Only local birds

I live on a quiet little hill above a swamp at the end of a long dirt road in the woods. The nearest stoplight stands some 27 miles away. Out here, it’s easy to feel lonely. Or at least it seemed that way when we moved from town almost 20 years ago. Time, however, revealed… Read More →

When a small town wins big

One of the best breaks I ever got was growing up in the tight-knit, hard-working community of Cherry, Minnesota.  It’s not that Cherry is anything special to look at. The township is composed of scrub brush, trees and hayfields. The people work as miners, nurses and truck drivers — similar to a lot of folks… Read More →

How to cover politics in northern Minnesota, and other quandaries

One of my life’s most interesting relationships has been with the word, “journalism.” I’ve always considered myself a journalist, even after leaving daily newspapers 21 years ago. But the nature of that relationship changed with time and trends.  In college during the late 1990s, our journalism professor bemoaned “citizen journalism,” a reference to the idea… Read More →

New book reimagines America’s folk history

What causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall? If you didn’t know, you might worry that these life-giving events could suddenly stop. That’s why many ancient myths formed, and why humans keep making myths in modern times. The amount we don’t know only grows as we open new realms of knowledge. Myths… Read More →

Companies crowd to mine newly viable West Range iron ore

Last week, I met someone who knew my writing and he was shocked to see that I was “young.” I put “young” in quotation marks because it’s a relative term. I think in this case he was really saying that he was surprised that I wasn’t old, because he figured I would be.  It’s true,… Read More →

To build and rebuild

When I was young, I could spend a whole afternoon building a city of blocks, filling its streets with Matchbox cars. But if my mom asked me to spend one hour cleaning my room, I’d declare bankruptcy. I don’t have time for THAT! We like to build things, or have them built for us, but… Read More →

What’s black and white and gray all over? New cars

Prince sang about a little red Corvette. Bruce Springsteen told of a pink Cadillac. It’s hard to picture a ’57 Chevy that isn’t that perfect shade of blue. Chances are, the car of your dreams rolls through your mind in living color. Nobody fantasizes about a white Toyota Camry, even though — statistically speaking —… Read More →

New podcast: Meeting Mesabi

Discover the Range, the Iron Range tourism agency, recently launched a new podcast called “Meeting Mesabi. I appear on the second episode. We recorded last summer at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. Host Ceasar Ortega, fellow guest Jordan Metsa and I talked about the fascinating history of the Iron Range and how it shaped… Read More →

The tyranny of ordinary objects

Kids love balloons. Why not? They’re balls that float. I remember how helium balloons from the circus seemed like they could fly to the moon. The ones filled with dad’s cigarette smoke didn’t exactly float, but they were still fun. My parents bought us a whole bag of balloons once. I struggled to blow hard… Read More →

Racing for solutions in rural EMS crisis

A financial crisis threatens rural emergency medical services across the country, especially right here in our own back yard. Increased attention to the issue in recent months has yet to improve the situation. But, at last, more leaders at every level of government are beginning to act. Their efforts will determine whether regions like ours… Read More →