A Warm Embrace

Recently, a group of business, civic, and public-relations folks unveiled a campaign to brand the Twin Cities. “More to Life,” it’s called, and it seeks both to dispel stereotypes and to promote all the great things about living in the metro area: our abundance of cultural offerings, our diversity, our smarts and sophistication.

All of which seems nice enough. But in gathering information to put together the campaign, the “More to Life” people also found that some of our less-than-flattering stereotypes are also true. For transplants, it seems, Minnesota can be a less-than-nice place. People who move here don’t feel welcome, and they often find it difficult to break into social circles. We don’t embrace newcomers.

As someone who grew up in Minnesota but who also spent years living elsewhere, I sometimes feel like both a native and a newcomer, and so I feel like I should do my part to change this perception, to extend an embrace as often as I can (without, of course, actually physically embracing anyone—in that way, I’m all Minnesotan).

With that in mind, I wanted to use this page to welcome the newest member of the Minnesota Monthly staff. Starting this month, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl will be the magazine’s principal food writer. True, she isn’t technically a newcomer: many of you may already know Dara from her work for the Twin Cities’ alternative weekly, City Pages, where, for the past decade, she has covered restaurants, food, and wine. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dara, here’s the Reader’s Digest summary: She’s one of the most talented food writers in the country, and she even has the hardware to prove it. She’s won a James Beard Award—the country’s most prestigious food-writing honor—four times.

Here at Minnesota Monthly, she’ll write about food, wine, restaurants, travel, and pretty much anything else we can think to throw at her. In addition, she’ll blog regularly, so those of you accustomed to seeing her byline on a weekly basis can rest easy (and stop e-mailing me about it). Check out her stuff on our website, Minnesotamonthly.com.

Of course, Dara isn’t the only thing that’s relatively new at Minnesota Monthly, as many of you have noticed. Over the last year or so, we’ve also brought on our talented style editor, Elizabeth Dehn, to beef up our lifestyle coverage; we’ve devoted more pages to the opening section of the magazine, Talk; and we’ve expanded our dining coverage.

Along with all of this, we’ve also tried to create a welcoming home for narrative journalism, for stories that are as compelling as they are revealing. This month, we feature a great example of such work, this one by our managing editor, Joel Hoekstra, who tells the story of Sherman Townsend. Ten years ago, Townsend was sent to prison after being convicted of first-degree burglary. But last year, after a hearing before a Hennepin County judge, he was released from prison. Hoekstra chronicles the fascinating and surreal tale of how Townsend ended up behind bars—and of the extraordinary circumstances that led to his release.

We hope you embrace these changes. And whether you’re a longtime reader or a newbie, we’d love to know what you think. So write. Call. Yell at me on the street. Just, please, no hugs.

Andrew Putz

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