Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

About this blog & commenting here August 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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That’s my post, labeled “Barn Memories,” published on November 30, 2013, on Freshly Pressed, a feature of WordPress, my blogging platform.  My work has been highlighted on FreshlyPressed thrice. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I’M NOT A PARTICULARLY opinionated person, at least not publicly. I mostly steer from conflict, discord and disagreement. I’m more the mediator type, the “let’s work things out” and treat others with kindness and respect. That includes the topics I generally cover here on this blog. My blog.

In recent weeks, several particularly mean-spirited comments filtered into this site. They were inflammatory and accusatory and just plain awful, with some directed at me personally. I chose not to publish them. I refuse to allow this blog, my blog, to become a platform for hatred, false accusations and unproven allegations.

Yes, I’m aware some may term this as censorship or a denial of free speech. I have worked as a newspaper reporter and value freedom of the press. Suppression of the media rankles me. In recent months the media have been under intense attack unlike anything I recall. This scares me. Freedom of the press is essential in a democracy. I hope the general public understands that.

We may not like what the media report. But we also need to stop blaming the messengers for the news they deliver. They are just doing their jobs.

That brings me back to Minnesota Prairie Roots. This blog is not mainstream media. No one pays me to write here. I earn some income from photos that people/businesses/organizations find here and buy from me and also from writing jobs tracing to this blog. But I am not on anyone’s payroll nor do I have an agenda other than to share my images and words with you. Writing and photography are my passions.

If you choose to submit hateful, accusatory and inflammatory comments, I won’t publish them. This is my blog. It’s as simple as that. I won’t bend my values, morals and beliefs.

To the many faithful readers and commenters who write with respect, thank you. I appreciate you and value your thoughts.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Yes, Faribault is a diverse community May 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:11 AM
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In this file photo, a Somali family waits to cross a downtown Faribault street.

ON ANY GIVEN DAY, I can drive on a street in Faribault, walk along the sidewalk, glance out my office window or go shopping and see a racial diversity of people.

I can stand in my side yard and look toward the home of an Asian couple. I can glance up the hill and watch two preschoolers, the daughters of a white mother and an African American father, play outside. In my front yard, I can see, several houses down, the Hispanic family that has lived in my neighborhood for years.

Yes, Faribault, population 23,352, is a community of diversity. Thirteen percent of our residents are Hispanic/Latino and another 7.4 percent, black or African American, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. All totaled, about one-fifth of our residents identify themselves as “non-white.”

As my husband would say—and this is not meant at all as derogatory—shopping in at least one local grocery store is like walking into the United Nations. We shop side-by-side with Spanish-speaking Latino families and with Somali women clothed in billowing dresses and head scarves.

Just the other evening, as I entered the local public library, a Sudanese man held the exterior library door open for me while his pre-teen son opened the interior door. It’s been a long time since a young boy held a door for me and I expressed to him my appreciation for his respect and good manners.

The other day, while waiting in the car for my husband to pick up milk at a local convenience store, I observed a cluster of teenaged Somali girls, dressed in head scarves and flowing dresses, move along the sidewalk while, just across the street, a 60-something white woman clad in a jacket resembling an American flag pushed a cart of groceries. It was a unique visual illustrating diversity in Faribault.

Several Latinos lead in singing of Mexico’s national anthem last September during the International Festival at Faribault’s Central Park. Flags represent the birthplace nations of those participating.

The diversity of my community bubbled to the surface Tuesday after I read a comment on City Pages, an online Minneapolis-based information source. A post I published last week about jewelry store thefts in Faribault and elsewhere in Minnesota was linked to in “The Blotter” section as was an article in the Faribault Daily News which identified the jewelry store thieves as “black males.”

Now I don’t want to get into the issue of whether the news reporter should have racially-tagged the suspects. But I was miffed by the first Blotter comment on the blog post.

It looks like “diversity” has now spread to Hastings and Faribault.

That comment was followed by a reply I won’t print here because of the language. But you can read it by clicking here.

So why did the initial diversity comment rile me? Well, I’m tired of over-generalizations that those of us living outside the Twin Cities metro area reside in closed-up communities comprised mostly of Anglo-Americans. We are not just a bunch of white descendants of Scandinavians or Germans or Irish or French… We are racially diverse and growing in diversity.

If you ask the residents of Willmar or Worthington, St. James or Madelia, or many other Minnesota towns, they’ll tell you the same. Latinos, Asians, Somalians, Sudanese and others call outstate Minnesota home.

Diversity spread to Faribault decades ago. Just stroll through my neighborhood.

How diverse is your neighborhood, your small town, your suburb, your city? Let’s hear.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling