North and South: St. Louis County debates split, again

The Associated Press reports that the St. Louis County Board is expected to oppose a proposal to divide into northern and southern counties. According to the story, board chair Keith Nelson won’t support the measure, saying it’s not keeping with the board’s mission. He is one of three Iron Range area board members. Four county board… Read More →

Arts shape our lives, our economy

When you hear the word “arts,” or especially its fancier cousin, “THE arts” we tend to think of snobs sniffing wine in front of a large drab painting. When I think about it, however, the word conjures a string of memories. Acting in my first play during 9th Grade at the Cherry School. The time… Read More →

Enrollment decline poses new challenge to state colleges

Trying to read trends is difficult. You have to figure out what’s part of a normal cycle and what might be indicative of change. And then, if it is real change, you have to determine what’s causing the change. Is it inevitable or malleable? Are you causing it or is it something else? That’s the… Read More →

America: self-made, but more

No U.S. president knew mining better than Herbert Hoover. The man made a generational fortune as a mining engineer using his remarkable ability to assess and improve the productivity of mines all over the world. Presidential historian Feather Schwartz Foster writes that Hoover bragged he could smell a successful mine the moment he entered it…. Read More →

‘Making It Up North’ features Great Northern Radio Show

This year WDSE-WIRT Channel 8, the PBS station in Duluth, announced a new show. Karen Sunderman hosts and Steve Ash films the program called “Making It Up North.” They profile creative people across Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. I was honored that they chose to highlight my Great Northern Radio Show in one of their early… Read More →

Rural housing crunch hits home

One of the biggest challenges in moving to Northern Minnesota is finding housing. The same struggle broadly applies to all of rural Minnesota. Sure, we’ve got lots of houses. “For sale” signs dot the streets of Iron Range communities. But if you’re not looking to buy, or especially if you’re not looking to buy what… 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 ‘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 →

Talking journalism on ‘Dig Deep’

Last week Northern Community Radio broadcast another series of episodes of “Dig Deep,” a podcast exploring contemporary issues from unique points of view. The show features Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns, a conservative, and yours truly, a known liberal. We attempt to collaborate on solutions and sticking points in current political issues, rather than just… 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 →