Twin Cities: homespun and cosmopolitan
The GOP National Convention opens in a place reflecting the nation’s enduring agrarian myth ... with skyscrapers.
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Sympathy was overwhelmingly for the bull, not the terrified bystanders. After all, who would plant a blazing-red fire hydrant anywhere near a bull barn?
The fact that the incident took place in the heart of the nation’s 15th largest metro area – home to an acclaimed opera company, 57 museums, hip-hop clubs, four major league teams, and three Tony-winning theaters – says something about the Twin Cities of Minnesota, which play host to the Republican National Convention starting Monday.
The spirit of modern-day Minneapolis and St. Paul springs from the settling of America’s heartland. Even as skyscrapers rise from the vast Midwestern prairie where it abuts the banks of the Mississippi, people honored the values of pioneers and entrepreneurs who planted their ambitions on that prairie.
Most of us know the enduring myth of America’s great agrarian age by heart: Huck Finn fishes in yonder lake, berry pies cool on a window ledge.
Towering over the Mississippi’s banks in Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater is as far from that image as anyone could imagine. Yet director Joe Dowling said the musical, Little House on the Prairie, was a perfect fit for his bold new theater.
Yes, the steel-and-glass theater designed by French architect Jean Nouvel would have rendered Ma and Pa Ingalls speechless. But the modern cities that flank the river today still revere qualities Laura Ingalls Wilder captured in her stories of humble pioneer life.
“There is a sense of community that is very real about this area, although the Twin Cities are obviously very different from small towns,” Mr. Dowling said. “The creation of this region came through people working together and supporting each other in all kinds of ways.”
That homespun quality of the culture comes to life every year at the State Fair just outside St. Paul. Everyone calls it “The Great Minnesota Get Together.” It will overlap with the GOP festivities.
Darlene Bramwell spends five days at the fair each year, one day for each grandkid. Her rules are strict: no midway, no buying junk, no rides.
These city kids have a heritage to revisit. A very pregnant ewe in one of the barns obliged by giving birth to three lambs last week before the wide-open eyes of 8-year-old Nathan Bramwell.
“It’s too bad we have to come to the fair to see this,” Darlene Bramwell said. “Years ago farm kids grew up seeing birth and death as a normal part of life.”