Food is a meaning-making activity enjoyed by all – it transcends race, ethnicity, and income to bring people together by its different tastes, aromas, and ingredients. Cooking with Friends is a program that occurs every few months at Hopkins’ Eisenhower Elementary School. “It’s a partnership with the BRCC (Blake Road Corridor Collaborative) and so anyone who wants comes, and they generally plan a meal…from…various cultures and they bring their recipes and the BRCC purchases all the ingredients and it’s great,” elaborates Mayor Cummings. “It’s a great opportunity to cook and visit and everyone gets involved.” The city hopes that Cottageville Park’s community garden can help expand the Cooking with Friends program to different neighborhoods across the city, instilling the benefits of better nutrition and increased exercise to all residents (Wakefield, Yeudall, Taron, Reynolds, & Skinner, 2007).

Cooking with Friends

Hopkins, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://www.hopkinsmn.com/DocumentCenter/View/1068/Race-Equity-in-Hopkins-PDF?bidId=

More than half of the city’s population identifies as Hispanic (53.2%). Racial differences in perceptions between officers and communities have been found–nine-in-ten officers (91%) say police have an excellent or good relationship with Whites in their communities; but just 56% rate the relationship between police and Blacks positively, while seven-in-ten report good relations with Hispanics. Given that crime rates in Landfall are higher than the rest of the state, to encourage healthy relationships between police officers and children at Landfall, the lake is used as an educational playground. The local police donate their time, fishing poles, and bait, and take summer afternoons to teach the kids of Landfall how to fish. This activity builds relationships with the younger residents and is an attempt to break down stereotypes between law enforcement and youth of color, beginning at young ages.

Cops and Kids

Landfall, Minnesota


Photo credit: https://www.rwmwd.org/projects/tanners-lake/

The City of Brooklyn Park is intentional in sharing resources. The city pairs its plethora of work spaces with cultural clusters that serve the community’s needs, helping build social capital and a collective identity that enhances involvement and economic development (Grodach & Loukaitou-Sideris, 2007; Stern & Seifert, 2010). If a local group needs a meeting room, an after-school project needs a play space, or a community get-together needs a reception hall, the city does its best to accommodate their needs with city space, such as the City Hall. “We…use our strengths, which is facilities, as a way to offer non-monetary support” to community groups and residents, says Mayor Lunde. This simple act of sharing space helps support the well-being of residents by accommodating the diverse ways residents in Brooklyn Park socialize, work, recreate, and exercise.

City Space

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota


Photo credit: https://www.brooklynpark.org/city-government/

Intelligent policing is about getting out of the police station and the car, engaging the community and finding community champions. Such interactions have been noted to build trust and enhance youth violence prevention strategies (Brunson, Braga, Hureau, & Pegram, 2015; Cherney, 2018). As Brooklyn Park’s crime levels are higher than the state, the police are encouraged to get to know the communities in a meaningful way, not just when there is a problem. “We expect our officers,…..to not to drive around,” says Mayor Lunde. “Stop… say hi to someone, get out of the car, [and] meet.” The Brooklyn Park Police Department has also started to use visual cards to explain code violations when language barriers are present. “We’re using pictures as a way to communicate, cause that’s cross-cultural,” reflects Mayor Lunde. “People see a picture, they can understand what those things are.”

Intelligent Policing

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://www.mbjeng.com/home/projects/government/brooklyn-park-police/

The City of Burnsville boasts 79 parks, ranging from small parks in residential neighborhoods to large athletic fields for sporting events. Nicollet Commons Park is one of the first “town square” style parks to be developed in the Twin Cities and serves as the focal point of Burnsville’s Heart of the City. Currently, 30% of Burnsville residents identify as people of color, and close to 14% are foreign born as Burnsville has emerged among Minnesota’s top 10 destinations for many East African immigrants. The park features a 250-seat amphitheater, open green space, a water feature, and free wireless internet. “We made sure that we have places where our children can play, be healthy, be active and where families can come together and get to know one another,” explains Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz. “When you know one another, you’re not going to be afraid.”

Parks, Parks, Parks!

Burnsville, Minnesota


Photo credit: http://www.burnsville.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/30