Over the last several years, Minnesota has developed one of the most thriving blog cultures in the country.
Minnesota blogs such as Powerline, Pharyngula, My Charming Kids, House of Turquoise and 22 Words have all garnered national followings.
We also have a strong crop of local bloggers who’ve achieved micro-celebrity status, including Bill Roehl, David Erickson, Ed Kohler, Erik Hare and Alexis Mckinnis.
Who’s next to break through?
There are several contenders, dozens of talented Minnesotans who blog thoughtfully on topics they are passionate about.
So as we head into a new year, I’ve pulled together a list of the top 10 excellent Minnesota blogs that you probably haven’t read before. They all deserve your attention in 2010.
10. Switchblade Comb
Thousands of media companies make millions of dollars each year publishing information and news about the national movie scene. But who’s watching over the movie scene in the Twin Cities?
Switchblade Comb is the product of three guys who all worked together at the Uptown Theater. During long work conversations, they decided there was hardly anyone publishing information on the local movie scene and that there was a hole to fill. They were right.
The site pivots back and forth between a site about local films, nationwide releases and entertainment in general. It is at its most effective when informing readers about upcoming local entertainment events that might not otherwise get much attention, such as a schedule of upcoming movies at the Walker Art Center.
Originally from Memphis, Doniree’s warm Southern charm and overall passion radiates through the words and photos on her site. Who else would have their “Life List” of priorities posted up on their site for the world to read?
She has little motive for her blog other than connecting with other Minnesotans and forming a sense of community.
“I don’t determine the value of my blog or a particular post by the quantity of comments or reactions,” she explained. “Forming real connections with other readers is amazing.”
8. Get A Film
Can a film change your life? Daniel Getahun at Get A Film believes it can, and that’s why he’s been cranking out volumes of copy on films over the last three years. He exhaustively rates movies from 1-10 in areas ranging from acting to music to social significance, tallying up the movie’s final grade with the precision of a math teacher.
“You watch, you think, you discuss, and you grow — depending on how you look at it, every film you see has the potential to change how you live your life,” he said.
For a taste of his philosophy on movies, I suggest consuming his recent review of “A Serious Man.”
7. An Amber Colored Life
Amber Carter does not want you to take her or her blog seriously. After all, she deals with serious issues all day at work and blogging is supposed to be fun, right?
This point of view is not an uncommon among bloggers. What makes An Amber Colored Life unique is Amber’s distinct writing voice that shines above the many other average writers who attempt humorous indifference online.
Like most strong writers, her character is best displayed when she’s upset. Case in point: Her post earlier this month about the rise of mystical wolf t-shirts.
What does the future hold for the local Twin Cities music scene? Skelly, editor-in-chief of Borangutan, and his all-volunteer staff ponder this question every day.
They’ve developed a site and a brand focused wholly on the local music scene to “help local artists reach younger audiences around Minnesota.”
The obstacle, as Skelly tells it, is that most local musicians are relegated to the downtown areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul. So the bands have trouble connecting with younger listeners in the outlying suburbs who are hungry for new music.
And as for the funny site name, it all started with and episode of “Orangutan Island” on Animal Planet and a night of drinking at O’Gara’s Garage. We’ll just leave it at that.
5. What Would Dad Say?
G.L. Hoffman began began blogging about career searching a few years back and has developed a delightfully direct blogging voice.
The chairman of JobDig and LINKUP.com, Hoffman’s sharply written advice is at times blunt. But as the title suggests, it’s reminiscent of stern, fatherly advice.
He demonstrates his skill at conveying timeless advice in short pieces with a recent post that uses the Tiger Woods’ fall from grace as a way to share career networking tips.
Like most bloggers, Hoffman has embraced the concept of “connecting” through social media. And he has embraced Twitter.
“I think Twitter is a bit like shouting at people walking by you at the Mall,” he said. “But every once in a while you learn or meet something or someone very important.”
4. Prior Fat Girl
Jennifer Emmert was out for a run this past summer when she noticed a couple running toward her, apparently doing some kind of training.
Emmert was about to realize just how much of an impact her blog has had on the world.
“As they passed me, the lady turned and screamed ‘PRIOR FAT GIRL!!!’ I lost my breath and didn’t know what to do! To be recognized? I can write on a blog but can I talk? What? So many thoughts flashed through my head, and but I just kept running,” she said. “Like a dork, I didn’t even stop to talk or say hi or turn back and wave.”
Emmert’s Prior Fat Girl blog details her excruciating — yet successful — journey through weight loss. She’s vividly honest in her writing, holding nothing — and I mean nothing — back.
And she’s brave enough to post before-and-after pictures.
(Note: Emmert changed servers over the weekend, and as a result her blog won’t be available until later today.)
3. TC Jewfolk
There are about 32,000 Jews between the ages of 18 and 50 in the Twin Cities. Leora Maccabee wants every single one of those people to visit her site, TC JewFolk, in the next two years.
Maccabee, an attorney with Maslon Law Firm during the day,- helps jam the site with content ranging from Hanukkah recipes to Jewish dating advice to Israeli politics.
Along with her managing editor, Emily Cornell, Maccabee hopes that her site will become a hub for younger Jewish people in Minnesota.
“We’re young, we’re hip, we’re Jewish,” she said. “We’re writing for our community.”
2. I Will Dare
Experience matters in the blog world. You can tell within a few seconds of reading if a blogger actually has purpose and is worth your precious reading time.
It’d be difficult to find a Minnesota blogger with more experience than Jodi Chromey, who began her I Will Dare blog on July 31, 2000, before few knew what a blog was.
“I’ve never changed URLs, never quit, never took a six-month hiatus, never turned it into an online magazine,” she said. “It’s just me, writing about about my life on the Internet for a long, long time.”
Her blog is nothing more than an online journal, an engaging and emotional public measure of her life against the larger world.
Posts such as “The Dawson’s Dilemma” and “It happened to me, therefore it is good” are indicative of a master at the top of her craft.
“When I started I Will Dare I never really thought other people would read it,” Chromey said. “I figured it’d be me and my friend Tim, and that was fine with me.”
1. Old and In The Way
Gary Sankary’s wife does not read his blog, but her friends do.
“This has created some great dinner time discussions over the years,” he joked. ”It gives us an opportunity for open and honest communication.”
Sankary, a salty 40-something husband, father and native of northern California, writes about family, life experiences and Minnesota weather from the perspective of a middle-aged guy.
He describes his blog as “Ray Romano meets Red Forman with some Erma Bombeck thrown in.”
Sankary aims for humor, and nails it more often than most others who head to the blogosphere hoping to extract a chuckle from fickle Minnesota readers.
So there you have it, my subjective list. Now feel free to use the comment field and tell me why I am wrong.