Author Archives: lclishuai

Final Reflection

I found a good description, I prefer not to say “definition” since it is too serious, on the website.

Intercultural communication can be defined as any interpersonal interaction between persons belonging to different cultural or social groups, which differ from one another because of diverse backgrounds, communication and linguistic behaviors, communication interpretations, word meanings, and communication styles. Intercultural communication interactions include both verbal and nonverbal messages. Intercultural communication is dynamic because the process is always changing and evolving. This means one must continually improve and update intercultural communication skills and cultural knowledge.

Neighborhood is surely a place for intercultural communication. In some community which contains many immigrants from different cultural backgrounds, people are facing intercultural communication everyday.

         Context is important to understanding culture. Context is a basis of identity and power. It influences the community most. Power and context are important force to shape the community culture. Context is the basis of the community culture. Power and identity affects how it develops. For example, in the Phillips Community, we can find buildings of different architectural styles; we can find houses with different decorations. Although the residents of the Phillips Community mainly were white people, the community is not like a normal white community. It has three churches, in which one is Spanish church, one is Italian church and one is Indian church. From the website of the Oregon State University, I found:

Contexts of communication are best thought of as a way to focus on certain communication processes and effects. Communication context boundaries are fluid. Thus, we can see interpersonal and group communication in organizations. Gender communication occurs whenever people of different sexes communicate. We can have mass communications to individuals, group, and organizations.

                      Using communication contexts as a means to help us study communication helps us out of problems some people associate with the intrapersonal context (some say the “so-called” intrapersonal context). Some people facetiously say intrapersonal communication exists when someone talks to themselves. It’s more accurate to define intrapersonal communication as thinking. While thinking normally falls within the purview of psychology we can recognize that we often think, plan, contemplate, and strategize about communication past, present, and future. It is legitimate to study the cognitive aspects of communication processes. So, even if some people call those cognitive aspects of communication thinking, it can be helpful to allow the context of intrapersonal communication to exist, thereby legitimating an avenue of communication research.

From quotations above, we draw a conclusion that context is an extremely important factor which has a huge influence on communication.

         Cultural spaces define the boundary of a community. Every community has its own cultural space. I don’t think it will be a good idea to take the community and cultural space separately since they are so closely related. In addition, we can not talk about and understand cultural space if we take it away from the background. I found an interesting article about cultural space. Here is some abstraction:

 In both the German and US literature on ethnic neighbourhoods, there is considerable debate as to whether living amongst co-ethnics hinders or furthers the integration process for immigrants. Using the detailed data on immigrant integration in the German Socio-economic Panel in combination with zip-code-level data on minority concentration and neighbourhood income levels, the research tests the extent to which ethnic neighbourhoods are economically, socially and/or culturally isolated spaces in Germany. The findings indicate that, although general neighbourhood quality is lower for minorities living within ethnic neighbourhoods, these persons are no more culturally isolated from Germans than their counterparts living outside these areas. Further, minorities living within ethnic neighbourhoods appear no more likely to maintain ties to their country of origin culture than those living outside ethnic neighbourhoods. This suggests that the correlation between social and spatial integration, assumed in much of the immigrant integration literature, requires more careful scrutiny.

From the abstraction above, we can easily see that there actually exist many different cultural spaces. But they are not independent. The cultural spaces of different cultural backgrounds can make up a brand new cultural space, which is a composition of various cultures but with a same core culture.

         Culture gives the biggest influence on communication. In Tracy Novinger’s article, she gave out a clear explanation of this influence:

 Communication specialists estimate that some two-thirds to three-fourths of our communication takes place nonverbally through behavior. Behavior itself is learned from our culture and all behavior communicates. Since we cannot stop behaving in one way or another, we cannot stop communicating. Therefore, during all of the waking hours that we spend with other human beings we “speak” volumes through the behavior our culture drilled into us. In addition, it is certainly possible to learn the most significant rules for behavior prescribed by a foreign culture so that we ourselves can communicate more effectively, as well as better interpret what someone is trying to communicate to us.

We always say that culture shapes communication. Communication is easier for people who are with the same cultural background. In the article Culture and Communication – The Relationship Between Communication and Culture, Characteristics of Culture, Glimpses of Culture, the author describes the relationship between culture and communication.

