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 →

A world that grew from stumps and slash

This weekend, I’m giving another lecture stemming from an unexpected twist in my book research. “A World That Grew From Stumps and Slash,” will be Saturday, Jan. 20, from 1-3 p.m. at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The cost is regular park admission, but that means you can check out the museum… Read More →

Notions of race in an immigrant culture

In almost eight years of research, writing and editing on my current book, I’ve learned a few things. One is that our views of history are shaped by our preexisting knowledge of how it turns out. We become enamored with alternate outcomes or unusual events that seem to have shaped fate. However, the people of… Read More →


Today the Minnesota Reformer published my latest essay about about the new $68 million cannabis facility proposed for a shuttered Grand Rapids factory. The short version is that I’m skeptical. The long version gets to the root of that issue. The title of this post refers to the notion of commercial weed on the Iron… Read More →

Local autonomous vehicles drive change

Someone has to be the first. In 1922, a Paris tailor named Franz Reichelt jumped off the Eifel Tower with a homemade parachute suit. He died, of course, but this was part of a process.  A century later, adventurers scream through canyons in sleek wing suits while recording YouTube videos from their helmets. Better material…. Read More →

Amid ‘disruption,’ the people deserve their share

Our language pulses with buzzwords, twists of phrase that sound substantial but can’t be defined. One such word is “disruption.” The last 10 years, it would seem, have been a time of disruption. Disruption, we are told, is really just an opportunity for the bold, the brilliant, and the worthy to seize success. LinkedIn, prosperity… Read More →

Spitting bile won’t bring economic success

Last week, the Mesabi Tribune reported that Huber Engineered Woods will build its next plant in Mississippi. Months ago they opted not to build that plant at Cohasset in northern Minnesota. Huber pulled out after a legal challenge from the neighboring Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe required them to submit more detailed environmental paperwork. The… Read More →

Rural housing prices rise with changing times

Memorial Day weekend approaches, a time when residents of northern Minnesota welcome the residents of southern Minnesota for the long weekend. Perhaps before you log off to enjoy the next few days you might read my latest for the Minnesota Reformer, “The northland has its own housing crisis.” Summer custom dictates that visitors from the… Read More →

Beaver dams inspire bad ideas

Setting off an explosion that floods your neighbors’ property sounds bad. I guess it is bad. But I see how it might happen. Last month in northern Michigan’s Montmorency County, a man shoved a large block of Tannerite into a beaver dam near his property. Tannerite is a kind of explosive used in firearm targets…. 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 →