Curious Minnesota

Curious Minnesota

What do you wonder about the people, places and culture of Minnesota? Listen to our community-driven reporting project, which invites listeners to ask questions that our newsroom researches and answers.


Episode 18: Why hasn't Minnesota passed the Equal Rights Amendment?

Why hasn't Minnesota passed the Equal Rights Amendment?

Neither the U.S. nor the Minnesota Constitutions have amendments addressing gender equality. ERA supporters are continuing to push for change, but they face legal and ideological opposition. Host Eric Roper talks with reporter Jessie Van Berkel about the status of the ERA.


Episode 17: What's the latest we know about COVID-19's treatment, transmission?

What's the latest we know about COVID-19's treatment, transmission?

COVID-19 has changed American life as we know it. What's the latest science and information about the transmission and treatment of the virus? Host Eric Roper talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Glenn Howatt and Jeremy Olson.


Episode 16: When you flush a toilet in the Twin Cities, where does everything go?

When you flush a toilet in the Twin Cities, where does everything go?

Most maps of the Twin Cities feature highways and bridges that connect our region. Few show another grid that is even more crucial to daily life. It transports poop, not people. Host Eric Roper shares some of the most surprising facts about how the system works. Read more: http://strib.mn/39IeRqA. See photos of construction under the Mississippi River: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DaiSBuZVwAALzCY?format=jpg&name=large


Episode 15: Do the things we recycle all actually get recycled in Minnesota?

Do the things we recycle all actually get recycled in Minnesota?

What happens to the bottles, cans and other items we toss in our curbside recycling bins? Host Eric Roper talks with Kate Davenport from Eureka Recycling about how much of what we put in those big blue bins gets recycled. Read more here: http://strib.mn/2Z3bmKd


Episode 14: How did Minnesota become one of the most racially inequitable states?

How did Minnesota become one of the most racially inequitable states?

By almost any measure of social and economic well-being — unemployment, poverty, home ownership — the black-white gap in Minnesota is larger than the black-white gap elsewhere in the country. What are the origins of the disparities? Host Eric Roper talks with Prof. Samuel Myers, director of the Roy Wilkins Center of Human Relations and Social Justice at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who has been studying the issue for decades. Read more here: http://strib.mn/33DnXTU


Episode 13: In wake of George Floyd's death, what does 'reforming' Minneapolis Police mean?

In wake of George Floyd's death, what does 'reforming' Minneapolis Police mean?

The death of George Floyd in police custody has cast an international spotlight on Minneapolis and spurred nationwide discussions about police reform. A majority of the City Council has pledged to "begin the process" of ending the Minneapolis Police Department, a topic that has been simmering for years here. Host Eric Roper talks with reporter Andy Mannix about past attempts and what "reforming" the department might look like.


Episode 12: Why do so many Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home?

Why do so many Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home?

Minnesota has more than its fair share of big companies that got started here with next to nothing — in a Minneapolis garage (Medtronic), a Roseau metalworking job shop (Polaris) and a 1,200 square-foot stereo components store in St. Paul (Best Buy). Host Eric Roper talks with business columnist Lee Schafer about how the region came to have so many little companies that managed to mature into really big ones. Read more: www.strib.mn/2M8VxdP. Sixteen companies make latest Fortune 500 list: www.strib.mn/2WJRIkt


Episode 11: How did Minnesota become the Gopher State?

How did Minnesota become the Gopher State?

It appears Minnesotans have been misled about their beloved gophers. Host Eric Roper talks with reporter M.L. Smith to unravel the mystery behind Minnesota's unofficial nickname. Read the story: www.strib.mn/2MK9Vcx. More on the R.O. Sweeny cartoon that started it all: www.bit.ly/umncartoon. In 1856, Minnesota Weekly Times reader suggests calling Minnesota the Gopher State: www.bit.ly/gopherstate


Episode 10: Listener lightning round: 3 answers on history, geography, traditions of Minnesota

Listener lightning round: 3 answers on history, geography, traditions of Minnesota

From 19th century "glamping" on White Bear Lake to a mysterious missing street name in downtown Minneapolis, host Eric Roper tackles three questions from listeners in a special Curious Minnesota lightning round. Read more about why Minnesotans play Duck, Duck, Gray Duck instead of Duck, Duck, Goose: www.strib.mn/2QLaUfj


Episode 9: Why is Uptown south of downtown in Minneapolis?

Why is Uptown south of downtown in Minneapolis?

"Uptown" is the common name today for the district around Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, but that is a relatively recent phenomenon. Host Eric Roper talks with authors Thatcher Imboden and Cedar Imboden Phillips about the roots of Uptown name. Read more here: www.strib.mn/2WNvVFQ


Episode 8: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic

What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic

As the novel coronavirus spreads across the world, we've asked readers what they most want to know about the pandemic. Host Eric Roper talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt to answer your most pressing questions. Read more here: www.startribune.com/virus


Episode 7: How to see the northern lights

How to see the northern lights

The elusive aurora borealis has an attraction that's indisputable. Host Eric Roper talks with reporter Kelly Smith and photographer Brian Peterson about where and when to find the northern lights — and how to capture them when you do. Read the story: http://strib.mn/2Neo9Dd. Check out Astro Bob's blog: http://bit.ly/astrobob


Episode 6: How did Minnesota settlers make it through the cold, dark winters?

How did Minnesota settlers make it through the cold, dark winters?

Most modern-day Minnesotans take pride in their ability to cope with, or even embrace, the cold weather. But what did surviving extreme temperatures look like for the state's first settlers? Host Eric Roper talks with reporter Mara Klecker about creative ways settlers coped. Read the story: http://strib.mn/39soP0v. Minnesota Historical Society with Anna Ahonen: http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/largerimage.php?irn=10388879&catirn=11459703


Episode 5: Where did the idea for Minneapolis' skyways come from?

Where did the idea for Minneapolis' skyways come from?

Love them or hate them, the skyways have permanently changed the way pedestrians get around downtown Minneapolis. Host Eric Roper talks with reporter Emma Dill about how the idea of the elevated walkway system originated. Read the story: http://strib.mn/31KwS5d.


Episode 4: Why are Honeycrisp apples still so expensive?

Why are Honeycrisp apples still so expensive?

The honeycrisp apple, one of the University of Minnesota's most profitable inventions, continues to be a best-seller despite its top-priced status. Host Eric Roper talks with retail reporter John Ewoldt about the thin-skinned, sweet-tart treat. Read the story: www.strib.mn/2Zd47LX. "20 things you didn't know about Minnesota's famous Honeycrisp apples," www.strib.mn/2vTMsuP.


Episode 3: Why does the Stone Arch Bridge cross the river at such an odd angle?

Why does the Stone Arch Bridge cross the river at such an odd angle?

Older than most historic buildings still standing in the Twin Cities, the 136-year-old bridge has long been Minneapolis' de facto welcome mat. But why was it built the way it was? Host Eric Roper talks with Dave Wiggins about why the bridge crosses the Mississippi River at an odd angle. Read the story: www.strib.mn/2JAnqJN. Read about "Hill's Follly," www.gngoat.org/stone_arch_bridge.htm


Episode 2: How did the Twin Cities become a hub for Somali immigrants?

How did the Twin Cities become a hub for Somali immigrants?

Minnesota has 52,333 people who report Somali ancestry — the largest concentration of Somalis in America. This week, we're answering a question from Erik Borg, who wondered about the roots of the Somali influx. Host Eric Roper talks with race and immigration reporter Maya Rao about how it unfolded. Read the story: www.strib.mn/30ztTvA. Listen to Abdisalam Adam's oral history: education.mnhs.org/immigration/narrators/somali/abdisalam-adam.


Episode 1: Where does 'Minnesota Nice' come from, and what does it even mean?

Where does 'Minnesota Nice' come from, and what does it even mean?

Tracing the roots of "Minnesota Nice" is difficult, partly because people don't agree on what the term means. This week, we're answering a question from Sara Skinner, who has tried to explain it to immigrants at the "Life in Minnesota" class she teaches. Host Eric Roper talks with Rachel Hutton about the double-edged meaning of Minnesota Nice. Read the story: www.strib.mn/2QL9Bgp. How to speak like a true Minnesotan: www.strib.mn/2QAcpfE.