How to make the Twin Cities the best region in America

The good life in Minnesota: A 12-step plan to greatness in the Midwest

Daunting as the problem may be, trends can change in relatively short order, says Joe Nathan, the director of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. He was involved in an effort in Cincinnati, Ohio, that eliminated the graduation gap between white and African-American students in seven years.

The strategy involved everything from setting up several small schools in larger high school buildings, helping teachers deal with the problems of urban kids, partnering with teachers unions and the private sector, and setting community groups up with offices inside the schools.

"We saw young people as resources themselves," says Nathan, "We didn't just see them as empty vessels into which knowledge has to be poured."

He invited first-generation college students from low-income areas back to their high schools to encourage students to challenge themselves academically.

Wiping out the achievement gap would do more for the Twin Cities than just creating a globalization-ready workforce, Nathan says.

"We'd spend a lot less money on negative things like prisons, and we'd have a lot more to spend on more positive things, like reducing college tuitions. We'd also have less chemical abuse, because right now, we have a lot of really unhappy people who have not found a way to fulfill themselves, so they turn to drugs. And we'd have healthier people overall and lower medical costs."

11. Support local artists

Though we lack a new transcendent, zeitgeist-defining artist like Prince, we're still going strong in the arts, says musician Mike Michel. He has done everything from writing tunes for Target and Subway to playing with local hip-hop luminaries such as P.O.S., Desdamona, and the late Eyedea. Through his music networking hub, the Rock & Roll Therapy Room, he is a one-man incubator for new acts.

The problem to Michel is that people outside our area vaguely know we're a scene, but we're hard to define.

"This is a hotbed of creativity. How many big cities are like that in the U.S.? Seven or eight? We're the Mecca of the Midwest."

In the arts, too, large groups of people and swaths of the city perfunctorily get overlooked, says Toki Wright.

"There's an Uptown crowd, and there's everybody else. A lot of the attention goes to the Uptown crowd, and everybody else just fights for scraps."

Too often, artists of color end up leaving the Twin Cities, because they see no way to get ahead here, notes Chaun Webster. He points out that people of color are chronically underrepresented at local culture temples like the Walker, the Guthrie, and the Ordway.

"This place often becomes graveyard for forward-thinking artists of color," he says. "The 'official' spaces that facilitate artistic advancement are not representing indigenous communities and communities of color. We are in need of thinking creatively about building our own infrastructure and developing our own spaces where we are not on the periphery."

"This is why we have to create our own institutions and our own ways of expression," says writer Nimo Farah. "People that are not of color often come in and use the community as guinea pigs. They will come and ask you for connections and then you never hear from them again. It's not really sustainable or beneficial."

Meanwhile, photographer Alec Soth would like to have a true arts district.

"You can't really have a gallery crawl here. One of the great things about New York City is that you can walk around Chelsea and there are endless galleries. Here, you've got the Weinstein Gallery over here and you've got the Soap Factory over there, and you have to schlep yourself from one place to another."

12. Make a 100-year plan

So where do we want to be 10, 20, or even 50 years from now?

"Let's say it's 2043, 70 years after the Time magazine cover on the state that works," says Dane Smith. "Time magazine comes up with a new front page article. Minnesota is held out as the state that is showing the rest of the nation how to achieve racial harmony and equity. That's the dream. And instead of a governor of Swedish ancestry, you have another governor, maybe a Somali-American woman, holding the same fish."

Although she isn't thinking about the governorship, Nimo Farah saw a glimpse of that future at the recent mayoral inauguration in Minneapolis, where she performed as a poet. Betsy Hodges's "One Minneapolis" celebration was "very diverse, very beautiful," Farah says.

"It honestly made me feel happy. I think that was foreshadowing what's to come. But unless we do the work, it would be an illusion to think that that's what's going to happen."

To get there, we have to stay in touch with what made us special in the first place, says John Adams.

"One of the things that this place has going for it is the idea that, at least traditionally, things were done here on behalf of the group, and that ended up making the place quite agreeable for the next folks that came along."

That's how, in time, we ended up with philanthropists and foundations who funded everything from the parks and trails system to museums and theaters.

