Medtronic, a Fortune 500 company, celebrates its connections to the broader community. The company’s mission is displayed in the welcome desk area for all visitors and employees to view. It states:  “Our mission is to improve the health of people and communities through focus, innovation and leadership. We partner with our communities to help people live healthy and productive lives.” In addition, a large atrium showcases a world map, highlighting the Fortune 500 company’s mission through people-centered statistics; in 2017, 28.2 million lives improved in over 140 countries (Fortune 500, 2017).

Medtronic – A Fortune 500 Company

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Established in 2005, the Joint Community Police Partnership (JCPP) is an “an award-winning, collaborative effort between Hennepin County and the cities of Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Hopkins, and Richfield.” Their mission is to enhance communication and understanding between law enforcement and multicultural residents of these cities. Since 2012, the crime rates in Hopkins have decreased by 19.2%.  Multi-cultural training for police officers and hiring a multicultural liaison who is sensitive to the needs of the city’s diverse population are just two of the four program strategies that have aided Hopkins in achieving this goal.  Also instrumental to the program’s success is community engagement, by getting police officers out of their vehicles and into the community, police can form relationships and build trust with members of the community.

Joint Community Police Partnership

Hopkins, Minnesota

Photo credit: Julia Ross of Hopkins Police Department

Hopkins holds informal discussions in places other than City Hall such as parks, apartment developments, breweries, and even in the street (the Artery Experiment). Invitations to these meetings are often done face-to-face and the goal is to gain greater community input on various issues surrounding housing and neighborhoods. “We had lots and lots of neighborhood meetings and one thing that we have found in communicating with some of our diverse population is that verbal invitation to participate is better than putting something on your website or sending something via the mail,” reflects Mayor Cummings. The city uses cell phone contact information to call residents and remind them to come to the event. To increase participation, interpreters are hired, and child care, food, as well as transportation are provided.

Landfall’s community center, which doubles as a storm shelter for the 300 mobile homes, acts as a gathering point for the city. “Well, officially it’s a storm shelter,” explains Edward Shukle, City Administrator. “But we don’t have as many storms as the Southern part of the United States, so generally what we see is that it’s used for parties and receptions and different events.” Residents book the community center with parties, receptions, events, cinco de mayo celebrations, baptisms, weddings, and an annual holiday party hosted by the city. City elections are also found here. The center has a full kitchen and seats up to 175 people, or about one-fourth of the city’s population.

Community Center

Landfall, Minnesota

Photo credit: Ed Shukle of City of Landfall Village

Detroit Lakes opened its first dog park in 2017, adding to the city’s park and trail system. For the 40.8% of the population who are renters, 8% who are minorities, the city’s public spaces become their backyard (ACS 2012-2016). By adding more amenities, like a dog park, to the city’s park and trail system, Detroit Lakes is making the community more renter-friendly.

The Detroit Lakes region is known for its mile-long, sugar-sand city beach with adjacent shaded City Park. Guests can enjoy the public playgrounds, picnic shelters and bandshell with scheduled family-friendly performances. The accessible fishing pier on the beach provides fishing access to everyone. The city’s Recreational Center and Washington Ball Park is located directly across from the beach for visitors to access both the facilities and the water within steps. Maintaining public access to lakefront property with high market-rate value requires commitment. As Kelcey Klemm, City Administrator, states, the city is glad it has committed this land to the public: “It’s just free space that everybody can use.” For more on the health benefits of green space see this USDA report.

In 2009, Zanewood Recreation Center began offering after-school recreation, homework, and development programs for youth in the community. Since then, crime has rapidly dropped. In 2008, there were 1,158 serious and misdemeanor offenses involving juveniles as suspects or victims. In 2013, there were only 634, said Police Commander Mark Bruley. “As we invested, we saw involvement go up and we saw crime go down,” said Mayor Jeff Lunde. Located in a residential neighborhood with both single-family and multifamily housing and adjacent to the Zanewood Community School, Zanewood Recreation Center acts as a basecamp for youth, offering a safe and positive environment to gather, swim, dance, play, and study throughout the school year and during the summer. The community comes together to provide outreach, community service, youth mentoring, and employment opportunities for youth in the area.

Zanewood Recreation Center

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Photo credit: City 3

According to the MN State Demographic Center, Minnesota’s population will change significantly over the next 30 years and by 2035, more Minnesotans will be older than 65 than under the age of 18. Providing access to services, activities, and housing to older adults will need to be a focus of communities. The City of Richfield has already started to think of ways to best serve this population. A recent 50-unit addition to the Village Shores Senior Community provides elders a continuum of care from independent living to assisted living and memory care. The $20 million renovation included major upgrades to the 32-year old complex as well as a face lift to the strip mall in which it is located. Noteworthy is the new 16,000-square-foot clinic along with the farmers market that brings fresh produce and healthy eating options to residents.

Village Shores

Richfield, Minnesota

Photo credit:

Riverside Concerts provides the Rochester community with opportunities for high quality, diverse, and accessible musical and educational programs that create a sense of welcome and belonging, enhance the enjoyment of life, and celebrate community. The Sunday evening summer concert series helps make Rochester a more livable community and contributes to the quality of life of its residents. The City of Rochester spends about 8% of their general fund for music and other performing and visual arts in the city. In 2018, they planned to invest over $1 million in public music venues. “It’s free…everybody’s invited and the diversity that can be there is huge,” reflects Mayor Brede. The concerts are held in Mayo Park, an open-to-the-public city park, adjacent to the Zumbro River and the Mayo Civic Building and Rochester Art Center. During the concerts, downtown city streets are temporarily closed to make Rochester more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Riverside Concerts

Rochester, Minnesota

Photo credit: City of Rochester Music Dept./Riverside Concerts

Burnsville believes in transparency figuratively and literally. As you walk through City Hall you can see into meeting rooms, offices, and chambers which are clad in glass facades. This intentional design conveys openness and ensures that “decisions aren’t being made in some back room out-of-sight of the public.” In the city chambers hang the community-defined values: a welcoming, caring, and compassionate city which offers respects to all and expects it in return. This reminds everyone, from residents to elected officials, of the city’s larger vision and that everything that is done in the city needs to work toward those values.

Transparency in City Hall

Burnsville, Minnesota

Photo credit: Marty Doll