If you’re a Minnesotan, you likely have heard the story about how in 1973, then-Gov. Wendell Anderson was featured on the cover of Time magazine, grinning as he held up a northern pike. “The Good Life in Minnesota” captured a mostly positive image of our state.
As we approach the 50-year anniversary of that cover, retired journalist Dane Smith has some thoughts about Minnesota then and now, and MinnPost is thrilled to feature Smith’s series of commentaries on our opinion page starting today. He’s calling the series “Reappraising Minnesota,” and subsequent articles over the next six months explore everything from the state’s persistent racial disparities to changing political culture to restoring good-government models and a more inclusive democracy. You can bookmark this page to follow along and will also find his pieces on our homepage and in our newsletters.
Smith wrote for the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press and later served for 10 years as president of Growth & Justice, a think tank that advocated for a more equitable and sustainable economy. His author’s note about the series is included in today’s story:
The 1973 Time magazine cover story that put Minnesota on the map as one of the nation’s happier places has special personal meaning for me. I actually bought a copy of that “Good Life in Minnesota” edition hot off the newsstand in the Philadelphia airport, on Aug. 6, 1973. I was a 23-year-old Texas native who had grown up in Alaska and had just finished serving four years in the U.S. Navy. I was on my way to build a life in the North Star State, having recently married a Minnesotan. On my flight to the Twin Cities that evening, I avidly read every word. I remember feeling like I had hit the jackpot, that fate had landed me in a blessed place. Over the next 50 years, in my career as a news reporter and then a public policy advocate, I came to understand that the story, if hyped and incomplete, was mostly true. And I have tried to do my small part to preserve and enhance my adopted state’s best quality: its distinctive aspiration for fairness and equality for all its people.
We hope you enjoy the series and that it sparks discussion among our readers — whether you agree or disagree with Smith’s observations. We invite you to add comments to the stories, weigh in on social media, or submit a Community Voices piece reflecting on the series or topics within it.
Minnesota has made national headlines again in recent weeks after an eventful legislative session. So, how does the rest of the country see Minnesota? How do we see ourselves?