A rural take in defense of Rep. Jean Wagenius

A farmer friend emailed us yesterday:

Jean Wagenius has been a friend of family farmers in the last two years(and for that matter for a whole lot of years that she has served in the legislature) that she chaired the environment and agriculture finance committee on a number of issues, naming two of which are pollinators and “Forever Green”. She has been a strong defender of environmental review and gets that rural citizens should have rights to have a say about air and water quality in their community. Republican leadership acts like they are going to be bi-partisan but actions are louder than words. Continue Reading

It’s National Newspaper Week — read on!

Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President One hopes it is the same half.

-Gore Vidal

If you’re a tweeter, texter, app-addicted news junkie you may be blissfully unaware that this very week, October 5-11, 2014, is the 74th Annual National Newspaper Week. Moreover Tuesday, October 7, is the first ever National News Engagement Day. Continue Reading

A snapshot of tribal libraries: 40-89 percent do not have broadband access!

The first 6 months of the year I spent time every month on the Fond du Lac reservation – specifically at the tribal center in Cloquet. There’s a library in the tribal center – with computers and good broadband. And once I month I was in the building providing some kind of Internet/computer training. Turns out FdL is top of the class when compared to other tribal libraries. Continue Reading


Crowded classrooms: Mapping it out

Minnesota has consistently ranked among the relatively low in terms of pupil-teacher ratios in recent years. However, the pattern shown on the map below reveals that even adjacent school districts can have dramatically different average student-teacher ratios. Thus, it is clear that there is no single cause for the variation in ratios across the state; race, income, and basic population density all come into play. Continue Reading


One rural community responds to climate change

Extreme weather brought on by climate change will affect each community differently. Rural communities face particular challenges, as they often have higher transportation and energy costs, and their economy is frequently linked to agriculture—a sector directly impacted by a changing climate. But as we learned at the first Rural Climate Dialogue held in Morris, Minn., last week there are effective community-level options to respond to these climate concerns—as well as important opportunities for rural communities to be part of the climate solution. Continue Reading