Dylan talks hunting, fishing and Northern Minnesota in new interview

Like most who grew up on the Iron Range, Bob Dylan reminisces about hunting and fishing. He also insists there’s a profound difference between Northern and Southern Minnesota. Dylan, born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, doesn’t give many interviews. When he does, they become their own art form. His answers, rarely direct, ebb and flow around some ambiguous concept,… Read More →

Shipping season begins on Lake Superior

Never mind the equinox until the lakers leave the equi-DOCKS! Ha! Get it? The Lake Superior shipping season reopens today, marking the actual start of Northern Minnesota’s spring. Of course, we celebrated the vernal equinox this past Monday. That’s nice and all, but only big honking ships full of taconite and coal can really get… Read More →

‘The Ballad of Newton Badger’ and the spark of community potential

Every semester I ask my Iron Range college students to identify a “community problem” and then argue for a solution to that problem. In recent years, without fail, the most common problem identified is “nothing for young people to do on the Iron Range.” The solutions, of course, all include some variant on “here’s something… Read More →

Iron mining’s cold war on the western Mesabi

As Iron Range economic development phantasms go, the Essar Steel Minnesota project near Nashwauk has always felt rather personal. The construction site sits just a few miles from my house. When the wind carried, I could hear them running equipment, crushing rocks for fill, and erecting the plant structures which today remain unfinished on the horizon of my… Read More →

Making our community whole

Last Sunday, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reported that the Hibbing Food Shelf would close later this month. Among the reasons cited was a lack of community volunteers and funding, and the rising cost of food. This happened despite the growing number of people who need the temporary assistance of a food bank. Across Northern Minnesota,… Read More →

Hibbing J.C. Penney store to close

The Star Tribune reports that the Hibbing J.C. Penney store is among eight small town locations closing in Minnesota amid the company’s nationwide downsizing. Other locations include: Baxter, Fairmont, Faribault, Hutchinson, Red Wing, Thief River Falls and Winona. The inventory liquidation sales begin on April 17, according to the Star Tribune. The store will close June… Read More →

Art project to brighten Bob Dylan’s Iron Range hometown

After Bob Dylan received his Nobel Prize in Literature, something clicked in Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. A group of community members formed the Hibbing Dylan Project, with the goal of celebrating the legacy of the folk troubadour’s Iron Range roots. As I’ve written, I was active in Dylan Days, which enjoyed a 14-year run in Hibbing…. Read More →

Trump’s tricky American steel promise

What happens when the promise of political change meets the rocky cliffs of reality? Every president, every Congress, every legislature must weather this shift. History shows that all suffer at least some political fallout in the process. There’s a reason incumbent parties tend to lose seats in the midterms, and that presidential approval (usually) starts high… Read More →

‘Flowetry in Motion’ for 2017 MN State All Hockey Hair Team

Northern Minnesota continues to celebrate the exciting conclusion to the Minnesota State High School Boys Hockey Tournament. For the first time since 1998, two northern teams won the Class A and Class AA championships, respectively. But the real fun is only getting started. After the tournament, Game On! Minnesota released its 2017 Minnesota State High… Read More →

Government in the bag

At age 10, I controlled the government. It all started with a knock on the door of our trailer house. We lived on the family junkyard along County Highway 7, a couple miles south of Eveleth Taconite in the Sax-Zim bog. Such knocks came rare and usually involved directing toothless men back to the shop… Read More →