Relationship-building for Danes extends into the family sphere. Respect of personal space and individuality is expressed by the practice of using personal bedding for double beds. Even though two people can share the same bed, they can each support their own comfort levels.

Caring for the individual and the collective


In one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, Norrebro, the streets transform into impromptu shops by residents who are trying to sell some of their belongings.  Enabling people to claim space in such a way, instills in residents a sense of belonging in the city and safeguards economic opportunity.

Impromptu uses of public spaces


Almost a third (28.1 percent) of Seward community’s population is foreign born, compared to 15.3 percent of Minneapolis’ population (American Community Survey, 2012-2016). Kerry Cashman, Community Coordinator of the Seward Neighborhood Group talked about community building: “We came up with the idea of having meals together, ongoing. And so we set up two sets of meals, four Tuesday nights, and the request was that if you said you would come, you had to come to all four…and we would have a topic each week. And they’d be like, talking about gardening or talking about animals or food or traditions, holiday traditions and then eating together. And it was amazing.”

Seward Neighborhood Group

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Having strong social connections at work can translate to healthier and happier employees. Workplaces that provide opportunities for informal interactions, such as while getting lunch ready, can help foster such connections. This kitchen at BloxHub, the hub for Nordic sustainable urbanization, is located in the center of the space. Its openness, allows people to see each other and serves as an invitation for dialogue. The printer can also be found here, another opportunity to mingle.

Informal Spaces in the Workplace


Factors such as having family in the neighborhood and interaction with neighbors have been found to provide a contextual understanding of why people stay in a neighborhood. But according to a Pew Research Center (2010) study, fewer than half of American adults (43 percent) know most or all of their neighbors. In his book The Vanishing Neighbor, Marc Dunkelman (2014) argues that technology coupled with new routines of everyday life have expanded the breadth of our social landscapes while at the same time, eroding the incidental interactions that have built local communities for centuries. The shared courtyards of Copenhagen’s residential buildings  foster an environment that encourages residents to meet each other and build social connections. Playgrounds, barbeque areas, picnic tables, and elevators placed in a central location provide opportunities for residents to pass by one another.

Knowing Your Neighbors


Strong and supportive social connections are crucial to physical as well as mental well-being. For youths, those who are able to have open communication with their parents are “more likely to report positive body image, … not smoking, … higher life satisfaction, … and fewer physical and psychological complaints.” In addition, youths who have strong connections with friends are able to fight against depression and have higher levels of self-esteem and happiness. In other words, strong social support can act as a buffer that protects against stress that can lead to a more severe illness. This statue of Two Young People (1942) on Dronning Louises Bro (bridge) by Johannes Christian Hansen opstillet (1903-1995) Danish sculptor, communicates this message.

Fostering Social Connections


Bemidji’s Shared Vision addresses issues of racial disparity and bias, as well as promotes and embraces cultural understanding and respect between the Native and non-Native populations. In 2009, Shared Vision commissioned a community study on racial attitudes in the Bemidji area, which revealed that half of the Native Americans surveyed said race relations were poor and that they faced discrimination in the job market and in housing. Events aimed to improving race relations include ‘Cultural Connections’, a community celebration with food, drinks, music, live entertainment, workshops and information resources at the Lake Bemidji waterfront park and ‘Everything You Want to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask’ meetings in community spaces. Opportunities for such conversations have been shown to strengthen the social cohesion of neighborhoods and individuals’ connection to and integration with their community (Aiyer, Zimmerman, Morrel-Samuels, & Reischl, 2015).

Shared Vision

Bemidji, Minnesota

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Bemidji Ojibwe Language Project is enacted by more than 150 area businesses to support the Ojibwe community and showcase Bemidji’s diversity–12.32% of Bemidji’s population is Native American. The project created a movement among local business owners to include meaningful phrases from the Ojibwe language on signage. According to Michael Meuers and Rachelle Houle (two volunteers who started the initiative), while three Native American communities are situated in Bemidji, not many connections between these communities and local residents were created in the past. Celebrating the Ojibwe language through store signage helps Native Americans feel more welcome and enables non-Native residents to learn about the Native culture and traditions.

Highway 59 runs directly through Mahnomen. With a speed limit of 45 miles per hour and a lack of marked crossings, the highway creates both a perceived and physical barrier to destinations on the other side of the highway. Much of the development in Mahnomen is concentrated on the west side of Mahnomen including the city school, hospital, clinic, city hall and non-tribal housing. The east side of the highway is where the tribal college and housing is located. It was important to the county to make sure pedestrians and bicyclists can move across the highway safely and connect these two main city hubs and populations. Safe access and improved connectivity was created by adding multiple highly visible crossings along Highway 59.

Highway Crossing

Mahnomen, Minnesota

To help preserve the Ojibwe language, much of which was lost due to forced assimilation and forced acculturation, signage around Mahnomen County is being changed to incorporate both English and Ojibwe. Roads, lakes, and rivers are demarcated in both languages. While the signage preserves the language and provides important educational opportunities to both the younger tribe members and the community at large, seeing the language acknowledged  is important in creating connections to the culture of the Ojibwe people. White Earth Cultural Coordinator Merlin Deegan articulates that the language can help reclaim the past from within the day to day lives of community members. These signs are a physical reminder of the people, language, traditions, and history of the community, an important tool for building meaningful relationships in Mahnomen County.


Mahnomen, Minnesota