Here it is, November, a month that’s hard for me: Days get short. Winter is coming. I can slip on the driveway while taking out the garbage. I can’t breathe as well.
So, it’s time for me to come up with a list of those things for which I’m thankful — in this month of Thanksgiving.
My list this year is made up of people — human beings, not things — and it begins with Lindsay Whalen. I’m thankful I was able to watch her play basketball for almost two decades, first at the University of Minnesota and then with the Minnesota Lynx. She changed the way I looked at women’s basketball. She made me take it seriously.
She could put a ballclub on her back in the fourth quarter with her drives to the basket or no-look passes. Fierce, gritty, heroic: The adjectives defined her. Besides all of that, she’s a good human being, generous with fans and open with the media. In fact, she turned out to be witty and deft with reporters’ questions. I think she’s the most impressive Minnesota athlete of the decade — man or woman.
Her boss, Lynx and Timberwolves’ owner Glen Taylor is also on my gratitude list. I’m thankful he’s the owner of the Star Tribune, one of the best metro papers in the country. The Strib is adequately staffed, colorfully written and thoughtfully comprehensive. And Taylor isn’t making a fortune; he’s merely breaking even.
That takes a good citizen, one who understands the value of a free press and vetted information. The paper’s series on sexual assaults in Minnesota that were investigated poorly, or not at all, was a textbook example of good investigative reporting.
The young mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul are two good examples of enlightened leadership. Jacob Frey of Minneapolis and Melvin Carter of St. Paul are energetic and engaged in the events in their cities. They show up publicly in times of crisis and conflict, something former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges didn’t consistently do.
Carter led the charge to release a body-cam video in the wake of a controversial police shooting in the city’s Summit-University neighborhood. Frey has been a central figure in efforts to deal with a growing number of homeless men and women living in a tent city at Hiawatha and Cedar avenues. Both mayors seem to understand when folks need to hear from them and when to show they’re engaged and aware of potential problems.
Finally, I’m thankful for the people of the Twin Cities who behaved so peacefully during the Super Eid celebration late this summer at U.S. Bank Stadium. Thousands of Muslims came to the stadium to celebrate the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews). They came driving, riding and on foot.
According to news reports, the security staff was helpful. The police surrounding the stadium were respectful. The parade of Muslims into the place was orderly. The onlookers outside were friendly. No incidents. No arrests. No violence.
I loved the Star Tribune’s description of the scene: “It was eerier inside the stadium — no big screens, no advertisements. There wasn’t any consumption going on — no beer, hot dogs or peanuts interrupted the action. Concession stands were dark and abandoned. The majority of people who came that day were seeing it for the first time, impressed by the epic place.”
I’m impressed by those who came to work, pray and simply watch. They say a lot about the society I want to be a part of — and they provide an alternative picture to us old guys who sometimes wonder whether the best days are behind us. They aren’t.
Dave Nimmer had a long career as a reporter, editor and professor. Now retired, he has no business card, but plenty to do. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.