Look for influences, not adoration, in Dylan’s hometown

Can’t Bob Dylan just answer a straight question? Why must his rare public utterances be so cryptic? Why can’t he sing the way they they teach at Hibbing High School? Gosh darn it, why did he say he was from New Mexico when he went on Ed Sullivan? And why can’t Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing,… Read More →

Then and now: lessons from the forgotten past

Please excuse me. I’m suffering from the adverse effects of time travel. Disoriented and distracted, I wonder what small action 100 years ago might have created our present condition. For the past couple years, more intensely of late, I’ve researched the Hibbing of a century ago for a book. Methodically reading the newspapers of another… 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 →

Explaining the hot idle

If you’re a regular reader of MinnesotaBrown.com you’ve probably noticed far fewer posts that usual this summer. This is what I sometimes call a “hot idle.” The term refers to what the mines do when they halt production of iron ore but keep their equipment “hot” and ready for a quick restart. It’s usually something… Read More →

What if Bob was one of us? Dylan Fest features music, culture and Joan Osborne

What if Bob was one of us? Just a slob like one of us? Well, he pretty much is. Duluth’s Dylan Fest will hold its annual celebration of its native son Bob Dylan May 18-26, 2019. Meanwhile Dylan’s Iron Range hometown of Hibbing continues efforts to commemorate its complex influence on one of the world’s… Read More →

Prairie River Minerals aims to restart scram mining on western Mesabi

Amid high demand and temporarily limited global supply, another new scram mining venture aims to reclaim natural iron ore on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Prairie River Minerals seeks to mine about 1.3 million tons of iron ore annually, mostly in Itasca County, hiring about 125 union workers in the process. The chief partners in… Read More →

Dylan monument at Hibbing HS to be revealed fall 2019

Like an eddy in a fast-moving stream, Robert Zimmerman matriculated from Hibbing High School in 1959. Just three years later, under a new name of his own design, Bob Dylan began transforming the musical world from the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York. Decades before I was born, Dylan lived in the same neighborhood… Read More →

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?

Hibbing Community College to name buildings

If you’re like me, you wonder how places got their names. There’s usually some story involved, even if it’s boring. At college you might have sat in a building named for some dusty old multisyllabic poo-bah from the past. A plaque in the lobby identified the crusty oldster, who we all assume forked over a… Read More →

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.