Thursday, October 23, 2014

Claudia Schmidt, jazz and folk singer, to perform Oct. 25 at Orpheum Theater

Poster announcing concert by Claudia Schmidt, legendary jazz and folk singer, who will perform at the Orpheum Theater this Saturday, Oct. 25. Proceeds will benefit Save the Wild U.P. and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw. (Poster courtesy Orpheum Theater) 

HANCOCK -- Legendary jazz and folk singer Claudia Schmidt will be performing Saturday, Oct. 25, at The Orpheum Theater in Hancock to benefit Save the Wild UP and FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw).

The evening will begin with a Happy Hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by the concert at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door or in advance by credit card by calling (906) 485-5100.

Michigan native Claudia Schmidt is known for her original songs accompanied by her 12-string guitar and mountain dulcimer. To learn more about Schmidt and the 19 albums she has recorded and to listen to a sample of her singing, visit her web site claudiaschmidt.com.

The Orpheum Theater is at 426 Quincy St. in Hancock.

Green Party Candidate Ellis Boal to speak in Marquette TONIGHT, Oct. 23

MARQUETTE -- Ellis Boal, anti-fracking activist and Green Party candidate for U.S. House of Representatives (1st District), will speak at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Peter White Public Library, Lions Room 1st floor, in Marquette.

Ellis Boal, Green Party candidate for the District 1 U.S. Congressional seat now held by Republican incumbent Dan Benishek, will speak at the Peter White Library in Marquette tonight, Oct. 23. (Photo courtesy ellisboal.org.)

Boal is a labor/environmental attorney and long time Green Party member from northern Michigan who last year won an injunction against 13 huge frack wells, three of which would have been the largest in the U.S.

The public is invited to meet the candidate, ask questions about issues of concern and learn more about the political party that is challenging the two corporate parties.

League of Women Voters Forum in Traverse City to be broadcast

Ellis Boal participated in a League of Women Voters Forum in Traverse City, which will be broadcast on Interlochen Radio, available online, at 9 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Oct. 23. The forum was recorded on Tuesday, Oct. 21. UpNorth TV videotaped the forum and will feature it TODAY, Thursday, Oct. 23, at 4:30 p.m. It can also be viewed on a cablecast Friday, Oct. 24, and after that, online.

Republican (incumbent) Congressman Dan Benisheck, and Democratic candidate Jerry Cannon also participated in the forum.

To learn more about Ellis Boal, visit his Web site, ellisboal.org.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Sandra Perlow: Permeated Surfaces" to open at Finlandia Gallery Oct. 23

Open Stairway, by Sandra Perlow. Collage, pencil and canvas, 2014. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- "Sandra Perlow: Permeated Surfaces" will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Oct. 23 to Nov. 24, 2014.

An opening reception at the gallery will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23. Sandra Perlow will give an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Biomorphic forms float and merge, drift and collide like improvised verse in Sandra Perlow’s painted collages. Her visual plane includes rich fields of color and organic abstraction mixed with layers of found and printed paper.

In Perlow’s collages accumulations of forms and textured surfaces inspired by the view from her Chicago studio perform a visual call and response. Echoing the flow of pedestrians, the colorful pattern of window displays, and the syncopated geometry of buildings and skyscrapers, her compositions are records of movements and matter.

The Great Gate, by Sandra Perlow. Acrylic, collage, and canvas, 2014.

"In my work singular forms move through complex networks, and organic shapes find balance with architectonic structures," notes Perlow. "The visual exchanges reflect the ongoing dialogue between nature, industry and self."

Many of the titles for Perlow’s work come from literary sources. One especially inspiring is Thomas Mann’s four part novel, Joseph and His Brothers. Music helps relax the mind and suggest new imagery. Like the titles, which are suggestive, Perlow listens to the process until she visually feels a response.

Perlow lives and works in Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Midwest, California, and in New York City. In September 2014, she participated in a three-person show at the Evanston Art Center in Evanston, Illinois. This exhibit brought together three diverse artists with the shared interest of exploring boundaries that exist between the natural and artificial.

The artist Sandra Perlow.

Sandra Perlow received her B.A.E. at the School of Art Institute of Design, Her M.A. from the Illinois Institute of Design, and her M.F.A. from the School of Art Institute of Chicago.

Her work is represented by Dubhe Carreno Gallery in Chicago, Ill., and Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"Permeated Surfaces" will be on display through Nov. 24, 2014.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

For more information, call 906-487-7500.

Destination cinema at Michigan Tech: 41 North Film Festival Oct. 23-26

The 41 North Film Festival brings award-winning films and filmmakers to Michigan Tech Oct. 23-26. (Image courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- The 41 North Film Festival (formerly Northern Lights) celebrates its 10th anniversary with a name change and an outstanding slate of recent
award-winning films and special guests. It will be held from Thursday, Oct. 23, to Sunday, Oct. 26, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus. The festival is free and open to the community.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, kicking off the festival this year will be director Mark Levinson and his documentary Particle Fever, which follows six scientists involved in the launch of the Large Hadron Collider -- the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet. The film provides an unprecedented window into this major scientific breakthrough as it happened.

Edited by Academy-Award winner Walter Murch, the film celebrates human discovery and raises important questions about the limits of human knowledge.

Mark Levinson, has worked closely with directors such as Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and on films including Se7en, Cold Mountain, and The Pledge. He also has a PhD in Physics from UC-Berkeley. He will be on hand for a Q and A following the film.

At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, filmmaker, actor and entrepreneur Ravi Patel and his father, Michigan Tech alum Vasant Patel (Mechanical Engineering, class of 1970), will present the new documentary, Meet the Patels. When Ravi Patel, the son of Indian immigrants, finds himself at a romantic crossroads in his late 20s, love becomes a family affair and an adventure in cross-cultural understanding. The film recently won the Founders Grand Prize for best film at the Traverse City Film Festival. It was produced by Geralyn Dreyfous, who was here at the film festival in 2008 with the Academy-Award-winning Born into Brothels.

In addition to these featured events, the festival will offer a great selection of independent films, including the critically acclaimed Boyhood (Linklater, 2014); The Overnighters (Moss, 2014), which won the 2014 Sundance Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking; Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (Gund, 2014), and the indie sci-fi film, Coherence (2014). There will also be shorts programs and other great events for festival goers.

The event is sponsored by Michigan Tech's Humanities Department, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and the College of Sciences and Arts. For the full schedule, visit http://41northfilmfest.org. Contact Erin Smith at 906-487-3263 or ersmith@mtu.edu for more information.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest article: Houghton County Medical Care Facility: Public option faces crucial battle

By Rick Kasprzak*

This year’s election contains a ticking time bomb. The future of the Houghton County Medical Care Facility (HCMCF) is at stake, and few people know about it.

The millage which supports the HCMCF is due to expire in 2016. At stake is the future care for seniors in Houghton and Keweenaw counties. There have been prior rumblings among some of the candidates for the County Board of Commissioners who would sacrifice the future of seniors in Houghton and Keweenaw counties for the promise of lower property taxes. Current Houghton County District 1 candidate Eugene Londo said in a radio interview which aired Oct. 5 he, "would like to make it as much of a stand-alone operation as possible." This is a case of tilting at windmills.

The HCMCF, located in Hancock, is one of the largest of the 197 publicly funded medical care facilities in Michigan -- serving about 400 of the senior citizens of Houghton and Keweenaw counties. Keweenaw County provides a portion of the funding to the HCMCF in order to maintain 15 beds there for Keweenaw County residents.

The HCMCF is there for mainly elderly residents who don’t have the means to provide for their own care in a private facility. A bed at a privately owned senior center in the area costs in the neighborhood of $250/day. That’s a neighborhood not many residents on fixed incomes can afford.

"We’ve taken residents when other facilities have turned them down," explained Administrator Tammy Lehto. "We do not require proof of ability to pay in order to receive services." The only reason patients are turned down at the HCMCF is, "if we are medically unable to provide for their care," according to Lehto.

In turn this means the HCMCF is able to serve a population which otherwise may not be able to receive services.

"Roughly 80 percent of our patients are on Medicare," Lehto said. "This is a segment of the population which has traditionally been underserved."

The advantage of maintaining public support of the facility lies in the reimbursement rate from the federal government. The Medicaid/Medicare program has two different levels of payment. A private facility is reimbursed at a lower rate than a facility such as the HCMCF, which gets roughly 10 percent of its operational budget from the millages raised in Houghton and Keweenaw counties.

The reimbursement rate from the federal government is higher for a publicly funded facility than it is for a privately run facility, resulting in about an extra $400,000 in federal taxes being returned to the area.

"I would like it to be as much of a stand-alone operation as it can be," Londo said.

Since forcing the HCMCF off of public funding would result in the loss of the $400,000 of our federal tax dollars returning to the area, it would be a case of cutting off our nose to spite our face.

In addition, the HCMCF is one of the largest employers in the area -- employing about 300 people.

