Why do you love Northfield? Why should people move here?

My wife Robbie and I moved to Northfield in 1974, just after we got married. We raised all four of our kids here. We’re new empty-nesters but we plan to live here till we die, hopefully not real soon.

With all the recent controversies, going back to July last year, the town has gotten a considerable amount of negative publicity. Some people worry that this might be deterring people and businesses from relocating here.  The controversies aren’t likely to go away soon, either.

So I think it’s time to put on our local booster hats and let the world know why we like it here. It might even do ourselves some good.

If you need some ideas, take a look at the 80 photo albums that show slices of life here.

nfld album1 nfld album2


  1. Instead of submitting a laundry list in one comment, submit a sentence or two that describes just one thing.  And then, if you have another item to submit, add it later. Another? Add it later.  I bet I can think of a couple dozen things that I’d like to add eventually.
  2. You can expand on what others post but don’t take issue with what others post. This is an all-positive, booster-rich thread.
  3. All other Locally Grown discussion guidelines apply.

Sooooooo, what do you love about Northfield? Why people should move here?


  1. Felicity Enders said:

    My favorite thing about the town is the people, as well. I’ve lived in other places where people were totally apathetic about the town/city. I know we’ve had lots of controversy recently, but it’s a reflection of a major strength.

    January 10, 2008
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    I love that my kids can walk or bike to the Cocoa Bean and buy Tootsie Rolls for a penny each. Or maybe it’s $.02 now. But still…. how Norman Rockwell is that?

    January 10, 2008
  3. Rob Hardy said:

    I love Northfield because Dave (comment #1) lives around the corner; because I remember Tracy’s (#3) daughter from when I substituted for Mrs. Stark at Sibley Elementary; because Griff (#4) always looks up from his laptop to smile at me when I come into Goodbye Blue Monday; and because there are still people like Felicity (#2) for me to meet.

    January 10, 2008
  4. Ross Currier said:

    I like it for the creative types who come up with ideas such as “all-positive, booster-rich thread”s.

    January 10, 2008
  5. William Siemers said:

    I like that I can listen to great speakers and great music (and maybe go to a game or two) at TWO great liberal arts colleges.

    January 10, 2008
  6. Patrick Enders said:

    Why do I love Northfield, and why did we move here last summer? Really, it all starts with the colleges.

    Seventeen years ago, I visited a friend of mine at St. Olaf, and spent the afternoon sitting on the hillside, basking in the springtime sun and watching the clouds roll past.

    A little over a year ago, Felicity and I were faced with a difficult conundrum: she loved her job, but for reasons that are not worth discussing here, we did not want to raise a family in Rochester. When I saw that there was an opening that might available for me in Northfield, I thought back to that fine spring day long ago. I also realized that there was a commuter bus from Cannon Falls to Rochester, and a light switched on in my brain. I smiled and told Felicity, “I know where we need to live, and I really need to take you to see a town called Northfield this weekend.”

    (Actually, the reasons for not settling in Rochester are quite simple and relevant: Rochester lacks many of the qualities that I am about to praise about Northfield. Most particularly, Rochester lacks any real college community, and therefore lacks the spirit and the amenities that come from the presence of college students.)

    On the conceptual side, I believe that being in the presence of thoughtful young adults is essential to remaining young and excited about life. Students ask questions, and are willing to question whether things should be the way that they are. Whether I agree with them or not, their natural inquisitiveness forces me to constantly consider my long-held assumptions about life, and that keeps my tired, slowly aging brain from seizing up from disuse.

    Also, I believe that the presence of students constantly challenges us to strive to be our absolute best, and to be positive role models of how we believe responsible adults should act. I am quite proud that Northfield has a vibrant civic life. People certainly disagree (and sometimes disagree vociferously) about how the town should be managed, but that is far superior to the alternative, which is a town where discussion of civic matters does not take place, and decisions are made by a few interested parties, without consideration by the general public.

    On a more concrete note, the presence of St. Olaf and Carleton’s students is what supports the vibrant Northfield downtown that we all love, and which is such a rarity in most modern cities. Without the presence of the colleges and their students, I cannot believe that 12,000 townies could support four full blocks of independent restaurants, coffee shops, and fine retail establishments. And thank God (and Norman) for excellent Indian food served in a nineteenth-century hotel.

    Because of the colleges, the world comes to our door in Northfield. Other persons have already extolled the vibrant array of authors and artists who visit our colleges. St. Olaf and Carleton also makes more lasting contributions to our city life, bringing students and professors from far away places to join our community, making it all the more vibrant.

    I was born in Madison, WI, and for many years I liked to say that I hoped that I eventually would die there. I am a fiercely proud Wisconsinite, and I don’t know that I will ever be able to consider myself a Minnesotan. However, after only eight months in town, I already consider Northfield my home, and I believe that this is the place where Felicity and I will remain for the rest of our days. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    January 10, 2008
  7. Jerold Weber said:

    I like the smell of cocoa from Malt-o-Meal

    January 10, 2008
  8. Anne Bretts said:

    I love watching the sunrise from the living room of our townhouse.
    I love sipping iced tea in the heat of the afternoon sun on our front porch.
    I love the ponds and trails beyond our back yard, where the kids on the next street ride bikes and our neighbors walk and play with their dogs.
    I love the ponds where kids skate with their folks and the geese take a break in their travels.
    I love the fact that our neighborhood has so many choices that young families and retirees all can share this.
    I love that our street has people from all over the country and folks who have lived in town all their lives.
    I love not having to shovel the snow or mow the grass, so I have time to sit and enjoy the things listed above.
    I love that you can move here and get involved and make a difference.
    I love the folks at City Hall, elected and employed, who have had the patience of Job and amazing kindness to everyone throughout a difficult time.
    (Sorry, I was just going to do the sunrise, but the rest just jumped up from my keyboard and demanded to be included.)

    January 10, 2008
  9. Patrick Enders said:

    Oh, and oops…
    I missed the “guidelines” hidden below the 80 photo albums at the top of the page – specifically, the bit about posting “a sentence or two that describes just one thing.” My bad.

    Well, anyway, I hope no one minds too much – but it is Northfield as a coherent whole that I love, not just its component parts.

    January 10, 2008
  10. What I love about Northfield — and the reason I came back here after I retired in July — is that the threads of community are tightly woven. My son and his spouse bought a house in Northfield after I moved here — Griff and Robbie Wigley’s house, to be precise — and then I found out that one of the staff members at Millstream Commons, where I live, used to celebrate the holidays there when her aunt and uncle owned it. I went to vote Tuesday and one of the judges remembered me from when I used to pick up and deliver food for the co-op, nearly 35 years ago. My (new) dentist still has records of fillings done in 1976 and can tell me how he knows who did them.

    Newcomers are welcome too, but as we used to sing in Girl Scout camp, “make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.”

    January 10, 2008
  11. Robbie Wigley said:

    I love it that my 4 children have grown up in Northfield. That the many activities they were involved in, plays, choir, fund raising, trips, community service, mentoring… the list goes on…. involved adults who care and still ask about them. I love that I was able to send them off to the dentist and know that they would be well cared for and feel just a little more grown up. Lynn, Kathy and Joan at the Library… knew what they liked to read and helped them in their choices with informed suggestions. I really like the fact that they all still love to visit and look forward to the unplanned gatherings of returning students at the Reub and the bowling alley.

    I think it is great that many of our youth have chosen to stay or have returned and are opening businesses, actively participating in the community.

    January 10, 2008
  12. Gilly Wigley said:

    I love all the great local artists and bands that have come out of Northfield:

    – Gospel Gossip http://www.gospelgossipband.com
    – Sonicate http://www.sonicate.net
    – The Plagiarist http://www.theplagiarists.com
    – Mr. Sticky http://www.mrsticky.net
    – Siobhan Meehl http://www.freewebs.com/siobhanmeehl
    – Dylan McKinstry
    – Meredith Fierke http://www.myspace.com/meredithfierke
    – Trim for the Alley http://www.myspace.com/elephantfetus
    – K
    – Dekay
    – The Casettes
    – Autophobia http://www.autophobiamusic.com/home2.html

    and many more!

    January 10, 2008
  13. Sarah Hale said:

    I love that I can walk from my house to Just Food Coop to buy my food, to the post office, to the bank, to the library! Last month my new walking adventure was a cut-your-own Christmas tree lot just a few blocks away!

    January 10, 2008
  14. Rob Hardy said:

    After a year of living in England, I love Northfield because there aren’t gangs of chain-smoking twelve-year olds in the park, and gangs of older teenagers trying to tip over buses. Northfield really is a great place to raise children. Spend a year in most other places, and you’ll really appreciate Northfield for its good schools, its general atmosphere of safety, the talent and intelligence of its youth, and the respect with which most young people in Northfield treat each other and their elders.

    January 10, 2008
  15. Curt Benson said:

    Like Rob, I like the schools. There are a lot of really talented teachers in our system. At the end of last year, we got a letter asking us to attend the end of the year awards ceremony because my eighth grader was getting the “Presidential Award”–signifying that she is as smart as the President (not as big of an honor as it used to be.)

    IIRC, this award was given to those who score in the top 15% on a standardized nationwide test–and who have a GPA of 3.5. Anyway, some 30-35% of Northfield’s kids got the award. Something like 100-120 of the 300 kids qualified. Like in Lake Woebegon, all of our children are above average.

    January 10, 2008
  16. I love Northfield because it reminds me of my Hyde Park neighborhood home in Chicago home, with it’s univerisities, parks, theatre, music and eateries. and and draw of people from all over the world. The only differences are in the amount of water, the Cannon River vs Lake Michigan, and the amount of people, the U of Chicago alone employs more people than Northfield’s population by approx. 3,000 heads. Oh yes, the Museum of Science and Industry alone would eat up all of downtown Northfield ever so easily.


    January 10, 2008
  17. Alan Rubenstein said:

    My wife and I moved here in October 2007 from Washington D.C. I “tele-work” so we could have moved anywhere. Northfield seemed like the perfect balance between my at-home-ness in cities with liberal arts schools nearby and Heidi’s affinity for small Midwestern towns like the ones where she grew up. She knew she would love nearly everything about this place. I was a little worried. But 3+ months in, I am happy as can be here.

    The question, I guess, was “why?” We could list a number of things (and maybe we will) but at this point, with a baby about to be born at Northfield hospital, I guess I would just say that this place feels bursting with potential for our happy growth as a family.

    January 10, 2008
  18. Felicity Enders said:

    Used bookstores! When Patrick and I visited, he could barely get me out of the book nook in the back of Monkey See, Monkey Read. While that’s still my favorite, I love having a CHOICE of used bookstores. For those who love old books, this is a huge plus. And for those who like new books, there are plenty of those around as well.

    January 10, 2008
  19. Bruce Morlan said:

    I came here for the schools (HS and colleges both). But I mostly love that Northfield loves and respects the country sensibilities of its neighbors to the south. And I love being able to go from “college-downtown” to Big Woods in under 15 minutes.

    January 10, 2008
  20. John George said:

    Karen and I moved here because of our church involvement and her position at Three Links Care Center. Besides, it cut my commute to the cities from 45 miles one-way from Owatonna to 21 miles one-way from here. Gotta love the gas savings and less polution. (Sorry, you cyclists. I can’t handle a 21 mile bicycle trip!) We feel like we came into our Promised Land.

    January 10, 2008
  21. Griff Wigley said:

    People have mentioned schools but I’d like to add that we have not only great quality schools here but real choices, too. See the Chamber’s education page for a listing.

    January 10, 2008
  22. Felicity Enders said:

    Another thing I love is the arb. It’s amazing to be able to walk from downtown right into a trail system big enough to get lost in. I usually get lost deliberately, in order to see new spots. I particularly enjoy wild-ish land with good trails. Many thanks to those who have helped Carleton expand this resource over the years. And many, many thanks to Carleton for maintaining it!

    January 11, 2008
  23. Ol’ man river, the Cannon, just keeps rolling along–mistaken for the Mississippi River (really!) by one blogger from Pennsylvania who wrote, after a wonderfully enriching visit to Northfield, that she had stopped by Froggy Bottoms River Pub “with a scenic deck overlooking the Mississippi River to hoist a few in a true spirit of conviviality.”
    I love the river view from my condo and when I see the ducks I am reminded that my father, who died in 2002, used to walk from Nevada Street to feed the ducks and I am told they would start to gather when they saw the man in the Russian-style hat approaching the bridge. After graduation from St. Olaf in 1968 and graduate work at Iowa State, I left for New York, but I returned to live here in 2004. So I never saw my father feed the ducks. But I think of him often when I see (and hear) the ducks. I did see my father working for the senior citizens selling popcorn in Bridge Square when I would visit Northfield in the summer. So when I patronize the popcorn wagon, it always brings back memories of my father.

    January 11, 2008
  24. Gilly Wigley said:

    I love how on your birthday you can recieve a free birthday hogie and drink from Hogan Brothers. I will be devouring one of them myself in nine days!

    January 11, 2008
  25. Ray Coudret said:

    Griff, Ross, and Tracy you have sucked me in once again.

    This looks like the previously shunned “laundry list” at first glance, but it can all be filed under “I like the schools in Northfield”. I’ll come back to it later when I have more time.

    I like that as a Middle School teacher, I taught kids in 8th grade who had attended Prairie Creek, and others who came to me for half the day and went to St. Dominic’s (sp?) for the other half of the day.

    I like that I can see the Rock and Roll Revival (awesome) put on by the same high school that sends sports teams to the state tournament; the same school that had not one but TWO students who were accepted into the Air Force Academy last year; the same school that has far more than their share of National Merit Scholars, Semi-Finalists, and commended scholars. That would be the same school that produced the man who keeps my car on the road and another who installed my water-softener AND yet another who sold, installed and maintains my furnace and AC.

    In the last few years the High School has honored alum as varied as Newspaper Columnists, Opera Singers, Musicians, Physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project and Submarine Captains. That’s what I call education!

    I like the fact that a lot of kids in Northfield choose to work with Bob G-B and the rest of the staff over at ART-Tech.

    I like to turn on the radio on a Saturday and hear a High School student talking about her art show at the local gallery, an opportunity afforded to her due to the work of local kids through The Key.

    I like that students from our local high schools worry that they should get away and shouldn’t go to College “in town”, only to realize that if they do go to college here, they not only get an unbelievable education, but they get to see the world anyway!

    Yeah, I am biased but I would say I can make a good case for the quality of ALL schools in this town.

    January 11, 2008
  26. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    The small town atmosphere is what drew me and a return to farm life south of Dundas at the David Kamis farm in Little Prairie. It is my hope that quality of life in farm country will survive, despite explosive development, be it ethanol plants or mega-feedlots.

    January 11, 2008
  27. Bob Gilbertson said:

    I have loved Northfield since coming here in 1984 to attend Carleton. I’ve been fortunate to be able to sort of move back here with a lake place nearby that my family and I come to almost every weekend. Northfield has changed a lot, and so has my relationship with the town. It’s funny to think of myself as a “townie,” but when I take my kids sledding on Evans Hill, I realize that that’s what I am. I like being a townie.

    The one thing that has stayed constant for me is the Pitsavas family and Basil’s Pizza. Bill, Theologia, Dimitri, John (rest in peace), and Aleka have been good to me since the first evening I walked in their restaurant, which over time became a home away from home for me. Their whole family is very special and I feel lucky to be their friend.

    January 11, 2008
  28. Rollie Jacobsen said:

    When I first saw Griff’s heading “Why do you Love Northfield?” I thought of my mentor and his axiom “accent the positive” – I felt compelled to contribute…

    The people of the Northfield Area have been good to the Jacobsen Family. Over the years the mix of rural, city, students, and faculty has changed but the result has been the same – a wonderful gumbo.

    Back in 1947 when Dad’s (Bob Jacobsen) folks Ralph & Aura were looking for a store to buy and run – he counseled them against Northfield – he felt that Cannon Falls or Farmington would be better business communities. He liked to tease that he didn’t realize what a “good mistake” Grandpa Ralph had made until we got here in the late ‘60’s… he had thought you could move into any small town and find smiles and friendship – but he didn’t realize what a positive impact the Colleges made to our “new hometown”.

    In 1968, after Grandpa’s death – the Bob Jacobsen family made the move to Northfield… I close my eyes and look at the Division Street of that time and see:

    The Jesse James Cafe – (a little squeeze-in eatery located in the Scriver Building) that offered beef sandwiches that were out of this world and would stay open into the afternoon until all the pie and cake had been sold. Run by the Carlson sisters it was a gathering spot for locals to have a cup of coffee and catch up on the latest community news.

    Keith Covey would be coming out of the 2nd floor Chamber of Commerce office – to work the downtown area.

    The Grand Theater offered movies twice a night, a special art movie in conjunction with the two colleges once a month. During December the merchants would provide free movies on the week-end for kids to attend while their folks shopped downtown store. Memory tells that it was once written up in Ripley’s Believe It or Not – as having the 2nd best acoustics west of the Mississippi River – runner up to the Mormon Tabernacle.

    The First National Bank’s Ted Scott dressed up on Northfield’s Crazy Day going down Division Street – before the bank was open helping merchants out with change that they might be running low on in the day’s early hours.

    Thomas Market – located at 5th & Division Streets – a true corner grocery store that made shopping easy, quick and personalized.

    Tiny Johnson (of Tiny’s) dressed in dark glasses, holding a white cane and tin cup – going up and down the street seeking donations for the 4th of July fireworks show from local merchants.

    2 hardware stores… across the street from each other – McDunn’s on the west side of Division and the Appledoorn’s Coast to Coast on the eastside of the street – next door to Jacobsen’s Family Store

    There were other pairs of stores as well:

    Furniture Stores – Bierman’s and Anderson’s.

    Bakeries – Quality and College City – they used to take turns during the summer scheduling vacations so that Northfield’s sweet tooth wouldn’t have to go without a treat.

    Then over the years in the street – I can still see bed races, long john wars and of course Winter Walks.

    Early on (those last 1960’s) the students looked upon their time in Northfield as kind of a purgatory… at the end of term they couldn’t get down to the Stuart Hotel fast enough with a bus ticket in hand to somewhere – most anywhere else…

    Somewhere along the line, that attitude changed… the small town became more appealing – there was life outside the confines of the college campus. Bob & I believed that if as a town we could have offered more jobs – that a good chunk of the student population would have found the excuse to stay here in their newly adopted “hometown”.

    Today some of the stalwarts remain – Bierman’s, Quality Bakery, Willie’s Shoe Service and others have come.

    Hogan Brothers is as welcoming a sandwich shop as any. Greg and Meg offer ice cream that is good incentive to kids to be members of the clean plate club so that they can have dessert.

    The coffee shops are numerous. Blue Monday and the Spaulding’s James Gang Hideaway provide places to discuss local politics.

    Just Food Co-op provides healthy food, in a location that doesn’t tire you out walking through the store. Staffed with an amazing array of folks – the conversation is generally as fresh as the produce that is for sale.

    Our Carnegie Library was remodeled with integrity and is currently bursting at the seams. It will be a challenge for Northfield to figure out again how to make it all work. Hopefully the library will be able to remain a strong component of our downtown.

    Thoughts of library – bring to mind bookstores – how fortunate we are to have Monkey See Monkey Read and River City Books providing an important service in keeping the phrase “readers are leaders” alive.

    Northfield helped shape the Jacobsen Family. 4 generations worked in Jacobsen’s Family Store. The wood floors and tin ceilings, along with its atmosphere helped to keep us well grounded.

    Change is good.

    Good stewards (Present Perfect, The Hideaway, Swag) now carry on where Jacobsen’s Family Store once was. Northfield is in good hands. People care deeply about our community, they want to make it better than when they came… the evolution is exciting to see.

    As Shar & I move onto the next chapter in our lives, we leave the richer for all that you have done for us. Northfield you’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

    January 12, 2008
  29. Thanks Rollie – when I think of what I love about Northfield, I think of my mentor too! When I lived in Kenyon after having to quickly escape East Phillips, I’d walk down Division and say, “I’d really like to live here.” Not long thereafter, thanks to Bob, I became a “Pueblo canyon dweller” downtown. It was quite a concept to be able to walk wherever to whatever and safely at all hours… the grocery store, the post office, downstairs for a “good, good, good, good morning” check-in, across the parking lot to work (the parking lot that hosts some of the world’s best dumpster-diving!), the library, Carleton, and quality food all over, and the smell of M-o-M (though the dust was too thick). Walking around downtown is what gave me a sense of community in Northfield.

    January 12, 2008
  30. Gilly said:

    I love driving out to the Carlton windmill late in the summer/fall evenings, just to catch fireflies and to lay on the ground gazing at the turbine’s eerieness, while contemplating all the ways that a propeller could fall off and bludger us to bits.

    January 12, 2008
  31. Alex Beeby said:

    When deciding move our family here from the Eagan/Apple Valley/Burnsville area, we chose Northfield because of the community. When I say community, I mean the sense of value the people who live here bring to the city. This happens when you know the people you see on the street and in the local establishments; they know you; and you can always find something to talk about. We value each other’s presence — sometimes more consciously than others.

    We sometimes bemoan when high-school or college students move away from Northfield. But perhaps, the community of Northfield is best appreciated having lived without it for a time. After all, many who move away find their way back eventually.

    January 12, 2008
  32. Gilly said:

    I like the secret path over on maple street that takes you over by Ross’s house. Oops….so much for it and Ross’s place being a secret…

    January 12, 2008
  33. Gilly Wigley said:

    To note on what Alex #34 just said, there is a facebook group called “I appreciated Northfield even before I left for college.” Granted there’s only 9 group members, and the group’s picture is of downtown Faribault…

    January 13, 2008
  34. Allow me to start out thanking the Jacobsen’s. I was only there one time because they shut down just as we were first looking around town, but I remember the friendly way Bob (?) spoke to me and the great merchandise they offered for sale.

    I also love the Ames Mill waterfall. Is there another name for the falls, I wonder. If not, nameing it would make a good contest sometime.

    January 13, 2008
  35. In 2003 I moved to Northfield from Rochester, MN. I was drawn to how Griff had really put Northfield on the internet blogging map with Northfield.org, and how he really portrayed the heart of the town in those posts.

    The icing on the cake for me was all of the activity that was happening surrounding peace, social justice, and sustainable living. Northfield had a very active People for Peace and Goodwill group, a Buddhist Meditation Center, The Village School (I miss that school so much..), a food co-op was forming, bicyclists took away your compost for you, and Carleton was just putting up its wind turbine. Wow! People really cared about eachother, the world, and really were striving to create a better world for all of us. Not just visioning and hoping, but building it!

    I was lured away for a time, lived in Minneapolis, and rented out my little 900 sq. foot condo for a year. After dealing with car alarms, sirens, and barely being able to cross the street in my Seward neighborhood, I longed to come back. I never really “left” Northfield emotionally anyway. I stayed on the board of The Center for Sustainable Living, came to hang out at Goodbye Blue Monday on lazy Saturday afternoons from time to time, and began volunteering 2 days a week at The Village School when I was receiving unemployment.

    After the close of the Village School, I had a hand in creating Starwalkers, an intentional learning community, with two of the former Village School teachers. In many ways, the closing of the school set us free to do exactly what we wanted to do, without the pressures of state restrictions.

    This is what I love about Northfield – it transforms itself, and continues to grow. Even despite controversies, the town has people who are passionate, who care, and who are always “into something” to mix things up, try out a new idea, or organize for a cause they believe in. True democracy is really messy at times. Conflict is guaranteed.

    But we journey on, and we transform.

    January 13, 2008
  36. Thanks, Griff, for posting Maggie Lee’s photo album. I moved to Northfield shortly after that so missed that gathering. The historical society owes so much to her, not only as a founder of the society but for all the columns she has written to preserve and honor the past. And thanks to Wayne Eddy for his radio interviews which are also part of the NHS archives.

    January 13, 2008
  37. Felicity Enders said:

    Regarding the town itself, having a downtown based primarily in historic buildings is fantastic. It gives a feeling of roots and depth that provides focus to the community. The buildings are beautiful, the shops are uniformly independent, and having them in a unified space means there’s a lot of foot traffic downtown. I consider a vital downtown the heart of a community, and Northfield’s certainly got heart.

    And as a side note, I laugh every time I see a bicycle propped up on a tree downtown with no lock in sight.

    January 15, 2008
  38. John George said:

    Felicity- Wonder how many of those bikes get “recycled?” Probably, not many. My son married a girl who grew up in Brooklyn Park. She just could not believe he would walk off and leave his car unlocked, and sometimes with the keys in it. Ah, for innocence again!

    January 15, 2008
  39. Susan Ecklund said:

    Felicity and John (posts 41 and 42)

    I think it is important to not idealize Northfield or any other place that one lives. When I moved here about twenty years ago, I was coming from Manhattan. I arrived in May and was astounded that downtown stores left plants, pots, and other gardening supplies outside overnight. Regarding bikes, though, I know of many that have been stolen (especially from young people), even ones that were just left outside of a store for a few minutes. And at peak times in the summer, I think there are reports of stolen bikes in the Northfield News police log at least several days per week. Most likely, there is not much of a market for stolen marigolds or impatiens, but bikes (or ipods or laptops) are another story.

    The comments about leaving bikes unlocked or cars with keys in them remind me of stories I see over and over again in the newspaper after some horrendous crime has happened in a small town. Someone often seems to comment that now people will have to start locking their doors, and I think, why don’t you do that already? You are not in magically protected just because you are not in “The Cities.” It seems important for Northfielders to keep this in mind, too. (We all recall the revelations about heroin a few months ago; they were no surprise to me, but many of the adults I talked to could hardly believe they were true.)

    I know that this thread has to do with loving Northfield, and I definitely at least like it. I just think we need to be have a realistic, balanced view about this place and not let a few impressions take on too much meaning.

    January 16, 2008
  40. Rob Hardy said:

    One of our bikes was stolen several years ago. We filed a police report, but heard nothing. Months later, Mike, from Mike’s Bikes, called us to say that he had been at the police department looking over unclaimed bikes and had recognized our bike. Thanks to his tip, we were able to go down to the police department and reclaim our bike. We had given them a registration number, so I don’t know why the police never told us they had our bike, but I guess Northfield is the kind of place where friendly citizens pick up the slack. So, there’s another thing I love about Northfield.

    January 16, 2008
  41. barry carlson said:

    Friday night football under the lights, Thursday night soccer (boys and girls), Saturday afternoon football and soccer at the colleges…all outside, with fans, families and kids running everywhere!

    January 16, 2008
  42. barry carlson said:

    All the runners (and non-runners), cyclists, mothers and dads who seem to find their way to Blue Monday early Saturday mornings for a cup of coffee and great community conversation…and oh, I forgot Griff too, who is busy typing away in the corner each Saturday!

    January 16, 2008
  43. Heidi Rubenstein said:

    I love Northfield because someone anonymously shoveled our sidewalks (and driveway!) while we were out of town over Christmas. Thank You!

