To most Americans, Minneapolis is a stranger. There are exceptions, moments when the city percolates up—the first time a kid somewhere hears the Replacements, say, or when a bridge falls into the Mississippi. But to most people most of the time, Minneapolis is a place with no real shape or texture.
Perhaps the city is to blame for its anonymity. Maybe the people hard at work in this laboratory for progressive culture should worry more about outsiders taking notice. The attention, when it comes, is certainly appreciated.
Minneapolitans relish the steady drumbeat of “best city” rankings: No. 1 Bike City (Bicycling magazine, 2011), Gayest City in America (The Advocate, 2011), Most Literate City (America’s Most Literate Cities study, 2007-08). In 2008, Minneapolis was one of only two American cities to make the British Monocle magazine’s list of the most livable cities in the world.
Sure, these are sometimes frivolous and arbitrary contests. But for a city that lives in the imaginations of Americans as a culturally isolated outpost of extreme and permanent cold, they are small but significant triumphs—and evidence that something is going right in Minneapolis.
Civic achievement, banal as it sounds, can be found without following a flow chart during a public meeting at City Hall. It is a buzzing park, a painter turning a street corner utility box into art, block after block of thriving independent businesses, a festival for every obsession and persuasion—it’s growing, engaged immigrant communities. Minneapolis is all of these things. It is not a utopia, not by any stretch. It’s just a city that works.
via Tim O’Reilly