OK, citizens of Fergus Falls, it’s now time to turn you outrage to The New York Times. In The New York Times (March 10, 2019, story by Michele Anderson), print edition, a huge quarter-page photo shows two vehicles moving slowly down Main Street covered in deep snow and ice. In the photo, people are absent except for a lonely merchant shoveling snow. Adding to the bias, slanted NYT coverage, a few retired farmers sit in an ordinary cafe. These photos may not portray the blessings of life in Fergus Falls that the Chamber of Commerce wants to share with the rest of the country.
Instead, how about photos of leafy tree-lined city streets with children playing outdoors and locals making crafts for sale on Esty or in local gift shops. A whole different message. Photos to say, “See our beautiful town, move here,” in other words. Makes you wonder how deep the photo archives are at NYT offices in New York City.
As for the viewpoints of Michele Anderson, the article’s author, let’s say she speaks for herself. It’s one person’s opinion, out of 14,000 people who live in the city of Fergus Falls. She writes, “And incidentally, I have not had much time to garden, fish, or can food.” I always thought doing things like this were part of the charm and lifestyle, the reasons for moving to and living in small-town Minnesota.
About culture, you can’t transplant the Portland scene to Fergus Falls. And, why would you want to try? For this writer, Fergus Falls is of another culture. As a way to understand more, read The Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday, March 9 – 10, 2019) and find a piece about marketing at the University of Wyoming. Their new slogan is “The world needs more cowboys.” They are proud of local Wyoming culture and history. Maybe America needs more acceptance and diversity of this kind.
Trashing local leaders and traditional power brokers of a community is a losing proposition, as Anderson surely knows, and is not a way forward. The better approach is to listen, cooperate, and share ideas. And be respectful. It’s just possible that people who’ve lived in Fergus Falls for decades do have good ideas. After all, everyone, the “old guard” and newcomers alike, want to build a better and stronger community.
On commerce, many small towns in the Rocky Mountain West fight to keep big box stores out of town. Fergus Falls merchants on Main Street should feel lucky to be rid of them. In Long Prairie, a local merchant has a gourmet coffee shop. Who needs a Starbucks on every street corner?
I sort of wonder why Anderson didn’t share with NYT readers that Hillary Clinton, Democrat running for president, garnered 28.74 percent of the vote in Otter Tail County in the 2016 general election. That’s less than one out of three. Fortunately, Anderson did not say about locals in Fergus Falls, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…” as another person once so famously said about working-class voters. Words better left unsaid.
Beyond that thanks for the sound-off in the NYT, Ms. Anderson.