Columns, Features, Love Thy Neighborhood

[You Better] Love Thy Neighborhood: Part 2

Last week I discussed the importance of Macalester’s urban setting in our ability to host academic programs that otherwise would not be offered if we were to be in a different setting. This week I continue this discussion with a focus on the opportunities outside the Macalester Bubble.

As the school year draws to a close, many students have summer on their mind which likely means internships and jobs. For most students (underclassman and juniors), it is probably limited to a summer job or internship either here or at home. For seniors, this will be the beginning of their career path. But, the job you have is just a, s important as the city you are living in.

Some colleges are in a location that offers little opportunity to pursue internships and school simultaneously. Because of our urban location, Macalester students have the opportunity to not only pursue off-campus work-study jobs, but also academic internships during the school year. Some students even forgo their work-study offer altogether and find a job that pays higher wages or provides a more wholesome experience than what can be found within the confines of the Macalester campus.

These job and internship opportunities would not happen if it weren’t for Macalester’s location and the Twin Cities’ booming economy. In fact, it was just a few days ago that Minneapolis was ranked as the 5th best city for new college graduates by livability.com. Factors examined in their study included the 25-34 year-old population, job access and public transportation. According to their research, 82,000 people between 25-34 live here and profit from a thriving economy. A KARE 11 report which covered the study stated that, “a majority of Minneapolis residents spend less than 30 percent of their annual income on housing, leaving them with plenty of money to spend on the city’s array of entertainment options.”

While this is only one study, it comprehensively considers many of the factors that are important to our generation – being around people our age, having jobs that pay well and having a low cost of living. This allows us to go out and enjoy food and music while paying off those student loans too. Also, access to transportation – which is about to become much easier this summer when the Green Line opens and increased bus service in St. Paul begins. We can minimize our car use, saving us even more money.

Speaking of the economy, Minneapolis-St. Paul alone has 19 Fortune 500 companies. While that may not seem like a lot for someone who comes from a place like NYC, when put in perspective of total population size, Minneapolis-St. Paul has the second highest number of Fortune 500 companies per capita. A 2013 article by CBS Minnesota station WCCO discussed the fact that despite Minnesota’s taxes, companies are attracted to our highly educated workforce as well as the high quality of life our state offers.

Another major question students and parents alike ask when selecting a college or place to live is safety. Last year, Gallup commissioned a study that asked participants how safe they felt walking alone at night. The results of their study showed that out of all 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Minneapolis-St. Paul area residents felt the safest with a full 80% of respondents stating that they felt safe walking alone at night. Following Minneapolis-St. Paul in safety were the Denver metro area, Raleigh, Boston, and Salt Lake City. The least safe cities were Memphis, New Orleans, and Riverside-San Bernardino.

So what about entertainment? When it comes to being outside and going to the park, Minneapolis takes first place again. According to a study by The Trust for Public Land, Minneapolis ranked first in the country for the best parks. Over 15% of the land within Minneapolis is devoted to parks, meaning that no one is more than 6 blocks away from one.

It is likely that Minneapolis ranked so high because of the diversity of our parks; for instance, Minneapolis has Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet etc. We also have trails alongside Minnehaha Creek and a major park at Minnehaha Falls, not to mention the parks alongside the river. All of these parks and trails feed into the Grand Rounds, a national scenic byway system that encompasses all of Minneapolis – further enhancing its image as an outdoor city. No wonder we’re called the “City of Lakes”

While the arguments and evidence for the high quality of life we enjoy in the cities are abundant, it means nothing if you stay on the Macalester campus. So if you constantly find yourself bored and tired of your surroundings, get on a bus or go for a bike ride. You never know what you might find in the Twin Cities when you break out of the bubble.

April 25, 2014

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