But with the help of guest commentators, we also sought to frame important debates, broaden the range of discourse, seek voices too often unheard — basically kick up some dust.
We’ve turned to established writers like Aaron Brown, who has become an elegant analyst of the North Country. At other times we’ve amplified less familiar voices like Don Lehnhoff, who wrote an essay on visiting a friend in prison; and Dana Relph, who wrote an appreciation for her late father, state Sen. Jerry Relph.
Some highlights of a year in commentary:
After the police killing of George Floyd, former labor leader Javier Morillo wrote a sharply analytical piece that attracted national attention about what to do with police unions, which are perceived as a major obstacle to police reform.
D.A. Bullock had an insightful piece on how Black America is over-policed and under-protected.
Anita Gaul sought to convey what it’s like to be a rural Democrat these days, and what it’s like to be a woman running for office in greater Minnesota. Both pieces attracted major readership and online discussion.
Experienced public servant Charlene Briner wrote about the wrenching experience of having a son at Stillwater Prison get COVID-19.
Alphonse Munoz, 18, contributed an inspiring piece about voting for the first time because his brother, a Dreamer, can’t.
Michael Friedman sparked a lot of discussion about the future of the Minneapolis Police Department when he sketched out his own alternative to the status quo.
Kiara Ellis implored readers to remember the women of color business owners hit with the double wallop of the coronavirus and Floyd unrest — the photo is worth the price of admission. While two small business owners in Minneapolis argued the police department’s off duty policies are badly in need of reform.
Nora Clark wrote about being on the front lines of the pandemic as a home health aide, one of the fastest growing and lowest paid jobs in the economy.
Camille Gage hosted a fascinating colloquy among three moral philosophers about the ethical grounding of nonviolent protest, a timely topic in the months after the Floyd demonstrations, looting and riots.
Regular contributor Deena Winter wrote about what it’s like having family who don’t take COVID-19 seriously.
Jennifer Schultz wrote a series of columns on health care outcomes and economics, including this bracing one about the legacy of racism in American medicine.
And, we’ll always treasure our first guest column — on the need to protect the Boundary Waters — by former Vice President Walter Mondale.