4. Meaning-Making Communities

Celebrate the diverse histories, traditions, backgrounds, and meaning-making practices of the many people that comprise a community.

Diversity in the population implies diverse means of constructing meaning in life, from how family relations are nurtured to dress traditions, food practices, religious rituals, languages spoken, music and dance preferences, etc. Meaning-making activities include gathering with friends and family to share stories from the past, practicing religious customs and rituals, decorating using colors, textures, and objects that create a preferred aesthetic, cooking favored foods that generate familiar aromas and tastes, and speaking a native language.    

Best Practices

The Danish emphasis on hygge and meaning-making is supported by clutter-less environments. Closets for example, are not required to be provided in bedrooms. With fewer things to care for and clean after, family members can focus on activities that give them purpose and make them feel connected, such as belonging to clubs or spending time together. 

Clutter-less environments


As a way to strengthen neighborhood identity, Mayor Lunde notes that in Brooklyn Park, “We actually had the neighborhoods identify their own selves – what they wanted to be called.”  The Brooklyn Park city map was divided into 31 neighborhoods and over the course of five months, 650 residents participated in the naming process. It was an exercise in pride-building. “It helps to form our identity,” says Brooklyn Park resident Kristi Corey, while also bringing old and new neighbors together. Neighborhood names are inspired by local parks, the Mississippi River, and historic figures and were decided at neighbors’ mailboxes, community dinners, and city-led community cafes. This initiative helps form meaning-making communities by bringing residents of a small geographic area together to celebrate the diverse history, character, and demographics that makes their neighborhood special.

Naming neighborhoods

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

In November of 1997, the Hopkins Center for the Arts opened and quickly became a central gathering place. Located in the heart of Mainstreet and between two community parks, the center’s mission is to “build community through the arts by fostering creative expression, and providing artistic and educational opportunities for people of all ages, as well as to be an important focal point for community activity, pride and involvement.” The Center hosts performances, exhibitions, adult community education classes, along with providing rentable space to businesses and families. The flexibility of the spaces supports a wide-range of events, making it attractive to the city’s diverse population. Events the center has held include: first birthday celebrations for Indian families, Quinceanera parties for Hispanic community members, and the Somali Museum of Minnesota’s 2nd anniversary party.

Hopkins Center for the Arts

Hopkins, Minnesota

Photo credit: https://www.hopkinsartscenter.com/