Cure for waning political power is more people

It is again time to tabulate the U.S. Census, an incredibly boring task that affects every aspect of our state and federal government.  As with most complicated topics — taxes, First Century scrolls, technology — it’s easy for people to hold outrageous, illogical views without any real consequences. After all, who really knows? That’s why… Read More →

Water, land and climate

An epic conflict shapes the future of northern Minnesota. But it doesn’t feel like a conflict. Rather, it feels like selling out and settling for less. And it might take 40 years before we know what hit us. This battle gently boils in the rooms where estates are settled, where families decide how to pay… Read More →

Old book teaches perils of power

Used paperback book stores smell like cigarettes and coffee, the boiled essence of a schoolhouse cloakroom and the back alley behind a restaurant. If you lick one of the books — and you shouldn’t — I suspect it would taste salty. This is merely a hypothesis. It was at just such a store in the… Read More →

Empty theatrics dictate 2020 politics on the Iron Range

For one remarkable fall afternoon the President of the United States and his Democratic challenger converged on the political battlefield of northern Minnesota. The Sept. 18 appearances of President Donald Trump at the Bemidji airport and former Vice President Joe Biden at a union training center near Duluth fed the hungry narrative that Minnesota may… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs resets the Mesabi Iron Range

Before March 2, 1901 northern Minnesota served as a battleground for two immutable titans of industry, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. At stake was control of the world’s richest untapped source of iron ore and the nation-building steel it could produce. The scene grew chaotic with new mines opening, closing, and changing hands all… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs acquires ArcelorMittal USA

Cleveland Cliffs becomes North America’s largest producer of iron ore and flat-rolled steel after acquiring the assets of ArcelorMittal USA. Reuters reported over the weekend that ArcelorMittal and Cleveland Cliffs were negotiating an asset merger that would dramatically affect the taconite industry on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. The deal merges ArcelorMittal’s American operations with those… Read More →

Zooming in on public meetings online

Like many of you I’ve become accustomed to attending meetings using video conferencing software. The COVID-19 pandemic demands no less. Entire segments of the economy and educational system have shifted to home-based work. Right now, all of my professional meetings take place on Zoom. I collaborate on a media project via Google Hangouts. Interviews. Civic… Read More →

Warning the future about ourselves

As a species, humans expend relatively little thought on a future beyond ourselves. We’re just not wired for it. The survival instinct keeps us focused on our next meal, how we feel now, and our social relationships. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve come a long way. We now spend up to two decades of our… Read More →

Sabotaging the mail harms democracy and rural life

When you grow up in the country you form a special relationship with the mail. Back at our family’s junkyard in Zim my sisters and I would fight over who got to run up the driveway to get the mail each day. One time I almost got hit by a truck because I lurched for… Read More →

Don’t call it a mall

I once hung out in Iron Range shopping malls for fun. I didn’t even need to “get my steps.” No, I went to the mall to meet friends, buy Vanilla Ice cassettes, and sip something called “cappuccino” while surfing this new thing called “the internet” at a locally-owned mall coffee shop. It was very exciting… Read More →