A century later, Range towns seeks to regain energy independence

In old North Hibbing of 1913, the village hired a man to shoot spent horses before dumping the carcasses in a pen full of ravenous hogs. Nevertheless, the most controversial municipal function in the history of Hibbing might be its public utilities department. In recent decades, contention over the power plant arises from failing infrastructure… Read More →

Community builds strength to save health facility

In building fitness, our greatest obstacle is often ourselves. That’s true in building community, too.  Here on the Iron Range, people aren’t shy about what they want. On social media, people demand more chain restaurants. Sports complexes seem to beget calls for even more sports complexes. These are the desirable outcroppings of healthy communities, the… Read More →

Red October, no surprise

I’m still editing the big book, so most of my northern Minnesota political analysis has been confined to my columns in the Mesabi Tribune and Minnesota Reformer these days. Even there, I’ve avoided horse race politics this cycle, mostly out of disinterest. But sometimes the horses stick their heads through your front window. This week… Read More →

Core Conversations on the future of mining in northern Minnesota

Last Friday I made my television hosting debut with a special episode of Almanac North on WDSE. It’s part of a quarterly series called “Core Conversations.” This one focused on the future of the mining industry in northern Minnesota. You can view the episode in the embedded video above or by following the link. Guests… Read More →

Life is a dangerous activity

They say that cars might one day drive themselves, but could they eat a sandwich at the same time? I don’t think so. We drive using mental patterns so engrained that some can do it half asleep or thinking about something else entirely. These memory grooves run so deep that, years later, wracked with dementia,… Read More →

Brown on the Air: TV hosting debut on Almanac North

Though I wish this would have happened 15 years and six stones ago, I’ll be making my television news hosting debut this Friday, Oct. 7, in Duluth. As a print and radio-trained journalist, I view this as a mildly terrifying exercise in experimental broadcasting. At 8 p.m., you can watch a special episode of Almanac North… Read More →

Ode to the minivan

I can always tell when new parents are about to say the thing they’ve dreaded their whole lives.  They hesitate. The pause grows longer. The couple glances glumly at one another. “So …” he says, trailing off. “Yeah,” she adds, aimlessly. “We’ve been shopping for a new vehicle.”  “We’re thinking about one of those three-row… Read More →

100 years of fascism, here and abroad

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today: “Fascism from Italy to Hibbing and back again.” In recent years I’ve avoided the hyperbole and repetition of our national political debate. My thinking has been that you don’t really need another Trump/Biden screed that only reinforces what you already believe. I seek instead to… Read More →

The woman who lifted up those who were low

When I was 21 years old I was named the editor of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily Tribune, which has since merged into the Mesabi Tribune newspaper you read today. How does a 21-year old get to be a daily newspaper editor? That’s a good question that lots of people had at the time. After the… Read More →

Snacks, dogs and rock ‘n’ roll

Music festivals are to the music-loving introvert what a seed catalogue is to the over-enthusiastic gardener. They seem like a good idea months in advance of what will actually become hard work. And, like any hard work, the results are worth it. (Though, usually, not until well after the fact). Last weekend, my wife Christina… Read More →