Navigating mining’s perilous boundary between enough and too much

Today I have a new essay up with the Minnesota Reformer. It’s one that took a great deal of time and thought to write, and that leaves me yet unsettled. The title is “The troubled border between consumption and conservation.” For two decades, we’ve watched northern Minnesota’s mining debate bob up and down in the… Read More →

Second Harvest Chef’s Gala event rescheduled

Perhaps you read my column about macaroni and cheese (and food insecurity) from last Sunday. I was going to host a special webcast to raise money for Second Harvest North Central Food Bank’s annual Chef’s Gala this Thursday. Unfortunately, I learned yesterday that the event will be rescheduled for April 28 due to COVID-19 concerns… Read More →

Comfort food

One of the simplest American foods perhaps best reflects our culture: Macaroni and cheese. Though not all mac and cheese is the same, most people in our country are familiar with some version of it. Those differences also reflect the diversity of the United States. Why is mac and cheese such a good example of… Read More →

January: The month that knows what it is

When I went off to college in another state I remember the happy ceremony of my arrival on campus. Friendly resident assistants helped move my mini fridge up the three flights of stairs. Despite the folly of it, I actually brought a wooden bookshelf and about 40 of my favorite books. The good samaritans cheerfully… Read More →

Beyond the swan song

  I remember in school when we read “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E.B. White. Like White’s other famous children’s novels, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” this story centers on an animal with many human abilities.  In this case, we meet Louis, the trumpeter swan who has no voice. A boy, Sam, forms a… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2021

Happy New Year! If you’re reading this, you’re one of the hard cases. You didn’t find by random happenstance. Rather, you’ve continued to check in on this site while I write “Power in the Wilderness” in my basement. I haven’t posted much here. I haven’t trended. Nor have I gone viral, except for a… Read More →

Oracle sees much to do in 2022

Tossing in bed on a dry winter night I wake to get a drink of water. After a sip I hear a strange gurgling from the toilet. Bubbles rise from the drain pipe.  Soon the water becomes more turbulent. A terrible groan emerges from the bowl. Like toothpaste from a tube, up comes an otter… Read More →

2021 top words not ‘cheugy’ yet, but will be soon

As another year draws to a close it’s time to look back at the words and phrases that marked 2021. The words we use often characterize the lives we lead, sometimes more accurately than a laundry list of news events. Changes in language tell us what we are talking about, what we are doing, and… Read More →

Christmas: The Teen Years

Yes, Virginia, Hibbing, and the broader Iron Range, I believe in Christmas magic. No, not of the Santa Claus variety or even the Hallmark hokum. And while I am open to the concept of religious miracles, I leave that to the theologians.  No, I believe in a very specific kind of Christmas magic. That is,… Read More →

The bombs we carry

The police officers donned dark blue overcoats. Their bright brass buttons and badges glowed in the morning light. They gathered at the corner of Howard Street and Fifth Avenue. A captain barked orders, steam pouring from his mouth. Men stationed themselves at each exit of the luxurious new Androy Hotel.  The town was Hibbing, Minnesota…. Read More →