Two of the Star Tribune’s wiser pundits weighed in recently on yet another disappointing legislative session, with sage advice for candidates and voters this fall. A column by John Rash, informed and inspired by the book “Amazing Minnesota” (by our own long-time board member Lee Lynch), was headlined “Amazing State Needs Governance to Match It.’’ Rash noted that Minnesota still ranks near the top in most surveys as a well-run state with a topnotch quality of life but that it desperately needs less ideological partisanship and more earnest effort to solve problems and preserve that reputation. Columnist Lori Sturdevant, looking forward to a very crowded ballot and hugely important November election, urged voters ask five questions of candidates, about how they will bring the state together, including this one: “What’s your view of the rural-urban divide that has emerged in Minnesota politics — and if you don’t like it, what will you do about it?” See next item!
Our historic agenda-setting gathering in western Minnesota this summer will feature some of the most knowledgeable people in the entire region on our demographic and economic disparities, and how to fix them. Participants in this event will help create a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint,’’ a new social contract that heals our divisions: the rural-metro divide, racial injustice, overall economic inequality and environmental degradation. Registration options include participating as an official delegate in the six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant. Please register now, as space is filling up. Registration Fees, including meals, are $195 for the entire gathering or $100 for June 28 only. Some scholarships are still available to help cover registration, lodging, and travel for participants who commit to being an Equity Blueprint delegate. More information on “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” is available on our website. Our partner in this event is OneMN.org, an organization focused statewide on building our “ethnic capital” and working toward racial equity in business and economic development. Their motto -- “Building Shared Sustainable Prosperity’’ -- resonates strongly with our own mission statement. Please spread the word, even if you cannot attend.
Growth & Justice research on inequality has consistently shown how urban and rural areas have more in common with each other _ higher rates of poverty and inequality, in particular _ than either region does with more affluent suburban and exurban areas. A new study by the Pew Research Center finds another related commonality: most urban and rural Americans feel misunderstood and looked down upon by people outside their regions. A much lower percentage of suburbanites, by contrast, feel negatively judged by others. A New York Times article on the research observes that “political scientists warn that place-based resentments — ‘no one respects rural America’ or ‘Trump is at war with cities’ — can be easily exploited by politicians.’’
“We’re in a political moment where cultural divides overlap with political divides, which overlap with geography.” – Kathy Cramer, University of Wisconsin political scientist, and author of “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker,” quoted in NYTimes article cited above.