Ground Level

Bridging the Latino-white divide

Minnesota's growing Latino population has been around long enough to put down roots, grow businesses and go through school, sometimes for generations.

But have white people and Latinos as communities made the connections that let them do more than live side by side in many towns around the state?

That's a question Ground Level decided to explore as University of Minnesota Extension researchers launched a project to identify just how integrated leadership in some Minnesota towns has become. The picture we found is mixed, but a number of Minnesotans have forged ways to make valuable connections across ethnic lines.

Living side by side, looking to connect

Living side by side, looking to connect

Luisa Trapero is a rarity, an elected Latino official in outstate Minnesota. She'd like to help other Latinos take steps to bridge gaps between Latino and white cultures that often exist side by side.
Language 'No. 1' in bridging Melrose divide

Language 'No. 1' in bridging Melrose divide

If a handful of people crossing the cultural divide make a big difference in a community, Peggy Stokman in Melrose is one of them.
It's happening. But we’re still in diapers

"It's happening. But we're still in diapers"

Venezuelan native Windy Roberts uses language to bring two cultures together in the western Minnesota university town of Morris, where a large dairy operation draws skilled veterinarians from Mexico.
Young immigrant's journey leads to permission to stay

Immigrant's journey leads to permission to stay

St. James resident Irma Marquez this month became one of the earliest Latinos in the nation to received deferred status allowing her legally to stay in the United States for two years and to find work.
Northfield program shrinks Latino achievement gap

Northfield shrinks Latino achievement gap

High school senior Jhosi Martinez is making college plans, something that 10 years ago wouldn't have been likely in her hometown of Northfield, Minn.
Cultures intertwine in Long Prairie's community garden

Cultures intertwine in Long Prairie

Jaime Villalaz and Lyle Danielson didn't know each other until they started working on a community garden that is helping Latino residents build a farmers cooperative and bridge the racial gap.
U of M extension research: First connect, then lead

U of M extension: First connect, then lead

University of Minnesota Extension research is delving into how leadership shifts in towns with substantial Latino populations.

U of M extension: Connect first, then lead

University of Minnesota Extension research is delving into how leadership shifts in towns with substantial Latino populations.

Latinos and whites:
Getting beyond parallel play?

We asked members of MPR News' Public Insight Network to tell us about places Latinos and whites make connections. Here's what we heard, from the YMCA to church to the bakery.


Fighting for an American Countryside: an age-old problem


Deaths and births in Minnesota. Where are they?


Wilder’s Compass data: Minnesota’s racial gap among worst


Latino communities

MAP: Latino communities

The 17 largest outstate Latino communities

An immigrant's journey
leading to permission to stay

St. James resident Irma Marquez this month became one of the earliest Latinos in the nation to received deferred status allowing her legally to stay in the United States for two years and to find work. Read her story here ▶

Worthington bakery builds community

Kerry and Juan Cuate opened a Mexican bakery, Panaderia Mi Tierra, in downtown Worthington, Minn. The bakery now caters to the larger community, bringing the diverse population together.

Responses from the PIN How immigration law change might affect your community

 

Watch Latino communities grow

These 17 cities fall into one or both of two Top 10 lists in outstate Minnesota: greatest Latino population in 2010 and greatest Latino population in 2010 as a percentage of total population.

Click the city names or the dates below to explore

Worthington

  • Total Population: 12,764
  • Latino Population: 4,521 | 35.4%
  • Latino School enrollment: 44%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 61% | Latino 54%
  • State's highest percentage of Latino residents. Home to more than two dozen Latino-owned businesses.

Pelican Rapids

  • Total Population: 2,464
  • Latino Population: 776 | 31.5%
  • Latino School enrollment:27.9%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 65% | Latino 43%
  • The Jennie-O West Central Turkey processing plant has been a draw for employment

St. James

  • Total Population: 4,605
  • Latino Population: 1,427 | 31%
  • Latino School enrollment: 39.7%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 61% | Latino 43%
  • St. James elected its first Latino to the School Board in 2012.

Long Prairie

  • Total Population: 3,458
  • Latino Population: 1,034 | 29.9%
  • Latino School enrollment: 32.1%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 65% | Latino 39%
  • A community garden provides a cross-cultural focal point.

Madelia

  • Total Population: 2,308
  • Latino Population: 618 | 26.8%
  • Latino School enrollment: 35.1%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 64% | Latino 39%
  • Tony Downs Foods is a major employer of Latinos.

Gaylord

  • Total Population: 2,305
  • Latino Population: 530 | 23%
  • Latino School enrollment: 21.6%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 79% | Latino 60%
  • Michael Foods is a major employer of Latinos.

Melrose

  • Total Population: 3,598
  • Latino Population: 769 | 22.1%
  • Latino School enrollment:21.1%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 68% | Latino 39%
  • Jennie-O staff Communities Connecting Cultures, a help center for Latino residents.

