The Real Deal: Ranger Culture

Like any rural place, here on the Iron Range we have our own distinct culture. When I taught “culture” at our local community college, I would begin by asking my students to describe the clothes, hobbies and behaviors that were “Ranger.” Invariably students would begin by noting flannels and Carharts. They would say we hunt and fish, and we ride ATVs. But then a student would disagree, sharing they didn’t like those things. They liked to ski! We would add mountain biking, snowshoeing, soccer… Students were photographers, and dancers, and artists. The longer we talked, the more diverse the descriptions of Rangers would become. So what is Ranger culture? (more…)

Good Coffee and Building Community

Stopping at the Black Bear Bakery and Cafe in Chisholm yesterday was one of those great small town moments. My intention was to simply meet and welcome the new owners and express my great appreciation for their coffee shop (whenever I bike at Redhead Mountain Bike Park I invariably start to crave a cup of strong, dark coffee. Now there’s a place to get it right there!) But I left feeling inspired by entrepreneurs and those small business owners who build our Range communities. (more…)

Fall Forest Bathing

Today is a perfect, fall day. The color is just turning, and the sun is warm. I took a short walk on the trail across the street to get away from the computer and organize my thoughts. With one step onto the trail I felt like I could BREATH.

No surprise, according to the article How Autumn Leaves Color Our Inner Lives. The brightly hued leaves of autumn can be an excellent stress reliever. (more…)

Safe Play for All

When I think about great places to live, build a HOME, activity plays a huge role. Perhaps this is inborn in all Range folks. We are used to easy access to relatively unpopulated areas in which to hike, bike, snowshoe, and ATV. We are used to playgrounds that aren’t scary–filled with needles, garbage, and riff-raff. We still trust that, overall, we live in a safe place.

This perception of safety is an important element of equitable access: when it comes to physical activity, we Rangers have equal opportunity to get moving regardless of our social indicators. (more…)

Range Schools are Great–and there’s proof

Growing up in Hibbing we always heard that Hibbing had the BEST education. Some of this was word of mouth, perhaps based on the 1968 Bellamy Award given to one school each year to honor outstanding academics. But part was and IS based on fact: Rock Ridge, Mesabi East, Mountain Iron-Buhl, and Hibbing High all have graduation rates in the 90th percentile, above the State median, and Hibbing outperformed the State on all three categories of the Minnesota Comprehensive Exams in 2019. (more…)


Working with regional Economic Development folks the message is clear: we don’t have enough workforce. Just a week ago, my daughter, her friend and I were dissuaded from eating at a restaurant in Duluth when folks waiting for their food said they had waited (eyes rolling upward) for :45 (and still counting). The place was simply short staffed.

Boom and bust Iron Range history has shown us a long cycle of immigration and emigration. (more…)

Building Community through Volunteerism

One of the themes of #Welcoming Week is a focus on Civic Engagement. ThoughtCo. defines civic engagement as participation in activities that improve one’s community or address wider social issues (including political or non-political activities), and it can include the electoral process, volunteering, and advocacy or activism. Perhaps it is the change in weather to the nice crisp air of fall, but as I thought about volunteer efforts that touch my heart, I thought about the Salvation Army Christmas tree program–a program where little ones’ anonymous “wish lists” are hung on Christmas trees in local stores, and community members can adopt a gift recipient by fulfilling the wish list. (more…)

“Welcomers” Abound!

Today marks the official start of “Welcoming Week,” “an annual campaign that connects neighbors of all backgrounds.” Today’s topic is “welcomers–” people who show hospitality and invite folks into their worlds. (more…)

Iron Range Values

Values are what we think are important in life. Examples include, “honesty,” “dependability,” “family,” and “respect.” (There are MANY! Google “values list” and look at some examples if you need more ideas).

When I think about the people living here on the Iron Range, I see shared values. Rangers are a certain type. We have to be given the changeable climate, rural surroundings, and relative lack of “big city” amenities. I’m biased, but I think Rangers are some of the best people.

So, at Hello Range, we would like to know. If you were to pick one, what is a core value all Iron Rangers share?

Take our one question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XX6V8JS

Results will be posted!

Welcoming Week Intro

Welcoming Week Sept 8-17

Welcoming Week is a global campaign that connects neighbors of all backgrounds in their communities, and we are excited to participate. Here on the Iron Range, a community rich in immigration history, we celebrate the values that unite us as immigrants and non-immigrants.

Like many Rangers, my great grandparents were immigrants to the area–specifically, Finnish immigrants.

  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Iron Range Tourism Bureau
  • L&M Radiator
  • Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation