Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges wants us to stop being so gosh darn nice.
On Monday, she launched a weeklong bragfest and urged the humble people of Minneapolis to shed their usual modesty and shout from the rooftops about how great the city is.
The push to let up on the Minnesota Nice through Sunday is part of a broader strategy to grow the city’s population to 500,000 people. To lure more people in, the mayor argues, locals have to boast a little louder to out-of-towners.
The Best Week of Bragging About Minneapolis Ever, as Hodges calls it, also coincides with thousands of baseball fans flying in for Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Target Field.
People on Twitter are touting everything from the Walker Art Center’s Internet cat video festival to the ability to enjoy the urban aspects of the Mississippi River. Some social media users gave more tongue-in-cheek responses to what’s great about Minneapolis such as “Not St. Paul.” (Hodges has said she’ll be bragging about that city, too.)
“This may sound silly … but, I’ve never been to a city that is so CLEAN before,” another citizen wrote on Facebook.
The initiative will include daily proclamations, with such themes as innovation, creativity and sustainability.
The mayor’s office is encouraging everyone to check off as many stops as they can on a 60-point list of attractions and share pictures on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag “bragmpls,” as an individual or as part of a team that can have up to 10 members. Those who complete the most tasks win a lunch with Hodges.
Not that everything in Minneapolis is brag-worthy. The city features large disparities between black and white residents in jobless rates, education and other areas.
Hodges noted in a commentary for MinnPost on Monday that the choice between promoting the city and addressing its problems “is a false one. … The things that we brag about are, in large measure, the strengths upon which we can draw to solve our problems.”
Still, City Council President Barb Johnson said she declined to participate. While she was eager to praise the Guthrie Theater and the city’s churches and parks, particularly Theodore Wirth, she said constituents would criticize her for bragging about Minneapolis when they hear gunshots in the middle of the night.
She represents the North Side, where three women were seriously injured in a back-yard shooting last week, days after two men died and three more were wounded in a spate of gunfire over the July 4th weekend.
“I want to pay attention to the things that are important, and right now, it’s the safety of the people I represent,” Johnson said.
Other regional officials are taking part. Michael Langley, who heads Greater MSP, a private economic development group, is checking off some items on Hodges’ list: using the city’s bike-share program Nice Ride, walking across the Stone Arch Bridge, watching the All-Star Game parade and visiting FanFest at the Convention Center.
Paul DeBettignies, a Minneapolis recruiter in the information technology field, said he likes the idea of showing off the city. “We need to get off our butts and get competitive.”
He wants to see the Twin Cities become the tech hub of the Midwest, and have political and corporate figures visit Silicon Valley to talk up the region.
DeBettignies said other big cities are working on detailed plans to recruit I.T. professionals, “and we’ve got tweets for a week. I don’t want to diminish what [Hodges] is doing, because I applaud it, but then what?”
Hodges has said, however, that she wants the week of bragging to serve as practice for doing it year-round.
In an interview on my Talk (107.1 FM), she even encouraged people to show off their excursions around Minneapolis on social media to their friends around the country — and then, when they visit them, engage in a little urban subterfuge.
“When you go to their cities,” she joked, “talk about how disappointing [they] are compared to Minneapolis.”