — it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens.”

Flexible Seating

Copenhagen,

As Roseville updates its comprehensive plan, the city is reconsidering how it frames the past. For many years, the plan’s narrative began with White settlers. Senior Planner Bryan Lloyd however, acknowledges Native Americans as the land’s first inhabitants. Through a series of critical conversations with a nearly all-White planning commission, the updated comprehensive plan will include a description of the full history of the land where Roseville now stands along with the history of racial restrictive covenants that created areas of segregation. Lloyd believes that by recognizing the contradictory and vulnerable parts of the area’s history towards Native Americans and people of color, the Roseville community will be able to have more meaningful conversations and start making steps towards greater racial equity. These steps could manifest in the physical environment through signage and name changes of important places.

Acknowledging the Deep History

Roseville, Minnesota


Photo credit: Roseville Historical Society

In the spring of 1999, a group of volunteers from the Bemidji Community Arts Center (now Watermark Art Center) curated the first Bemidji Sculpture Walk. The walk is located in downtown Bemidji to draw more foot traffic to downtown businesses. “We…have a group of folks that just are avid artists and they have, for many years, done the sculpture walk,” raves Mayor Albrecht. “So every June they switch out the sculptures and we have a great sculpture walk in our downtown and that brings people downtown.” Art can be a medium for community development (Lowe, 2000), and by adding new work each year, local and regional artists of all backgrounds have the opportunity to showcase their unique voice. The Sculpture Walk reflects Bemidji’s diversity as well as the city’s natural beauty, helping to build a greater sense of community.

Sculpture Walk

Bemidji, Minnesota


Photo credit: Glabrielle Clowdus

Mahnomen County is located in northwestern Minnesota in the White Earth Indian Reservation. As of 2016, 46.6% of the population was White and 43.8% was American Indian. Because of the county’s unique location in the reservation, the county has two government authorities, which means that resources such as schools, clinics, and social services are administered by both the county and the tribe who share duties. “There’s always been…a long history of conflict between the county and the tribe, so it’s been difficult in some cases to be able to communicate and work together,” reflects Julie Hanson, Director of Social Services, “but I think we’re making progress on that.” Festivals, such as Wild Rice Days and Pow Wows in parks, have been essential for bringing together the two communities, fostering positive relationships and acting as a bridge to a better understanding of history.

Finding common ground

Mahnomen, Minnesota

With degrees in history and political science, Mayor Dave Kleis has made his career educating people on the legacy of the land, while leading residents into a thriving future. For over ten years, Mayor Kleis has been hosting a 90-minute historic trolley tour of the city. Starting at City Hall, the tour winds through St. Cloud’s neighborhoods highlighting the early settlements, people, places, and history. Each tour is different, moving from the St. Cloud’s prison, to the quarries, trails, the historic Pantown neighborhood and downtown. “It’s important to learn, recall, and understand the history of a place,” says the Mayor. The mobile tour brings the past to the present in an engaging way for all.

In 1857, Mary Butler and her son arrived in Minnesota as slaves of Thomas Calhoun. Today, the site is a park named in their memory–Butler Park. The history of slavery in Minnesota is largely an untold one; partly because slaves brought by their owners into northern territories were not entitled to freedom until after 1858. “History is extremely important… for the community to understand, respect and embrace,” says Mayor Kleis. The park’s name, along with a monument and interpretive signage bring awareness about the African American experience in St Cloud. “Butler Park is a reminder that slavery touched everybody in this country,” reflects Pastor James Albert from Higher Ground Church of God in Christ. “People say why bring that up, why say anything about that at all? But until we can actually deal with it, we will never be able to heal from it.”

Remembering slavery

St. Cloud, Minnesota


Photo credit: https://www.ci.stcloud.mn.us/Search?searchPhrase=butler

Dedicated to the preservation and presentation of all forms of Russian art and artifacts, Minnesota’s Museum of Russian Art is the only North American museum of its kind. Testimony to the Russian community that now calls Minnesota home, the Museum offers educational programs and diverse exhibitions to engage community members and visitors so they can explore new perspectives on the history, heritage and art of Russia and surrounding cultures. Housed in a renovated Spanish colonial type church building, the museum is testimony to the philosophy that “learning about other cultures enriches our lives.”

Minnesota’s Museum of Russian Art

Minneapolis, Minnesota

One of the major arteries that runs through the city of Minneapolis, Lake Street, has transformed into a stronghold for the Latino community. Mercado Central, through its prominent location and bright color, attracts people with its many bakeries, restaurants, and shops for items that range from clothing to boots and music.

Mercado Central

Minneapolis, Minnesota