The episodes in this section are the stories of Minnesotans experiencing first-hand disparities of place-differences between core cities and suburbs and among different suburbs. The problem of place increasingly affects individual struggles and regional crises in Minnesota. The introduction highlights the Itasca Project and the Brookings Institution's Mind the Gap report. The Itasca project is a group of business leaders and policy-makers who are concerned about the future of business vitality and competitiveness of the region. According to the report, place is one of the three major sets of disparities in the Twin Cities, the other two being race and class.
The core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul lag far behind the suburbs on a number of indicators, including new jobs, healthcare, and education. The central cities have a concentration of populations struggling with race and class disparities, creating "pockets of poverty" in the urban areas. As Itasca Director Jennifer Ford Reedy explains, the Twin Cities, with its leading national socio-economic record, ranks second to last in the country regarding place disparities. Due to "white flight" to the suburbs and misconceptions about crime, Minneapolis and St. Paul are suffering from a "spatial mismatch" as more jobs and income move to the suburbs. Transportation is becoming a key issue in maintaining the Twin Cities' regional competitiveness. Addressing these issues will require joint efforts on behalf of the government, civic organizations, businesses, and community leaders. The Itasca Project hopes to engage communities around the region in understanding and eliminating these disparities.
The stories in this section focus on different aspects of place disparities such as access to transportation, employment and health care, as well as school and community segregation. With limited transportation options, how do workers living in the city center get to jobs that are frequently relocating to the suburbs? What does the history and unsettling resurgence of school segregation in South Minneapolis mean for the future of the entire region? The Institute on Race & Poverty offers a sobering statistical bird's-eye view of these issues in the Twin Cities.