Minneapolis Culture: a Q & A with IA Managing Director Cassandra Griep

At IA’s new Minneapolis office, we caught up with Managing Director Cassandra Griep for a glimpse of authentic Minnesota culture revealed through a few key questions:

Q: Are you a Packers or Vikings fan?

A: In Minnesota, that’s not a question. We are a Viking state.

Q:  What should we know about hotdish?                                 

A:  I prefer tater tots on top. If you haven’t had it, you’re missing out. It doesn’t quite rise to the status of a casserole, but Hotdish is a one-dish comfort food (protein, vegetables and starch) that can include anything you want to put into it. It’s part of Minnesota’s history, economical, and a favorite at home and all social events. 

Hotdish is one of any number of casseroles containing a meat, starch, and canned vegetables that is native to the American Upper Midwest. Image by Foodista

Q:  What do you know about butter sculpture?

A:  Not much, really. But the Minnesota State Fair, where it’s a big draw, is always a huge event. Some people take a week off for fair going. Last year, 36 percent of the state population attended! With the fairgrounds midway between St Paul and Minneapolis, it really brings people together, and it has something for everyone from arts, food (much of it on a stick), entertainment, new products, livestock, and more. 

Q:  Have you ever ridden an ice bike?

A:  No, I’ve never even seen one, but I grew up in Ashby, a very small community known for its hunting and fishing on beautiful lakes. And, yes, I know how to ice fish and play cards in an ice house to pass the time. I do skate, of course. The best time for skating is before it snows, so that you don’t have to deal with the snow.

Q:  How cold does it get in Ashby?

Well, it’s not cold all the time. Summers are warm, but in winter it can hit minus -30°F, so you’ll want a down jacket then. With a wind chill, rarely, it can hit -70°F.

Q: What about hockey?

Sure. It’s a big part of life here and really exciting.

Q:  Anything else we should know about Minneapolis?

I love to promote Minneapolis! I think’s it a well-kept secret on so many levels. I’ll give you a few examples.

  • The greater T​​​​win Cities area has one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 Companies in the country. There are 17 corporate behemoths—including Target, Best Buy, General Mills, and Land O’Lakes.
  • Minneapolis is a mecca for outdoors cyclers, despite the cold climate. The city ranks as the #1 bike-friendly city in the U.S., with the best bicycle infrastructure—over 226 miles of bike lanes and trails.
  • For year-round, climate-controlled shopping comfort, you can’t beat the Minneapolis Skyway System. It links together 80 city blocks (over 11 miles) of downtown with enclosed pedestrian footbridges.
  • Over 40 percent of adults in Minneapolis and St Paul devote some of their free time to volunteer work.
  • With 11 acres and 40 permanent art installations, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden ranks as the largest urban sculpture garden in the U.S.
  • Speaking of art, both serious and fun, in 2012, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, one of five modern/contemporary art museums most visited in the U.S., captivated an estimated 10,000 viewers with the world’s first Internet Cat Video Festival—drawing on cat videos from the internet.
  • Together, Minneapolis and St. Paul make up the third largest market for theater in the country. After New York City, they claim the most live theater seats per capita.

But enough said! This has been fun! I love being here and I am very excited to be part of the IA team, leading IA’s expansion and great design in Minneapolis!!

Cassandra Griep, CID, IIDA

Managing Director

Cassandra Griep, CID, IIDA, is the Managing Director of IA’s new Minneapolis office. Her extensive design experience spans multiple industries, including Corporate, Financial Services, Retail, and Health & Wellness. Native to Minnesota, where she has completed numerous projects in addition to work in other states and in Dubai and India, she is a strong supporter of Minneapolis. Griep earned a Bachelor of Science, Interior Design at The Art Institutes International Minnesota.

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