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What's so bad about Faribault? Newspaper editor bemoans lack of community pride

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Talk about sticking your head above the parapet.

Jaci Smith, the editor of the Faribault Daily News, has risked the wrath of her city with a comment piece criticizing the negativity leveled at Faribault by some of its residents, present and former.

She refers to comments she had seen posted on the newspaper's website and Facebook page, but also feedback from those involved in the city's Main Street program and other conversations she's had in the community. She writes:

What keeps me up at night thinking about Faribault is the distinct lack of community pride. Since I took over as managing editor of the Daily News in 2009, I’ve noticed a level of negativity about the community in general that I really haven’t seen anywhere else in my career — and that includes several states and newspapers, big and small.It also includes a four-year stint in New Jersey, known by the rest of the United States as the “armpit of America.” Think about that.

I see it a lot in the comments that are posted on our stories and on our Facebook page. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the poster uses their name or not — there are plenty of people willing to put theirs name to the comments that they’re glad they don’t live here any more or that the community has gone downhill so much since they were young.

This lack of civic pride in some quarters, she says, jars with the response of visitors to Faribault, who have a much more positive view of the city.

"Because I have to tell you, I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and Faribault is a nice little town," she adds. "It has its challenges, sure, but nothing extraordinary and certainly nothing that merits the negativity I’ve seen and heard."

MPR has highlighted the blog of Faribault resident Audrey Kletscher Helbling as another source of discontent about prejudice and a lack of community spirit in the city, and MPR praising the efforts of both to encourage more civic pride and tolerance.

"What’s wrong with Faribault?" MPR says. "The same thing that’s wrong with many Minnesota communities. There aren’t enough Audreys and Jacis."

On a more general scale, community spirit and pride is considered one of the things that makes Minnesota great, with the Star Tribune reporting in 2012 that the Camelot Index ranked Minnesota 5th nationally for quality of life, down in no small part to the numerous community organizations with philanthropic aims dotted around the state

You can read Smith's full comment piece here – she has asked for residents to give their feedback "respectfully."

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