So why do the Somali men congregate on the sidewalks downtown?

Royal Ross, Faribault Main Street Program Director, sends out a short email once a week highlighting businesses, talking about what’s happening, and just being friendly.  This week’s email was so good that I (Emily Northey) wanted to share it on our blog.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Hello Everyone and welcome to the 1st of 2 Fourth of July weekends!

So why do the Somali men congregate on the sidewalks downtown?

I get asked this question all the time, so I thought I would try to answer it in group style to as many people as I can at one time.

When a Somali man comes home from work, he doesn’t sit down and read the newspaper. Nor does he jump on the internet and check out all of his “friends” on Facebook. He goes out and finds his friends and acquaintances and they talk.

They actually talk – face to face. Something most of us used to do before cell phones and computers. They talk about what is happening back in their homeland. They talk about the current events going on here in their new home – Faribault. They talk about who is visiting Faribault. They talk about who is moving to Faribault. They talk about the joys and sorrows of other friends and families. They talk about the same types of things that you are going to talk about tonight or tomorrow morning with your friends and acquaintances.

We, being the majority, just do it in different settings. Softball players will gather around the bar at Signature or Grampa Al’s after their game. Retired men are going to meet at Hy Vee or one of several other cafés around town at 9:00 a.m. Ladies may meet at Church or one of their homes. Smokers will congregate outside of the local bars. These are all very acceptable. And they are all doing the same thing – talking – communicating – laughing – telling stories – exchanging news.

Now I know the next question will be, “well why don’t they move when I’m walking down the sidewalk?” They will. Just smile, be polite, and say “excuse me” or some other polite exchange so they realize you are there. I can assure you that most are not trying to be rude or inconsiderate. They are just engaged in face to face communication. And I would like to point out that while people are milling about in downtown Faribault, the crime rate in downtown is lower than in most other parts of the City.

If you want a real challenge, try butting in on a conversation of hunters or fishermen as they exchange lies, err I mean stories, of their day of hunting or fishing. Now that’s a tough crowd.

I understand that any group congregating on the sidewalk is intimidating no matter if they are Somali, leather clad bikers, teenagers, smokers, or uniform wearing softball players.  The groups should understand that they are intimidating by their presence and everyone else needs to understand that they are more likely to be struck by lightning than they are being beat up in downtown Faribault.

As always, if you have something going on in downtown Faribault and would like me to help spread the word, just let me know.

Have a great week everyone and have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!

Royal RossFaribault Main Street Logo
Faribault Main Street Program Director
530 Wilson Avenue, Faribault, MN 55021
507-334-4381 Office

Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Comments Closed