Regarding Minnesota: Beyond the Spoon and Cherry

Spoon and Cherry Sculpture, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.  Photo by jpellgen.
Spoon and Cherry Sculpture, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photo by jpellgen.

The NY Times 36 Hours article series visited Minnesota’s Twin Cities August 17th.

I’m not sure how many non-Minnesota readers I have out there, but I wanted to take a moment to supplement this article about the stuff there is to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  I would just like to clarify that it’s not just giant cherries and posh night life.

A stereotype about giant cherries is probably a step up from the “hot-dish, snow, you betcha” one, but I think we can do better.  A friend from home (New York) said, “Let’s face it.  It’s all fly-over country.”  Well, no, it’s not that either.  I think what surprises people the most when I tell them about Minnesota is how many people don’t just fly over it.

Sambusa, traditional Somali Ramadan food.  Photo by roboppy.
Sambusa, traditional Somali Ramadan food. Photo by roboppy.

Minnesota has huge populations of immigrants, lately particularly from East Africa, Laos/Thailand, and increasingly Burma.  It doesn’t really fit the generic stereotype of what Minnesota is like.  People I talk to from back home tend to be shocked that immigrants from such warm places would go to the desolate Midwestern tundra.  What they don’t know is that Minnesota provides tons of support for immigrants and refugees, in part through state policies and programs, and in part through the extensive nonprofit sector we’ve got going here.

The presence of all of these people from all different places means that Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities metro, is a truly vibrant, diverse place.  We might have lost out on these newest members of our community if we didn’t rise to the occasion and give them a hand.  I feel like nonprofits, by enabling people to stay here and get on their feet, have helped shape our fantastic cities in a profound way.  Very cool, very cool.

If you must fly over Minnesota, I suggest at least stopping by for some sambusa.

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