Tensions over potential mine closure boil over days before election

I wrote several different versions of a post yesterday after news broke and then unbroke regarding the potential closure of Hibbing Taconite. Fortunately, I was too busy to post any of them before newer information came in. So today I wrote a piece for the Minnesota Reformer analyzing the complex economic and political storm brewing… Read More →

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 →

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 →

With great technology comes great responsibility

The other day I sat in a fast food restaurant listening to the gentle din of humanity. At one booth, a young mother struggled with a toddler. The scene brought back somewhat recent memories for me and my wife. An older woman stopped at this woman’s table to give unsolicited advice. My eyes widened, however,… Read More →

The restless hunger of America

Who are we, fellow Americans?  Are we words printed on sacred documents? Are we a melting pot or a tossed salad? Doubtless, we are new growth on a gash in the Earth.  Now, as we revel in our annual celebration of independence, we would do well to consider what that word means. In 1863, John… Read More →

Juneteenth: America’s freedom and future

Today is Juneteenth.  On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers informed enslaved people near Galveston, Texas, that they were now free. The date was colloquially referred to as Juneteenth. From that day forward, it became a celebrated holiday among these newly freed people. Within African-American communities, Juneteenth stood as America’s “Second Independence Day.” That’s a good way… Read More →

Talented couple dazzled Range baseball league in 1915

The belated, perhaps even aggressive arrival of spring this year draws attention to the sport of baseball. For me, baseball season means driving all over hell and back with our son’s travel team. But baseball was an even bigger deal a century ago. And in researching the past, I found a remarkable Iron Range story… Read More →

Veritas et scientia: e pluribus unum

Graduation day approaches for five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. And as it so happens, this will be the last graduation day before the beginning of a new era in the region’s long tradition of higher education. The festivities start Tuesday, May 10, when commencement takes place at Vermilion Community College in Ely. Vermilion… Read More →

Awesome ‘Blossom’ shows Hibbing memory in ‘Jeopardy’

You might remember the old Zimmy’s restaurant on Howard Street in Hibbing. Boomtown is there now, but for several decades this was a bar and grill that paid tribute to Hibbing’s hometown singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. For years, the only picture in the place that didn’t include Bob Dylan was a framed, autographed headshot of the… Read More →