The Outsiders:
Is "Minnesota Nice" to Newcomers?

March 2012

By Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesotans take pride in their friendliness. But many transplants, from South America to South Dakota, describe an insular culture that can keep newcomers at a comfortable distance. As the state becomes more diverse, will Minnesota turn inward or welcome its newest residents?

Newcomers say it's 'nice' here, but not warm

Many young transplants to Minnesota say making friends and finding a sense of community is daunting. That environment can have consequences for the state's economic future.

English-only measure still divides Lino Lakes

Lino Lakes Elementary School's popular Spanish-immersion program is a small island of linguistic diversity in a community where, a year and a half ago, officials passed an English-only ordinance.

Willmar is the future face of Minnesota

State demographers say Willmar -- with a substantial number of Latino and Somali residents -- foretells what Minnesota will look like two or three decades down the road.

Download the complete radio series

Video: Adjusting to "Minnesota Nice"

They came to Minnesota for work, for love, for family, to escape civil war. But people who shared their experiences say adjusting to life in Minnesota wasn't easy.

Commentary: A newcomer can find welcome in Minnesota. Eventually


Reporter: Laura Yuen
Radio editor: Laura McCallum
Online editors: Melanie Sommer, David Cazares
Public Insight reporter: Molly Bloom
Photographers: Jeffrey Thompson, Jennifer Simonson, Alex Kolyer

Minnesota Idea Open

MPR News reported this series as part of Minnesota Idea Open, a venture of the Minnesota Community Foundation. MPR is a partner for the MN Idea Open Challenge III: Working Together Across Cultures and Faiths. This Challenge asks Minnesotans for their ideas to build bonds and work together across culture and faith in their communities. Ideas can be submitted through March 23, and three winners will receive $15,000 each to make their idea a reality. For more information visit: