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.”
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.”
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.