Landscapes of Hope

The horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, reminds us once again that “We are NOT in this together.” The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color has already exposed the fallacy that we are. To move forward in creating healthy and connected communities in which everyone can thrive, we must espouse three values:

  1. Coming together–from federal, state, and local governments to public safety officials, educators, health providers, businesses, faith leaders, city planners, designers, and citizen advocates–to denounce racism, injustice, and marginalization in all forms
  2. Eliminating disparities related to health, income, education, death, and incarceration
  3. Investing in relationship-building and dialogues

“Landscapes of Hope” features stories of communities through buildings and places in Minneapolis, elaborating on how the design of the built environment can pave the way for social and racial justice, equality, freedom, and global citizenship. See Resources for how to work toward social and racial justice.



Dollar stores have been exponentially growing. In a journal article, Dr. Sriya Shrestha unearths the “….contradictions that these retailers face in targeting low-income consumers.” Women are the primary consumers of discount retailers, buying essentials, such as soap and school supplies.  In 2016, women were 38% more likely to live in poverty than men (21.4% of Black women, 22.8% of Native, 30.7% of women with disabilities). By creating a sense of abundance, filling stores with thousands of products on shelves below eye level, consumers can feel a sense of self-worth. Counterarguments point to dollar stores contributing to the economic distress of low-income neighborhoods as they drive out grocers and eliminate local jobs. Dr. Shrestha reminds everyone that what is important is “that people have the income so that they don’t have to rely on the dollar store for meeting their basic needs.”

Landscapes of hope – Midway – Retail

Twin Cities, Minnesota


Photo credit: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

“We bring Korean culture and ambiance to the Twin Cities,” Hoban Korean BBQ states. The stark, crisp, modern interior is in sharp contrast to the plywood-covered exterior of a restaurant that shortly after it reopened was the setting of a drive-by shooting. In the early 1970s, Korean immigrants settled in Minnesota for educational and professional development, and that number now stands at around 16,000 people. At the same time, some Minnesota families embraced Korean adoptions, strengthening the state’s ties to Korea through organizations such as The Korean Institute of Minnesota and the Korean American Association of Minnesota. Direct flights to Seoul are evidence of the MN-Korea growing business partnerships with medical companies such as the Mayo Clinic and Faribault and Rice County. Lessons on how the Korean COVID-19 outbreak was effectively contained within a month will also come handy.

Landscapes of hope – Hennepin Ave – Uptown – Restaurants

Twin Cities, Minnesota


Photo credit: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

“I am in America but also in Somalia. I can get anything I want…..we have four Somali malls, it is almost like home!” This is how Karina, whose story is featured in The Right to Home (p.113) explained her decision to move to Minneapolis. Two buildings make-up the Somali Mall near the intersection of Lake St. and Pillsbury Av., the largest collection of Somali businesses in the country. Over 175 shops, restaurants and even a mosque are housed in the mall, and all but 25 are owned by women entrepreneurs. Delegations from Sweden and the mayor of Portland visited Minneapolis to learn about policies that can help their cities better address the needs of Somali immigrants. As Stefanie Chambers of Trinity College argues, in her book Somalis in the Twin Cities & Columbus, this success should not cloud the many Somalis who remain in poverty and struggle with language for jobs and adaptation.

Landscapes of hope – Lake Street – Retail

Twin Cities, Minnesota


Photo credit: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni