Iron Range in isolation: talking COVID-19

Last week I appeared on KAXE with Heidi Holtan talking about the COVID-19 situation on the Mesabi Iron Range. Check it out. This was my first radio appearance since being sheltered in place with my family here in the woods of northern Minnesota. We make a couple trips to town each week for groceries and… Read More →

Recycling a limited solution in disposable society

The attendant at the dump extended a pair of Inspector Gadget tongs into the recycling bins to retrieve contraband. His sworn enemy is styrofoam. “If I could un-invent anything on earth it would be styrofoam,” he told me this month. He also told me that the rules would be changing. Itasca County now must pay… Read More →

On the missing pieces in Iron Range political coverage

On Sunday, the national political publication Politico profiled the shifting political winds on northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Reporter Adam Behsudi and photographer M. Scott Mahaskey toured the region a few weeks ago.  And yes, I appear in the story. It’s worth reading. But if you do, consider reading my latest column for the Minnesota… Read More →

Homebound on a global scale

Who buys soup at Target? Apparently everyone, because the soup is gone. But we can get soap. So let’s get soap. Walking the aisles of the store last weekend my phone rang. It was my sister Alyssa in Italy. She’ve been living there almost two years now but was hoping to come home for a… Read More →

COVID-19 crisis threatens iron ore demand

NOTE: This post also appears in the Hibbing Daily Tribune as part of a content partnership. Economic effects of the global pandemic could reach taconite mines on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range later this year. U.S. automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler announced Wednesday they would close all American production plants in response to the… Read More →

Iron Range epidemics and the greater good

NOTE: This article also appears in the Hibbing Daily Tribune. It’s part of a new expanded partnership between this blog and the newspaper that runs my column. Frank Hibbing could sense iron nearby when he and his team camped beneath a grove of towering white pines on the western Mesaba Iron Range. Indeed, they would discover… Read More →

2020 Hindsight: Revisiting the future of our past, Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2. There is no historical blind spot quite like the recent past. The living defend their memories, true or not, with self-interested passion. The recently departed are far more saintly than the long dead. Over the past three weeks I’ve been exploring… Read More →

Minnesota’s iconic hockey hair video dekes out fans, parties back in

Forty years after the “Miracle on Ice,” we get another one.  Last year, the mysterious creator of the annual 2020 Minnesota State High School League “All Hockey Hair” team announced his retirement after ten years of hilarious videos.  But this year, against all odds, he’s back. The video’s a little shorter, a little more to… Read More →

2020 Hindsight: Revisiting the future of our past, Part 2

This is the second of a three-part series.  Last week I told you about a 1998 Hibbing Daily Tribune special section entitled “2020 Vision.” Back then, reporters interviewed local people about what they saw happening in our region by the year 2020. They got a lot right. For instance, many predicted the rise of health… Read More →

Story of Minnesota Ojibwe chief Hole in the Day headed to Hollywood

This land we call Minnesota rests on layers of stories. Dig and you find more. Dig and the stories grow deeper and more complex. Some of these fantastic tales seem suited for the movies, and soon enough that may be true. Such is the story of a Northern Minnesota leader that most local schools still… Read More →