The relationship between communication and culture is a very complex and intimate one. First, cultures are created through communication; that is, communication is the means of human interaction through which cultural characteristics— whether customs, roles, rules, rituals, laws, or other patterns—are created and shared. It is not so much that individuals set out to create a culture when they interact in relationships, groups, organizations, or societies, but rather that cultures are a natural by-product of social interaction. In a sense, cultures are the “residue” of social communication. Without communication and communication media, it would be impossible to preserve and pass along cultural characteristics from one place and time to another. One can say, therefore, that culture is created, shaped, transmitted, and learned through communication. The reverse is also the case; that is, communication practices are largely created, shaped, and transmitted by culture.

To understand the implications of this communication-culture relationship, it is necessary to think in terms of ongoing communication processes rather than a single communication event. For example, when a three-person group first meets, the members bring with them individual thought and behavioral patterns from previous communication experiences and from other cultures of which they are, or have been, a part. As individuals start to engage in communication with the other members of this new group, they begin to create a set of shared experiences and ways of talking about them. If the group continues to interact, a set of distinguishing history, patterns, customs, and rituals will evolve. Some of these cultural characteristics would be quite obvious and tangible, such that a new person joining the group would encounter ongoing cultural “rules” to which they would learn to conform through communication. New members would in turn influence the group culture in small, and sometimes large, ways as they become a part of it. In a reciprocal fashion, this reshaped culture shapes the communication practices of current and future group members. This is true with any culture; communication shapes culture, and culture shapes communication.

 I think culture may have a great influence on individuals. People are not born but educated to be who they are. If one’s brought up in a certain culture, he will not be able to get rid of the influence of that. The way in which we thinking, talking and behaving is affected a lot by the culture.

         Overall, intercultural communication is affected by cultures, contexts, identities, power. It is easy to feel the relationship between them but hard to define what the relationship is exactly. Anyway, we can understand it by observation. That helps us to do research on this respect.



Oregon State University:

Intercommunication Blog:

Sage Journals:

Online Encyclopedia:



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Analysis 2- Power in the Phillips Community

What is power? In the communication area, the word power has a different meaning as we usually know. From Wikipedia, I find the definition of power:

 Power can be described as the capacity of an individual or a group (which may lie dormant) to exert their will over another or others (French and Raven, 2001) or influence the goals of a relationship. Power is not a characteristic of any one individual, rather, it is defined in terms of relationships and transactions between people. Power is crucial to the achievement of individual goals, the resolution of conflicts, and to communication competency within a group. Power can be understood within two basic dimensions, a content dimension and a relational dimension.

Power is an important factor to affect the community. The community culture is greatly influenced by the dominant group. Like the Phillips Community, it shows some features of Indian culture since it was a colony of American Indians. Because white people are the majority of the Phillips Community for almost a century, the community is affected most by white people.




         The Phillips Community is influenced by other community, too. It is so close to downtown, so there is no doubt it is more modern than other communities which are far away from the central part of Minneapolis. There are many shopping areas beside East Lake Street such as the Hi-Lake Shopping District. The Phillips Community is more prosperous with the influence of downtown.

         Power and context are important force to shape the community culture. Context is the basis of the community culture. Power affects how it develops. For the Phillips Community, influence from different cultures affects the development the community a lot. It is easy to see: we can find buildings of different architectural styles; we can find houses with different decorations. Although the residents of the Phillips Community mainly were white people, the community is not like a normal white community. It has three churches, in which one is Spanish church, one is Italian church and one is Indian church. This is not a common view in most communities.Image

         The economic contexts also have a big influence on the Phillips Community. They are important for the community’s development. The economic context, which decides what kind of people will live in the community, is a key factor to determine how the community develops. Like the Phillips Community, its land price is quite low. The land price keeps in a low level in the Phillips Community’s history. This feature appeals people who don’t have much money. And this feature contributes a lot to shape the community. Research shows that crime is related to income: there is always a high crime rate in a low-income community. So the low land price results in high crime rate, and high crime rate results in even lower land price.

         The social context is a huge power to change the community, too. The social life in a community can appeal certain group of people and lead the community go to a certain direction. In the Phillips Community, the cultural diversity is a characteristic. The Phillips Community used to be an American Indian colony, which labels the community as a place of minorities. So many minorities moved into the Phillips Community in 20th century. At present, white people only count a quarter in the community. As more culture enters the Phillips Community, residents in the community can accept more different cultures. It is an advantage for community development.

