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Statement from the Executive Director – The Next Chapter

Statement from The  Executive Director


Greetings Community,

So much has changed over the past two and a half years. And the world has made it increasingly obvious to a wider group of people that so much more change is necessary if we are to heal ourselves and build healthy communities. During this time, we have been in constant conversation with our community members, as well as with our partners in government, in philanthropy, shared meals, and community gatherings. That in-person work was our core platform to engage 3,300 people in 2019. And many of those 3,300 people showed up, in person, many times each month.  

And yet, even without in-person activities, over two years of pandemic restrictions, Health Hub participation increased tenfold to serve 33,000 people in 2021. People knew what was needed, and they showed up. 

  • Working with the Minnesota Department of Health, we used our approach to reshape the state’s strategy for engaging the communities most impacted by Covid-19. 
  • We have 200 people enrolled in our intensive year-long Culture Well, and we turned away another 200.
  • Our monthly Dinner Dialogues with people experiencing diabetes and heart disease expanded to a third monthly group for people experiencing kidney disease.
  • Unable to share food in person, last fall we started delivering nearly 200 healthy food baskets each month to senior citizens, and another 150 prepared meals each month to people participating in Dinner Dialogues.
  • People who previously showed up in person alone for this work are now logging in online and bringing entire families with 
  • Participants in movement classes now include people from across the country and around the world.

As we return to seeing people in person, our presence in the Midtown Global Market has changed. We have larger offices in the northeast corner of the market. We added private treatment and coaching rooms. And we are opening the Health Hub Kitchen, where you will be able to buy healthy soul food, buy meal kits to prepare at home, and attend tastings and cooking classes. 

 At our Portland Avenue site, we are partnering with Hennepin Healthcare to open the Center for Rebirth and Recovery. Teams of black doulas-in-training will use the Cultural Wellness Approach to provide prenatal care, birthing teams, lactation support, and well-child check-ups. 

 We are using our approach with PPL and Wells Fargo to change the way developers engage the community around projects like 110 units of housing planned for Lake and Nicollet. And the McKnight Foundation is funding our Lake Street Alignment work to bring together the many visions for the recovery of Lake Street. 

As we work with Minneapolis City Council President Jenkins and others to establish cultural districts including an African American cultural district on 38th Street, we are using our approach to redefine cultural districts as places where people outside the dominant culture take advantage of opportunities in places that the dominant culture has abandoned, and build cultural resources, generational wealth, and economic opportunity. 

 We are using our approach with ReConnect Rondo to honor the experiences of people who lost homes, businesses, and generational wealth to interstate freeway construction. We are using our approach with North Memorial Hospital to honor the experiences of people in North Minneapolis navigating health care systems and to identify ways a hospital can improve the lives of the people who live nearby. 

We are using our approach with the Pohlad Foundation to design a cohort for Black activist organizers to support them during this exhausting time for their work.  We are working with Twin Cities Community Land Trust to train their leadership and staff in how to interface with communities across cultures in a way that honors individual and community experiences.

We partner with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) and Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood(SPPN) to use our approach with teachers, administrators, and more than 200 students and their families to increase parental involvement and provide cultural knowledge and education as a resource for thinking, living and building a healthier community. We connect the students and families to elders, African drum and dance, storytelling, Rites of Passage, and other cultural celebrations, ceremonies, events, and programming. 95 % of our participants within SPPS and SPPN reported an increase in self-esteem and sense of belonging. 89% reported a better connection between school, home, and community. From July 2021 to June 2022 our work in SPPS and SPPN yielded 24,456 engagements resulting in people feeling more strengthened, more valued, and more willing to give back to the community.

Our work has become more visible during this time. But this visible work is the tip of the iceberg. We have been using the Cultural Wellness Approach for more than 25 years to unleash the power of people to heal themselves and build community. And all of that visible and invisible work is now pointing us to what comes next. 

Dreamland on 38th pulls together the many threads of our work and weaves the cloth that will hold our future. We produce knowledge with entrepreneurs at the Midtown Global Market, and in learning cohorts like the doulas at the Center for Rebirth and Recovery. We produce Knowledge around sharing food as medicine, as culture, as something that carries the love of grandmothers. We produce knowledge with communities about how we want developers to come into our neighborhoods and engage with us, how we want healthcare institutions to serve us, and how we want cultural districts where our communities can meet our own needs. Dreamland on 38th will apply this knowledge to strengthen our work and expand our scope. 

 At any given time, Dreamland on 38th will incubate twenty food businesses owned by people of color. Entrepreneurs will learn together as a cohort how connecting with culture and community makes businesses thrive. We will have room to incubate additional community initiatives in our shared office space. We will have room to invite the community into shared spaces and to our rooftop patio.  

You might be one of our friends who has been wondering how we will use this moment in our history to make real change.  You might be wondering what our next chapter looks like. I invite you to learn more about what we have been up to. And I promise you: The more you learn, the more you will see that you already know the answer.  We are saving a place for you to join us.  



The Elders and Faculty at The Cultural Wellness Center

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