A world wide web of unintended consequences

For 20 years, I’ve advocated for high speed internet to create economic sustainability in rural areas like mine. And I still believe that this policy remains necessary. But in my latest piece for the Minnesota Reformer, out today, I explore the unintended consequences. All this time, I’ve had a blind spot. The divides that existed… 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 →

Finally, a prestige drama about millwrights

We’ve been watching “Silo” on Apple TV. This mysterious science fiction story depicts a 144-floor silo where people have been living so long that they can’t remember how they got there. It’s a good show, but what really caught my attention was the fact that the main character is a millwright. Most folks on the… Read More →

Raise the blue flags of summer

“I am an old woman,” sings John Prine in his classic song “Angel from Montgomery.” She’s full of desire but has no way to leave. “The years just flow by like a broken down dam.” John Prine songs always relate to specific people and feelings. And lately, I relate to the idea that the years… Read More →

A shapeless state

Like many Minnesotans, I’ve taken inordinate pride in the shape of my state. It’s a strange bird with an enormous beak that extends over Lake Superior and a club foot down by Mankato. The jaunty little Northwest Angle sticks out like a feather on its head, a symbol of our quirky personality and incompetent cartographers…. Read More →

Rare success story for bird social services

Nature is tragedy. So it was the day an eastern phoebe nest fell 30 feet from the top of a security light on my father-in-law’s garage. Four chicks tumbled, three to their death. But one little bird stayed in the nest and survived the landing. My wife received an urgent call for us to come… Read More →

Why no Fourth of July schedule?

Longtime readers know that for the past several years I’ve prepared a concise listing of Iron Range Fourth of July parades, street dances and fireworks displays. It was routinely among the most popular posts I produced each year as thousands read and shared the schedule with friends and families. I’ve decided not to produce this… Read More →

Talking resource politics

Last week I spoke via Zoom to the Tamarack Water Alliance, an environmental group that formed recently in Aitkin County. As I explain in the introduction, I don’t take aggressive positions in these mining proposal debates because I’m trying to learn more and generate productive conversation. But this group asked me to speak and I… Read More →

I am lord of beans

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Minnesota, will grow lights become less expensive or more expensive? My query has nothing to do with pot. Age 43 seems like a bad time to start doing pot. But it’s a great time to get really excited about growing beans, which is where I’m at these days…. Read More →