You Know What the Midwest is? Young and Restless

Hannah Olson | @thehannykate

It’s a simple line from Kanye West’s song Jesus Walks. The 2004 song is West’s commentary on how spirituality walks with everyone, “from saints to sinners.” While the song and it’s meaning as a whole have absolutely nothing to do with this trip so far, that single lyric does.

Raygun’s popular “Iowa! For Some Reason You Have to Come Here to Be President” print is more relevant now than ever. As the Democrats begin to declare their intentions to run in the 2020 election, we’re seeing Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro visiting different counties in the state. While the Iowa caucuses are over a year a way, it is never too early to start preparing. Winning this caucus is crucial for any candidate if they want any chance of beating President Trump, who has neither confirmed nor denied a 2020 run. As a student whose university is in the center of all of this, it’s incredible to hear national journalists confirm their love for Des Moines. Bob Costa of the Washington Post even explicitly stated his love for both Drake University, and students and local’s favorite, the Drake Diner. Just hearing a top young political correspondent acknowledge both Iowa, and more specifically Drake University, was a “HA” moment. Matt Vasilogambros, a Drake University alumnus, even said “Don’t forget about Iowa.”

I’ve grown up in the Midwest, I go to school in the Midwest, I have the Midwest ingrained in me. My grandmother’s family on my mom’s side moved straight to North Dakota when they left Germany. My grandfather couldn’t get out of rural Louisiana fast enough, and has been a resident of North Dakota for 40+ years. My parents are both long term residents of the state of Minnesota. I even considered leaving for a bit, but I couldn’t shake that feeling that big things are meant to happen in the heartland.

Big things are happening here. More millennials are moving to cities like Des Moines, Minneapolis, Overland Park, Fort Wayne, and even Cincinnati. These are just the cities who made SmartAssest’s 2018 ranking. Many smaller Midwest markets are seeing fast gentrification rates, shifting community demographics and ideals.

In his still relevant article, Do the Most Hipster Thing Possible – Move to Des Moines, Vasilogambros states,

“But ambitious minds are in the process of building a new Des Moines, a tech hub in Silicon Prairie, an artistic center in the Heartland, a destination for people who want to create something meaningful outside of the limits imposed by an oversaturated city like Chicago or New York.”

West’s simple lyric reflects this experience. Meeting some of our fellow peers, from all around the country, has been interesting. I want to challenge anyone who thinks great things don’t come from the Midwest. Great things DO come from the Midwest, and the Midwest will stay young and restless.

Hannah Olson

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