Welcome to the Urban Village

Cultivating Connection, Collaboration, & Kinship

On the current situation in Myanmar

With over 1000 civilians killed and more than 10,000 arrested, the situation in Myanmar continues to remain incredibly dangerous and consequential. As an organization we are heartbroken and seriously worried for our many friends and family in Myanmar.
The Urban Village is committed to standing with the many ethnic peoples of Myanmar in their fight for freedom, justice, and democracy.

We urge you to join us.

The Urban Village (5)
The Official Newsletter of Beechtown Church
The Urban Village Marketplace (1)

Connection. Collaboration. Kinship.

The Urban Village is a Karen and Karenni community space designed to cultivate connection, collaboration, and kinship both inside and outside its walls. Our village stands in solidarity with the Karen and Karenni people by providing culturally relevant space and support which acts as a launch pad for community led programs. The Urban Village works with and empowers local Karen and Karenni artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, ideas, movements, and leaders to serve their community through their own unique skill sets. At the Urban Village, we believe that the road to opportunity and achievement can be difficult to travel alone. We believe, it takes a village.

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events as our team is overseas helping to get aid to IDP's in Myanmar. Please stay informed and keep us in your thoughts and prayers..

Stay informed on what is happening in Myanmar...

What is The Urban Village?

The Urban Village is a launch pad for community led programs, entrepreneurs, and artists. Our vision is big but our strategy is simple...
... be a village.


Since May 2019, The Urban Village has acted as an incubator for community led projects that are committed to building, supporting and cultivating opportunities for Myanmar diaspora refugees in Minnesota. Here's a running list of all the things that we've been apart of...
-Soft TV (weekly Karen news and entertainment show), Asian Youth Outreach (gang and substance use prevention), friday food distributions (TUV partnership with HAFA and The Food Group), Solidarity Street Art, Youth in Action (Karen youth movement), Karen typing class, Karen for Black lives movement, Karen pro painters, Karen Networking Nights, Karenni dance group, Salween peace park fundraiser, Free Burma Rangers screening, community forums, the Mural Project, and countless informal community gatherings.

At The Urban Village we know that the road to opportunity and achievement can be difficult to travel alone. We believe it takes a village.

"We chose to leave our homeland because of the violence but we decided to come here because we wanted opportunity for our children. We don't want to forget where we came from.".

-Naw Dah

"The Urban Village is a place where I can bring my kids and they will be reminded of our history and where we came from".

-Shar Paw

"This means we have a space to go to when we want to connect with other Karen people. This means we have a place to turn to when we need support or would like to provide support. This means having a space to build relationships with one another."

-Eh Soe Dwe

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The Urban Village Marketplace provides a place for cultural preservation while also providing an opportunity for Karen and Karenni artisans to bring their products to market. Right now, most culturally relevant items can only be bought and shipped from Thailand or Burma. We hope to create a place where these items can be sourced from the talented community here in our neighborhoods.

We are excited to open our physical and online marketplace with culturally relevant goods, art, and handicrafts all provided by local Karen and Karenni entrepreneurs.

In our partnership with artists, we are excited to both put money into their pockets as well as into the Urban Village Community Fund. This fund helps to support the community led projects that we host and enables us to stock our space full of community resources.

The Power of Kinship

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” - Lila Watson

The story of The Urban Village begins on the living room floor of a tiny apartment in St. Paul’s North End. Crammed on small plastic mats, a recently arrived Karen refugee family welcomes and shares their home with a Minnesota born 21 year old, volunteering to read their mail once a week. Through the common language of hand gestures and smiles, they share in the first of what would become many meals, laughs, wrestling matches, and hours spent together. What happened that day can only be described as the humble origins of a genuine and powerful kinship, one that altered the lives of all who experienced it.

After eight years of birthday parties, camping adventures, homework sessions, trips to Burma, swimming lessons, and of course more wresting matches, these one-time strangers now all live in a home they bought together, proving that though kinship, family knows no bounds. We live in complex world, and sometimes it can cause cracks in our human connection, but when you become family, you never stop fighting for your own. The Urban Village was founded by Jesse Phenow in the spirit of solidarity, but the heart of The Urban Village was created by the power kinship. Our liberation is bound up with one another, so let us work together. 


Village Values

What you do is important. But how you do it defines you. At The Urban Village, these are the values we hold. This, is who we are.



When we begin to identify with someone else, it no longer becomes a question if their humanity is worth fighting for, we never stop fighting for our own. Never.



We believe in the power of sharing resources, time, ideas, and support. We hope that what you receive will be reflective of what you give. Come give. Come receive.

Mutual Learning

Mutual Learning

Student or teacher. Mentor or mentee. We believe that we all have lessons to learn and something to teach. No one has the corner in this village. We learn alongside one another.



No matter your background, where you come from, your religion, your skin color, your gender identity, your ability, your sexual orientation, your education, your connections, your family history, or your personal story. You, are welcome in our village.



We honor the resilience of the Karen & Karenni people, who have known grit and perseverance in the face of great trials and injustice. So then, at The Urban Village we will be gritty, we will persevere, we will adapt, we will get flexible, and we will pass it on.



We believe that justice is holistic. Therefore, as this organization hopes to work for justice, equality, and opportunity for the Karen & Karenni people, it will always stand in solidarity with other marginalized people groups and other causes for justice. Always.

Contact Us

Do you have questions about the Urban Village? Contact us today. We would love to hear from you, and help with any questions you may have.

"If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." -Lila Watson

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The Urban Village
1082 Arcade Street
St. Paul MN 55106