Spring’s New Iron Ranger Library-Gatherings Come to a Close

Tomorrow we host the last of our Spring Library “New Iron Ranger Gatherings.” Over the last three months, Hello, Range! has been hosting monthly meet-ups at the Hibbing, Virginia and Hoyt Lakes Public Libraries. These gatherings were created to provide a friendly, easy-access place for new folks in the region to connect into community, because as one participant put it,

“Where do you meet people here if you don’t go to bars?”

This is the question! In our small, Iron Range towns, longtime residents have well established hobbies and networks. But if you are new here–really, if you are new to any small town–it can be hard to get to know people.

Each month our Spring “Gatherings” had a topic of focus. In April I gave a brief, high-level overview of regional history starting with the Ojibwe through the discovery of iron ore and influx of immigrants, ending in today’s development of recreation through mine-land reclamation and interim use.

In May we talked about gardening, and Jessalyn Sabin from the University of Minnesota Extension Office provided planting and gardening tips for our region. At Hibbing’s meet-up, Chamber President Shelly Hanson stepped in as moderator, and Mr. Ed’s Farm talked about their farm and the Hibbing Farmer’s Market. In Hoyt Lakes, the Hoyt Lakes Gardening Club attended and connected with existing and new potential volunteers.

In June we covered two topics: recreation and Juneteenth. In Hibbing, Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists, Kari Kilen of Redhead Red Feet (hiking), and Ann Bussey with Silver Sneakers joined in to connect folks with the silent sports and exercise offerings. In Virginia, Voices of Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness in NE MN (VEMA) talked with us about navigating the Iron Range as BIPOC folks and the Juneteenth celebration occurring the day following our meeting.

Tomorrow we are back in Hoyt Lakes and discussing recreation, this time minutes from Giant’s Ridge.

What stands out as I reflect on these sessions is the diversity in attendees. We have single people, married couples, young families, new retirees, LGBTQ, English as additional language speakers, and BIPOC people join us. People have moved to the Iron Range from all over the world for a variety of reasons (starting a new job, retiring to their second home, choosing a rural life and working remotely…), but all attend hoping to connect into community.

Interests vary, from long-distance trail-running to rucking, foraging to gardening, fishing, quilting, theater, and exercise classes… One thing I found personally delightful was bumping into some of my new Iron Rangers at the Victory 5K in Hibbing this past spring. It was a rainy day, yet these hardy folks braved the weather and joined in on three miles of wet, shoe-soaking community fun.

Consistently, the new residents who attend our Gatherings are actively learning about the area and working to meet their neighbors. Thanks to our local libraries and partners, Hello, Range! has been able offer a gathering place with light dinners to help create regular landing places across the region.

With the turn of weather into summer, we are taking our Gatherings on the road, selecting regional events at which to meet-up and try some of the offerings in the area. The Mesabi Iron Range offers a breadth of music, food, and recreation–and we want folks to experience this.

Most importantly, we want people to find a home here on the Iron Range. Hello, Range! is designed to help our communities, schools and businesses thriving by helping people flourish. As Paul Wellstone said,

when we all do better, we all do better.

Special thanks to our partners. We truly couldn’t have done this without them:









  • Essentia Health Jobs
  • Iron Range Tourism Bureau
  • City of Hibbing
  • East Range Joint Powers Board
  • Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation
  • L&M Radiator
  • City of Chisholm
  • City of Virginia
  • Fairview
  • NewRange Copper Nickel
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