         The power of Twin Cities and the Phillips Community affects each other. The Phillips Community is part of Minneapolis, so it is of the same feature of Minneapolis. It is affected by Twin Cities deeply. It also provides “reaction force” to the Twin Cities. By this procedure, both of them develop.

         Overall, both of the power from outside and inside of the Phillips Community affect and change it a lot.

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The Phillips Community

Identity is important for becoming a community. Identity decides what the community is like. When we come to explore a community, identity is the first thing we need to observe. A community is shaped in some certain identities by people living there and culture influencing there. It is not easy to find some identities in the Phillips Community since it is full of different cultures. A culturally rich community is always with a lot of different features. When you walk in the community, you even find you are walking through nations and nations. However, the Phillips Community has been a big community for nearly a hundred years. That means it has developed its own identity in the long period. Although composed by various cultures, the Phillips Community also has some identities.

Identities come from history. History shows how the community develops. It takes a long time to shape the identities of a community. Many factors can have an impact on the identities of a community, such as immigrants and new culture. Context is an important factor, too. Like a foundation of a building, context of a community is the basis of its identities. History, context and identities are closely related. They affect each other indeed.

The Phillips Community starts at the end of 19th century. So there are many historical sites left there. For example, the American Swedish Institute was built 100 years ago. It shows what the everyday life was like 100 years ago. Nowadays, the influence of that period still exists. The architectural style is very similar with the old buildings in old part of the Phillips Community. Phillips is also home to the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery—the oldest in the city with graves dating back to the 1850s. With so many historical sites in the community, historical charm is an important of identities of the Phillips Community.

Another identity we find important is the cultural diversity. As well known, residents in the Phillips Community are of many nationalities. At present, white counts for about a quarter, black counts for a quarter, Hispanic counts for a quarter, and other races including American Indian and Asian are of the rest. The mix of different culture makes the Phillips Community very unique. There is something you can not see very often from elsewhere: different decorations with their cultural features; churches of different religions; restaurants of a world-wide range flavors; plenty of different languages. It’s like going through the world when exploring the Phillips Community.

I asked Molly what she thinks is the most special characteristic of the Phillips Community. She said that was peace. I don’t understand what she means by “peace” since I think peace is the opposite of war. She told me that before they moved to this community, they experienced too much bad things. She said:” The Phillips Neighborhood is not a place filled with rich people. The rent here is not high. You don’t feel too much pressure when you live here. You can restart your business here. Neighbors here are enthusiastic. I experienced many interesting things I had never experienced when I was young.” Finally, I get to know, peace is a combination of happiness, friendship and love. I don’t know if this is an identity of the Phillips Community because I know the crime rate here is high, but at least for Molly, it is.

The Phillips Community is quite different from other communities in Minneapolis. It has the largest American Indian population. It is the only community with only one neighborhood in tradition.

The Phillips community only contained one neighborhood, also called Phillips. The geographical area of the community is understandably much smaller than other communities. Most Minneapolis communities contain several neighborhoods, so this situation was fairly strange. Only in the past couple years has Phillips been subdivided into smaller neighborhoods, although most Phillips residents don’t acknowledge these new neighborhood designations, as these are recent changes.

The Phillips Community contributes a lot to the identity of Minneapolis. The cultural integration energizes Minneapolis. It brings Minneapolis a diversified development.

The identities of the Phillips Community are not just as listed before. There are more which I did not find out. It is a place worth multi-time visiting and exploring.


Official Site of the City of Minneapolis:


Phillips Neighborhood Network:

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We Should Not Be Afraid to Talk about Race

I have never taken race as a big problem until I came to the U.S. China doesn’t have such problem. There are very few immigrants in China. In tradition, Chinese are friendly to foreigners no matter what your race is. In addition, Han is the only ethnic majority in China; Over 98% of population is Han. There is a long history for government to make special rules to protect the minorities in China. They have more privileges than Han. So there are not many problems between different ethnic groups.

