Lalley: 'City of Hustle' illustrates my love for Sioux Falls

New anthology is a collection of more than 50 essays about the city.

City of Hustle cover.jpg

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — My city has always suffered with an identity problem.

I’ve heard it described in many ways over the years, usually variations on, “A little city that wants to be a big city.”

I’ve never found that sentiment apt in that it’s not been apparent that we want to “be” anything other than what we are, which is a steadily growing and relatively prosperous small city in the Upper Midwest.

That notion is generally forwarded by folks who either don’t live here or haven’t been here that long. I’m not blaming them for that perception and I don’t take it as an insult.

It’s just not what I see.


That’s why I love what Patrick Hicks and Jon Lauck pulled off with “City of Hustle: A Sioux Falls Anthology.”

First disclosure: I am a contributor to the book so take that into consideration.

Second disclosure: I’m not making any money on the deal so also factor that into my perspective.

Hicks is the writer in residence at Augustana University. He’s a poet and novelist in the historic fiction genre. But most of all, he’s an incredible addition to our city since moving here more than 20 years ago.

Lauck is a Madison native, author, historian, political strategist and advocate for all things Midwest. His latest book, “The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800-1900,” was just released.

Third disclosure, I have no business associating with either of these guys in terms of literary accomplishment or intellectual standing but in the weird twisting world that is a life in journalism, I consider them both friends.

Back to my problem.

The perception of my hometown, and today the greater metropolitan area, where my forebears settled, survived and in some small way flourished, has always tickled my ego.


From my ascension into actual adulthood, it has seemed I needed to defend Sioux Falls against the condescension of other, usually larger, cities. Which is pretty stupid when you think about it, but these things happen. There’s some natural inclination to protect your home from invasion, real or imagined.

What I’ve realized watching and listening to Hicks and Lauck in the process of creating “City of Hustle,” is that it does not need defending.

I don’t have to prop her up against the reputation of other cities, which boast of perceived superiority in opportunity, culture or relative importance.

As the more than 50 essays in the book illustrate, we’re doing just fine, thank you.

Each of the authors describes an event or business or location that has shaped Sioux Falls into what it is today, for better or worse.

Richer or poorer.

And, to push the metaphor, til death do we part.

Because, in so many ways, I am truly wed to Sioux Falls.

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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