Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →

The more we know

One of the best sight gags in the 1978 comedy “Animal House” comes from the image of John Belushi in a shirt that simply reads “COLLEGE.” No specific school. Just “COLLEGE.” We learn in the movie’s closing credits that Belushi’s barely literate character goes on to become a U.S. Senator. I think of that image… Read More →

Eight years on the road

In W.P. Kinsella’s novel, “Shoeless Joe,” later made into the movie “Field of Dreams,” the farmer Ray Kinsella builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn. People think he’s crazy. I suppose he is. But the experience heals him. Even though this story is fiction you can still visit the actual baseball field… Read More →

Northland safe from Halloween horrors … or is it?

“I can’t even imagine.” I never cared for that phrase. Because it’s almost never true. What makes something horrible is not that you can’t imagine it happening, but that you can. Horror is based less on fear of the totally unknown but on fear of the imagined unknown. When you get lost in the woods… Read More →

Unlocking young minds to reach true potential

This time of year the men of my family gather around the big wood table up at the hunting shack to talk engines and tell stories. I do well with the stories, though I struggle with the engines. My father knows motors well enough to diagnose and repair any type of machine. He once explained… Read More →

Silent films rich with sound

The history of movies, like the history of the world, begins with light and shadows. At first, people recreated reality with shadows on the wall. Film made it possible to capture real images. You saw yourself, or your friend, or a famous celebrity, captured during a moment in time. The past reflected into the present… Read More →

‘Strong Towns’ fans flames of revolutionary pragmatism

Those who read “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity” by Charles L. Marohn, Jr., a new book published by Wiley, might at first be overwhelmed by Marohn’s bad news. America’s cities are insolvent. And though he doesn’t mention them by name, his metrics would certainly implicate our own Hibbing, Chisholm, and all… Read More →

A little bit country

The misguided passions of youth run strong. It took time for me to mature into an emotionally stable adult. How old am I? About that long. Maybe longer. One of the teenage fervencies I now regret was my disdain for country music. I grew up in Cherry, which isn’t a town so much as a… Read More →

Autumn: the perfect season for our imperfect species

The stages of a year are a lot like the stages of life. Each one has something to teach you. By the end of it, you’re not the same person you were at the beginning. And that’s good. Because otherwise you would get sick of yourself. So it goes as we send the kids to… Read More →

Adding value where it counts

We hear it all the time. The abundant rocks and dirt found on the edges of our Mesabi Range towns became the steel that powered modern American manufacturing and infrastructure. And they still do! We also hear that all of the modern technology and conveniences we’ve come to enjoy also come from mined minerals. We… Read More →