Zenith City’s Hipster King Speaks Fire from Podium of Ice!

Duluth, Minn., mayor Don Ness delivers remarks Monday from a unique lectern after being sworn in for his second term in office. Ness ran unopposed in the November 2011 election. Ness enjoys historic popularity as some credit him with leading a more youthful, economically diverse Duluth, once known mostly for decline and political discord. Several new and returning city councilors were also sworn in and gave speeches from the frozen podium.

PHOTO: via the mayor’s Facebook page


  1. Awesome podium.

    In re: Ness hipster cred, I’ve been to at least two Duluth indie rock shows where he’s also been in attendance. And I’ve probably been to about five Duluth indie rock shows, so them’s some good percentages.

  2. Excellent.

    So, my question is how do we get a Ness equivalent political leader on the Range?

  3. Travis – Yes, I have heard that from others, too. His brother has played the last couple Dylan Days. Don certainly pushes the connection of the arts community to the larger culture and economy.

    Jennifer – My snide answer is WE ARE TRYING BUT THEY ALL MOVE TO IOWA. 🙂 But my real answer is that Ness in Duluth is the tip of a larger hipster iceberg. Behind Ness is a group of youngish, somewhat hip city councilors (some, not all). There is a larger, younger political class. There is a sea of nonpolitical young people trying things in arts, business and recreation. I think the Range needs to work in reverse. Encourage more creativity, attract younger people (to stay), get Gen X and Y on the school board and city council and then find your leaders. To do it top-down means the person has to deal with existing power structures, which resist dramatic change and tend to barter power for influence.

    I’d add that Duluth is one defined unit of government and, to some degree, culture. The Range’s challenge is that there is no one defined unit of organization. The IRRRB? Tony Sertich is somewhat hip, but the IRRRB is not hip. You have a collection of fearful, parochial city councils and boards. They must be infiltrated!

  4. Aaron’s on the right track. The bottom up approach is the only way. Look at what the Tea Pary did. That tsunami didn’t start at the top. (The Occupiers are still trying to figure out what day it is so we can’t count on them.)

    So….how many of us are going to take the time/energy and run for something?!

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