Minnesota's Nice

TC_Graphic_080213_300A Minnesotan born and bred, I have had the good fortune to live in other places. My heart skips a beat when I hear a British accent, recalling the years I lived in London, and I get practically giddy when I see photos of the Bay Bridge, a twice-daily part of my commute during the years I lived in San Francisco. But after each foray into new locations – locations I loved and continue to yearn for – I returned to Minnesota.  While this has made my mom happy, it’s left me pondering what this place offers that keeps me, and so many others, retracing their paths home…or moving here in the first place.

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A recent video featuring the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern, above, highlights his reasons for living here, and I tend to agree with him. The choice of restaurants featuring locally-sourced food in my southeast Minneapolis neighborhood is astonishing, from The Lowbrow to Wise Acre. The wide range of theaters, from the Mixed Blood to the Guthrie, put us top of the list when it comes to number of theaters per capita. In the past five years, the Twin Cities, and Minnesota in general, have rated at or near the top of lists including best city for entrepreneurs, top city for technology, most literate city, smartest city in the country, best place to start and grow a company, best city for work and family, and, perhaps as a result, hottest job market in the country.

As a people, Minnesotans have a reputation for being kind and generous – the state ranks as one of the most philanthropic in the nation – but aloof and insular. I hope my friends and family will excuse me for speaking on their behalf, but we are neither. Rather, we respect your personal space. That dinner invitation you've been waiting for? Not coming; it may make you feel obligated. Wondering why no one asks about your trip to Taipei? That would be prying. Can’t understand why your next-door-neighbor shares his surplus tomatoes but won’t share the beer you offer once or twice each summer? Well, that one’s a mystery to me, too. And you’ll really have to pardon us for not warmly embracing newcomers when they mock our accents, don’t understand our love of hot dish and wonder why we don’t know Prince personally.

Recently, Gallup released the results of a 2012 survey that named Minnesota one of the best places to live in 20 years, due largely to its access to clean, fresh water. It’s no wonder, given that the water is encased in ice for six to eight months of every year.  You’d stay fresh, too – which may be the overall secret to why Minnesota is also ranked at the top for quality of life. We’re too cold to cause much trouble.