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The Melting Pot

The name “Seward” was almost a foreign word to me before this class. If you were to have given me a map, I wouldn’t be able to point out where it was located nor would I be able to tell you a single thing about the neighborhood. The only piece of tangible knowledge that I had of Seward is that it is the location that my Pizza Luce deliveries come from. Being that this neighborhood is so incredibly close to the University of Minnesota campus, it baffles me that more students don’t have the slightest clue what it is or has to offer. After an ample amount of time put into researching the depths of this neighborhood, I’ve come to find that the best way to describe Seward is that it’s a melting pot. My favorite and most truthful definition of a ‘melting pot’ that I found was from Urban Dictionary:

Multicultural surroundings where all the different cultures slowly become more uniformal generation after generation by adopting bits and pieces of other cultures and giving away some of their own traditions.

This definition touches on cultural context, history and the integration of cultures within a defined area. This is the exact depiction of Seward. All these aspects are incredibly important to consider while shaping a knowledgeable opinion about certain cultures and areas. Looking at the diversity in Seward today, one may wonder how and why it became so diverse. Studying the history helps paint the picture and give an understanding as to why Seward is the way it is. Being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Seward was the main attraction for “foreign newbies” (LIVEMPLS); which ultimately means immigrants freshly new to the country. Since Seward offered a large amount of low-income housing, it was also attractive to white families near the poverty line to move to Seward. Since Seward was born with a vast amount of diversity, it’s easier to understand why so many cultures are incorporated into this little neighborhood. Walking down the street you can find a restaurant and grocery store for almost any ethnicity.

Seward is unique in the sense that it is almost 50/50 for ethnicities. Many other neighborhoods in Minneapolis shy one one end of the spectrum to the other, never resting perfectly balanced in the middle. For example, Cedar-Riverside is predominately Muslim, where Dinkytown is predominately white. Seward is near 50% Caucasian and 50% Asian, East African, Muslim, etc (Zillow). What intrigued me the most about Seward was not necessarily the diversity itself, but the fact that such a diverse community is so incredibly tight-knit and warm hearted to one another.

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In the book “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” by Dr. Tatum, the premise is that adults both white and of color often hesitate to speak to children about racism for the fear that it will create problems where perhaps none exist. She uses the example of her son asking if he was ‘brown’ because he drank TOO much chocolate milk, this implying that he knows he different and he thinks that it is because of something he is doing wrong. The picture posted above is a great representation of the cultural openness of Seward. Seward is so incredibly packed with cultural variety that it would be hard to avoid discussing with your children the unimportance of race. Since the residents of Seward are so close and neighborly no matter what the race, it is a great place to raise a culturally-aware child. Children learn from example. If the child is raised in a predominately white neighborhood and only learns about different cultures by the stereotypes portrayed in the media and by what parents say and act about different cultures, it’s inevitable for the child to grow up with a partially skewed opinion about race. With that said, I feel the diversity and closeness of Seward is a perfect breeding ground to start shaping the minds of young children to understand that race is only a color and should not determine one’s personality or worth.

I also found it incredibly refreshing that Seward is made up of very artistic and “hipster” people. These type of people, though I am not trying to stereotype, are often environmentally conscious and incredibly open-minded. I feel that this may have a lot to do with the openness in communication within the different cultures of Seward. Having an open mind free from judgements and main-stream stereotyping helps immensely in learning about other people and cultures.

Being that I went abroad, I caught the curiosity bug and I enjoy learning about other cultures and ethnicities. I was raised in a suburb, in the mid-west, by a middle-class Caucasian family; diversity was not among one of the things I learned growing up. I had a sense of “white advantage” as discussed in class for most of my life. Though I was never aware of this, after learning about this in class it makes sense to me. The more I learn about other cultures, the more I learn about myself and my own culture. I used to think America had it all right and others had it wrong. Boy was I wrong. Learning about different cultures brings a whole new light on the way you see things in life, its an incredibly invigorating feeling that I hope everyone gets to experience some day. The more people learn about one another, the less room there is for judgement, prejudice and racism. I think we should all take a little lesson from the neighborhood of Seward and close the gap to intercultural communication. After all, we are all human.

Tatum, Beverly Daniel, Ph.D. Why Are All Of The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? N.p.: n.p., 1997. Print. 
Urban Dictionary from: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=melting%20pot
LIVEMPLS From: http://www.livempls.com/seward-minneapolis
Zillow From: http://www.zillow.com/local-info/MN-Minneapolis/r_5983/
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Final Reflection on the Northeast Minneapolis

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.

References

Retrieved from http://definitions.uslegal.com/i/intercultural-communication/

Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts.

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Final reflection: Summit-University

A lot of people may say, why do we need to learn about intercultural communications? Well, we are also exposed or influenced by the cultures of the community that were living in or we travel to it.  The twin cities are also becoming more and more diversity each day. Therefore, it became necessary to understand intercultural communications and factors that affect them such as cultural spaces, identity, history, social, economics, and power dynamics and so on.

Although I have lived in different countries with diverse cultures, and I have been exposed with different cultures, my view about the cultures and the intercultural communications is greatly developed during this class.  I am beginning to understand how the historical, economic, social and physical contexts are important to understand the culture and the power dynamic, how each cultural space is constructed through the identity and how these diverse cultures communicate each other and demarcated their cultures in a way that effected their identity and power in order to communicate and to form community, neighborhood and cities that can understand and live together.

Although my visit to the Summit-University neighborhood was a life changing experience, knowing the history of this neighborhood helped me to understand how this community came to be, because the history as driving force that shapes our understanding of culture.  It is also a powerful tool that connects us to the past and it plays important part our present lives. It determines who we are, were we come from, why and how we do what we do in every day. It helps to understand how the culture and how the identity of this community formed and changed through the time.

During my research about the Summit-University neighborhood, I found out that the people who settled in Summit- University around 1850 were European immigrants, white Christians and the dominant culture at that time was Christian culture.  Around 1880 many working class and middle classes also moved the neighborhood and build big houses in which mostly considered as historical buildings (Minnesota historical society wwww.mnhs.org/).

Due the immigration flow, the neighborhood became more diverse than ever, so the cultures, identities, and believes. We also observe this diversity during our visit of this neighborhood and when we asked one of the neighborhoods   as far as cultural diversity goes, is there a lot of that around here?  Oh yes, yea. That’s a good thing… to see different race, different people. And they’re actually helping each other out. Like, it was crazy at first. Africans and Somalians, we did not get along, for nothing. Now, we’re talking to each other. You know, we communicate. That’s good. The corner store guy, you know, he’s Somalians and we’re best friends. And it’s wonderful now, talking to everybody. It’s good.

Today the neighborhood contains diverse ethnic groups such as Asians, Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos, and even East Africans that live together and from community. As I observe during my visit, the community is well connected. It also has newspapers that connect within the neighborhood and other neighborhoods and the city.  , it has many businesses which are populated on a Selby Avenue. It also has historical places.

The factors that helped us to understand the forces that drove such interaction and intercultural communications between this neighborhood and other neighborhoods and the city are not limited to the history and culture.  The understanding of cultural spaces and boundaries also contribute our understanding about how such diverse community communicates.

As martin and Nakayama, the authors of a book called “Intercultural Communication in Context” stated, the cultural space can be physical such as home (a place where you grew up) or metaphorical such as internet. And there are some factors that contribute t it such as religious practices, food and so on.  The home is also defined by its location such as neighborhood, city, region and country and the relationship you have with.

The location that we are focusing on is the summit – university neighborhood and its cultural spaces and identity. As every community, the Summit-University neighborhood contains diverse ethnic groups such as Asians, Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos, and even East Africans. Each of these groups have different believes, values, food, and dress code.

Thus, the combinations of these factors create what we called cultural spaces and invisible boundaries.  Therefore, when communities with diverse cultures meet, they must develop intercultural communications and understanding of their diverse cultures. Thus, they must compromise and demarcated their cultural spaces and invisible boundaries in a way that affected the identity and but create a unique community that can function and live together. Thus, this community must compromise their identity and became multi-identity which in turn can lead multiculturalism which increases the communication members among the community and outside the community.

Understanding the history of the Power of this neighborhood became another important force that that helped us to understand interaction of community at any level such neighborhoods, cities, and even at government level.  The Power also determines what to be taught at school, what language will be taught or spoken in a particular community. Power sets and defines the rules and the laws.

Power is often hidden, but dynamic.   It changes through the history.  Historically the Summit- university neighborhood, white coo munity was he dominant ones and they are the ones that had the power. Although the power is changing, the white peoples till have the power.  This can be seen when you visit the work forces, schools, and hospitals.  You can also observe the lifestyle difference between the whites and people of color such us housing.

Another factor that influenced how the neighborhoods or cities interact and communicate is socio- economies which also tied with power. The minority people who live in this neighborhood are low income and due to their low economic level they have poor housing, less power when compare to the majority that live in this neighborhood.

Despite these differences, the neighborhood acts as community and almost gets along. They build a community that interacts and connected to one another. They have local newspapers, in which they discuss how they discuss safety, sanitary, education, and so on. Despite the negative press against this community, the community sees a positive community and it always considered as promising community.

References:

  1. Ramsey Hill Association. http://ramseyhill.org.
  2.  Summit University planning Council. http://.summit-u.com
  3. Minnesota historical societywww.mnhs.org/wwww.mnhs.org/
  4. Martin and Nakayama. “Intercultural communication In Context” 1997.pages 110-133

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Final Reflection

         As an international student, I was thinking “intercultural communication” refers to basically the oral communication, or non-verbal communication among people from different countries, with various cultural backgrounds. Now I realize this is to narrow, there is much broader meaning for “intercultural communication”. From the content of our textbook, “Intercultural communication in Context” finished by Judith N. Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama, intercultural communication is related to factors like identity, power, language, nonverbal codes, history, context. It’s far more complicated than I thought before, and I strong believe that it’s super necessary to know more about intercultural communication from a professional way, due to the increasing importance of being a globalized person, also the significance of intercultural communication in a rapidly changing world, I appreciated the chance I got to studying in USA, since I have been in America for three years, I realized the value of cultural practice, also helps me better understanding the practice of “intercultural communication”,  as the example illustrated in the “Intercultural communication in Context”,

           “Living in another country widens your horizon. It makes you appreciate the things you have, and it strengths the family unit. You look at your country from a different view. We have learned not to expect everything to be the same as “at home”

            This is exactly what I feel recent years, also the reason I like New York City and San Francisco, diverse culture have relatively healthy environment to flourish here. People mostly agree that the place like NYC is a really cultural diversely; actually we also have lots of chance to get to know how intercultural communication works in Twin Cities Area. We got plenty neighborhood, which are really cultural diversely here, my partner and me are responsible for Phillips, one of the most cultural vibrant community that locate in the south of downtown Minneapolis, after the expansion of neighborhood, currently it’s a community consists of four neighborhood. For getting to know how intercultural communication works in Phillips, as well as how does it influence over the city, we did historical research, contemporary issue research, identity and power analysis, most importantly, the conversation with people live or work in Phillips, through the whole process, I got more knowledge about how these elements in community work together to influence intercultural communication in Phillips and Minneapolis.

            Getting to know the history of the community is always the first step to establish everything, after doing all the steps, I realize the influence of history can be really powerful, it relates to the identity of the community, decides the power which impacts intercultural communication, also some contemporary issue that is continued through the history. In Phillips, the most significant change was about racial composition started in 1920’s, during the period of the Great Depression, before that time, Phillips was famous for its rapid economic growth, various business, and great transportation, it was the organized residence area mainly for wealthy people, whites, many of them are immigrants from Europe, like Sweden, the rich, comfortable life of residents in Phillips still can be seen in American Swedish Institution, a museum aims to preserve the cultural of European immigrants in Phillips, which was originally the home for the most famous family in Phillips, that operated newspaper. As our exploration in American Swedish Institution, the luxurious life situation of earlier residents in Phillips is uncovered, which has strong contradiction to the current residents. Nowadays, most people living in residents are Blacks or Latinos, the demographic in Phillips had a significant change, and this lead to the shift in identity, give rise to new social problems. In the early times, the main social issue in Phillips largely differs from now, for one reason, racial composition changed a lot, it’s hard to see whites in Phillips, also, the expansion in boundaries enlarge the range of Phillips, which brings new cultural to the area. Unlike previously, nowadays, the hottest issue in Phillips is safety problem, according to the Minneapolis city network, Phillips is one of the most dangerous areas in the city, and high crime rate impressed many people, from the online discussion, one of the citizens published 

          “All I know is that a teenage kid got shot there by someone who wanted his bike. I’d say the odds you are safe is pretty good, but still, if you check MPD crime maps, there are incidents going on week in and week out. Look at the crime map I’m linking to. 6 armed robberies and 5 aggravated assaults in one week. To me, that’s pretty bad.”

            As we can see, safety issue is the major concern for people live in Phillips, people considered it as “dangerous area”, this is one of new identities associated to Phillips. The other problem relates to poverty such as unemployment, and education. There are still 13% unemployment rate in Phillips, declines 1.8% compare to 1990, currently, only 5.8% Phillips residents work in the Phillips area, 38.5% people work in other district in Minneapolis. Unemployment leads to poverty directly, even though the community keeps making impressive progress in economic development, poverty rate still stays much higher than the average rate in Minneapolis. See? Safety problem, poverty are new social issue as the change in demographics in Phillips, they bring the new identity to Phillips. To analyze what decides the development of Phillips, economics, race can be main power impact on Phillips, shift in racial composition lead to shift in culture directly. From the conversation we talk to people in Phillips, I found no matter the race, they have great loyalty to their own culture, therefore, the majority racial group has great power to influence the history. Judith Martin and Thomas Nakayama, writers of Intercultural Communication in Contexts, wrote:

        “Power is the central dynamic in the writing of history. It influences the content of the history we know and the way it is delivered. Power dictates what is taught and what is silenced, what is available and what is erased.”

            For instance, one of the old lady said: She strongly supports the expansion the protection of American Swedish Institution, she is the spring of European, and the museum is one of her favorite place.

             To summarize, the intercultural communication is a pretty dynamic process, any change in one aspect can cause the other change, and they are interlocked. To know more about intercultural communication, we can better understand the city.

Work Cited:

Marks, Wizard. Phillips neighborhood network. The Alley in May, 05 1990. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.pnn.org/History/Stories/railroads_and_industry.htm&gt;.

“Phillips Community.” City of Minneapolis. N.p., 27 09 2011. Web. 26 May 2012. <http://www.minneapolismn.gov/neighborhoods/phillips/neighborhoods_phillips_profile_home&gt;.

Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts. New York: McGraw-Hill.

 

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Northeast Minneapolis, the last story…

From the beginning to end, Northeast Minneapolis has been always intrigued me with its unique history and culture. The culture they have today was not just formed all of a sudden. It was formed with its long history, environment, geography, demographics etc. These factors all had a crucial role to make the unique and nice neighborhood. 

Here is a good description that explains how does culture form usually. Sulekha.Com described culture as

A society or a nation has traditions, customs, social norms, values and forms of creative expressions. All these belong to culture. Therefore, each individual is a constant creator of individual, national and world culture. Thinkers and philosophers of a society influence millions of people with their thoughts. Our parents and neighbors hand over their traditions and customs to us. This is our heritage. When we are children, our culture is almost nonexistent except as inherited through past karma. Slowly we grow up and strengthen ourselves by cultivating values and creating a path for our lives.

This quote gives you an idea of how culture gets formed, and it explains well how long it takes and how it constantly and continuously changes as time goes on.

However, culture is not the only factor that determines or represents the neighborhood. It has other factors, such as the space of neighborhood. For example, the northeast Minneapolis is composed with 13 composing smaller neighborhoods. Therefore, the northeast Minneapolis neighborhood is large compare to other smaller neighborhoods. Historically, the heart of Northeast Minneapolis, St. Anthony, was a independent city and it was founded even before Minneapolis was founded. Although it is incorporated to Minneapolis as a neighborhood, with that reason, it is a larger neighborhood. 

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The picture above is the Northeast Minneapolis space and its boundaries:

Again, historically, there were a lot of immigrants from East Europe, especially, Poland, Ukraine, and Lebanon. And this neighborhood is also the oldest settlement by a non-native Americans. For that reason, the culture of the neighborhood was largely influenced by the Eastern European culture. For example, there are many Eastern European restaurants, bars, and organizations. Moreover, there are so many churches and cathedrals that have their own nationalities. Some of them are now owned by third or fourth generation of the first immigrants, which is very unique and historical.

However, recently, there are some changes. After the government proposed the freeways, such as i-94 and i-35, there have been so many younger group of people have moved in to the neighborhoods due to its safety and quite environment. The large proportion of people of the younger group is student, and mostly they are studying at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities. Younger people brought an energetic environment to its local business. For example, the restaurant business is doing very well recently. So the average age of the population went down big time. Moreover, the ethnic groups became more diverse. It used to be at least 90 percent whites in this neighborhood, but it became very diverse these days because we can find that the proportion of white population went down significantly. 

Many people here are in a working-class. This fact impacts in the political view greatly. There is even a case fore it. In its history, the first mayor of St. Anthony when St. Anthony was a separated city, was elected with the power and influence of the Eastern European people who were in a working-class. Many people were the bar owners. Therefore, we can’t never ignore the power of resident’s working class. It might have been changed because the population became a lot younger and diverse.

In conclusion, culture and the living style of the neighborhood gets formed with a variety of factors. Nothing is useless to be used to construct the its own culture and living style. Even a little rock may have a potential or actual influence to culture. Therefore, nothing can be ignored, especially in the northeast Minneapolis neighborhood because it has been changing a bit by bit every year, and, now, it has its historical form, but with changes. However, they keep protect the originality. In other words, it’s a mix of modernity and historical context.

Sulekha .com

http://rronnyy.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/05/how-does-culture-take-form.htm

 

 

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The issues from without: the West Side’s image

As an Urban Studies major, I feel as though I have done a decent amount of research of many of the neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities.  However, I was not as familiar with the West Side of St. Paul as I thought because the images I had of the area are the ones I’m going to preach against today. 

If there has been a driving thesis for the work that my group and I have constructed it is that the West Side of St. Paul is an enlightened neighborhood that understands its cultural significance, and it does not live up to the bad reputation that was thrust upon them. 

The historical background and the fact that it has been an immigrant enclave since it was incorporated by Ramsey Country created this bad reputation.  The tension between immigrant communities and many multi-generational “American” citizens has created a communication problem for many neighborhoods across the country.   The West Side is not an exception to this rhetoric.  An article that we read in class explained how immigrants in the current context are framed as pollutants,

“Images of large, unorganized groups of immigrants mirror the images of stationary pollution from the coverage of Love Canal in their visual framing and content. These visual constructions create an impression of immigrants as both stationary and mobile pollution.”  (Cisneros, 579)

I believe that this metaphor was reigning true for the West Side even before the immigrant “issue” was covered in the mainstream media.  The types of language used framing immigrants as pollutants could explain some of the historical intercultural communication issues that the West Side and the rest of the city has had for going on a century and a half.   Right from the beginning, this neighborhood was deemed as a place for “second class citizens” because it was housing large immigrant populations that could be viewed as “pollutants” to the rest of St. Paul.  They were given the area of the West Side to contain the “pollution” into the rest of the city of St. Paul and hoped to keep them as stationary as possible.

If this harmful imagery had been stopped years before, I believe that the West Side would be more accepted by other neighboring areas.  Unfortunately, many people see immigrants as less intelligent, worthy, or civilized than somebody born within the country. Even today, some of the residents feel the stigma associated with having an immigrant status.  As one of our interviewees, Kelly, explains:

“Most of the people that come here from other countries…they may not speak English but they probably speak five other languages and a lot of them were PhDs or…I mean, have Master’s in their own country and are very high up but then when they come here the degree doesn’t translate because the schooling is different. And so, they essentially have to start all over. Plus they don’t know the language. So a lot of people are like, “You’re stupid because you don’t know English,” when really, just because they don’t know English doesn’t mean that they’re stupid. But people don’t see beyond that. And we’re here to get the basic needs met and to give them a hand to have a better life.”

Kelly’s point about creating resources for the community brings me to another topic regarding this neighborhood which is a pillar.  There is a deep investment from within to make this a highly livable, safe, and respected community.  That almost sounds like a slogan for the Urban Renewal projects that tore up thousands of small communities within the United States in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but this far from that. 

The resources that are readily available to the citizens show a genuine investment in the well-being of the people and the hopes for keeping the authenticity of the neighborhood honest.  Although many of them cannot overcome the historical disinvestment that St. Paul has displayed towards the West Side, it is a huge leap in disabling some of those obstacles.  Such resources include the historic Neighborhood House, (which is where Kelly works), The West Side Community Organization, and the West Side Community Health Services.  

One of those very visible groups, The West Side Community Organization, states this is their mission:

“The West Side Community Organization (WSCO) is an action oriented, neighborhood-based organization empowering our residents to participate in and advocate for solutions to West Side community issues. Growing out of a movement in 1973 to save Humboldt High School, WSCO remains committed to its activist roots, using organizing and community economic development principles as a foundation for all of its work. The organization works to increase the civic participation of residents by initiating organizing campaigns, providing leadership development opportunities for youth and adults and by educating and building the power base of residents to tackle civic issue.”

I believe that the WSCO is trying to craft an empowered community to overcome the way the neighborhood is viewed from the outside world.   There is not enough intercultural communication occurring between the inside and outside worlds of the West Side yet, but I think creating a healthy self-image for the people that live there is one of the first steps towards opening this conversation up. 

Unfortunately, even with inspired organizations doing their best effort towards creating an engaged community, there is still a sense of shame for some based on the reputation of the area.  Rosa, another one of our interviewees, explains:

“When I was younger, I usually stayed in West Side and everyone I knew lived here so I never felt any shame. But now that I am working outside West Side and meeting new people, it is hard to be proud. Many times people refer to West Side as the ghetto, where there is a lot of violence and only poor people live. It sometimes makes me not want to tell people where I am from. I am afraid they will judge me as something I am not.”

Rosa’s insights prove that there are some identity issues between the avowed and ascribed roles.  The community sees itself as a vibrant, healthy, engaged area while the rest of the city has turned a cold shoulder to them and has written them off as “dangerous.”  This is a perspective that St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the surrounding suburbs perpetuate in their media coverage throughout.  Headlines such as “Uptick in Crime Brings St. Paul Police to City’s West Side” (KSTP) are part of the reason that many people view Rosa’s neighborhood as the “ghetto.” 

I found it interesting that the only time I was able to find positive headlines was when I really searched for them.  They were not readily available to me as I was researching.  If I had to dig for the positive articles, then how would anybody that wasn’t digging below the surface ever find out the good side?  It seems as though the identity issue is not an “issue” from the inside.  But rather, it is an issue that outsiders have with those from the community.  

The West Side has a lot of cityscape that makes it different.  It screams that it has an ethnic and cultural identity that it is proud of having and will not be silenced into forgetting where many of their families had come from.

I believe that this pride, although not intentionally, has created some obstacles towards intercultural communication.  I’ve stumbled upon this idea of using the art and cityscape as a form of protest.  This idea revolves around using creative work that shows a pride in one’s culture to show their oppressors that they cannot be silenced into submission.  I think this idea makes some people uncomfortable because it forces them to stop and analyze as to who the community members from the West Side protesting against.

 When people from other neighborhoods, cultural backgrounds, or ethnic identities look at this question, they may not like the answer.  Because of this, I think the conversation between the greater Twin Cities and the West Side may stay closed for quite some time.   These are the critical conversations that must occur if the ascribed and avowed roles are ever going to be remedied.   

With this, I urge anyone who has not gone to the West Side to do so.  The streets are beautiful, the people are welcoming, and the investment in community is evident.  The historical context has led to this terrible reputation that the West Side has not been able to shake.  I believe that if more people were willing to open their minds and cross into another culture, then maybe they’ll be able to exist without the negative image and the burden of having to prove themselves as a livable community.  It already is, and hopefully more people will see that in the future. 

Cisneros, David. “Contaminated Communities: The Metaphor of “Immigrants as Pollutants” in Media Representations of Immigrations.”  Rhetoric and Public Affairs.

Unknown, Rosa.  (5 June 2012). Personal Interview

Unknown, Kelly.  (25 May 2012). Personal Interview

“Uptick in Crime Brings St. Paul Police to City’s West Side.” KSTP.  Web 10 June 2012. http://kstp.com/news/stories/s2307030.shtml

“West Side Community Organization.” WSCO. Web 10 June 2012. http://wsco.org/?page_id=233

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Final Reflection of Marcy Holmes

Over the last three weeks I have learned about how intercultural communication affects a lot of dynamics within a neighborhood and community. I have learned how the identity of the culture changes with time along with the power of the people in the neighborhood.

 

In this article, I will be reflecting on my experience of the culture in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

 

To fully understand intercultural communication within a neighborhood one must look at how the formation of the neighborhood and cities as site for cultural contestation and intercultural communication complicates or even nuances the understanding of the concept.

 

The formation of Marcy Holmes started with intercultural communication between the Native Americans who worshiped the St. Anthony Falls and white loggers who wanted to use the river as a business (marcy-holmes.org). The communication was complicated and contested because each group wanted the land for the different reasons. Eventually the white settlers were able to gain control of the land and turned it onto an industrial neighborhood. Marcy Holmes was considered “the city’s of the neighborhood” according to tcdailyplanet.net (tcdailyplanet.net). The neighborhood had its main intercultural communication conflict when it was just starting to become a neighborhood. Now the main reason there is an intercultural communication contestation is due to the fact that the housing pricing is going up because of the amount of wealthy people are moving into the community.

 

To understand an area’s culture, one must look at the history, economic, and social aspects of that community. Looking at those three things will help a visitor understand the community much better when they are in the neighborhood.

 

Native Americans were the first people to settle in Marcy Holmes, then white settlers moved in around 150 years ago and started to develop the area (marcy-holmes.org). The area became more developed as time went on because more opportunities arose from the influx of people settling there (marcy-holmes.org). In fact, in 1850 the census recorded 656 people in the St. Anthony Falls area, the first business was opened in 1847, and the first school was opened in 1848 (marcy-holmes.org). The area was obviously expanding at the time and becoming a place to start a life with a family. It was becoming an industrial area and mills were starting to pop up.

 

The culture of the area now has a lot to do with the things that were left behind from the past. Some of the buildings that were being used as mills are now apartment complexes. For instance, the Pillsbury A Mill is being reconstructed inside to become affordable apartment units (DuBois, 2012). Along the river many old buildings are being used for miscellaneous things such as Segway tours, apartments, and restaurants. The history of the old Marcy Holmes is extremely intertwined with the day to day life in modern Marcy Holmes. Everywhere you walk you run into something of historical value dating back to the beginning of the neighborhood.

 

The economic standing of Marcy Holmes consists of students as well as young affluent professionals. The students are quite poor and live in houses closer to the University of Minnesota where the rent is much cheaper than where the young crowd in the working world live. The young professionals are considered affluent and trendy according to many conversations that I have had with people around the area. Joseph, a man I talked with who is a resident of Marcy Holmes, stated, “The rent has been going up in the 12 years I have lived here due to the increase of younger and more affluent people moving into the neighborhood.”

 

The social aspect of Marcy Holmes is divided into two sections, students and young professionals, as I stated earlier. The students around the usually attend the University of Minnesota because it is affordable housing that is off campus. As a resident of Dinkytown and a student at the University of Minnesota, I enjoy the atmosphere of Marcy Holmes. I love how close it is to school as well as the cultural background that I run into on a regular basis. I go on runs around the neighborhood and find something new that I haven’t seen before. I personally love to run to the Stone Arch Bridge because there is an amazing view of the old factories and the Mississippi River.

 

Young professional’s social aspect of the area is quite broad. They live so close to downtown that they could easily walk to something going on across the river. There is the Guthrie, which is one of the most prestigious theaters in Minneapolis. There is a list of things to do on certain days in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood at marcy-holmes.org such as, Ten Second Film Festival (marcy-holmes.org). It is quite self explanatory, you make a Ten second film to show to an audience (marcy-holmes.org). It is held at the Soap Factory, which is an old soap factory converted into “a laboratory for artistic experimentation and innovation” (soapfactory.org). The young professional’s social aspect is quite artsy and trendy.

 

Now that you know about the history, economic, and social aspects of Marcy Holmes, I want to tell you about how culture influences communication within cities.

 

I believe that culture influences communication within cities because in every city there are different neighborhoods that have different cultures. Some neighborhoods are culturally similar and some are extremely different.

 

In Marcy Holmes the culture is “an urban entertainment scene by night, Marcy-Holmes is a welcome mix of old and new, traditional and trendy” (tcdailyplanet.net). Marcy Holmes attracts people who like the “traditional and trendy” culture and it influences communication. It influences communication because of the attractions. The attractions being things like the Ten Second Film Festival or a Frisbee Golf Tournament. The events going on in the community creates togetherness for people and influences people to communicate with each other. They are coming together for a common cause or event and it inspires communication within the city. These events are not limited to people only in the neighborhood of Marcy Holmes, making it a great way to open up communication to other people within the city of Minneapolis to experience the community’s culture. Culture influences more communication within Marcy Holmes because of the events that are put on around the neighborhood.

 

In conclusion, Marcy Holmes has had an extremely interesting past coming from the Native Americans to industrial neighborhood to now an artsy community of students and young affluent professionals. I learned that to fully understand a neighborhood one must recognize culture contestation and intercultural communication and comprehend the concept of it. I also learned about how the economic state, history of the area, and social aspect of the neighborhood effects who decides to live there and what type of culture they will have. According to Martin and Nakayama, “Cultural adaptation is a process by which individuals learn the rules and customs of new cultural contexts” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). When people move into a new neighborhood then they need to learn the aspects of the culture and by me living here I understand the culture of the area and the social norms that go on. Understanding intercultural norms is a key factor to learning how to communicate with people who differ from yourself. You must understand someone elses culture to be able to effectively communicate with them. I feel I understand Marcy Holmes now that I know the history and understand the culture of the neighborhood.

 

http://marcy-holmes.org/

 

http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/neighborhood/minneapolis/marcy+holmes

 

DuBois, A. (2012, April 18). Pillsbury a mill to be converted into affordable housing. Minnesota Daily. Retrieved from http://www.mndaily.com/2012/04/18/pillsbury-mill-be-converted-affordable-housing

 

Martin, J., & Nakayama, T. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts. New York: McGraw-Hill.

 

 

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