Minnesota Nice, explained
A lot of it hit close to home for me (even though I grew up & live across the border in Wisconsin, so I guess I’m not technically “Minnesota nice”), like the following:
In a nutshell, the state’s settlers from northern or central Europe — primarily Germany and Scandinavia — had a profound impact on how the social culture here developed, McKnight contends.
“The traditional culture of Norway/Sweden was for centuries based on the concept of One People, One Language, One Religion,” McKnight writes. “Swedes’ lifelong friends were chosen from among people they went to school with and their kinship group. An individual made friends slowly, but they were friends for life — in the true sense of the term ‘for life.’”
Anyone who has lived in Scandinavia, as McKnight did for years, knows that “it’s somewhat hard to get an ‘in’ there,” he said. But once the friendship is established, “all barriers to communication break down and there results a torrent of friendship, expressions of sincerity, and even personal confidences.”
The article’s part of an MPR series which you can read over here.
To be fair, I think some of the descriptions in the series could apply to a lot of small towns and rural areas, regardless of their heritage or location, but it gave me some food for thought. And this excerpt made me feel like I should be inviting a lot more people over:
A lifelong Minnesotan of German heritage, Klingel said most locals probably don’t know they have a welcoming problem.
“I think there are many people who are where I was a few years ago, thinking what a great place we are, and we’re all so friendly,” Klingel said. “And we are friendly. But we need to take that next step of really welcoming.”
Among the observations of newcomers Klingel has heard:
“Minnesotans are friendly. They just don’t want any more friends.”
“I’ve been here four years, and I’ve yet to be in someone’s home.”
Such perceptions were sobering to Klingel. “Those of us, if we think about that, ‘In the last year, who have I invited into my house that I didn’t know five years ago?’ I think we go, ‘Ooh, that’s a small number,’” he said. ” ‘Who cares?’ Well, the people who aren’t getting invited care.”