         I have learnt something about discrimination and race problem of the U.S in high school. But in fact, I haven’t really experienced it since I don’t have American friends. All I know about this are from books and newspapers. It is quite confusing for me that why race problem is a sensitive topic. In my view, it is very common to talk about race. But we should show our respect for other races. If we talk about race with respect, I don’t think it is offensive. Of course, discrimination is not welcomed. For me, my race is my honor. I’m proud to be a Chinese. I don’t care to talk with others about Chinese. People should have a sense of pride of their race and don’t be so sensitive when coming to this kind of topic.

         Due to some historical reason, there are conflicts between black and white. Now that the racial problems certainly exist, how can we solve the problems if we just keep silent? Like Sarah Jackson, an educator, pointed out in her article Why I Want to Talk about Race, And Why You Should, Too:

Silence isn’t only consent; silence is like giving a system based in racial hierarchies a bear hug and cooking it a romantic dinner.

There is a saying in China: the truth always comes from debates. Only by talking about racial problem and facing it bravely can we solve this problem. You can’t avoid it since it is everywhere. Martin Luther King is famous for his speech about racial problems. He set an example for soling racial problems. It is not a good idea to pretend not seeing the problem. John L. Jackson, Jr. (no relation) of the University of Pennsylvania made an experiment, in which he keeps away from topic about race for 40 days.

“Race is around every corner, so I had to excuse myself from every conversation. I couldn’t read any headline because it is there already,” he said. “The experiment proved that if you’re not talking about race at all you’re not actually talking about the contemporary moment in a way that’s going to get us to someplace progressive.”

It is impossible not to talk about race. People should find a way to solve the racial problems instead of shirking. Everybody should do something to solve it. Government, as well as common people, should treat every race in equality. No special rules for some certain races unless they are in need for help or protection. It is a happy thing to meet minorities and talk about their lifestyle in China. One day it might be true in the U.S.

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The Phillips Community

The Phillips community is a culturally rich community. The culture diversity makes the community attractive. It is amazing to see so many different cultures in a small area. But the culture diversity also brings some problems, such as crime. However, the Phillips community is a good place to visit.

What are the major issues or concerns that people in this neighborhood care about? I did a survey in the community. There are three choices in the survey: safety, living condition, traffic and jobs. Besides that, I provided a blank to write what they concerned most if it was not listed. 8 people did the survey, 3 of them are male and 5 are female. The result is as below: 6 people selected safety; 1 people selected traffic; 1 people selected living condition; no one selected jobs. This result is unexpected for me. I thought jobs will be an important factor but in fact no one cares about it. I think there may be some misunderstanding. In China, traffic jam is very common all day long. People don’t want to go too far for work, so the income level is a big factor to consider when choose place of residence. But in the U.S, traffic condition is much better than China. That’s why people don’t care about jobs. They can go other place to find jobs. Safety is a big problem in Phillips Community, since it is a high crime rate area. (I found information about crime from Dangerous Areas of Minneapolis):

 The Phillips neighborhood also suffers from high crime rates. The Phillips neighborhood is immediately south of downtown Minneapolis and bordered by Hiawatha Avenue to the east, Lake Street to the south and I-35W to the west. Areas where crime is higher extend outside Phillips, several blocks south of Lake Street, and around a mile west of I-35W.

In the city’s media, the Phillips neighborhood is of cultural diversity and “economy diversity”. I found an article, Spotlight on Phillips neighborhood, introduces this feature:

The Phillips neighborhood always has been a complex neighborhood of stark contrasts, particularly among its buildings and its residents.

The cornerstone of Phillips today is diversity – economic and cultural. Not only is it the largest neighborhood in Minneapolis by population (larger than 35 of the state’s 87 counties), it also is the most racially diverse community in the Twin Cities area.

But a problem is, the Phillips community is poor. “It’s one of the poorest neighborhoods in the metropolitan area, with a high concentration of social service agencies.” Stated by Jim Buchta, author of Spotlight on Phillips neighborhood. I found some data from Official Website of the City of Minneapolis: about 34% of residents are below poverty level. The poverty causes many problems, for example, crime. 6.01% of the residents are affected by property crime. This is a really a large number, much higher than the average level of Minnesota, which is 3.08%. Although accepting plenty of assistance, the community doesn’t seem to get better.

