The affordability we can’t afford

Americans like to argue, but seem to agree that we don’t have enough money. The median household income in St. Louis County runs just below $58,000 a year, about $30,000 for individuals. Half make less, and these folks certainly know how hard it is to cover rising expenses. Nevertheless, candidates who support publicly funded health… Read More →

Offal, perhaps, but still good for something

Every fall I think about the time my phone dinged at an important work meeting. It was an e-mail from one of my son’s teachers asking for deer hearts.  Though perhaps uncommon, my son’s teacher wasn’t the only one asking for the assorted viscera of recently deceased deer. I learned that other local schools run… Read More →

‘The Wolf’s Trail’ crosses our path

If a wolf could talk, what would it say? Would it have a religion? A folk tradition? What are the values of a wolf? And would they be any different than our own? Author Thomas Peacock aims to answer these questions in his novel, “The Wolf’s Trail” (Holy Cow! Press, 2020). Here we meet Zhi-shay,… Read More →

Rethinking labor as change accelerates

Like many from the Iron Range, I take pride in my family’s long history of hard work. My ancestors include mechanics, railroad engineers, truck drivers, underground miners and Old World wrench-turners. But isn’t this a cliche? No one says they come from seven generations of lazy grifters. Few family crests read, “It Is What It… Read More →

Future depends upon vigilance against wildfire

Today, I share my latest for the Minnesota Reformer, “Minnesota in the age of smoke and fire.” Wildfires have become more frequent and destructive over the past few years, but are not new. In this, Minnesota holds a distinct advantage. After our state experienced the trauma of the 1918 Cloquet / Moose Lake fires, which… Read More →

Billions ain’t what they used to be

These last two weeks brought bittersweet poetry to business news. Relatives gathered around the bedside of our grandfather, U.S. Steel, after financial doctors warned he may not have much longer. Even his own board of directors said it might be time to pull the plug. Or perhaps you prefer mythology. The god Promethe-USX brought the… Read More →

Thus ends summer, crying over the sink

The end of summer staggers into the house, sometimes drunk, sometimes just tired and sweaty. Summer drops its keys under the hook and doesn’t bother to pick them up. Maybe next year. It’s not fall yet. Fall is still upstairs trying on red, orange and yellow hoodies while the pumpkin spice coffee brews in the… Read More →

Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel portends shakeup in Iron Range mining

Today, I have a news analysis piece running in the Minnesota Reformer: “Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel holds huge implications for the Iron Range.” On Sunday, the two biggest iron ore and steelmaking companies on the Iron Range signaled discussions that could lead to a consequential sale. U.S. Steel announced it was fielding offers… Read More →

The old roads still taken

Travelers from Duluth to the Iron Range learn the rhythm of concrete on Highway 53. Staccato thumps mark time and distance between homes and cabins, town and country, and the consequential journey of small town patients to Duluth’s big hospitals. I’ve known this road all my life, and yet it is only one version of… Read More →

Local autonomous vehicles drive change

Someone has to be the first. In 1922, a Paris tailor named Franz Reichelt jumped off the Eifel Tower with a homemade parachute suit. He died, of course, but this was part of a process.  A century later, adventurers scream through canyons in sleek wing suits while recording YouTube videos from their helmets. Better material…. Read More →