Labor navigates northern Minnesota political crosswinds

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Let’s call it a Labor Day think piece. Northern Minnesota has been a wellspring of the American labor movement for more than a century. However, in more recent years, organized labor has shifted into the role of mature old power, increasingly wedded to politics and… Read More →

Technology draws new atlas for our future

Want to blow your mind? Look at the evolutionary history of whales. Whales are mammals, not fish. As such their ancestors were land animals, specifically the Pakicetus. Pakicetus was a sort of water-loving goat- or dog-looking critter that hunted alongside lakes and rivers about 50 million years ago. It had massive jaws and was probably… Read More →

The real value of a college education

Contrary to what you might think, personal growth doesn’t occur inside your head. It happens when you get outside your head.  There comes a moment when a child thinks of another before he or she thinks of themselves. A teenager makes a sacrifice for the good of others. An adult realizes that their behaviors and… Read More →

Most dangerous migrants are the ones leaving our communities

In 2010 I wrote an article entitled “Wanted: Young People.” It was about the 2010 U.S. Census and what it could tell us about the towns and counties of northeastern Minnesota.  Ten years ago, data showed that our economic problems stemmed from a lack of people to support existing business and community institutions. It wasn’t… Read More →

When the ‘Field of Dreams’ was in Hibbing

With the successful completion of Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” game in Dyersville, Iowa, I am reminded of a Northern Minnesota connection to the story. But not the one you think.  Of course you may know that the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was based on the W.P. Kinsella novella “Shoeless Joe.” Fans of… Read More →

The view from inside the meme

It all started innocently enough. Last Monday I was sitting in my comfy chair watching the Olympics on the CBC. That’s the Canadian TV channel available to many of us here in northern Minnesota. I watched Canadian swimmer Maggie Mac Neil win Gold in the 100 meter butterfly. She didn’t realize she won because she… Read More →

‘Generational amnesia’ helps us forget a past we would do well to remember

My latest for the Minnesota Reformer is out today: The piece, entitled “These Old Timers Have Nostalgia All Wrong,” takes you on another of my journeys between past, present and future. This one explores what we forget. Our boundless ability to shed the past causes us to fear the future far more than we should…. Read More →

No parallel for Olympic excellence

The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo unfold unlike any held before. Delayed until 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic, new variants of the virus surge across the globe. Thus, thousands of athletes from around the world compete in front of mostly empty stands.  It must seem deflating to work tirelessly for a young lifetime to achieve… Read More →

Preparing for life, not war, in challenging future

The wooden chipmunk statue in front of the Wa-Ga-Tha-Ka Resort stands as one of the defining landmarks along the Wabana Road in rural Itasca County. It’s been there for decades. But in recent years this whimsical woodland creature has quietly and quite unintentionally become a harbinger for the climate future of northern Minnesota. Each spring,… Read More →

Return of the company town

A typical early 20th Century Iron Range miner worked long hours before retiring to a home and bed owned by his employer. He returned his wages to the company in exchange for just enough food, clothing and tools to survive. If the miner had a wife she possessed even fewer choices. Her very survival, and… Read More →