MOORHEAD, Minn. — Outstate Minnesota or Greater Minnesota? That is the question.
Literally, that is the question I'm putting before you today. And I want an answer.
If you live outside of the Twin Cities metro area, do you prefer to be called where you live "outstate Minnesota" or "Greater Minnesota?"
No, "Rocks and Cows Minnesota" isn't an option. Although it's infinitely better than "Greater Minnesota," which sounds like a branding effort brought forth by a slick advertising rep named Manny Pulate.
Outstate Minnesota 27% Greater Minnesota 47% Neither 27%
Do you prefer the term Outstate Minnesota or Greater Minnesota to describe the area outside of the Twin Cities metro area?
Thank you for voting!
"No, no, no. You don't live in outstate Minnesota. You live in Greater Minnesota. It's bold, it's fresh, it's hot. And here's the beauty part. The opposite of Greater is Lesser. So if you ain't living in Greater Minnesota, baby, you're living in Lesser Minnesota. Genius, am I right?"
Well, no. Greater in this case means "broader" not "better." The rest of the state, outside of the metro. So the opposite would be Narrower Minnesota. Make of that what you will.
Anyway, I'm an "outstate" guy because, by God, the hinterlands where I grew up were called outstate Minnesota and we survived just fine. Hey, at least it was better than being called the sticks, the boonies or some godforsaken place.
Others, I learned after using the term in a recent column, aren't so fond of the old-school ways. My inbox was peppered with offended outstate Minnesotans.
"Outstate — what a phrase," said one. "So NOT part of Minnesota — (Outside) because the only Minnesota is the Metro Area — and sometimes those that live there think so. ... I would rather be Greater than Out."
Do you feel the same?
Some history: Former Gov. Rudy Perpich is largely responsible for foisting the Greater Minnesota abomination on us, God rest his wonderful Iron Range DFL soul.
For the most part nonmetro residents happily lived in outstate Minnesota until Perpich was elected in 1982. In fact, the legislative lobbying group representing rural Minnesota was called the Minnesota Coalition of Outstate Cities at that time.
Perpich objected to the term "outstate" and began using the term "Greater Minnesota." When he championed a state-backed economic development arm that would largely benefit the 80 counties outside the metro, it was called the Greater Minnesota Corp.
Minnesotans, always eager to avoid direct conflict, went along. By 1986, the rural lobbying group was renamed the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
And rural Minnesotans became a marketing slogan.
Right about that time, not by coincidence, lake property values skyrocketed as suburban families gobbled up cabins to escape Lesser Minnesota on summer weekends. If we would've left well enough alone, people who live in outstate Minnesota could actually afford lake property in outstate Minnesota.
"What does outstate even mean?" you might ask, as one perturbed emailer did.
The word is literally in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary: "Of, relating to, or situated in a region of a state outside the principal city or largest center of population."
Outstate or Greater? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your choice.
Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 451-5655