Do Minneapolis and St. Paul have a serious image problem? In a new essay commissioned by MCF member The McKnight Foundation, called “Mary Tyler Moore Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” Jay Walljasper argues that we do, and challenges us to address it head on.
What’s in a Name?
One part of the solution, Walljasper says, is to fix what we call ourselves. “Twin Cities” is generic, with many places around the world using that moniker. And many refer to the metropolitan area as “Minnesota,” which conjures many wonderful images, but not two thriving, industrious cities.
Walljasper recommends “MSP” for our new moniker, which he says “sounds sporty, like LA, DC or NYC,” and which follows a trend of referring to places by their airport codes.
Confront Our Challenges
Walljasper goes on to list several issues we must face and overcome to better ourselves and our image. These include:
- Our large achievement gap, with far too many low-income communities, particularly people of color, left behind as others prosper.
- The barriers to acceptance and pressure to assimilate felt by many people of color who live here.
- An over-dependence on big , established companies that doesn’t leave enough space for entrepreneurship.
- An “us vs. them” mentality that pits Minneapolis against St. Paul, cities against suburbs and the urban against the rural.
Build on Our Strengths
If that list left you feeling bleak about our future, fear not! Walljasper concludes by telling us that our “glass stands closer to full than to empty,” and lists some of the many assets MSP has to offer:
- A well-educated workforce
- Low cost of living compared to other metropolitan areas
- A busy airport hub
- Efficient, transparent government
- Generous funding of the arts
- Top-notch outdoor recreation
- Good housing stock
- High attachment to community
- And many, many more!
For another timely look at the issue, see Steve Berg’s commentary in Sunday’s StarTribune, “The Twin Cities brand: There’s work to do.” He grades our image; we get a “D.” Berg also grades and comments on five other areas.
Join the conversation: What do you think of his list of our strengths and weaknesses, and the proposal to start saying MSP instead of Twin Cities?