Columns, Features, Love Thy Neighborhood

The “North” Movement

Over the past few months, the “North” movement has gained much attention both within Minnesota and around the country. Pioneered by Andrew and Eric Dayton, Governor Dayton’s sons, the North movement is pushing the idea of Minnesota associating itself with a new region—the North—rather than the Midwest.

The gist of the movement is that the United States has many recognized geographical regions, but no North. Often, Minnesota is defined by the harshness of its winter climate, rather than the many positive attributes that come with living and working here. The North movement aims to embrace our climate during each season, the beautiful outdoor landscape and the creative and hardworking culture here. The Twin Cities will be the capital of this Northern region.

While this may seem lofty and aimless, the North movement has, in a relatively short period of time, gained much traction due to support from state and business officials, as well as social media.

Most recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the Daytons and the larger North movement. The same week, Refinery29, a fashion blog located in New York, named Minnesota a “fashion Mecca.”

Both articles discussed the many apparel companies located in Minnesota that have gained popularity nationwide. A few of these include Duluth Pack, Red Wing Shoes, and Faribault Woolen Mill, all products that are carried in major department stores and boutique fashion outlets nationwide. Some attribute their growing popularity to the so-called ‘lumbersexual’ trend, the overall adoption of a more rugged, outdoorsy fashion style.

One additional notable achievement of the North movement is its influence in Minneapolis’ successful bid for the 2018 Super Bowl game. One of the focuses of Minneapolis’ bid was celebrating a winter Super Bowl in a winter city. Highlighting events like the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Red Bull Crashed Ice, and others give evidence that life not only still goes on but thrives here during the winter.

Embracing winter life is key to the North movement. Often Minnesota is cast as simply a frozen tundra year-round, yet there are still many great events. Our parks and lakes turn into cross-country ski trails and skating rinks. I guarantee you most people don’t know that Minneapolis even has its own public ski chalet where you can rent skis to go exploring for the day.

Social media has been key to the attraction and growth of the North movement. Through their businesses, the Daytons have started #teamnorth to curate photos, stories, and news from around Minnesota. Photo contests where users use the #teamnorth hashtag have resulted in beautiful shots of rural Minnesota as well as cosmopolitan life in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Other hashtags that have caught on include #peopleofnorth, #betterinMN, and #onlyinmn. The last one stems directly from the state’s tourism campaign.

Regardless of your opinion, Minnesota as part of the North rather than the Midwest is catching on not only locally but also nationally. It is fueled by optimism and the push to embrace the qualities that make this region so great.

Coupled with the growing popularity of things made in Minnesota and social media trends, the North movement is a grassroots movement already showing signs of success. Soon, we Macalester might be a Northern Small Liberal Arts College.

February 6, 2015

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