Lehto said historically that has allowed the HCMCF to prevent employee turnover, which is crucial to better care for our elderly residents.

"Better wages and benefits allow us to retain our employees, who in turn are able to provide better care. We have a very low turnover rate here," Lehto noted. "We have a very high satisfaction rating among our patients and their families."

The other advantage of being a publicly funded operation is the ability to plan for the future needs of Houghton and Keweenaw County residents. The HCMCF is planning a future expansion, one that may need to be put on hold until the millage question is settled in the 2016 election.

"Having that public funding has allowed better planning for the future needs of the residents of Houghton County," Lehto added. "We can be creative and stay at the forefront of meeting the changing needs of the residents of both counties."

For example, while traditionally a long term care facility, the HCMCF has seen an increase in people requiring short term care for such things as physical therapy. Lehto said the facility is considering adding an entire floor devoted to physical therapy, and the foundation for that expansion was laid as far back as the 1970s. When the facility was built, the design incorporated a structure that would allow additional floors to be built above the existing ground level.

All of a sudden, candidate Londo’s statement in his Oct. 5 radio interview that he’s "not opposed to selling the Medical Care Facility," sounds extremely dangerous.

Inset photo: Rick Kasprzak volunteers at the Houghton County Democratic Party's booth during the August 2014 Houghton County Fair. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

* Editor's Note: Guest author Rick Kasprzak, vice-chair of the Houghton County Democratic Party, is a candidate for District 1 (Calumet Township and Hancock Township) Houghton County commissioner. A fundraiser for Kasprzak's campaign is being held at 6:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Carmelita's in Calumet. Click here for more information.

Portage Library to host children's author M.C. Tillson Oct. 22

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library, the Copper Country Reading Council, and Michigan’ Tech’s English Education Program invite families and teachers to enjoy a special evening with children’s author M.C. Tillson.

Tillson will present a short talk appealing to children, teens, parents, and teachers about her Michigan Lighthouse mystery series from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22. She will also read excerpts from her books The Clue at Copper Harbor, The Mystery at Eagle Harbor, and The Secret of Bete Grise Bay and explain how the books’ characters found themselves hot on the track of lighthouse adventures in the Keweenaw.

Tillson, author of several children's books, lives in California and is the owner of A and M Writing and Publishing. Chapter-by-chapter lesson plans for her Michigan Lighthouse Adventure books align with Michigan’s 3rd grade common core standards. Puzzle books that include crossword puzzles, word searches, and math riddles are also available for two of the books in the Michigan Lighthouse trilogy; and the third one is being planned.

The program will allow time for a question and answer session as well as a book signing and selling following the presentation.

This event is for all ages. Library programs are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Fundraiser for Rick Kasprzak, candidate for Houghton County commissioner, to be held TONIGHT, Oct. 21

CALUMET -- A fundraiser will be held for Rick Kasprzak, candidate for District 1 (Calumet Township and Hancock Township) Houghton County commissioner, at 6:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Carmelita's in Calumet. The purpose of the event is to help  raise funds for the final messaging efforts of Kasprzak's campaign.

Rick Kasprzak volunteers at the Houghton County Democratic Party's booth during the Houghton County Fair this past August 2014. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Rick Kasprzak is a two-time Democratic candidate for Houghton County's District 1 who became involved in local politics in 2007 during the Obama campaign. Rick has been a resident of the Copper Country since 1993 except for a three-year stint in Arizona training to be a chef. Rick is a believer in farm to table and tries to incorporate those principles in both his work and home. He maintains two vegetable gardens and an herb garden in the summer, in which he utilizes only compost for fertilizer. He also buys his meat from local farmers.

Part of Rick Kasprzak's vegetable harvest. In addition to growing healthy food in his two gardens, Rick took time this summer to knock on about 900 doors in District 1 to learn about citizens' concerns.

Health issues are important to Kasprzak. One of his top priorities, if elected, will be to protect the publicly funded Houghton County Medical Care Facility in Hancock from privatization.*

Coffee and appetizers will be made available. A suggested donation of $15 per person or $20 per couple is requested. Additional items from the bar and dining menu are available to purchase. To help the venue prepare adequately please consider letting Rick know you plan to attend by calling him at 369-1517 or sending an email to rickkasprzak@yahoo.com.

Carmelita's is at 618 Oak Street in Calumet.

* Update: See Rick Kasprzak's guest article, "Houghton County Medical Care Facility: Public option faces crucial battle."

National Wolfwatcher Coalition to present "Politics or Science? The Hunting of Wolves!" Oct. 21 in Hancock

Photo of wolf courtesy National Wolfwatcher Coalition. Reprinted with permission.