Le Center

  • Total Population: 2,499
  • Latino Population: 525 | 21%
  • Latino School enrollment: 25.8%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 79% | Latino 61%
  • The main employer of Latinos is the cheesecake making Dianne's Fine Desserts.

Willmar

  • Total Population: 19,610
  • Latino Population: 4,099 | 20.9%
  • Latino School enrollment: 30.9%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 62% | Latino 44%
  • Second largest outstate Latino community. Willmar has more than 20 Latino-owned businesses and is home to the Latino Marketing Group.

Renville

  • Total Population: 1,287
  • Latino Population: 234 | 18.2%
  • Latino School enrollment: 25.2%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 68% | Latino 57%
  • Seasonal work at S. Minn. Beet Sugar Coop. leads the Latino population to follow migrant worker patterns.

Albert Lea

  • Total Population: 18,016
  • Latino Population: 2,380 | 13.2%
  • Latino School enrollment: 17.1%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 69% | Latino 48%
  • One of the largest and earliest Latino populations in outstate Minn.

Austin

  • Total Population: 24,718
  • Latino Population: 3,796 | 15.4%
  • Latino School enrollment: 24.8%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 65% | Latino 45%
  • Latino-owned businesses have rejuvenated a business district hurt by the 1985 Hormel Foods strike.

Faribault

  • Total Population: 23,352
  • Latino Population: 3,026 | 13%
  • Latino School enrollment: 20.2%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 62% | Latino 39%
  • Community diversity coalition working to revive efforts. The city's diversity was the subject of a St. Olaf student research project in 2011. PDF

Owatonna

  • Total Population: 25,599
  • Latino Population: 1,868 | 7.3%
  • Latino School enrollment: 10.3%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 75% | Latino 49%
  • Home of Centro Campesino, a non-profit focused on assisting Latino migrant workers.

Northfield

  • Total Population: 20,007
  • Latino Population: 1,685 | 8.4%
  • Latino School enrollment: 12.2%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 82% | Latino 48%
  • Home of the TORCH program, which has had success in raising Latino graduation rates.

St. Cloud

  • Total Population: 65,842
  • Latino Population: 1,597 | 2.4%
  • Latino School enrollment: 4.8%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 67% | Latino 45%
  • St. Cloud has the state's 8th largest outstate Latino community, sometimes overshadowed by fast growth among Somali residents.

Moorhead

  • Total Population: 38,065
  • Latino Population: 1,576 | 4.1%
  • Latino School enrollment: 7.5%
  • Reading Proficiency - Overall 73% | Latino 46%
  • The sugar beet-related industry attracted Latino workers to Moorhead.

La creciente población latina de Minnesota, la mayoría mexicanos aunque incluye cada vez más personas de Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Ecuador y otros lugares, ha estado aquí por suficiente tiempo como para echar raíces, hacer crecer negocios y asistir a las escuelas, a veces por generaciones. Pero ¿han hecho las comunidades anglo y latinas las conexiones necesarias que les permita hacer algo más que no sea sólo vivir paralelamente en muchas ciudades en el estado?

Esa es una pregunta que Ground Level decidió explorar como parte del proyecto que los investigadores de la University of Minnesota Extension lanzaron para identificar cuánto se ha integrado el liderazgo de algunas ciudades de minesotenses. El cuadro que encontramos es mixto, pero un número de minesotenses han forjado el camino para hacer valiosas conexiones a través de las fronteras étnicas.

Fighting for an American Countryside: an age-old problem


Deaths and births in Minnesota. Where are they?


Wilder’s Compass data: Minnesota’s racial gap among worst


How immigration law change might affect your community

We asked members of our Public Insight Network how they think their communities might change if the nation's immigration laws are altered. Read a summary of what they told here or see all the responses below.

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We identify topics that are significant and complex and that play out uniquely at the local level. We want to explore those issues in which people taking action in their communities make a difference and can serve as guides for others.

Ground Level launched in early 2010 and shines a light on a variety of topics, from the growing complexity of Minnesota's local food system to cities preparing for new fiscal realities, from exurban growth in Baldwin Township to the quest to expand broadband access across the state.

We experiment with coverage on a variety of platforms. This includes text, audio and video online, of course - the Ground Level blog, a series of topics pages and social networking, for example. It also includes on-air coverage, public forums both virtual and real-world and collaboration with community-based media.

Our audience consists of Minnesotans interested in community life, particularly those who are taking an active part in it or helping others do the same.

Ground Level is very much an experiment -- in finding ways to learn about and tell stories, in working with other organizations, in walking up to the line between providing insight and advocating specific actions. Our goal is to inform and give people the ability and incentive to engage with their community. We invite your feedback and your ideas, via the blog, twitter at @MPRGroundLevel, phone calls, emails, whatever. Join us.

About the team:

Dave Peters

Dave Peters directs MPR's project on community journalism, looking for ways Minnesota residents are making their towns, cities and neighborhoods better places to live. He joined MPR News in 2009 after more than 30 years as a newspaper and online reporter and editor. Contact Dave


Bush Foundation

Support for Ground Level is provided
by the Bush Foundation.