Hudson resident August Hoffman runs a community vegetable garden with students. The foods produced are donated to local food centers and food pantries.

"This time of year we also visit several apple orchards in Wisconsin and Minnesota," Hoffman said, "and the leftover apples are harvested by our students and donated to local food centers."

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Hoffman has lived in Hudson for about 10 years, and teaches psychology at Metropolitan State University.

Hoffman's focus is community psychology, which he said "explores the dynamics of healthy neighborhoods and communities," and the types of programs that bring people together.

Hoffman said it's the levels of conflict he's seen throughout the world in recent times that prompted him to start writing his newest book, a textbook titled "Creating a Transformational Community: The Fundamentals of Stewardship Activities."

The book takes a look at the role of community development in establishing healthy, cooperative relationships among people in communities and neighborhoods.

The book looks at four areas in which community can grow: education, environmental development, healthful nutrition, and spiritual growth and development.

"One of the leading reasons why, in my opinion, as a community psychologist, why we're seeing an increase in conflict and extremism, is really our communities are getting away from group-oriented activities."

That's something that Hoffman tries to counter by getting his students engaged in community service activities such as his community garden and picking leftover apples at apple orchards.

He and his students recently delivered over 1,000 pounds of Honeycrisp apples to Catholic Charities in St. Paul.

"If we're to pay closer attention to the resources that we have in our communities, we can identify and help people that are struggling," Hoffman said. "And as an added benefit, bring people together."

He said working with other people can help "debunk" and minimize negative stereotypes.

"Humans have evolved to work to be cooperative, to work collaboratively, and community service programs provide that opportunity to share skills that build a stronger sense of community," Hoffman said. "This is something that we should all have opportunities to do and if communities provide more opportunities for interaction, community growth and development, we'll see a stronger, more vibrant community with less crime, with less conflict, absolutely."