A Northern Minnesota movie comes home

No industry confounds the people of Middle America more than the entertainment business. Hollywood and New York stand as shining beacons of wonder, drawing the ambitions and hopes of our teenage thespians and aspiring new media pioneers. But buried beneath this extravagant reverie is a truth; we are typically the rubes shelling out for tickets… Read More →

Immigrant stories bring fresh energy to the Iron Range

With St. Urho’s Day honoring Finnish heritage today and the Irish fete of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, we may reflect on the roots of many who live in Northern Minnesota. It’s been a long time, but not that long, since the Mesabi Iron Range was majority foreign born. Nevertheless, that happened. The melding of immigrant… Read More →

Iron Range downtown revitalization projects on tap

You can’t legislate beauty. But you can clean a place up and take some pride in your community. You can also deploy public art as a way to change attitudes and outlooks. That’s the logic behind a small but growing movement to revitalize Mesabi Iron Range communities. The IRRRB announced their 2018 Downtown and Business… Read More →

Seizing real power in our times

Sometimes I have a great notion that a tall building could be erected on the corner of First and Howard in downtown Hibbing. Bustling with commerce, brimming with human progress, this grand edifice would become a beacon for a new age of internal improvement of our Iron Range city. We could restore the parks, scrub… Read More →

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 →