    We just moved here in October and are expecting our first baby to be born any day now. I couldn’t imagine having a kid in Washington, DC where people mostly seem to be in each other’s way all the time, so I convinced my husband that this is the place we needed to live. My interest in Northfield was an internet romance, of sorts, since I fell in love with the place just by the descriptions and pictures I found on the web. Once we got here, we knew it was the right place. I about fell over the first time Alan declared that he was loving small town life and telling our friends all over the country how great it is to be able to walk downtown and get almost everything we need. He always thought that he would need to live in a city. My daily walks in the Arboretum watching the colors change were a piece of heaven.

    January 16, 2008
  44. Awesome comments, Heidi.

    I have loved Northfield since my first days moping around downtown Northfield and writing bad poetry by the waterfall as a Carleton froshkin.

    Now, I mope around downtown Northfield and write bad plays by the waterfall.

    So much has changed.

    Anyway, Heidi, welcome to town! Northfield is still a great place; recent controversies do nothing to change that.

    January 17, 2008
  45. We need a new name fo rthe waterfall, how about Brendon’s Playwriting Falls?
    and we need a tour guide.

    January 17, 2008
  46. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m resisting commenting on all the cool things people have contributed, as I think this thread is best without my commentary. But I’m pleased with how it’s going thus far.

    I often tell people that one of the neat things about Northfield is its social diversity. Most small towns with a college or university are dominated by its presence. They become a 99% latte town as described by David Brooks in Bobos in Paradise. Northfield is 50% a latte town. Half the population aren’t bobos, and I like that. Lots of conservatives and libertarians. Lots of blue collar, working class people. Lots of religious folks. Lots of people who volunteer in ways that bobos don’t.

    January 18, 2008
  47. Patrick Enders said:

    Griff, I thought we were being “all-positive, booster-rich.” Admittedly, I don’t spend that much time in the local latte shop. However, given the definition you’ve linked to, I’d have to assert that 95% or more of the people that I’ve met in town are not bobos.

    January 18, 2008
  48. We like the harpist at King’s Room at St. Olaf Buntrock Commons.
    We think we are the only ones who actually sit silently and listen
    to her exsquisite playing. She is young, but sometimes she
    hits it really right on and my spirit is happy all day long.

    We give her a substantial cash tip whenever we go there and
    encourage others to do the same.

    January 18, 2008
  49. Felicity Enders said:

    Heidi, welcome to town! Maybe we should get together for coffee – Patrick and I are newbies as well. We’re in the phone book.

    And Patrick, are you trying to get me riled up with your 95% comment?? There are some things you just shouldn’t say to a statistician…

    January 18, 2008
  50. William Siemers said:

    I believe that Fermentations might very well be the best restaurant between Burnsville and Des Moines…on the I35 corridor…and I really like that about (greater) Northfield.
    I had a really good meal there last night…every dish was excellent and the wine was a good value. That place needs support.

    January 18, 2008
  51. I love that we just had a really nice lunch at BOB’s that is my nickname
    for Beef O’Brady’s on 3 and heritage drive. I had the fish basket and dh
    had the ribs. Both very good, reasonably priced and good service.
    I had lemonade and dh had tea, both good. There are enough tvs to
    choke a goat, but that’s alright with me, I can ignore as many as they
    can load up on the walls. It’s a gift I have. 🙂


    January 25, 2008
  52. Jessica Paxton said:

    I love that people love talking about how much they love Northfield.

    I also love Brendon’s gravatar.

    January 25, 2008
  53. I love Jessica loving my lovely gravatar. She’s a beaut, huh? Or is that “butte”?

    Her name is Bella. Wish I could find the one where she’s in the red, sequined mini-skirt…

    January 25, 2008
  54. Jessica Paxton said:

    I especially love the loverly halo of delicate pink flowers. Just like you, Brendon, uh, I mean Bella. So very precious.

    January 25, 2008
  55. Holly Cairns said:

    Hey, congratulations, Heidi! 🙂

    We’ve lived here since 1984. I moved here as a junior in high school, and then went to Olaf, where I met my husband Rodd, who is the sexiest, ever.

    I like Northfield’s bridge square, book clubs, friendly people, library, and Key.

    Not that I go to the Key, but I like that it’s there. Named after a kid named Key, I think I remember.

    I like the blogs, too. Although I am constantly feeling inferior to all of the Northfield smarties we have around here.

    January 26, 2008
  56. Griff Wigley said:

    I think it’s cool that Northfield is relatively gay/lesbian friendly. See this blog post and discussion from a year ago here on Locally Grown.

    January 28, 2008
  57. Holly Cairns said:

    That’s cool, isn’t it (Northfield is gay and lesbian friendly re: Griff’s reference to an old thread).

    And, I wonder if Heidi and Alan (congrats, too, Alan) had their baby, yet?

    January 28, 2008
  58. Alan Rubenstein said:

    Thanks, Holly and Felicity and Brendon and everyone! Adelaide Sadie Rubenstein made it into the outside air this last Saturday. She weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz. We are calling her “Addie.”

    We can say now that one thing we definitely love about Northfield is the incredible birth center there at the hospital. As we walked out to our car I asked Heidi to rate on a scale of 1-10 the place and the care she received there. She said ’10’ without hesitation. I asked Addie too and she said 9.5. Tough crowd. :->

    January 30, 2008
  59. Holly Cairns said:

    Welcome Addie– sounds like she’s perfect 🙂

    January 30, 2008
  60. Griff Wigley said:

    Another thing to love about Northfield: birth announcements via blog comment.

    January 30, 2008
  61. Awesome news, Alan! Congratulations to you and Heidi. Welcome to Northfield, Adelaide Sadie Rubenstein. Here’s to hoping that you get cast in the 2041 run of “Guys and Dolls” at the Arts Guild. You’re a natural with that first name.

    January 31, 2008
  62. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey, Allan, I see your column in today’s Nfld News. Nice!

    But, four months in, we are very happy here. Northfielders are great and more than just “nice folks.” They also get ticked off – in print, sometimes. We were Northfield News subscribers before we left D.C. It sat on our living room floor next to the Washington Post, telling its tales of wayward mayors, loose-lipped, leave-taking police chiefs and lots of letter writers worried about Northfield staying Northfield.

    February 2, 2008
  63. Janine Stiles said:

    We love many of the things already listed here. My partner and I are not Northfielders yet…well my partner I guess could be considered one as she grew up there. Like the Rubensteins, we have been subscribing to the Northfield News in anticipation of our future move there and enjoying it. We have not been detered by the negative press. The Heroin stories did give us pause as we have a 3 year old who will hopefully be a teenager living in Northfield someday. All the rest we find interesting and just means that the community is alive and kickin’!

    One thing not mentioned by others that we love is that Just Foods coop is, as far as we can tell so far, just as good as our beloved Linden Hills coop. It definately has far more locally grown produce available.

    So if anyone knows of someone looking for a cute cape cod in a great neighborhood in SW Mpls we would be happy to join you all.

    February 2, 2008
  64. Griff Wigley said:

    Welcome, Janine, and thanks for the comment. Good to know you’re lurking here in anticipation of moving to Northfield. The 14+ years of Northfield’s virtual communities have helped entice many people to move here.

    Let us know the next time you and your partner visit and maybe we can meet for coffee and/or a beer.

    February 3, 2008
  65. Griff Wigley said:

    I like Northfield’s proximity to the Twin Cities. We’re 30 minutes from the airport and 45 minutes from both downtowns (assuming no traffic). In most cases, moving to/living in a small town requires giving up frequent/inexpensive (relatively) access to the entertainment, cultural, shopping, and employment offerings of a big metro area. Not so here.

    February 3, 2008
  66. Having been out geocaching locally the past two weekends (www.geocaching.com), we LOVE the Carleton Arboretum, St. Olaf’s natural lands, and the Cannon River Wilderness Park. Being out experiencing nature rocks!!!

    February 3, 2008
  67. Griff Wigley said:

    I hate Northfield. Last weekend I attended the NAG annual auction for the arts, the Historical Society’s annual meeting and ball, the St. Patrick’s Day parage parade and party… and I was bummed because so much else was happening in town that I missed. All this arts and culture is killing me.

    March 19, 2008
  68. Rob Hardy said:

    “Parage”? Is that a parade inside a garage?

    March 19, 2008
  69. Griff Wigley said:

    And there’s another reason to hate Northfield. Soooooo many grammar and spelling police and their English major kin lurking about.

    March 19, 2008
  70. Ruth Sylte said:

    Off topic! Time to activate the Fairness Doctrine. Please take comments #72-#74 to Griff’s newest blog entry: “Why do you hate Northfield? Why should people not move here?”


    March 19, 2008
  71. I love living in Northfield cuz Griff takes so many pictures of the places where I cannot go. Also, he and Robbie live across the street from us now and
    I can turn the radio up and keep them awake all night long. just kidding.

    I love Northfield beacus I am gtting great care from some really lovely people over at the Northfield Clinic and Hospital. ANd at Heritage Dental Care.
    And last year when I walmost choked to death, the EMT people were great.
    There is so much emphasis on stores and shopping and poltics we al forget to acknowledge those who are really keeping the seams together around here.


    March 19, 2008

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