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 →

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 →

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 →

Frogs, dogs and the soul within

So there I was, driving down the road. I checked my side mirror only to see a northern gray tree frog hanging onto the side of my minivan. But it wasn’t just clamped on like one of those old Garfield windows clings. Rather, its froggy back legs dangled precariously in the highway wind. One tiny… Read More →

The meaning of independence

Today is Independence Day.  In the United States, July 4 is always Independence Day, our country’s birthday. But this year brings new meaning to the words and symbols of our national holiday.  Here in northern Minnesota this weekend teems with traditional celebrations — parades, Iron Range street dances, and spectacular fireworks displays. With COVID-19 rates… Read More →

People, like water, must flow somewhere

All water flows from one place to another. Water moves from high ground to low, through peat and sand, slowly cutting mighty stones into sediment. Then it changes form. Evaporates. Falling back to earth, water begins anew. I grew up in the St. Louis River watershed, specifically the Sax-Zim bog that drains into the southbound… Read More →

Reassurances on the longest day

Today has long day written all over it. This is my favorite contextual joke of all time, one I proudly deliver each year on the summer solstice. My Facebook memories record each year’s entry, always the same.  You might think I tell this joke because I am a dad. But I’ve been doing this long… Read More →