Places and names

When I was 12 my grandparents took me to southern Pennsylvania and western Maryland to meet my grandmother’s family. We toured the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside, including the Sideling Hill Cut near Hancock, Maryland. Engineers gouged this 340-foot deep passageway through the heart of a sturdy Allegheny mountain more than 50 years ago… Read More →

Child care: a defining issue mired in status quo

Working people with children will tell you that child care is their biggest day-to-day challenge. The logistics are maddening and the cost is overwhelming. The stakes are no less than the well-being of the next generation. Yet, if you talk to child care providers, they’ll tell you the same thing. Frustrating logistics and high costs… Read More →

Generational payback on sleepovers

I’ve forgotten much about life between the ages of 10 and 13. I suppose there’s a psychological reason for that; something something brain development, something something puberty. A lot of it might be self-preservation. In most pictures from this time I resemble an oversized grub with greasy blond hair. I’m wearing sweat pants and Coke-bottle… Read More →

Critical thinking for automated times

I like to watch old black-and-white movies. In these films you see several scenes involving jobs that no longer exist. People appear very skilled at these jobs. We are led to believe they made a decent living off them. But practically no one makes the same living in the same jobs today. In most cases… Read More →

When the levee breaks

Tailings basins are a key part of Mesabi Iron Range mining history, but are also making headlines across the world. Balancing responsible mining with environmental risk is a critical question going forward.

It ain’t over ’til it’s oven

We come here not to mourn the oven, but to bury it. Northern Minnesota author Aaron Brown relates the fiery final minutes of his family’s electric range.

Good times are best times to invest in Iron Range future

Times are good in the iron and steel industry. Here in Northern Minnesota, the mines on the Mesabi Iron Range now operate at full capacity. Prices for both iron ore and finished steel run high. But are the communities of the Iron Range and the mining companies operating here really prepared for the changes ahead?

In Northern Minnesota, economic trends collide

The people of Northern Minnesota need the same things they did 100 years ago. Employment. Food. Medical care. Places to shop and seek entertainment.

Yet, how we satisfy these needs changed considerably over the past century. Indeed, these fundamental functions of society continue to transform before us. Only two questions remain: 1) Will we accept change? And, 2) will we plan our future based on the new reality?

A crying sham

Not all pillows are for sleeping. Some are just for show. Some we wrap in shams. Some we just don’t know. We lay our heads on beds of lies.

Regenerating hope in mining’s wake

Like a lot of kids who grew up on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range in the 1980s and ‘90s I saw plenty of reasons to leave. Many of my friends did. But I’m glad I found good reasons to stay. Many friends did that, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives are easy or our fate resolved. It will take much more than waiting to secure a future beyond what the mines will give us.