My 2 cents

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Been seeing & reading a few articles about Minnesota nice.

Submitted: July 21, 2014

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Submitted: July 21, 2014



Been seeing & reading a few articles about Minnesota nice.

I was born and raised in this fine state. Lived here in Mn my whole life. I have lived on small black land dirt farms, small towns of a few hundred to a few thousand & large metro areas. For the most part we are reserved, courteous & mild-mannered.

There are several versions of Minnesota Nice.

The family farm community was mostly about immediate family and their closest neighbors. Work was exchanged. Labor offered & accepted as a natural way of life. Very little money was exchanged. To survive on the farm you helped your neighbors in time of planting as well as time of harvest. It was not unusual to help more than one near-by farmer. If the farmer could not help, he sent another family member. Thus fulfilling his obligation. In time, when he needed help, the favor was returned.

Paying for farm help was rare. Larger farms did so but not the family farms. A good year was when you did not go hungry & every family member had clothes, education and was healthy.

Farms are bigger now and are a business cooperation. Family farms are a thing of the past. I lived the farm life for most of the first 17 years of my life. I miss those years.

Small towns can be clannish. The best you can say is “extremely reserved” If you were not born and raised in the immediate area or related to someone, no matter how long you live there, you will be an outsider.

Town people will greet and talk to you but it is more of a nosiness than anything else. They are all about finding out about you, where you are from ORIGINALLY, do you have relatives in the area, where you worked, that sort of thing. You need to be able to answer the same questions over & over again. They can be very rude but think otherwise. They think they are being nice by leaving you to your own devices. They will respond if someone else opens the conversation. Rarely will they speak first. They tolerate your presence totally convinced you will be gone in time. A heavy regional accent is spoken. You can also expect them to speak the mother tongue, at least in their home.

Small towns tend to have very few businesses that hire a larger work force. They need to bring in outside help as there is never enough qualified help nearby. The rest of the town population resents the newcomers. I lived & worked in a small town for 10 years. It was more Minnesota rude than Minnesota nice. The whole time I lived there I was an outsider in a strange land. They were right. In time, I was gone.

I lived in the suburbs of a large metro area in Mn for 30 plus yrs. During this time period I lived in an apartment, owned an apartment building or my own home. My experiences varied. All people were friendly but reserved. Some times quick to open a conversation. Other times quick to want to have you as a distant friend. Someone to talk to and about but not to invite you to a birthday party. More of a “work” friend even though you're not at work.

Minnesota Nice is to be reserved, curious but standoffish. I lived for twenty years in a single family house in a working class neighborhood. Doing that time I was friendly with just one of my neighbors. And that was because the lady of the household was my Doctors nurse.

One spring a wind storm did some damage in the 'hood. Every one gathered outside to make sure it was safe, to see if anyone needed immediate help. Having determined there was no emergency that needed attention, they went about their business leaving everyone to they're own devices. Minnesota Nice hard at work. To me Minnesota Nice is at its best when people leave me to make my own way and I leave them to do the same. Except in an emergency.

I have since retired and moved to a small town, (still close to the metro area) Pop. about 10k, to live in a 55+ community apartment. Minnesota Nice is at its finest. Less reserved, more courteous & mild-mannered. Everyone is friendly & helpful. If someone needs help, they seek it. If I need help I do the same. A smile and a hello is always issued when coming in contact with others. Assuming they can see & hear you.

Rarely do we miss a chance for small talk. In my first week in the building, I think I spoke to more neighbors than I did in the previous 30 yrs. It is small town living but still within driving range of Metro shopping (half hour or less). This area has just about all one requires. No opera of course.

Minnesota Nice is what ever you think it is.


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