The Local: Explaining Minneapolis

by Chris on May 31, 2011

A Minneapolis local wonders what other travel writers will think of her hometown, after the 2011 SATW Editors Council meeting.
Minneapolis local

Spoonbridge and Cherry

Travel writers can be a judge-y breed. And that’s not always a bad thing. You have to be critical when you’re giving your readers the information they need to make important vacation decisions. So you take out your microscope, you examine what makes a destination tick, and you compare and contrast it to other places where people could spend their money.

But what happens when you turn that critical eye on your hometown? Such was my dilemma two weeks ago, when I joined fellow travel editors and writers in Minneapolis for their annual conference.

Minneapolis local

Cheese curds

I’m not a Minnesota native, but I speak the language, minus the telltale accent. I grew up walking around the Lakes and wearing down jackets over Halloween costumes and going outside at recess, even when the temperatures were 10 below. I practice Minnesota nice, even if I’m now Philly brusque. It’s a region with distinct quirks that remain in your psyche, long after you’re gone.

And, my feelings toward the Twin Cities are similarly parochial. I love Landmark Center because I went to Prom there. First Avenue remains one of my favorite clubs simply because it’s one of the first ones I ever went to. Uptown will forever be the place where I went to see Stop Making Sense on Friday nights, no matter how many trendy restaurants may be there now.


Minneapolis local

Landmark Center

With that much Proustian baggage, I had no idea how to explain Minneapolis to others. So I watched, nervously, as the tourism board took writers to the Guthrie Theater, the Mall of America, and the Walker Art Center. I fretted as my friends froze; May is an iffy month for weather in Minneapolis, as anyone who has experienced a Mother’s Day blizzard knows.

I wanted editors to consider the Twin Cities as more than flyover country. I wanted them to see the charm that lies in the understatement, the honesty in the Midwestern practicality. I hoped they’d find something to share with their readers. And in the end, it seemed that they did, primarily by accessing memories of their own.

Minneapolis local

Mary Tyler Moore. Yep, even after all these years, she remains one of the Twin Cities’ most famous residents, albeit fictional. I realized how much her legacy lives on a tipsy ride home, where several of us sang the theme song, Love is All Around, at the top of our lungs:

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all

Just like that, I stopped worrying about what others thought of my hometown. Minneapolis may not be New York or LA or even Chicago. But even the most cynical travel writer can be susceptible to the simple, now grainy image of a young woman throwing her beret in the air.


| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gene Bowker May 31, 2011 at 9:41 am

I’ve only been through the airport, but Minneapolis is somewhere I’d like to visit along with St. Paul (to see Prarie Home Companion at the Fitzgerald) as it seems like a city with a good blend of history and modern charms.

Nice photos!


Chris May 31, 2011 at 10:17 am

@Gene The one thing I ask: Come in the summer, please. The winters don’t do a good job of selling the place 🙂


Kara May 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

Favorite line: I practice Minnesota nice, even if I’m now Philly brusque.

Beth Blair introduced Jen and me to the “MN nice” term when she moved there. Funny! Did your mom do a lot of crock-pot cooking when you were a kid? Apparently “hot dishes” (is that the term?) are quite the common thing out there…


Chris May 31, 2011 at 10:37 am

@Kara Oh you betcha, I’m familiar with hot dish. Basically, it’s a casserole; cream of mushroom soup is almost always involved. I do have a great recipe for one that uses wild rice that I bring out whenever I need to feel homey. But yeah, Mom wasn’t the best cook…I’ve upped the bar a bit 🙂


Don Faust May 31, 2011 at 11:32 am

Kara – I could introduce you to my famous Tater Tot casserole. My mom used to make shepherd’s pie which was one of my favorites, but I was too lazy to mash potatoes, so the tots became a quick college recipe replacement.


Caroline Costello May 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Beautiful post! I loved Minneapolis — admittedly, a lot more than I thought I would. The cheese curds were delicious. The falls were gorgeous. And yes, I noticed the locals had a streak of friendliness that seemed almost exotic to this Philly native. I can’t wait to go back.


Sophie's World June 2, 2011 at 12:16 am

Not been to Minnesota yet, even though the state is chock full of my fellow countrymen. And I hear they fiercely hang on to many traditions from the old country, customs that might even have died out up here in Norway.


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