Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author, community college instructor and radio producer from Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.


The northland has its own housing crisis

By: - May 25, 2023

A successful marriage requires many ingredients, several of which I had to locate after the fact. But for my wife and me, a mutual desire to live on a lake in northern Minnesota sure helped. I distinctly recall the phone conversation after our first date when we stumbled on this shared goal.  Seven years later […]


Democracy checks power; that’s why it’s in danger

By: - April 13, 2023

These are darkening days for global democracy. Notions that all the world’s people would engage in egalitarian self-governance seem like grains of sand slipping through our fingers.  Russia stabs at Ukraine with its full force while suppressing dissent among its own people. China’s government entrenches autocracy as its population and economy both stagnate. Mexico clamps […]


Um, like, the humans are speaking

By: - March 27, 2023

In almost 20 years of teaching public speaking at a community college, I’ve seen it all. A guy who could solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 20 seconds. A dead owl passed around the class as a misguided visual aid. More than once I’ve seen a terrified person deliver a profoundly moving speech.  Public speaking […]


Bog is dead: The waning defense of Minnesota wetlands

By: - February 21, 2023

Early one Sunday morning my son’s Boy Scout troop toured a small research facility in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota. As the presentation began, someone handed me a chunk of wood.  Researchers sawed this simple round from a tree pulled out of a nearby bog. It was perfectly preserved, even […]


Hope for the Iron Range economy, but we must put the past behind us

By: - January 9, 2023

At the hunting shack this year, my grandfather Ward Brown, Jr., told how a high school friend saved him from getting beat up by a Chisholm gang back around 1952. Not long after, this friend lay dead in the wreck of his restored ’32 Chevy on the road between Side Lake and Hibbing. No “Leave […]


Iron Range, seething at the Twin Cities, continues right turn

By: - November 11, 2022

Iron Range Republicans have been waiting for an election like Tuesday’s their whole lives. No, really. There hasn’t been one this good for the local GOP since Hoover.  Republican Rob Farnsworth won the open State Senate seat in the central Mesabi Range by a solid seven-point margin. This is the beating heart of the Iron […]

As Range mine’s ore runs low, election year drama runs high

By: - October 28, 2022

Hibbing Taconite is either going to close in early 2024 or stay open for decades.  It depends on who’s telling the truth — and the role politics played in a botched story about 740 jobs being lost as Minnesota’s second largest mine runs out of iron ore. It all begins midday Thursday with this breaking news […]


Sen. Paul Wellstone and the portents of his death, two decades later

By: - October 24, 2022

When I was a kid I spent most summers riding my bicycle along every back road within 25 miles of our house near Forbes. This habit toured me through the nooks and crannies of the Mesabi Iron Range, the geography of which still wallpapers the interior of my brain. I went everywhere, but there was […]


Fascism from Italy to Hibbing and back again

By: - September 27, 2022

In 2018, I traveled 4,000 miles to interview a man named Victor Befera about our shared hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. Vic was 92 then. He’s still kicking at 96. Though he spent most of his life as a successful newspaper and marketing man in northern California, Vic grew up on the Mesabi Iron Range in […]


New labor movement might save America just yet

By: - August 18, 2022

“We’re being treated unfairly and we’re not going to take it.” — Kasey Copeland, Minneapolis Starbucks barista and union organizer, 2022 When the union organizer showed up, all the small town’s upstanding citizens agreed he was a disgrace. Here he was, still sweaty from yesterday’s train, slicked hair talking to workers about how they were […]


Stop vibing and start thinking

By: - July 18, 2022

Lately, I’ve been seeing the phrase “Good Vibes Only” more often. It’s one of those popular sayings that fit nicely on coffee mugs, t-shirts and decorative throw pillows. The term may go back to the 1960s, but was popularized more recently beginning in 2011. Interestingly, that’s roughly when our nation began to figuratively reject its […]


From Mesaba Energy to Foxconn, boondoggles light money on fire | Essay

By: - June 22, 2022

An old friend in Iron Range politics once said it was easier to get people riled up about $25,000 in wasted taxpayer money than $10 million. “Twenty-five grand is a pickup truck,” he told me. “Ten million is incomprehensible.” Pickups cost $50,000 now — more if you want your butt warmed while you idle in […]