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32 comments
phux
phux

BETTER FOR WHO?? DEVELOPERS AND YUPPIES? WHO WANTS MORE TECH? WHAT SO WE CAN HAVE EVEN MORE RICH FUCKERS DRIVING AROUND TOWN IN THEIR FANCY CARS WITH THEIR ME FIRST ATTITUDES? This is such a clusterfuck of an article. The main point of it and of many of the new kids in the city council though is DEVELOPMENT. Did construction companies pay for this article? Its a developers wet dream. Our city is already a great place! We need better transit for sure, but that's because its being done wrong. Everybody agrees we need better transit. But the same morons pushing more condos are pushing light rail on the street level. I do like how the cover picture shows elevated trains, but unfortunately that is not happening here. And they are pushing for more tech jobs. As if trickle down hadn't been disproven already... a bunch of rich brats with tech jobs doesn't make our city a better place. Unless you think plundering our city is a good thing. And until we do have a full network of trains and buses that actually come regularly during drinking hours and all the rest of the time we need our streets, so don't even talk about shutting down roads until that happens. How can you talk about reducing traffic and about making roads smaller at the same time? when you don't have the light rail in place yet?? And take a good luck of what befell Uptown and you will see what more tech workers and the condos being built for them will do to our once cool city. They fucking demolished uptown and built a bunch of ugly high priced condos and luxury apartments. They tore down the Uptown bar and put in an Apple Store. Uptown is ruined and this article is the leading charge to do the same thing to the rest of the city. Fuck that! You fucking yuppies and douche bag rich kids suck! You are ruining what used to be a good city. A city that was affordable and working class is now being sold off to developers by technocrats. How about affordable housing? Why wasn't that mentioned? Why wasn't it mentioned that RT Ryback and City Council ignored affordable housing in favor of kickbacks from construction companies who built condos? Affordability has been a problem for years, and its getting worse, and now you call for making it even worse. Not to mention our city is great because of parks etc. and those parks are already overused, so do we really need even more people so that you can't find a space on a beach or at a park?

Rick Miller
Rick Miller

Screw diversity Diversity =weakness Unity = strength One way to help traffic? Quit having Somalis relocate here

joecool1999
joecool1999

Here's a dose of reality from these same Citypages: "Rents are increasing despite a less-than-booming job market, the repot indicates, citing Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stats showing only 900 new jobs were created in the Twin Cities during the first quarter of the year. " 


The Twin Cities has always had a good job market for well-connected local yokels. For well-educated outsiders, its opportunities are little better than "loser cities" than Detroit and St. Louis.

joecool1999
joecool1999

This article includes the usual clueless garbage. Great place for white males? Great place for white males over 6'2" who are from the area. If you're not one of those white males you will be shit on by the local "feminist" females and anyone else who can get away with it. I used to think this was a great place for liberalism. Then I learned from experience it is the male-bashing, bigoted form of "liberalism". Yuck. No wonder people from the real cities don't take MSP seriously. It is every bit as discriminatory as the Jim Crow south, just with different targets of abuse, different selected "winner and loser" groups.

Ryan Bethke
Ryan Bethke

it would be good..if it were in "world pages"

David Hlavac
David Hlavac

Yup, Sinclair Lewis had that whole midwestern inferiority complex thing pegged around 100 years ago. Still relevant as hell today.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

"Why are you plugging a rapper and his resume in regards to transit issues? Why not quote a transportation planner that "plans traffic" professionally?"
- noted Minneapolis resident, me.

cholm1976
cholm1976

I'd like to see a very limited and controlled amount of development allowed right on the river / one of the lakes. A small riverfront plaza area with bars/restaurants right on the water would likely be hugely popular. Maybe even a pier on the river modeled after ocean piers that have shops, etc. I know I really wish there were spots where I could hang out and drink a beer next to the water.

loserdroid
loserdroid

#1 should be "Build a dome over the whole fucking thing."

Mohit Sharma
Mohit Sharma

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Sam Adamsson
Sam Adamsson

This is what I don't like about the twin cities... We're insecure. Why do we have to compete or try to make ourselves appear nicer to outsiders? I get and respect the need to improve and grow, but it seems like we are sooooo desperate to be liked.

Eric Ramsey
Eric Ramsey

Remove all roads from Detroit and Chicago. But do it 40 years ago.

Travis Mueller
Travis Mueller

ummm... hello? the state just gave rochester...i mean MAYOCHESTER, about $500 million to become a Destination Medical Center (DMC)..... the twin cities are over... just a north suburb of MAYOCHESTER now...

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

Makes you wanna puke!

And all it takes is OPM - other people's money.   The socialist's will create a great city - just like the Soviet Union - with their 7 year plans.

