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Iron Range, Minnesota – Home on the Range – by Molly Enich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Iron Range, Minnesota – Home on the Range – by Molly Enich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[First picture: Chisholm High School, built 1912]

“Cabin country” is what people from the Twin Cities refer to the area north of Duluth as. However, this isn’t cabin country to me. It’s where I was born and raised. The Iron Range is a streak of iron ore-rich land that stretches 110 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely. More than twenty small towns with an average population of 3,000 people each are strung along the line of ore that is mined for steel. The red dirt and scarred land from more than 100 years of open-pit ore mining are telltale signs you are on the Iron Range.

Iron ore, which is the raw material for steel, was discovered on the Iron Range in the late 1800’s. The area was first mined underground, but then transitioned to open-pit mining in the early 1900’s. Years of open pit mining have created towering piles of rejected iron ore and huge “pits” that are now filled with water.

The Iron Range’s mining industry has always been globally connected. The area was the main producer of ore that was shipped to steel mills throughout both world wars. Between 1941 and 1945, the Iron Range produced 338 million tons of ore, which accounted for 90% of the nation’s output. The area grew to its fullest capacity during the war, but when it ended, the region started its slow decline. The high grade iron ore supply was finally depleting after nearly 100 years of steady mining, so the mines switched to mining a lower grade ore called taconite. With only 6 remaining mines on the Range today, the area still produces 50% of the nation’s ore. However, the mining industry is vulnerable to national and global economic cycles.

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[Second Picture: Downtown Chisholm where nearly 1/3rd of the buildings are empty]

National and global demands for iron ore cause cycles of boom and bust on the Iron Range. Because the mining industry dominates the local economy, every business is affected by the mines highs and lows. If production in the mines is increased, the whole economy receives a boost and businesses flourish. However, if the mines lay off their workers, local grocery stores, shops, and businesses feel the effects as well. Because the mines have been in a steady decline for over 15 years, downtown businesses have closed leaving the main streets of towns nearly empty.

With few opportunities for jobs that aren’t involved with the mining industry, many people move to larger cities in search of more opportunities. Since 1982, the population has declined by nearly 20,000 people. Empty houses, streets, and storefronts make some towns feel abandoned. There are also more young people moving away from the Iron Range, which has caused class sizes at local schools to decline by 60%.

I graduated from Chisholm High School in 2014 with a class of 38 people. I knew everyone’s middle name, their dog’s name, and what their hobbies were. Although we were a very small school, it was fun to know everyone as well as I did. The teachers I had throughout high school were some of the same ones that taught my parents. Even while I was in class, there was no forgetting what the local industry was. Every Wednesday at 11:30, our 100-year-old school would rumble and shake from the aftershocks of the nearby mine’s blasting the ground to expose more iron ore.

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[Third Picture: Pillsbury mine pit near Chisholm]

Even though the Iron Range is in a state of steady economic and population decline, it was a great place to grow up. It has a small town feel where everyone knows your last name or who your grandparents are. It’s a land full of hundreds of lakes and acres of untouched forests that comes to life in the summer with tourists and cabin-goers. The Iron Range is home to many diverse people, but they all share a connection to the region’s mining culture.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Molly Enich, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar— The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar. 2013. By Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, and Ryan Christofferson.

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[Film poster from: http://uocal.uottawa.ca/en/node/11166 ]

Poverty. One dollar a day. Microfinance. Malnutrition. These words are used frequently during conversations about global poverty and international development. But what do these words really mean? What do they look like in real life? College students Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple set out on a mission to find out for themselves. In their documentary Living on One Dollar, Ingrasci and Temple, along with two film students, agree to live on one dollar a day—internationally accepted as the extreme poverty line—in Pena Blañca, Guatemala, a small village where many people work as farm laborers for about a dollar a day. The team documents their attempt to live as authentically as possible on their meager income for 52 days, while also researching how their neighbors survive and plan their finances with so little to work with.

What a photographer’s micro lens is to his wide-angle shot, this documentary is to overarching discussions of poverty and development. The producers take us for a close, intimate look at how poverty plays out in the lives of real people. Malnutrition, lack of money for education and health care, lack of clean water, and lack of savings in case of disaster: these are the challenges that living on one dollar a day presents.

As Temple and Ingrasci embed themselves in village life and make friends, we begin to see these challenges come to life. Inquisitive, friendly, twelve-year-old Chico, has resigned himself, already, to a life as a farm laborer—working long, hard hours for an income that will barely sustain his family in the future. We meet Rosa, who has to defer her dream of attending school because there isn’t enough money for school fees. Such stories abound, but the film presents reasons to hope. The students explore how gaining access to credit and a savings plan via microfinance banks can aid families in earning more income. Rosa utilizes this type of system and is able to pay her school fees so she may continue to study. Additionally, Temple and Ingrasci stumble upon a unique way of communal savings that their neighbors utilize, in which each member in turn benefits from the collective savings, which is substantially more than each would be able to save alone. This is one of the more ingenious ways of survival Temple and Ingrasci discover but not the only example.

Along with ingenuity, they find warmth, generosity, curiosity, hardship, misery—hard lives led by hardened, yet generous people. They also discover that living on one dollar a day is something they were not prepared for, nor is it a lifestyle they would like to continue. But the point of their experiment is clear: life at this income level is hard and dangerous. Ultimately, Living on One Dollar asks us to imagine what it would be like to not have enough food, to not have access to health care when ill, and to not have the money to send a child to school. The perspective and the individual stories the viewer experience are what make Living on One Dollar an educational and moving documentary.

For more information, see:

http://livingonone.org/about/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2625598/

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang