Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →

Unlocking young minds to reach true potential

This time of year the men of my family gather around the big wood table up at the hunting shack to talk engines and tell stories. I do well with the stories, though I struggle with the engines. My father knows motors well enough to diagnose and repair any type of machine. He once explained… Read More →

Late but great, hear the most recent Great Northern Radio Show

I don’t know what it is about summer, but it always seems to delay the release of our Great Northern Radio Show online audio. At long last you can hear Sarah Morris, Thomas X, Katie and the Occasionals, the Great Northern Radio Players and yours truly in the show we broadcast June 22 at the… Read More →

Confessions of an assistant coach

The movie, “The Bad News Bears,” really set unreasonable expectations for under-qualified little league baseball coaches. For one thing, letting the children smoke and drink beer is even more taboo now than it was in 1976. For another, teaching children how to do anything requires extraordinary patience. Teaching them to lean into a pitch that,… Read More →

Tune in for Dig Deep live call-in show

The Northern Community Radio political podcast “Dig Deep” will hold a live broadcast call in show Monday morning at 8:10. The podcast features Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns and myself. Heidi Holtan produces the show. Chuck represents the conservative perspective while I represent the liberal point of view. That said, our show is less about… Read More →

Great Northern Radio Show returns to Reif Center in Grand Rapids June 22

You might have noticed it’s been quiet at the blog these days. Regular readers can probably guess why. I’m busy with the book (more on that to come) and the radio show. Today I announce the next Great Northern Radio Show. I produce this live variety program for Northern Community Radio. The show will happen… Read More →

The think piece on Dorothy’s ruby slippers you didn’t know you needed

The iconic film “The Wizard of Oz” is 80 years old. It’s such a cultural touchstone that at least five generations have now seen it so many times that they know the lines. And like “The Wizard of Oz,” we’ve well repeated the story of how a pair of costume ruby slippers worn by the… Read More →

Why livability is key to Northern Minnesota strategy

The Iron Range, all of Northern Minnesota, and most of rural America share many problems, while maintaining some unique ones. Nevertheless, we could all make good use of one potential solution: We need people. Our small towns and rural institutions were built for a certain number of people. Not a ton of people, but a… Read More →

Unloading baggage aboard the Wienermobile

Thirty years ago I was in second grade at the old Forbes Elementary school on St. Louis County Highway 7. My family ran a junkyard out of a trailer house in Zim, Minnesota. That year I won the Weekly Reader National Invention contest. My winning invention was a set of seat belt covers. Colorful pictures… Read More →

Trivia battle offers game show thrills

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with game shows. On one hand, I like believing that I’m smarter than people on TV. That’s really the only bar to clear to stay happy in modern society. You just have to stay off those brainiac channels like PBS or Animal Planet. On the other hand, game shows… Read More →