DaveTheDopeFiend
DaveTheDopeFiend

@phux Wow, you sound so scared of things that are well beyond your control: progress and change. Are you sure you can handle life? It's a city -- cities have to adapt to the times, otherwise they become places like Detroit. Sorry that tech workers are ruining what "once was a great city." From what I hear, downtown wasn't all that great 10, 20 years ago, and the North Loop was where you went to get yourself murdered. So yeah, maybe you should just stick to the suburbs instead of worrying about those of us who actually appreciate where the city is headed.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux There is this thing called a paragragh. You state your premis and then support it with 3-4 sentences, Often times you have a break. Like a carrige return. It still don't make up for the I think I'm New York pages quoting a rapper about something a civil engineer should handle.
:)

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@cholm1976 No development along the Mississippi here in TCs. Just conversion of rat filled old flour mills to apartment houses for rick yuppies. Just came back from Davenport, Iowa on a riverboat cruise. Fabulous views. There's a little town right on the river bank! We have nothing like that here. Mipples is still a hick town. Hennepin Avenue is a DISGRACE. Supposed to be the theater district and gateway to the Mississippi. It is full of empty store fronts and fag bars. And the Mall is appalling. Black boys with their low butt pants hitting on white women. NOPLACE TO PARK IN THE STREET! 


As for me, I'm self-employed and very busy working out of my own home near downtown. Only place I go is the Uptown McDs to look at the weirdos for entertainment. And I can park for free at McDs and Lunds.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Not so much desperate to be liked as desperate to be admired, praised, viewed as superior. As far as being liked....nothing to worry about there....nobody is going to like the people in the Twin Cities any time soon.....self-obsessed, arrogant homers just don't warrant much respect anywhere and here is no exception. When Minnesotans start having a healthier attitude toward the outside world the outside world will start to take Minnesotans seriously.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Everything in this yuppie-ism obsessed state has revolved around the suburbs and corporations since about 1960. The Twin Cities exist as a ploy to lure conventions to the state with fancy restaurants - the people of the state and its politicians mostly ignore the cities and obsess over the suburbs and Mayochester. For a purportedly "liberal" state there certainly is a love affair with corporations and fascism-style corporatism here that is WAY more than a little bit suspicious to liberals who move from the outside.

joecool1999
joecool1999

@Truth_Teller_1  You know as much about "socialism" and the Soviet Union as I know about how to build a space ship.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@Truth_Teller_1  Move to South Dakota.  I'm sure you will love it.  We don't want scumbag bigots here anyway.  Losers like you contribute nothing.  It won't be tough replacing a toilet cleaning loser like you anyway. 

phux
phux

@DaveTheDopeFiend really dude, you are from the suburbs so you should stick them bro. I am from MPLS and was born here buddy. And the "improvements" to uptown are not improvements ya douche. Not to mention I talked about improving transit etc., I am a proponent of transit and very into progress, but rich dicks stealing your city out from under you isn't progress. Its theft.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds Technicality for a technicrat... you misspelled a couple things and put a comma instead of a period before "Often times..." so not sure where you get off telling me about grammar etc. More importantly I mentioned actual important issues in my *COMMENT* which is not supposed to be an article since I don't work at City Pages they would not post an article even if I wrote one. All points were cogent, so please desist from distracting.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds technicality for a technocrat? this is a comment online my friend. they don't let you write a proper article on here unless you are on staff, so we just lob out ideas. don't waste our time with technicalities. and by the way my comment lays out valid points. Oh and you have a comma where a period should be just before "Often times..." haha; and you misspelled carriage.

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@MicheleBachmann @Truth_Teller_1 Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a great city. They have a half mile outdoor sculptor exhibit on the sidewalks on both sides of Phillips Avenue, which is the equivalent of Mipples horseshit Mall. And you can park your car in regular old time meters on their sculptor Phillips Avenue, the main drag. Free parking after 5 P.M. 


Yes indeed, Sioux Falls is a class act. Wells Fargo is based there, not in Mipples because of low taxes and business perks.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

@MicheleBachmann  Please take  your meds.   It's easily understandable you have nothing to say - so what's left but to insult people.   Truly mental case.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux Fair is fair.
Can you solve the puzzle? Why did this puplication spend 2 paragraphs on a rappers resume and his "noted comment was 1 paragraph?

"I'm not going to take that job in the suburbs." Why did you produce a child? What kind of an example are you?

 
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