How would you describe the place where you live in a sentence?
As part of our MPR News eBook project called Fighting for an American Countryside, we asked a dozen Minnesotans to finish the sentence that begins, “My town is . . .” What would you say about your town in less than a minute? Give us your written answer here or in the comments section of this blog post and we’ll compile the results. Be sure to tell us which city or town you’re describing.
People live in rural Minnesota for a wide array of reasons. Some stay to raise their kids, hoping to replicate their own childhood experiences, or return to take care of aging parents. Some take a flyer and move to a town they’re unconnected to, thinking a small community is a good place to start a business or open an art studio. Others can’t stand crowds and traffic jams. Some stay out of sheer inertia.
Whatever the impetus for staying or moving, the question of why is integrally tied to perceptions of place. When we asked people to describe their towns in a single sentence for Fighting for an American Countryside, the responses touched on the geographical but also the intangible. Videographers Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber recorded their answers and compiled them into this video.
To take one example, Patrick Moore, a musician and clean water advocate in Montevideo in western Minnesota, said his towns are “full of people with incredible stories.” Including nearby Granite Falls and Milan in his definition of home, he said, “My towns are full of good people who care about each other… My towns are close to nature…. My towns are fun.”
The eBook, which includes a host of videos shot in rural Minnesota, explores the difficult issues facing small communities, like population decline and the lack of good-paying jobs. But it also describes some of the interesting and innovative ways locals are fighting to overcome those obstacles by creating new economies based on art, green energy, technology, local foods and more.
The people who take up the mantle of change in small towns have a few things in common—loads of energy for one. But most importantly, they are deeply attached to the places where they live. Charles Marohn, a Brainerd-area engineer, planner and writer, likened the bond with one’s hometown to the bond with family. You might find it frustrating at times, but you can’t shake it.
“My town is… home,” Marohn said in the eBook video. “That’s where I grew up. That’s where my family is. That’s where my memories are.”
For those readers who live in small communities, how do you define your city or town? How do you finish the sentence, “My town is…”? We’d like to hear your answers.