Monday, December 7, 2015

A house divided against itself ...

Very early this morning I walked my dog through fog and temperatures reminiscent of this time of year on the southern Massachusetts coast, between Green Harbor and Duxbury Bay, just north of Plymouth. Back East the weather we're having in Minnesota this week is just seasonable along the coast. Here it's above average, although last year at this time was very much like now. The photo shows a wetland along the northern edge of William O'Brien state park in December 2014. No aroma of the salt marsh, but otherwise a reasonable facsimile of my "home" territory in Massachusetts. The weather and the Star Tribune's series have added to my interest in the similarities and differences between the Minnesota of my arrival and today's Minnesota. Those, and things like it, continue to fire my desire to understand My Minnesota in the New England terms I still find most native.

wetland near William O'Brien state park, December 2014
wetland near William O'Brien state park, December 2014
Photo by J. Harrington

If you believe in coincidences, you might believe that the concurrent publication of the Star Tribune's three-part series on Minnesota’s Growing Divide: Urban and rural areas are splitting apart... with Politico's publication on the nation's political geography is a coincidence. It may be, but I've grown very skeptical of coincidence. What's fascinating is that Politico is asserting that "our most abiding fissures are not urban versus rural, “North” against “South” or the coasts against the interior. Rather, they are between nearly a dozen dominant regional cultures..." at the same time the Star Tribune series finds a "functional alliance between city and country folk is at the core of Minnesota’s success story."

Politico includes Minnesota and New England in what they refer to as "Yankeedom." Having lived for extended periods in both New England and Minnesota, i've found the culture in each place to be more dissimilar than similar. As a budding bioregionalist, I'm looking forward to seeing what, if anything, the Star Tribune has to say about Minnesota's "common goals" and what else Minnesotans have in common. It was almost two years ago, in February 2014, that My Minnesota raised the question of whether Minnesota has a cultural identity. I'm delighted to see others are finding value in both the question and potential answers. At a local, bioregional, state and multi-state scale, we as a people need to place more emphasis on what we have in common than on what we may disagree. We must get better at putting planet before profits and people before politics. New England seems to have found ways to do that. They're smaller, geographically, less unified politically, have about three times the population and, on a per capita basis, are a little more economically successful than Minnesota. What bearing does that information have on Minnesota's common goals? Do you remember the essay fundamentals of "compare and contrast?"

New England compared to Minnesota
basic source: Wikipedia

An Identity Crisis

By Garry Gottfriedson 

I certainly know who I am . . .

I can get away with being politically incorrect.
I am the ambassador to First Nations’ poetic expressions
& as Kinsella pompously put it straight
“I have the license to do so.”

what a magical way to escape tyranny!
just like Trudeau & Chrétien hiding beneath cowboy hats

nevertheless & back to the point,

call me cowboy
call me First Nations
call me aboriginal
call me native
call me chug
call me skin

if you must,
but never call me Indian.
I call myself that!

& if you feel guilty when I say so,
this is not about postcolonial rhetoric
it is about an identity crisis

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