This morning MinnPost carried a Cyndy Brucato column about Iron Range DFLers echo GOP mining rhetoric in letter to Klobuchar, Franken. Reading it, and the responses from Senators Klobuchar and Franken, left me with the extremely unusual feeling of being the only adult in the room. (I think it's only happened once or twice before. ; >) Let me first try to clarify a few points as background. I'm not against development. I'm not against mining. I do believe we have a deeply flawed system that hinders our ability to provide both living wage jobs and a clean, livable, enjoyable environment. I further believe this flawed system is made even less workable by political "solutions" that often make Republicans and Democrats look like the Hatfields and McCoys and sometimes makes the Democrats themselves look like, oh, never mind. And, finally, I know there are alternatives to the mining versus the environment war.
northern Minnesota © harrington
Here's ten basics as I see them:
Buckminster Fuller is supposed to have observed that “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Do you suppose that might apply to the Iron Range, mining, and economic development in northern Minnesota? It's about work and earning a good living, isn't it?
- Minnesota has a history of iron mining.
- That means there should be iron mine areas that have been successfully reclaimed and turned into assets.
- Here's a link to MN DNR's web page on mine reclamation. (I'm underwhelmed by the examples of mining reclamation success.)
- Minnesota's Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board's page is a little better, but still nothing to really brag about, in my opinion.
- We're losing sight of the human context of the issues when we frame them as jobs versus the environment. Both are needed for a thriving human community.
- Our next door neighbor to the north is working toward the concept of sustainable mining.
- There's an existing knowledge base on sustainable mining that can be built on and added to.
- There's a proven economic development concept called Economic Gardening from which Minnesota, and the Iron Range in particular, might be able to gain a substantial benefit.
- There's a number of Democratic Minnesota politicians and environmentalists reengaging on longstanding, unresolved issues instead of solving 21st century problems.
- As a recovering planner, I can tell you that "more of the same never solved a problem."
What Work Is
just because you don’t know what work is.We stand in the rain in a long linewaiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.You know what work is—if you’reold enough to read this you know whatwork is, although you may not do it.Forget you. This is about waiting,shifting from one foot to another.Feeling the light rain falling like mistinto your hair, blurring your visionuntil you think you see your own brotherahead of you, maybe ten places.You rub your glasses with your fingers,and of course it’s someone else’s brother,narrower across the shoulders thanyours but with the same sad slouch, the grinthat does not hide the stubbornness,the sad refusal to give in torain, to the hours of wasted waiting,to the knowledge that somewhere aheada man is waiting who will say, “No,we’re not hiring today,” for anyreason he wants. You love your brother,now suddenly you can hardly standthe love flooding you for your brother,who’s not beside you or behind orahead because he’s home trying tosleep off a miserable night shiftat Cadillac so he can get upbefore noon to study his German.Works eight hours a night so he can singWagner, the opera you hate most,the worst music ever invented.How long has it been since you told himyou loved him, held his wide shoulders,opened your eyes wide and said those words,and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve neverdone something so simple, so obvious,not because you’re too young or too dumb,not because you’re jealous or even meanor incapable of crying inthe presence of another man, no,
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.