Why We're Here: Twin Cities from Seven and Sixty Productions on Vimeo.

For those of us who lacked the foresight or funds to book a trip to Rio, Susan Bernstein and Mary McGreevy have provided the perfect winter tonic.

Their short, sweet online video thoroughly evokes its title: "Why We're Here." Not only do the subjects explain what lures and keeps them in the Twin Cities ("a big city in a not so big city," "great quality of life," "lots of green space"), but the 6-minute film's music and tone could salve even the most hardened cynic's soul.

Small wonder, then, that in its first four days of being posted online,"Why We're Here" drew more than 30,000 viewers exclusively via word of mouth (and Web).

"We struck some kind of chord," Bernstein said. "The thing that has surprised us is how many people have said it made them choke up, people unabashedly telling us that the thing made them cry."

Part of the reason the video has resonated might be that it transports viewers to another world, or at least a place and time far away: the Twin Cities in spring and summer. Shot around the metro area, much of it atop the Stone Arch Bridge, it includes interviews with residents of all ages. Their words, the greenery in the background and the sweet, soulful soundtrack by John Munson exude warmth.

"My husband said we couldn't have picked a more perfect time to post this. People crave to be there," McGreevy said. "We wanted to talk to people in the streets like you and me, and to get to a depth beyond a Chamber of Commerce website or brochure."

So will they be filming a snowbank-laden version to release next summer?

"Uh, no," McGreevy said, laughing.

Bernstein and McGreevy had collaborated on a video for a fundraiser and decided to start their own production company, Seven and Sixty Productions. Their first release has ensured that there will be more. They have been approached by "a number of people and organizations asking us to consider projects with them," Bernstein said.

That could mean that they, like the locals in "Why We're Here," will stick around, even though neither was born or raised in Minnesota.

So just why are they here?

"I've moved all over," said McGreevy, a South Dakota native. "When I got pregnant with our first daughter, we came back to the Midwest to be within a day's drive of our parents. This feels like a natural place to be. I won't deny that the winters are tough, but I grew up in this weather. And I've always appreciated the toughness of prairie people."

Bernstein grew up in New York and also had lived in California before her professor husband was offered a post at the University of Minnesota. When he took the job, "we said we'll reconsider in about five years," Bernstein said. "For many years, I fought this place and resisted, and now I have a hard time imagining living elsewhere."

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643