The merits of fairness in America

You’ll hear a lot about the American Dream in coming months. You’ll hear that the dream is dying, that it’s alive and well, that the dream faces peril, or even that it’s forgotten entirely. But do we even know what the American Dream is? In this, we may invoke the most American of products: Coca-Cola…. Read More →

New eyes for an Iron Range future

I think one of the best ways to begin strengthening a community is to see the place from a visitor’s point of view. Here on the Iron Range, a place with a cultural tradition of multi-generation families and insular social groups, that’s even more important … and hard to do. As a native Ranger, I… Read More →

Canadian vacation imports memories

This year my family and I decided to go North for our annual summer trip. We would travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba, a cosmopolitan city set in the middle of endless miles of prairie (“endless point six” once you convert to metric). Why? Quite simply, we drew a circle around our home in Northern Minnesota to… Read More →

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 →