Nørrebro, the city’s most diverse neighborhood, experiences health, income, and educational disparities. Blågårds Plads is a focal point for the neighborhood. The depressed central section, surrounded by 22 granite sculptures by Kai Nielsen, serves as a football field in summer and an ice-skating rink in winter. Built on the site of an iron foundry, the square fuses the city’s past with its present and future by providing spaces for people to come together to exercise and mingle.

Eliminating disparities


Urban Land Institute Minnesota’s (ULI MN) mission is to engage public and private sector leaders to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and join in meaningful strategic action to create thriving, sustainable communities. ULI MN acts as a facilitator of idea exchange between local, national and international leaders, and policy makers. Through synergistic relationships, ULI MN is dedicated to improving housing options, transportation, communities, and the job force. The meeting space in ULI MN’s office, located strategically in downtown Minneapolis, allows for convenings where ideas are shared and critiqued.

Urban Land Institute

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Originally a church, Absalon is now a multipurpose community center. Visitors (both local residents and tourists) can gather for communal meals and participate in activities, which vary from games, concerts, movies, yoga classes, lectures, and other cultural events. The token fee of around $7 makes this an affordable experience. Enjoying a meal on communal tables with actual dinnerware and utensils encourages respect for the environment and each other, instilling a sense of dignity to all attendees. 



A report shows that Copenhagen has the highest poverty rate (7.6%) compared to the national average of 4.4%. Nørrebro, Copenhagen’s most diverse neighborhood, has the highest poverty rate (10.1%) and an employment rate of 48.3% for immigrants and 68.9% for descendants of immigrants (compared to 80.2% for Danes in the same area). Spaces in the neighborhood where people can informally gather as they shop or socialize provide opportunities to exchange information and find resources that can be instrumental in securing employment.

Fighting unemployment


Intermedia Arts’ colorful exterior wall is a landmark on Minneapolis’ Lyndale Avenue. As a space that  brings together people of different backgrounds, the organization raises awareness and builds self-esteem by empowering youth to use “art-based approaches to solve community issues.”  Their Open Stages program, hosted by teen performers, gives youth the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of performing art, including planning, marketing, performance and tech. Art mediums include film and media, literary, performing and visual arts, and dance.

Intermedia Arts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Musicant’s motto is “Creating Great Places Where People Want To Be.” Working with commercial property owners, neighborhood groups, real estate developers, shopping centers, houses of worship, non profits, and the public sector, the Musicant Group transforms public and common areas into places of destination and delight; places where people want to be and gather. The spaces used range from parking spots such as the PARK(ing) Day celebration planned by the business association Experience Southwest to Open Street events such as the Wabasha Street Block Party in St Paul.

The Musicant Group

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo credit: Musicant Group

The McKnight Foundation ‘s mission calls for grant-making, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform to unite and empower those served. Eric Muschler, Program Officer, noted that “innovation and solutions come from people who are closest to the problem.” McKnight’s role is to “listen and hear what is being learned on the ground, what’s changing, and then be a voice that supports it in a broader community sense.” This translates into citizen participation that engages communities in new and different ways as a funding criterion as well as a meeting space overlooking the Mississippi river that pays tribute to the city’s origins while providing a setting to plan the region’s future.

McKnight Foundation’s conference space

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Close to 38.4% of the Hopkins Community is made up of people of color and an estimated 34 different languages are spoken throughout the City. In 2008, Hopkins Police Department formed the Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) that is comprised of community members from various cultural groups as a way to bridge relationships between the community and police. The group engages in dialogues with the police department and other city departments about concerns in their communities, as they also serve as ambassadors who relay city government decision-making practices. Our diverse population “is one of the greatest things about the city of Hopkins,” noted Mayor Molly Cummings. These dialogues occur in places of worship, markets, parks, community centers, and on the sidewalk, which points to the critical role of outreach in building relationships and strengthening the community.

Multicultural Advisory Committee

Hopkins, Minnesota

Photo credit: Julia Ross of Hopkins Police Department

Landfall, a Promise Place, was named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance in 2008 and 2010. A Promise Place can be a school, church, community organization, business or any other place that provides all ‘Five Promises’ – caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others – to young people — acting as a hub of holistic services and resources crucial to success.

Promise Place

Landfall, Minnesota

Photo credit: http://www.cityoflandfall.com/gallery

Detroit Lakes’ population has increased by 5.9% since 2010 and most of the land has already been developed. Through the comprehensive planning process, the city is working to find areas of opportunity for high density multifamily development. According to Mayor Matt Brenk, “We’ve got to provide those lower cost housing options.” The areas of opportunity for affordable, multifamily development are often on the peripheral of a zone, the battleground of zoning and where community pushback is one of the greatest challenges. “We’re literally running out of places… we’re going to update the land-use plan to start trying to identify areas that we feel are going to be a future high density.” By doing this early, the city has time to properly engage residents and build support for this new housing typology.