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 →

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 →

Power plays go beyond hockey on the Mesabi Iron Range

This week the state hockey tournament takes place in St. Paul. This sporting spectacle doubles as a cultural celebration for the people of the North Star State. Once, the whole state bowed to the gods of hockey from our beloved blue collar Mesabi Iron Range. Today, however, the big suburban schools dominate the competition. The… Read More →

Timeless truth of ‘wire and lights in a box’

As televisions bleat the confusing news of our times, I can’t help but visit my memories of Mike Simonson. Mike was my mentor at KUWS on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Superior and a veteran radio news reporter. He taught me how to ask questions. On a good day I remember. Mike required student… Read More →

The joyful annoyances of a winter thaw

Winter is not over. I hold no illusions about that. On social media, people post scenes from some tropical vacation, each escaping the long gestation of the elusive Northern Minnesota spring. But we’ve got a winter thaw this week. The skies shine platinum and it’s probably not safe to keep mayonnaise in your car anymore…. Read More →

The union for now: Labor at the crossroads

Regardless of your opinion about organized labor, or whether you’re in a union yourself, the labor movement now faces its most tenuous challenge in more than a century. Politically, there is this. According to a Feb. 1 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal story, Vice President Mike Pence conferred with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin in late January. They… Read More →

The universal solution to poverty?

It comes down to whether you think we can solve problems at all. Will we succumb to the psychological ease of hoping our political “side” gains permanent power, an outcome that assures corruption and stagnation? Or are we willing to lend our support to new ideas? Will we patiently experiment, replacing ideas that don’t work… Read More →

Why we need work, not just ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’

Last November, President Trump polled well in the once-venerated Democratic stronghold of the Mesabi Iron Range. I pin this to the issue of “jobs.” Specifically, I credit the fundamental belief baked into our culture that those who work for pay are superior to those who don’t or can’t. People here have lost jobs, or fear… Read More →

The cold comfort of adulthood

Everything is easy until you open the door. That’s true of life, but especially winter in Northern Minnesota. After Christmas, winter becomes an extended stay in a Residence Inn. We already know what keeps in the hotel fridge, how long to microwave the popcorn, the cost of every item in the vending machine. Our only enemy… Read More →

The necessary drama of transition

As divisive as these times may be, at least Donald Trump won’t be sneaking into Washington, D.C., on a midnight train like Abraham Lincoln. After the election of 1860 Lincoln became the most anti-slavery president since John Quincy Adams a generation earlier. Six slave states immediately seceded from the Union, while others threatened to join… Read More →