HANCOCK -- Nancy Warren, Great Lakes Regional Director and Executive Director of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition (NWC) will present "POLITICS OR SCIENCE? THE HUNTING OF WOLVES!" at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

Warren will explore the role of politics in the decision to hunt wolves. Where is the science? Is there any scientific evidence to support the recreational hunting of wolves?

Voters will see two important proposals on the November ballot:

1. Should wolves be a hunted game species?

2. Should the Natural Resources Commission, an unelected political body, be authorized to designate any species (not just the wolf) as game?

NWC believes the answer to both is NO. The public is invited to this discussion.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is at 435 Quincy Street, Hancock.

(Inset photo of Nancy Warren by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange to feature pumpkin treats TONIGHT, Oct. 20, at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- Pumpkin treats and recipes will highlight the Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange meeting from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Monday, Oct. 20, at the Portage Lake District Library.

Each month features a different type of food, and for October’s meeting participants are invited to bring their favorite pumpkin treats for sampling and their recipes for sharing. Copies of the recipes will be made at the library. Please list all ingredients used in making foods that are shared at these meetings and identify the brand names of the gluten-free ingredients. Bringing food is not a requirement for attendance.

Participants are also encouraged to bring their former favorite recipes that they want help converting to gluten-free. Help will be available.

The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is organized by and for those who are interested in or required to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free eating requires the avoidance of all wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Most people find it challenging at first, but are excited to find recipes and foods that are fun and easy to make and tasty to eat. The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is an opportunity to share those great recipes and learn from others. Everyone who is interested in learning more about gluten-free eating is encouraged to attend.

This program is free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Prof. Alex Mayer to present talk on Huron Creek at Carnegie Museum Oct. 21

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum is convening a series of Tuesday evening community discussions about the Keweenaw’s natural history. Professor Alex Mayer (Environmental and Geological Engineering at Michigan Tech) is a leader in research concerning Great Lakes water issues. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, he will meet with interested people to discuss a local river, Huron Creek, which is part of local natural history.

The title of Professor Mayer’s talk is: "The (un)natural history of Huron Creek, a working stream on the Keweenaw Peninsula."  Refreshments and introductions are at 6:30 p.m., and lecture/discussion from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. in the Carnegie Museum Community Room.

"I will describe the creek’s history, the impacts on the creek from human activities, and efforts that are underway to restore the creek's ecosystem and aesthetic value," Mayer says. "I want to hear about your ideas for restoring the creek and any of your memories of interacting with the creek."

Humans have spent money and materials to alter the natural pattern of the river, trying to create an environment for work, business and a better life. Mayer has studied these efforts and is very interested in listening to people to hear about natural history along the river. Bring your memories and those told to you by others. How can we live best with rivers and other natural features of our town? Can we develop a management plan which considers the best that rivers can contribute to the quality of life?

All people are welcome. These seminars are meant to attract a broad public and to discuss how university-based research can benefit everyone. Citizen input is a main focus.

Click here for more details and a map of Huron Creek.

The Carnegie Museum is on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in downtown Houghton.

(Inset photo of Prof. Alex Mayer courtesy Michigan Technological University)

Rozsa Center to present "Camelot" Oct. 21

Camelot poster courtesy Rozsa Center.

HOUGHTON -- The national tour of Lerner and Lowe’s legendary musical, Camelot, arrives at the Rozsa Center for one night only -- at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21. This bold new interpretation of the four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical tells the story of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. Houghton Elementary fourth grade student Tom Knewtson, who auditioned in September, appears at the end of Act Two as Tom of Warwick.

The production is a sumptuous, visually arresting re-imagining of the time-honored fable of chivalry, majesty and romance.

"This is sort of a reinvention of Camelot. It’s the story as you’ve never seen it before," said Rozsa Center Interim Director Mary Muncil. "This version is a darker, grittier, more dramatic rendition. Never has this story been more captivating."

The story tells of King Arthur, who rules his kingdom with new ideals, bringing peace to a troubled land. But, when his beautiful new Queen Guinevere and the dashing Sir Lancelot, his most trusted knight, give in to their passion for each other, one of the most fabled love triangles of all time ensues.

Cost is $22 for adults and $11 for youth age 17 and under. Michigan Tech student tickets are free with the Experience Tech Fee. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling the Ticketing Office in the SDC at 487-2073 or visiting in person. Hours for the Ticketing Office are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Concerned Clergy invite public to Benediction at Eagle Mine entrance Oct.18

Poster courtesy Concerned Clergy of Marquette.

