In building community, every little bit adds up to a lot

A few weeks back, my son’s Boy Scout Troop in Grand Rapids helped build 25 wheelchair accessible picnic tables. The extra long table tops will adorn parks across Itasca County, everywhere from Nashwauk to Deer River, allowing people who use wheelchairs to easily join in a family meal. Henry and I built one picnic table… Read More →

The economics of dignity, how a tiered economy tears us apart

To read the local papers, a visitor might conclude that the biggest problems facing the Iron Range these days is whether or not we support our most powerful industry *enough.* I find this curious. Because when people talk about “the problem on the Range these days,” they usually mean people working multiple jobs to pay… Read More →

A journey through time, to town and back

Just before the 20th Century a trip into town from Balsam Township in east central Itasca County took two days at full speed. The winding journey required paddling a canoe down the Prairie River, crossing several portages depending on the time of year. I imagine one might camp at the midpoint somewhere near the modern… Read More →

The marauding bog of All Hallow’s Eve

October, month of the dead. The leaves fall and the flowers die. Colors fade to gray, brown and a deathly yellow. Hence the annual debauchery of Halloween, one final howl before the virginal snow and holy days of winter. Which monster will haunt you this All Hallow’s Eve? Dusk bathes the shoreline of North Long… Read More →

A ‘moving’ Great Northern Radio Show from Hibbing

Just over a week ago I hosted another episode of my Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. We broadcast live from Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, Minnesota, on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, the same site of our first show six years earlier. And it was a blast. Arguably our best engineered show ever,… Read More →

‘The claw is our master’

The penguin sat atop a veritable iceberg of stuffed animals outside the Chinese restaurant. Penguins can’t smile in the wild, but this one grinned like a Cheshire cat under the bright lights of the machine. I’ve always had a thing for penguins. Perhaps I’ve just got a soft spot for any awkward misfit with hidden… Read More →

The Hunt for Bob October

All this brisk autumn air reminds me of the first time I saw Bob Dylan perform at the DECC in Duluth on October 22, 1998. The show was an elaborate excuse for me to see my girlfriend from Hibbing after I had moved away from the Iron Range for college. She wasn’t as much of… Read More →

Hibbing homecoming for Great Northern Radio Show

This Saturday, Oct. 14, my Great Northern Radio Show broadcasts live from the Hibbing Community College Theater from 5-7 p.m. on Northern Community Radio. This is a “home” show for me, our first time back to the place where we broadcast the Great Northern Radio Show pilot episode in 2011. (I wrote more about the… Read More →

The pasty, perfect food above ground or below

Minnesota’s Iron Range gets plenty of attention for its ethnic foods. Melting pot. Immigrants. Grandma’s kitchen. Yada yada. But you’ve got to reckon with the fact that it’s a lot easier to nosh on a can of pizza-flavored Pringles at the gas station than it is to get your hands on some halfway decent krumkaka…. Read More →

Great Northern Radio Show returns to Hibbing Oct. 14

On Saturday, Oct. 14, I bring my Great Northern Radio Show back to the site of our first broadcast. This show at Hibbing Community College represents our sixth anniversary of doing live radio variety shows from small towns and forgotten places around Minnesota. We’ve got a lot to talk about in Hibbing. The mine is… Read More →