Tonight, catching up with Perfect Duluth Day, a link takes me to The Way North series from the New York Times.  Damien Cave and Todd Heisler travel I-35 from Laredo TX to Duluth MN.

Day 37 of their travels brings them to my hometown.  Mayor Don Ness describes “A Missing Piece” –

… he often hears that one of the city’s drawbacks is its homogeneity. Those with experience in other parts of the country have come to expect a mix of ethnicities and cultures, he said over dinner and beers at a neighborhood restaurant where the only sign of international flair was the hummus on the menu. In his view, and especially of those Duluthians who moved elsewhere for college or work, diversity and the conflicts and benefits that immigrants bring with them are an expected norm — an integral part of what defines the contemporary American city.

“A lot of them, they’ll come back and say that’s a missing piece,” Mr. Ness said.

I agree.  On return trips, after decades of living in Chicago, Detroit and now St Louis, Duluth seems really white.  And I feel out of place.  It is a strange feeling to return to one’s home and not fit in.  I don’t.

Am I a missing piece?

photo 3

My alma mater. What a great looking high school.