I'm not a neighborhood booster, but as a journalist, I wish desperately we could cover neighborhoods that don't have money without making that the hook of the story, without using the fact that much of the country is in dire fucking economic straits to elicit sympathy, respect or revulsion.
Here's an example: "The paper is called the Southside Pride, and Powderhorn often feels like it could use a little more of it. Everywhere there are signs that its residents aren't quite keeping up: gutters sag, concrete crumbles, paint flakes, and lawns go to seed. Dead vines and rusty bicycles seem to predominate as home decor."
I lived in Phillips right across Lake Street for seven years. I live in Powderhorn Park now. Everywhere, people are decent, people are irritating (especially my Phillips neighbor who'd play shitty guitar in his living room for all the block to hear). But only in Powderhorn, while working with my sainted mother in my front yard garden, have I had teenagers say politely, "Hello," as they walked by to cause who-knows-what trouble.
Not everything is positive, but the neighborhood routinely makes the best it can of bad situations, 1 ,2. And crime rates here in Powderhorn Park, and most areas of the Powderhorn community, are lower than crime rates in most areas known as Uptown. Seriously.
I'm sure Hutton is a good, decent person. She and her motives and her grammar aren't worth quibbling about. What is worth thinking about is the serious deficit in the journalism world (from the Star Tribune to the City Pages) of people who can represent the experiences of have-nots—the people whose lawns aren't promptly mowed during storm season. Chino Latino is one thing; Mercado Central is another.
The Powderhorn (and overall southside) community is one of the most diverse Minneapolis communities, not in the way that some liberals use "diversity" as code for de-facto segregation, but in the way that whites, American Indians, blacks and Latinos live here, mostly without squabbling. Check the census.
Yes, the Modern Times is awesome. But so is the community it sprouted from: rusty bikers, concrete crumblers, gutter saggers and dirty-hairs.
What does South Minneapolis mean to you? Please leave your comments (or send them to me)!