As he leaves a small cafe in Ely, Gerald Tyler approaches two middle-aged women and whispers a joke. They smile politely.
He walks gingerly, a leftover cost from his years in the military. In a patterned sweater that appears to have 30 years of mileage on it, he appears more the goofy grandfather than major mining activist.
But when he's through the doors of his main street office, a transformation occurs. This is the headquarters of Up North Jobs, a group devoted to finding new economic opportunities for this struggling town. And to succeed in this quest, Tyler must play the warrior, fighting to bring back the jobs that have slowly slipped away from Ely over the past 50 years, courtesy of the decline in mining.
Lawn signs lining the walls telegraph Tyler's strategy to restore Ely. "We Support Mining!" one reads. "Mining Supports Us," another one says.
"This is our livelihoods," he explains.
Tyler comes loaded with a war chest, a sprawling mess of economic data, newspaper articles, and ads. They show how a new type of mining — for precious metals like copper and nickel — could save this town.More »