The sound of footsteps in an empty mall

I like to walk. My “five miles or more per day” habit is about all that’s keeping me out of the Big and Tall stores these days. (And I ain’t getting any taller). Walking is probably the only good habit I’ve ever had. So when I had an odd free moment the other day I… Read More →

Itasca conference aids navigation of ‘Post-Truth Era’

The peacock is really just a 12-pound pheasant with a fancy tail that is probably delicious. It evolved and lives today because potential mates and predators alike believe they are much larger birds with many, many eyes. It’s hardly the only species built on deception, but it’s a particularly successful one. It’s got nothing on… Read More →

Iron Range downtown revitalization projects on tap

You can’t legislate beauty. But you can clean a place up and take some pride in your community. You can also deploy public art as a way to change attitudes and outlooks. That’s the logic behind a small but growing movement to revitalize Mesabi Iron Range communities. The IRRRB announced their 2018 Downtown and Business… Read More →

Who eats whom in Nashwauk mine showdown?

There’s an old trope you see in a lot of cartoons and movies. Someone is running through a jungle or forest, pursued by some fearsome beast. Only at some point an even more fearsome beast leaps from the shadows to snatch and devour the previous monster. And just as THAT creature takes off after our… Read More →

U.S. Steel to reopen Granite City Works

When the steel industry hit the skids three years ago, one of the biggest signals of woe was the shuttering of U.S. Steel’s mill in Granite City, Illinois in 2016. That mill took iron ore from the Mesabi Range. Company officials cited its closure as one of the reasons for the idling of Keewatin Taconite…. Read More →

Littlewolf leaves Virginia council for foundation post

Virginia city councilor Nevada Littlewolf is leaving office for a prestigious new job as CEO of a Native American foundation. Last week, the Minneapolis-based Tiwahe Foundation named Littlewolf as its new leader. The foundation grants funds to Native American communities to promote independence and stronger leadership. “I understand firsthand the importance of indigenous voices in… Read More →

West Side Story: the high stakes Mesabi mining show

A proposed new mine near the western Mesabi Iron Range town of Nashwauk has proven to be a challenge to explain. Every time I go to write one piece, something new pops up, changing the story. I don’t even know what to call it. This thing is a folk story now. So let’s start from… Read More →

Mesabi Iron Range takes action on mountain bike trails

Last week brought a very busy Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board meeting. In addition to discussions of reform and school funding, the board also green-lighted the commissioner’s plan to fund three mountain bike trails on the Mesabi Iron Range. The almost $5 million grant package helps volunteer-based organizations and Giants Ridge develop three distinct… Read More →

L.L. Bean ‘Bootmobile’ headed to the Iron Range

Growing up in the rural environs just off the Mesabi iron formation, I became accustomed to the machinations of the bookmobile. Well, now Iron Range residents can expect a new arrival: the Bootmobile. L.L. Bean, purveyor of fine boots and outdoor clothing and accessories, turned a pickup truck into a giant boot. Now they tour… Read More →

Remembering Bill Ojala, radical conscience of the Iron Range

Bill Ojala, a former Iron Range legislator and later gadfly social justice activist, died last Saturday at the age of 92. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune penned a good obituary (“‘A true son of the Iron Range’: Lawyer, politician Bill Ojala dies at 92“) in yesterday’s paper. Ojala, descended from Finnish-American immigrants on… Read More →