When the levee breaks

Tailings basins are a key part of Mesabi Iron Range mining history, but are also making headlines across the world. Balancing responsible mining with environmental risk is a critical question going forward.

It ain’t over ’til it’s oven

We come here not to mourn the oven, but to bury it. Northern Minnesota author Aaron Brown relates the fiery final minutes of his family’s electric range.

Good times are best times to invest in Iron Range future

Times are good in the iron and steel industry. Here in Northern Minnesota, the mines on the Mesabi Iron Range now operate at full capacity. Prices for both iron ore and finished steel run high. But are the communities of the Iron Range and the mining companies operating here really prepared for the changes ahead?

In Northern Minnesota, economic trends collide

The people of Northern Minnesota need the same things they did 100 years ago. Employment. Food. Medical care. Places to shop and seek entertainment.

Yet, how we satisfy these needs changed considerably over the past century. Indeed, these fundamental functions of society continue to transform before us. Only two questions remain: 1) Will we accept change? And, 2) will we plan our future based on the new reality?

A crying sham

Not all pillows are for sleeping. Some are just for show. Some we wrap in shams. Some we just don’t know. We lay our heads on beds of lies.

Regenerating hope in mining’s wake

Like a lot of kids who grew up on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range in the 1980s and ‘90s I saw plenty of reasons to leave. Many of my friends did. But I’m glad I found good reasons to stay. Many friends did that, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives are easy or our fate resolved. It will take much more than waiting to secure a future beyond what the mines will give us.

When a boy becomes a snowman

One of the most obvious rules of parenting is not to put your baby in a snowbank. But what happens when your baby grows up to be a survivalist?

A bright light in winter

So I’ve been doing some squats lately. I’ve done squats before. This isn’t new. But I’ve never been afraid of my insides popping out like a tube of crescent rolls before. That is new.

For many of us, trying to get back in shape is a cycle. When I think about exercise, I picture snow outside my winter, never autumn leaves. That might be part of the problem, but is most assuredly part of my reality. Every day I eat my Lucky Charms and watch the Peloton commercials on ESPN. That’s not the kind of cycle I’m talking about.

Seeking hygge in harsh environs

Something changed after the last act of “Hamlet.” The Danes became so mellow that they don’t even mind stepping on all the LEGO blocks they produce each year. If we’re to believe media reports, hygge is both the cause and the solution.

These last few years we’ve heard the word “hygge” a lot more. Looks like “higgy” but rhymes with beluga. It’s a Danish word with no direct translation. “Hygge” is often passed off as a high-end term for “cozy” in fashion and interior design. That’s not exactly what it means, but that’s what makes the most money for people who sell throw pillows.

The moment words took new meaning

Each year I like to write about the top words for the previous year as determined by the Global Language Monitor, an organization that tracks actual word usage in global English. It’s important to note that global English is a broader topic than American English. In fact, for the first time this year the Global Language Monitor broke its 2018 top word distinction in two, identifying one for the world and one that stood out in America.

On “The Moment” and “Weaponize,” the past year’s top words.