You have to move fast to keep up with some Minnesota cities, especially up-scale Edina.
In my recent blog on collaboration, I pointed out that competencies are inevitably a response to culture, society and economics. Indeed, the burgeoning emphasis on collaboration is uniquely tied to the evolution of the economy and the knowledge worker.
Now comes the fruit of another cultural shift. Reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the gift was, amusingly, an Easter gift to diversity.
First, the state’s Catholic hierarchy made an ass of itself in front of its own high school students at Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle High School regarding gays, gay families and of all things, adopted kids. The high schoolers raised an uproar with the hierarchy reps, causing the church to back down fast. What the church was trying to do—with only high school seniors present—was gain more votes for anti-gay legislation. Our Catholic fathers seem not to know that the arc of the biblical tradition is toward inclusion. So, the hierarchy probably lost more than it gained, showing the immense gap between the younger generation and old, white men in black robes.
But the more intriguing Easter gift was from the city fathers of Edina, who decided, unanimously, to add still more dates to their no-meetings list. The change only affected 3 of 120 meetings this calendar year. Now the no-meeting list includes the following:
Christian holidays: Christmas, Christmas Eve, Good Friday
Jewish holidays: The evening before and the day of Yom Kippur, the evening before and two days of both Rosh Hashanah and Passover
Islamic holidays: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha
Hindu holidays: Diwali
A priest at the Hindu temple responded that the move is “really awesome. That means American culture is really considerate of other cultures, they try to understand and want them to celebrate. It really helps us at the temple.”
Of course, this will drive the Tea Party nuts, but I suspect there aren’t many of that ilk in Edina.
“Edina” is Minnesota shorthand for lots of money, successful professionals and top public schools. But it has also become, like many East coast and Midwestern suburbs, a mecca (hmmmm--my Islamic reference.) for wealthy professionals, many of whom are Islamic and Indian.
Tolerant Minneapolis and the western suburbs (including Edina) are a case-study in how to change cultural attitudes. There was a time in the first half of the twentieth century when Minneapolis was known as the most anti-semitic city in the country. But the Star Tribune, under the leadership of the Cowles family, changed all that. Not only did they editorialize against anti-semitism, but the family strongly supported Planned Parenthood, editorialized for birth control and public schools, and led in the immense focus upon arts in the Twin Cities. We always enjoyed the arts in New York and Chicago, but we also knew that we’d get just as much exposure in the Twin Cities, especially in drama and music.
A few years ago, I found myself seated on a flight to Chicago beside Joe Dowling, the artistic director of the Guthrie. At the time the Guthrie was raising funds for its new edifice on the Mississippi and I chatted with Dowling about the status of the drive. “You have to remember,” he explained, “that the Guthrie is the most heavily endowed theater in the world.” As a New York theater-goer, that was more than a little shock to my system. But as I thought about it, not much of a surprise.
It continues to amaze me how much a few people can impact a culture for the good--and not reinforce its death-giving values.