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Emily Larson invokes Bob Dylan in defending Duluth after Rolling Stone article

Duluth mayor Emily Larson with Brian Oake and Jill Riley in 2017.
Duluth mayor Emily Larson with Brian Oake and Jill Riley in 2017.The Current staff
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by Simone Cazares

June 28, 2018

"Isn't your magazine named after a song by some guy? Yeah. He was born here."

That Bob Dylan reference comes from an open letter that Duluth mayor Emily Larson recently wrote to Ana Marie Cox and Rolling Stone. This week, Larson talked with The Current's Brian Oake and Jill Riley about her response to a Rolling Stone article criticizing Duluth as a dirty city, barely hanging on and filled with crime.

The article, written by political columnist Cox, came after President's Trump visit to Duluth last week. When Larson saw the piece she knew she had to respond. In her open letter, she acknowledged some of the issues Cox brought up, like opioid abuse and domestic violence, but also defended Duluth as a hard-working city that faces its issues head-on.

"I really appreciated that she picked out some things that were really brutally honest about Duluth and some of the challenges we have, so I really wanted to write a response that honored the truth of what she was sharing, but also really took pointed issues with some of the depictions of who we are," Larson told Oake and Riley.

"I didn't write it to hit a big audience. I wrote it from the gut of what seemed to make sense to me, but a lot of it was the reaction of having someone come into your city, give you a swift kick and find the nearest road out. I felt like, you know what? We are awesome, we are so proud of who we are, we have a rich history and heritage, here is a chance to tell that story."

In her letter, Larson told Cox that the article dismissing Duluth brought the community together and that the community in Duluth is proud of what it is. She invited Cox to come back to Duluth and give it another chance.

"My invitation to her is sincere. If she would like to visit us we'll leave our Enger Tower light on for her and would love to have her learn a little bit more about who we are," Larson told Oake and Riley.

"What she pointed out as industrial relics are really working industrial ports that are serving the world through a global economy. I'd love to show her that. I'd love to take her on the two hundred miles of trails we have in the city, I'd love to show her our cutting edge programs in domestic violence and opioid reduction. We've got a lot we would love to show her and I hope she chooses to come back."

Simone Cazares is a student at Saint Paul College. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota's cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.