People Issue 2017: 18 who make Minnesota a better place to live

Celebrating neighbors we're proud to call Minnesotans.

Celebrating neighbors we're proud to call Minnesotans. Colin Michael Simmons

America needs beacons of positivity now more than ever.

Ominous headlines serve as hourly reminders that we're torn along party lines. The fear, violence, and misunderstanding that divides us multiplies with every 140-character bullet. 

Minnesota is hardly above the problems riddling our country. But we'd like to think we're a little richer in good people.

Our annual People Issue recognizes our neighbors who make Minnesota an even better place to live. They make our streets safer. They inspire us through personal achievements and sacrifice for others. They remind us to have fun. Together.

These 18 men and women come from different backgrounds and do very different things. We're lucky they're all Minnesotans.

Lynne Bengston: The Rescuer

John Marty: The Environmentalist

Fernando Silva: The Big Heart

Raoul Benavides: The People’s Record Seller

Sumer Spika: The Giver of Life

Kyle Rudolph: The Humanitarian

Regan Smith: The Merrymaker

Roy Hernandez-Cotter: The Recruit

Todd Axtell: The Chief

Brady Starkey: The Dynasty Builder

Fue Lee: The Refugee

James Fields: The Hockey Preacher

Gwen Jorgensen: The Olympian

Yia Vang: The Hmong Emissary

Kathleen Culhane: The Beer Scientist

Patrick Stephenson: The Bike Messiah

Bin He: The Futurist

Bob  Monahan: The Music Mayor