Seeds of hope despite the odds

Well, it finally happened. I talked to the beans.  Gardening does not come naturally to me. I was raised on my family’s junkyard where vegetation grew mostly out of spite, certainly without the aid of human hands. But in recent years I’ve taken over the role of household gardener from my wife after she classified… Read More →

When profits pile costs on people

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, this one tackling the rising cost of housing and health care that most affects working class people. The piece is called “Cost of living is our harshest tax.” Here’s a taste: We’ve all experienced economic inflation this past year. Consumer costs rise along with commodity… Read More →

Making sense of horses

Early in my teaching career I invited my community college students to introduce themselves on the first day of class. One young woman said, “I’m a horse person.” For some inexplicable reason this made no sense to me. “Horse person?” I replied incredulously. “Yes,” she said. “Horse.” “Yeah.” “Person.” “That’s right.” “Like, a centaur?” I… 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 →

When the road is off

It occurs to me, for all the rugged off-roading we see in television ads, we never see a vehicle driving down a gravel road in northern Minnesota just before the frost thaws. There’s a reason for that. These magical pickup trucks and all-terrain sport utility vehicles seem to work just fine spraying a perfect wave… Read More →

Virtual Chef’s Gala fundraiser show returns this week

You might recall that earlier this winter I was supposed to co-host the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank Chef’s Gala fundraiser program. Unfortunately, the show was postponed due to a COVID-19 spike in Itasca and Crow Wing counties. The event will return this Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. amid an improved COVID situation… 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 →

Ondara to play Hibbing HS auditorium April 23

This Saturday, April 23, the singer-songwriter Ondara will appear on the Hibbing High School auditorium stage. Northern Community Radio presents the free concert at 7 p.m. thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Though pre-ordered tickets were available at, additional seating will be available first come, first served on… Read More →

We are in the automated future

It started long ago. Big trucks and steam shovels replaced small hoppers filled by men with spades. Machines took over for pinsetters at the bowling alley. Before long we were pumping our own gas. Now we scan our own groceries, making sure to check the codes on the bananas before ringing up our purchase, paying,… Read More →

Legacy visions in Bob Dylan’s hometown

Just after World War II, Abram and Beatty Zimmerman moved their family from Duluth back to Beatty’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. But not really.  Beatty’s real hometown had been destroyed. The houses were ripped away; brick buildings scrapped. In 24-hour shifts, machines stripped away the earth below like flesh from the bone. Men dynamited solid… Read More →