Despite of the poverty problem, most articles about the Phillips Community focus on its cultural diversity. Black is the main part of the community. White and Hispanic are of about the same number. American Indian and Asian population are smaller. The article Study says racial bias affects rentals in Phillips neighborhood gives out some information:

Members of minorities who want to rent housing in the Phillips neighborhood are likely to face significant discrimination…Between January 1989 and June 1990, more than 35 percent of housing complaints received by the Civil Rights Department came from the Phillips neighborhood.

Rent in the Phillips Community is very low, this appeals many people. But in another hand, this causes more problems.

“We are always disappointed when discrimination is found, but we are not surprised,” said Emma Hixson, director of the Civil Rights Department. “We have had a fairly high volume of complaints from Phillips.”

It seems like the city’s media don’t like the Phillips Community very much.

The community has its own media, Minneapolis Television Network. Although it is located in the Phillips Community, it doesn’t focus on the Phillips Community only. It seems to be more like a city-class media.

I asked some people what they think about the relationship between the Phillips Community and Minneapolis. I might not express clearly, most of the interviewees just answer something like “the community is part of city”. To be honest, I don’t completely understand this question either.

An old lady told me that she doesn’t care what the media says about the Phillips community. She has been lived in that community for about two decades. She felt the community is much better than the first time she came here. She said, “At least I’m happy to live here. I feel the development, and I love it.” The Phillips Community is on its way to be better, that’s a good sign.


Buchta, J., & Writer, S. (1998, Jan 10). Spotlight on phillips neighborhood // stark contrasts exist among the buildings and residents of one of poorest sections in metropolitan area. Star Tribune, pp. 04.H-04H.

Kelly, S. P., & Writer, S. (1992, Feb 21). Study says racial bias affects rentals in phillips neighborhood. Star Tribune, pp. 01.B-01B.

James, Clara, Dangerous Areas of Minneapolis.

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Reflection on History

What is history? From wikipedia, we can easily find a definition of history:

History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events.

I think this is a good definition because it shows us the nature of history. It’s not only about what happened, but also about how it be presented to people. In Chinese standard, history should be recorded objectively. That is, the task of historical records is to present what had happened at a certain time or in a certain period. All the historical material should be real and tested. They cannot contain the writters’ opinion or attitude. They are the pure history. But the way people learn history can vary. One historical events can be explained in completely opposite ways. For example, the communist movement in 20th century, are evaluted exactly the opposite in China and the U.S. For many  American, the communist movement is somewhat like terrorism. The federal government, espicially when it is under control of Eisenhower, is hostile to communism. So there is no doubt for communism to be described as evil. But in China, people are told communism is the only way to achieve a happy life. There was a big conflict between China and the U.S. in Korea in 1950s. Of course, the two countries give out diametrically opposite description in history books. Although the war happened in the way it happened, government can use different ways of propaganda to teach the people history of the war. I think I only need to introduce what is in China’s history book. What we learnt is that we were helping North Korean to risist the invasion from imperialist countries. How the history be taught can affect people greatly. So how the history be presented is so important, even more important than what it is in fact. In the textbook, teh author also set many examples, such as Kashmir problem and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Every country just argue for their own. It is hard to say who is right or wrong, but it is a reflection of how complex history is.

In the textbook, the author focused on how history can affect people. Why we need to learn history? A famous Chinses saying might be the answer: 前事不忘,后事之师. In English, it means if you understand the history, you are a wise man and can foretell the future. History always has huge influence on us, no matter it is a nation history or a family history. Sometimes, it is similar with tradition. Stories of heroes can motivate many people; Sense of national pride can help a nation rise; Glorious family tradition can encourage children to reach the top. I believe the power of history is so great that people can gain a lot of strength from that. So it is important to choose what kind of history should be remembered. In the text book, the author explained “absent history”:

Absence  history, of course, does not mean people didn’t exist. …… One important way this happens is when government forbid access to documents that would give us better insight into the past.

That’s happening all over the world. We learn just the selected part of history. I don’t know if it is right to forbid some history, but I oppose it. I think people can decide what to be remembered by themselves. We don’t need the government to make a decision for us. I hope there is one day that people can read the history freely.



