The last days of the Republic

People use the word “nostalgia” to describe fond remembrances of the past. But that’s not the real meaning.  Nostalgia comes from the Greek words nóstos álgos, or “pain of homecoming,” or perhaps “pain from an old wound.” It referred to the specific psychological aching that comes from remembering something that is gone. We feel nostalgia… Read More →

Solar winds of change in U.S. industrial policy

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. China invests untold billions into an industry before selling the product overseas at less than cost. That lets China capture global markets while driving competition out of business. You might think I’m talking about iron and steel, but today I’m talking about technology and renewable energy, fast-growing… Read More →

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 →

U.S. Steel sale a cause for concern, also curiosity

On the Mesabi Range, we spend lifetimes hoping for change before complaining when it happens. We’re like a dog that can’t decide whether to give back the ball for another throw or to keep gnawing on it. For two generations, steel industry stakeholders lamented a lack of investment in U.S. Steel’s mines and mills. Instead,… Read More →

Sun shines on Iron Range solar prospects

The Minnesota Reformer published my latest essay today, the first of the new year. This one is entitled “Solar energy shines on the Iron Range; will politics throw shade.” In the past ten years or so, the Iron Range’s relationship with the solar energy industry has been something of a roller coaster. In 2011, Silicon… Read More →

Rural EMS needs emergency policy solutions

Small towns and rural counties across the state face an emergency services crisis. Failure to solve the problem could leave rural people without timely access to advanced life support after accidents or medical incidents. On Nov. 25, I wrote about challenges facing the Nashwauk ambulance service in eastern Itasca County. In subsequent weeks, communities across… Read More →

Rethinking labor as change accelerates

Like many from the Iron Range, I take pride in my family’s long history of hard work. My ancestors include mechanics, railroad engineers, truck drivers, underground miners and Old World wrench-turners. But isn’t this a cliche? No one says they come from seven generations of lazy grifters. Few family crests read, “It Is What It… Read More →

Billions ain’t what they used to be

These last two weeks brought bittersweet poetry to business news. Relatives gathered around the bedside of our grandfather, U.S. Steel, after financial doctors warned he may not have much longer. Even his own board of directors said it might be time to pull the plug. Or perhaps you prefer mythology. The god Promethe-USX brought the… Read More →

Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel portends shakeup in Iron Range mining

Today, I have a news analysis piece running in the Minnesota Reformer: “Cliffs offer to buy U.S. Steel holds huge implications for the Iron Range.” On Sunday, the two biggest iron ore and steelmaking companies on the Iron Range signaled discussions that could lead to a consequential sale. U.S. Steel announced it was fielding offers… Read More →

Community builds strength to save health facility

In building fitness, our greatest obstacle is often ourselves. That’s true in building community, too.  Here on the Iron Range, people aren’t shy about what they want. On social media, people demand more chain restaurants. Sports complexes seem to beget calls for even more sports complexes. These are the desirable outcroppings of healthy communities, the… Read More →