There was an interesting article published last month in the Star Tribune, written by Steve Berg. He made the point that the Twin Cities have somehow lost their identity and have been rolled in to one big national impression of “Minnesota”. His ironic conclusion is that we did this to ourselves in an effort to not hurt each other’s feelings. The rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul came to a head in 1961 when the Twins moved in to town. The team’s publicist came up with the idea to not call them the Minneapolis Twins or the St. Paul Twins, but the Minnesota Twins. This seemed to work and others followed suit, including the Minneapolis Symphony, which became the Minnesota Orchestra. Minnesota Public Radio, along with Garrison Keillor, began more and more to portray the state as a major brand. Mary Tyler Moore began losing out to Ola and Lena.
There are many wonderful things about greater Minnesota, and I have fond memories of childhood trips to Bemidji and Crookston and Grand Marais, but these towns are not the Twin Cities. Likewise, the Twin Cities are not Minnesota.
Okay, here’s a fun word-association game. Picture Chicago. Now picture Illinois. Different pictures? Atlanta. Now, Georgia. Austin. Now, Texas. Get the point?
In a world of increasing global competition, it is time for Minneapolis and St. Paul to start fighting for their identity.