When assigned to Northeast Minneapolis for Twin Cities Neighborhood Project (TNCP) three weeks ago, I knew nothing of it, seriously; however, after done with this project, everything changed. I can confidently say that I have learned a lot about parts of Northeast Minneapolis, especially St. Anthony West and Logan Park by going out to meet ‘real’ neighborhood in person! I have written a few research papers during my college life so far, but it was my first time to participate in collecting information and doing interviews outside the school.
Honestly, Intercultural Communication class was not what I expected at all since I thought there would be just a lot of conversations back and forth between Americans and International students and expected more discussions on race ethnicity. However, I was wrong. When it comes to ‘culture’, I used to come up with things about nations, but culture starts from our families and further neighborhoods. Moreover, I learned how intercultural communications, which often requires sophisticated skills, are formed in terms of identity and power as well as history.
Before unpacking the stories of Northeast Minneapolis, we need to address the definition of intercultural communication. According to uslegal.com, intercultural communication often refers to the wide range of communication issues that inevitably arise within an organization composed of individuals from a variety of religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.
Understanding of certain culture means understanding of its contexts including history, politics, economy, and society. When I first stepped into the research on St. Anthony West and Logan Park, for example, nothing would have meant to me if I was unaware of its own history. St. Anthony was established by in 1849, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, and its name was given by St. Anthony Falls found by Father Louis Hennepin. With this one sentence of information, a well-known fact among residents here, I can easily understand one of the important characteristics in this area – there are a number of Catholic churches in the Northeast, which is relatively uncommon in the United States, originally a “Christianity” nation.
As mentioned above, I was also surprised to see cultural diversity with my eyes like Polish, Ukrainian, Lebanese, etc because it was really uncommon to meet people from those countries even in Minneapolis, the biggest city in Minnesota. Yet the history of their immigration in this area traces back to over 100 years ago, which means diverse cultures accumulated for a century shows represent current appearances of St. Anthony and Logan Park. St. Anthony was referred to as “First Wave” of Eastern European immigrants to the Midwest. Generally, Logan Park neighborhood has similar history to St. Anthony West, but it was named for Civil War General and U.S. Senator, John A. Logan.
Contemporary contexts matters in intercultural interaction. Knowing of issues or concerns that people in the neighborhood care about; interactions between residents and its media publications provide profound understanding of culture as well. I found people in St. Anthony and Logan Park have been concerned with the crimes, traffics, and economy (unemployment). Moreover, what is most commonly found in media or neighborhood was there are a number of events that help people gather altogether for a sense of belonging.
As described above, after I became aware of these contexts of this neighborhood, everything mattered from architecture of the Catholic Church which came to me different from others I saw in my neighborhood and services provided in diverse language at church to the Mississippi River flowing from the side – great realization and founding to me during my research.
In brief, having a conversation without considering historical and contemporary context might not bring any profound understanding of a culture. I want to say culture is the sum of past (history) and now.
By seeing other students presenting on various neighborhoods like Marcy-Holmes, I found it interesting that space is constructed and boundaries are demarcated in ways that impact identity and power dynamics despite it is not that far from one another regarding to physical distance. All communities, generally, have in common with ethnic diversity, but it is shown in different ways. In case of St. Anthony West, for instance, I think it has the most distinctive ethnic or racial diversity owing to the earlier history of immigration from the Eastern European. I saw St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church and could get information there that there is hundreds of Ukrainian coming to this church every Sunday and also met a Lebanese who is going to the Lebanese church across the Ukrainian one. Furthermore,
Especially, the Marcy-Holmes so close that I got confused a little bit with Northeast Minneapolis at first but it was pretty different. A culture of “Hipsters” or many college students are easily found in that area unlike St. Anthony West and Logan Park.
Overall, as newer immigrants and younger professions including artists are coming into here, St. Anthony and Logan Park is like a model of harmony of “oldtimer and newcomer” (Martin & Nakayama, 11). At first, I didn’t realize how this neighborhood is beautiful with Mississippi River and vibrant with young people, which I found it to be at second visit. It must be pleasing experience to hang out with friends and try some authentic cuisines from diverse immigration nations here. Plus, Logan Park in Logan Park neighborhood also has wonderful view and makes feel a peace as a resident named Maynard strongly said – this is such a good place to live and raise a family. I love it.
Twin Cities Neighborhood Project (TCNP) at the University of Minnesota was such a precious challenge and teach me how to do well on this kind of research project even though it was pretty tough for me. It deserves to be taken by more students in order to make them jump in and experience in person what intercultural communication is.
Intercultural communication will be a fresh challenge to everyone, I believe.
Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts.