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Our Space

Introduction to
Our Space

The Cultural Wellness Center is a transformative space that incubates culturally-based solutions to real world problems. Our work at the Cultural Wellness Center is to move from race to culture. By engaging the generative practice of moving from race to culture, one engages the transformative path to becoming oneself through the lens of culture. The knowledge produced from this process creates the space for one to heal themselves and build community.

As a recognized authority on the process of cultural wellness, we offer experiential learning opportunities that actively boost well-being, improve relationships, build communities, and train organizations.

The Cultural Wellness Center offers research-based classes, coaching, consulting, and certifications that support people, families, communities, and organizations in developing culturally-based solutions to real-world problems.

Claiming African Systems of Thought

A Place for Growth

We are about people, from people, and for people. We partner with communities to develop models to solve problems that have been created by individualism, loss of culture, and loss of community, which our People’s Theory of Sickness and Disease states “makes you sick.”

We Ignite Sparks

By tapping into life-affirming ceremonies, rituals, practices, disciplines, and philosophies from personal cultural traditions, we help people recognize and accept the wisdom within themselves and their communities. We inspire people to heal themselves and give back to their communities.

We Strengthen Community

Everyone has a culture – that culture is a powerful resource for health and healing. Community knowledge is at the forefront of our work; we work with community members to reconnect with their culture, take control of their own health and build lasting relationships with the people and institutions in their lives.

We Create Connections

Our work unleashes the power of citizens to heal themselves and to build community. Through work with individual communities, families, academic institutions, government agencies, philanthropists, and other non-profit organizations, we build a web of relationships that support community engagement, intercultural communication, and personal responsibility .

Cultural Community Engagement

Since 1996, the Cultural Wellness Center has been working to position community knowledge at the forefront of community health and economic development ideas.

Our History

1996 – Present
Cultural Wellness Center

The Cultural Wellness Center opened in Minneapolis in October 1996 as the living legacy of ‘Healthy Powderhorn,’ an intense two-year community health initiative that involved conversations with more than 1,000 neighborhood residents about health concerns and problems that they experienced with local medical systems. The initiative engaged area residents in making changes in the community to foster healthy living.

1994 – 1996
The People's Theory of Sickness

In 1994, two leading Minneapolis healthcare organizations funded community organizers to examine why public-health findings showed Black babies died at higher rates compared to white babies. Instead, we researched why a number of them lived. 

 

Through conversations with Black mothers, grandmothers and elders, we found that babies born in ways that honored African cultural traditions — doulas, birthing teams, elder guides, and breastfeeding — thrived. We listened, placing value on their lived experiences, which became defining knowledge for our community-engaged research and cultural wellness field study and approach to community health.

 

When we stood on doorsteps 25 years ago listening to Black people, we heard them articulate what became our “People’s Theory of Sickness” and the one problem we’re trying to solve: individualism, loss of culture and loss of community make us sick. This sickness is now revealed as preexisting conditions of chronic diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, food insecurity, homelessness, drug addiction, and domestic violence — manifestations of internalized oppression and biased neglect and racism in the healthcare system.