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History of the Phillips Community

We visited Phillips Community for our neighborhood visit this morning. Phillips Community is a culturally rich community. It is not a single use community, that is, it has a mix of residential, commercial and industrial uses. There are many big companies in the Phillips Community, such as Wells Fargo Mortgage and Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center. The Hi-Lake Shopping District is also a thriving business district. People living in the community are of different races and different cultures. Data from Official Website of the City of Minneapolis showed that white, black and Hispanic are the majorities in the Phillips Community. We found two churches in the community, one is an Italian church and the other one is a Spanish church; unfortunately, they are all closed when we went there. Image

The Phillips Community has a rich history. It began to to develop in 19th century. The name Phillips came from Wendell Phillips, a 19th century abolitionist.  At the end of 19th century, the community developed qucikly because of the new streetcar routes down Lake Street and Franklin Avenue; many houses were built in this period. The development of residential areas brought good business opportunities. Many shops were opened beside the Lake Street in this period. The first hospital of this community, Northwestern Hospital, which is called Abbott Northwestern Hospital today, opened in 1887. The world headquarters of Honeywell located at 4th Avenue and 28th Street from the 1920s until the 1990s. Another site showing the history of the Phillips Community is  the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. It is the oldest cemetery in the city of Minneapolis. The oldest graves were built in 1850s. Over 180 veterans, who sacrificed in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Indian and Civil Wars, the Spanish-American War and World War I, are buried there. These historical sites are a symbol of history of the Phillips Community.

There are many other historical sites in the Phillips Community. The most famous one might be the American Swedish Institute (ASI).  The ASI is a good place to learn history of the Phillips Community since it shows the ordinary life in 19th century in the Phillips Community.Image

The American Swedish Institute is located on Turnblad Mansion, 2600 Park Ave S. The introduction below can be found on official website of ASI:


The American Swedish Institute was founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaperman Swan J. Turnblad. It is a historic house, museum, and cultural center that celebrates Swedish, Swedish-American, and Nordic culture.

Completed in 1908, this French Chateauesque-style mansion is built of light gray Indiana limestone. The imposing exterior’s intricate stone carvings, steeply pitched roofs, gargoyles, and turrets lend it a castle-like appearance.

Inside the 33-room mansion, a two-story fireplace mantel in reddish-brown African mahogany is the focal point of the majestic Grand Hall. Exquisitely carved woodwork, decorative plaster sculpted ceilings, and the eleven Swedish porcelain kakelugnar (tile stoves) throughout the mansion are distinctive and impressive features.

The museum is under construction. A new part of it will open at the end of June. We just exploredthe old part. There are a wide range of exhibits in the building, from books, artworks to furniture and daily necessities. Every exhibit has a introduction beside it. The building is a litttle terrifying because it is a little gloomy. I tried to read every tag because I really don’t know much about Swedish culture. All I know about Swedish is vikings. After this visit, I learnt more about Swedish culture and living habits.

The Phillips have many immigrants. Swedish immigrants had a great impact on the community. They affeceted the lifestyle and brought many new things to the Phillips Community.



The Phillips Community has many kinds of different races. The composition of the population has changed a lot as time goes forward. The most recent data I can find is on the  Official Website of the City of Minneapolis :

The Phillips community’s ethnic makeup changed dramatically between 1980 and 2000. The white population declined from 64 percent of the total in 1980 to 24 percent in 2000. The black population comprised 8 percent of the total in 1980 and 29 percent in 2000. The Hispanic population was 2 percent in 1980 and 22 percent in 2000. Phillips has a large American Indian population, but their numbers declined by 1,830 in the same period. By 1980 they were 17 percent of the total population, and by 2000 they were 11 percent.

By this tendency, we can easily find that the community has been even more diverse in these years. I drove around this community this morning; the most people I saw were black. I rarely saw white or Asian people in the community. I didn’t find any data before 1980, so I can’t tell how it changes before that year.

Churches are good place to learn the community culture and history. However, we cannot go into any church because they are not open on weekdays (we were there on Friday).


Overall, the Phillips Community is a good place to meet different culture. But many reports said that the crime rates in it is very high. Land price in the Phillips Community  keeps in a low level since long ago. It gets bigger as the city of Minneapolis gets bigger. The history of the community is a miniature of the development of Minneapolis. So it’s interesting to visit the Phillips Community.


Official Site of the City of Minneapolis:


Phillips Neighborhood Network:

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