Talkin’ Iron Range blues on the ‘Mississippi Valley Traveler’ podcast

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column featuring a new book about traveling along the Mississippi River by Dean Klinkenberg. A few weeks later, I appeared as a guest on Dean’s podcast to talk about the Iron Range. You can now listen to my interview on Dean’s podcast. It’s an hour-long talk, and we… Read More →

Public talk to explore past, future of Iron Range schools

I know it’s summer vacation, but here’s the deal: I love school. I loved preschool. They had this crane that used magnets to pick up blocks. I loved kindergarten. I learned to read early, which felt like a superpower. This continued all the way through college. Sitting in lectures for classes my advisor put me… Read More →

Interview highlights relatability of rural health care woes

After my latest essay, “Health care ‘implosion’ in Greater Minnesota,” in the Minnesota Reformer, I received many kind comments and some very insightful responses. Trying to help my mom after her stroke has been something of a private matter until now. It’s nice to feel the support, even when we’re all still exploring what solutions… Read More →

Lecture will detail 1920s Klan activity on the Iron Range

Public lectures were once a hot ticket on the Iron Range. Before TV, streaming services and YouTube, you had to see someone talk at the local auditorium if you wanted to go down an informational rabbit hole.  Well, these days, some of us try to keep the tradition alive. I’ll be giving a free public… Read More →

Rural health care system barely holding on

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Read it now. Longtime readers know that my mother suffered a serious stroke in late 2022 that changed her life and, to a lesser extent, mine. Every time we see a new doctor or medical provider, they look at her chart and remark how few… Read More →

U.S. Steel merger reveals complexity of foreign investment

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer, “Allies in Alloys” is out today. Check it out. After covering iron mining on the Mesabi Range for a couple decades, I’ve observed several mergers, acquisitions, shutdowns and assorted skullduggery. What I learned is that the mining business is a highly specialized analog to our political system. One must… Read More →

What goes up ain’t ever coming back

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, entitled “A Fistful of Helium.” This one’s been floating around my office like an old birthday balloon for several months. In fact, the helium discovery near Babbitt is one of the topics I’m most asked about when I’m out and about. I hadn’t written anything… Read More →

Curtailing power of professional influence in Minnesota

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer, “Democracy for sale or rent,” is out today. It’s about lobbying, specifically how the power-dynamic of our elected government is shaped by agents with an unfair advantage.  Lobbying has been part of American politics from the beginning.  In the colonial days, an elected delegate strolling the town square… Read More →

Big promises cost small towns valuable time and energy

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer just went live. Remember in January when someone proposed building a space port in Hoyt Lakes? You’d be excused for forgetting. News turns over quick these days. But it happened. And while it’s technically possible that a multi-billion dollar space port will be constructed on the Iron Range,… Read More →

De’myth’tifying Minnesota

A couple weeks ago I reviewed a new novel reframing the Paul Bunyan myth that still prevails in Minnesota tourism and culture. Today, I share a new essay for the Minnesota Reformer entitled “Paul Bunyan and the weight of myth.” This piece digs deeper into the Bunyan story and how it shaped the cultural perception… Read More →