A brief analysis of the national analysis of our over-analyzed Twin Cities

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A brief analysis of the national analysis of our over-analyzed Twin Cities
Downtown, Minneapolis. Photo by Daniel McCullough, @d_mccullough

We get excited: Someone famous, or someone from beyond our borders/region mentions the Twin Cities and we throw a party in the streets. Dustin from “Stranger Things” wears a retro Science Museum hoodie and we mob the store and shut down the website.

The upcoming Super Bowl (only 3 sleeps away…) has certainly prompted a considerable increase in national attention, and coverage, for our fair metro, but the Twin Cities, and often Minneapolis alone, pop up in national discussions in the most random of ways.

There was the fiasco with Reuters reporting on 48-hours in Minneapolis, in which the IDS skyway’s Potbelly Sandwiches featured prominently, as well as, inexplicably, the bathrooms at MSP Airport.

Or the New York Times’ grape salad thing. Still not entirely sure what that was about.

But this isn’t a salty “We’re awesome, so f#ck all of you anyway” kind of post; the kind that usually comes from one, or more, or all of our local publications after any sort of “flyover country” snub or misrepresentation, or from Twitter users after comments like Bill Kristol’s “uncivilized city” one on 1/21:

Which prompted this:

A brief analysis of the national analysis of our over-analyzed Twin Cities

And general outrage from the City PagesBill Kristol, oft-wrong conservative troll: ‘Civilized cities’ to play Super Bowl ‘in the middle of nowhere’

This is just a curious (an increasingly curious) look at the odd mix of positive and negative reviews, the raves and the indifferent slights, that the Twin Cities have received, and probably will continue to receive, from national publications and platforms.

A bathroom read:

We’ll keep it mostly brief, because in Minnesota we’re polite and we don’t want to take up too much of your time; an article that will be done before you’re done using the bathroom, say?

A bathroom read. Perfect.

A recent Ozy (a national, NYC-based publication of which we’re actually quite fond of) article How This Midwestern City is Leading American In Retail Tech covered Minneapolis’ growing, and trend-bucking, reputation as not only a hub, but a pioneer, for retail tech and more, as well as a look at Branch Messenger’s decision to move their headquarters here.

Of course, the article’s author, Brian Martucci, who also lives and works here, couldn’t resist describing his home as a “frosty flyover city” and a “third tier Midwestern metro” in a general frame of, This is happening in Minnesota? Really? But how?

And, again, he lives here.

But it’s a little disingenuous to leave it at that. The article actually did a great job answering that “But how?” question, and an incredibly thorough job describing the pros and cons, the perks and the challenges, of startup culture in the Twin Cities.

Less so was the recent Wall Street Journal report on Twin Cities weather as we approach the Super Bowl (Forget the Midwest. Minnesota Casts Itself as the North) that also had a general, Huh. Interesting. People… actually… live there? attitude.

Well, clearly not enough of them: The article discusses the low unemployment rate in the state, and the Twin Cities specifically, but not from a celebratory standpoint: The WSJ and author Shayndi Raice are more concerned with the fact that the Twin Cities’ population isn’t growing fast enough to fill vacant positions – describing recent efforts to bring Millennials and businesses to our core cities as something of a siren song.

Look at all they have to offer! Jobs! And high-quality of life!

A brief analysis of the national analysis of our over-analyzed Twin Cities
Uptown, Minneapolis. Photo by Clarke Sanders, @clar_san

With a general, Well wouldja look at that. Minneapolis. St. Paul? I’ll be darned.

Wait, no, sorry. That’s *our* accent. Probably sounded more like, My, my. This frosty little flyover city, isn’t that just darling… With a monocle and a cane while sipping on two-olive gin martinis.

I don’t know why Chicago-based Raice is all-of-a-sudden British. Maybe it’s the perception Minnesotans have that anyone with a British accent must be simultaneously really, really smart and really, really snooty?

I digress.

But this *is* an awesome place to live, work, play

Conversely, though, there is a fairly consistent national fawning over Minnesota. We’re such a liberal state: Look what Minnesota’s liberal governor did, he taxed big corporations and now the state is doing so well.

HuffpostThis Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and Increased the Minimum Wage — Now, His State’s Economy Is One of the Best in the Country

Fast CompanyMinnesota Taxes The Rich, Pays Workers More, And–Shocking–The Economy Improves

Which is awesome – something we should be (and generally are) proud of.

The New York Times (perhaps surprisingly given the East Coast’s reputation of general indifference toward anything west of the Hudson) deserves for their fantastic, truly, job covering what makes the Twin Cities special as well, the previous grape salad debacle notwithstanding.

Super Bowl’s Minneapolis Stadium Brings a Surge in Development published 1/23/18 covered the growth of Downtown East surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium and, without any hint of the, Say what? found in the aforementioned articles, described a model for growth and prosperity as a result of great city planning and urban design.

Another article, published in July of 2016, covered St. Paul’s incredible diversity, and, importantly, diversity in dining. The piece, titled In St. Paul, Great Deals and Ethnic Diversity was an intimate portrait of the capital city’s immigrant population, with a focus on the Hmong populations that have injected the landscape with more than a little added spice and color. This piece, close to the heart (and stomach) of anyone who has ever dined/experienced one of St. Paul’s fantastic Hmong-owned restaurants and businesses, captured the city’s soul as well as anything that has been written locally.

We have this duality, here – this “We know what we’re worth; we know how great life is here,” in constant battle/discourse with “Why do we keep getting called flyover country? Why do we keep getting lumped in with Iowa and Nebraska and the Dakotas (and all the other states we so clearly, economically and politically, are not?)” leading to what many have called an inferiority complex.

But this is the reputation that the Twin Cities have cultivated, and a party in the streets is certainly in order those times when the rest of the country takes note. Of course, we still have disparities in income (one of the widest gaps in racial income inequality), and other issues that plague a metro of this size. You know, the things that do still need to be addressed.

But we can do that internally, and we do, while the rest of the country sees us, right or wrong, good or bad, warm or (frigid) cold, as they do, and will certainly continue to.

Read this next: Why St. Paul’s push to become a tech hub isn’t so farfetched