In partnership with Carver County Public Health, Cologne is building a “Community of Belonging.”

Cologne is the first of potentially 11 area communities to begin exploring how to build a community of belonging, according to members if a team that includes Cologne residents and Public Health representatives.

The initiative stems from Public Health’s improvement plan done every five years to assess and create ways to improve the health of the citizens of Carver County. Some priority issues include transportation, housing and mental health and well-being.

Several citizens and organizations that have become involved in the effort landed on belonging as a theme, perhaps in light of isolation from the ongoing pandemic, political divisiveness, and research that shows individuals seek a sense of significance, safety and well-being by belonging to a community.

Leadership team member and Cologne resident Gracia Hegener points out that communities of belonging are truly connected, know and take care of each other even if they don’t agree on every issue; welcome people, at all times---no matter their age, gender, race, ethnicity, language, faith traditions, income, occupation, sexual orientation, political ideology, physical ability, or anything else that makes them unique; and ensure all voices are heard.

To make sure all voices are heard, the “Community of Belonging” work group has created a survey that was sent to all residents of the Cologne area in late October asking them how they feel about “belonging” in Cologne.

Here are some examples of survey questions: What makes you feel like you belong in the Cologne community? What makes you feel like you do not belong in the Cologne community? When a new neighbor moves in, how do you welcome them? How do you learn about activities /events in the Cologne community?

Residents are asked to respond by Nov. 19. Results of the survey will be compiled and shared with the public in January 2022.

Hegener indicates that the partnership with Carver County Public Health will offer support as the group moves ahead to strengthen the Cologne community, ensure that everyone has equitable opportunities to live and work, and make it a safe, resilient, connected and unified community.

Residents who have questions or want to become involved with the Cologne Community of Belonging team, can contact Roger Storms at, John Hendel at, or Gracia Hegener at

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