Farmer-Labor tradition means more than just jobs

We see some curious sights this election year. Oh, I can’t get into all of them. Our times are too strange for that. But one thing struck me as especially odd. It was members of the Republican Party arguing that they are now the “Republican Farmer Labor” party. This comes amid claims that candidates like… Read More →

The enduring importance of obituaries

The first assignment they gave me at journalism school was to write my own obituary. It’s a good way to teach the inverted pyramid writing style. That’s where you put the most important information first. Plus, it reminds young journalists that they’re expendable, valuable perspective for the current state of the industry. The other thing… Read More →

Campaign season means signs are all around us

Someone just posted a campaign sign down the road. Well, there goes the neighborhood. This sentiment now spreads across Northern Minnesota’s tumultuous political environment. A political cycle defined by white hot rage now enters a new phase: paranoia that the other side is messing with your signs. I’ve worked in journalism and I’ve managed political… Read More →

Good money versus bad money in Range development

It’s been dizzying to follow developments in the Mesabi Metallics iron ore project near Nashwauk this week. Last week we learned that billionaire Tom Clarke and his Chippewa Capital Partners won back state mineral leases for the former Butler Taconite property. But that came with the news that Clarke’s other company ERP Iron Ore, which… Read More →

Science can solve mining risks, but only if we demand it

As a nerd who grew up on an Iron Range junkyard, I appreciate anything that combines groundbreaking science with homemade contraptions. That’s why I’m fascinated by a daisy chain of unobtrusive barrels floating in an old Erie Mining pit outside Babbitt, Minnesota. They may save our world. Jeff Hanson put them there. Hanson is an… Read More →

The soft focus of nostalgia

If the internet was a forest and we were a sleek-coated American mink, the trap set for us would surely be one of those “Remember when” click bait articles. We can’t lay off ‘em. And it really doesn’t matter how old you are. Sure, senior citizens keep their Christmas tree candles burning for the 1950s,… Read More →

Mosquito memory: the science of the swat

Everyone loves Mother Nature until they realize how many ways she extracts your blood involuntarily. We’ve evolved to be mindful of larger animals that can eat us whole. But while we’ve been worrying about bears and sharks, tiny little animals have been plotting to raid our sweat, blood and skin. It’s like Oceans 11, only… Read More →

Build steel bridges, not steel cages

We’ve outlived our immigrant ancestors. Imprints of hungrier times remain etched on our communities, but they are easy to ignore. The fight for workplace safety and fair pay. The demand for free public education. The streets and amenities built to last beyond the mines on the edge of town. The shared humanity of the many… Read More →

See all the trucks go by

Diesel fuel smells like home. It reminds me of the idling school bus and the pungent workshop at my family’s junkyard in 1986. Trucks leave deep treads on my memories. Big yellow mining trucks dot the landscape of the Mesabi Iron Range as they have for generations. I played with a Tonka Truck as a… Read More →

Growing opportunity in rocky economic soil

“He smiled and all his teeth were covered with tobacco stains He said, “It don’t do men no good to pray for peace and rain. Peace and rain is just a way to say prosperity, And buffalo chips is all it means to me. ~Tom T. Hall, “Faster Horses” We all say we want a… Read More →