Now batting …

Green grass grows from Pipestone to Grand Marais. That means one thing: summer baseball in Minnesota. Town ball. Legion ball. VFW ball. Little League. Believe it or not, Minnesota’s summer baseball legacy dates back farther than our state’s obsession with hockey. Earlier this summer I volunteered as the public address announcer for a VFW baseball… Read More →

Talkin’ Iron Range blues on the ‘Mississippi Valley Traveler’ podcast

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column featuring a new book about traveling along the Mississippi River by Dean Klinkenberg. A few weeks later, I appeared as a guest on Dean’s podcast to talk about the Iron Range. You can now listen to my interview on Dean’s podcast. It’s an hour-long talk, and we… Read More →

Replanting the seeds of public education

The tradition of Iron Range public education excellence once required no explanation.  Most local kids attended grand, palatial high schools with theaters, pools, cutting-edge science labs and vocational training facilities. Range superintendents recruited the best college education graduates in the state to teach the sons and daughters of miners. The children learned about boundless opportunities… Read More →

Public talk to explore past, future of Iron Range schools

I know it’s summer vacation, but here’s the deal: I love school. I loved preschool. They had this crane that used magnets to pick up blocks. I loved kindergarten. I learned to read early, which felt like a superpower. This continued all the way through college. Sitting in lectures for classes my advisor put me… Read More →

Interview highlights relatability of rural health care woes

After my latest essay, “Health care ‘implosion’ in Greater Minnesota,” in the Minnesota Reformer, I received many kind comments and some very insightful responses. Trying to help my mom after her stroke has been something of a private matter until now. It’s nice to feel the support, even when we’re all still exploring what solutions… Read More →

Lecture will detail 1920s Klan activity on the Iron Range

Public lectures were once a hot ticket on the Iron Range. Before TV, streaming services and YouTube, you had to see someone talk at the local auditorium if you wanted to go down an informational rabbit hole.  Well, these days, some of us try to keep the tradition alive. I’ll be giving a free public… Read More →

Hate and hope on the Iron Range

A century ago, Iron Rangers cheered, fretted and fought the rise of the Ku Klux Klan across the Mesabi. The hate and hope of this time remain with us today. Word of the Klan arrived much earlier. A hit movie, “The Birth of a Nation,’ played in Duluth and Iron Range theaters in 1915 and… Read More →

Rural health care system barely holding on

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Read it now. Longtime readers know that my mother suffered a serious stroke in late 2022 that changed her life and, to a lesser extent, mine. Every time we see a new doctor or medical provider, they look at her chart and remark how few… Read More →

The last days of the Republic

People use the word “nostalgia” to describe fond remembrances of the past. But that’s not the real meaning.  Nostalgia comes from the Greek words nóstos álgos, or “pain of homecoming,” or perhaps “pain from an old wound.” It referred to the specific psychological aching that comes from remembering something that is gone. We feel nostalgia… Read More →

Quiet craftsman builds things to last; so can we

Sad fact is, most of the expensive junk we buy won’t last any longer than us. My wallet is wearing out. I could use a new cell phone. In just the past few years, I’ve dumped an entertainment center, television and propane grill at the county waste station — each a valuable item in its… Read More →