MARQUETTE -- Interfaith "Concerned Clergy of Marquette" encourages everyone to participate this Saturday, Oct. 18, in events about sulfide mining operations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

From noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday the public is invited to a Liturgy of Loss and Hope Benediction: Prayers at the front gate of Eagle Mine on County Road Triple A in Michigamme/Powell Townships. Meet at 11 a.m. at Big Bay Outfitters in Big Bay and a guide-car will lead you to the site.

This is a communal opportunity for reflection and meditation on the commencement of mining activity on the Yellow Dog Plains.

Participants / speakers will include the following:
Kathleen Heideman, poet
Michael Waite, songwriter-musician
Rochelle Dale, Jan Zender and Cynthia Pryor, Yellow Dog Watershed residents
Nancy Railey, classical pianist
Guests from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
Tesshin Paul Lehmberg, Soto Zen Buddhist priest
Jon Magnuson, Lutheran ELCA pastor
and other leaders from the region’s faith communities. 

Two organizers spoke with ABC 10 WBUP - CW 5 WBKP, noting residents who live near the mine no longer enjoy a quiet, clean and peaceful existence..

It's a chance to balance the equation, Marquette Lutheran Pastor, the Rev. John Magnuson of Marquette, executive director of the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute, told ABC10 in a recent interview.*

"'There has been a lot attention about the economic development and the revenue the new (Eagle) mine is bringing in Powell Township,'" Magnuson said in the interview. "'But there's not been an equal amount of attention given to the grief and the loss of what's happened to the people that live near this new mine and to the wetlands and the forests and the wildlife."'

"Benediction means looking backward and forward," said Soto Zen Buddhist Rev. Tesshin Paul Lehmberg in the ABC10 interview.

At 7 p.m. Saturday  evening, a candlelight service will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette.

* Click here for the ABC 10 interview.

Barn Concert to feature musical groups, family singalong at Belsolda Farm Oct. 18

Barn Concert photo courtesy Wendy Johnson.

MARQUETTE -- A Fallin' Leaves (Heated!) Barn Concert will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at Belsolda Farm, 488 Mangum Rd., Marquette. Doors open at 6 p.m. Music begins at 6:30 p.m. The concert will feature Milo Birch, The Accidentals, and Shannon Wyatt with Bob Mahin.

The Accidentals will host a family Ukes and Kazoos singalong with free kazoos and cider after the concert so bring the whole family!

Tickets are available at the Marquette Food Co-op: $10 Adults, $8 Teens, 12 and under FREE!

DIRECTIONS from Marquette: Follow US-41/M-28 through Harvey. Stay on US-41 to Mangum Rd. (Beaver Grove). Take Left onto Mangum Rd. Take Right at 488 Mangum Rd. -- Belsolda Farm.

Please Contact Milo at (906) 361-5179 with any questions. See also their Facebook page.

Editor's Note: The Accidentals will perform at 8:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Friday, Oct. 17, at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock. Click here for details.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Candidate Forum for Election 2014 to be Oct. 17 in Hancock

HANCOCK -- A Candidate Forum, which may be the Keweenaw's only public debate for Election 2014, will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, in the auditorium of the Hancock Middle School, located at 501 Campus Drive (near Portage Hospital) in Hancock.

Democratic and Republican candidates for State Senate 38th District, State Representative 110th District, and Houghton County Commissioner 1st and 3rd Districts have been invited. These include Incumbent State Senator Tom Casperson (R) and his Democratic opponent, Christopher Germain; Incumbent 110th District State House Representative Scott Dianda (D) and his opponent, Bob Michaels (R)*;  District 3 Incumbent County Commissioner Tony Pintar (D) and his opponent, Mark Kemppainen (R); and District 1 County Commissioner candidates Rick Kasprzak (D) and his opponent, Eugene Londo (R).

The Forum will cover issues concerning children and youth in the Keweenaw region, including early childhood and K-12 education and social services. Time for audience questions will be made available.

This event is open to the public -- free admission.

Voter information and literature will be available prior to the candidate forum from 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. Someone will be there to address any questions you might have, including voter registration and absentee ballots.

The Forum is sponsored by League of Women Voters of the Copper Country, Copper Country Human Services Coordinating Body, Copper Country Great Start Collaborative, and Superior Child Abuse Prevention Council.

* Bob Michaels (R) was invited but reportedly is unable to attend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

People's Climate March, Part 2: Video Report: Riding People's Climate Train to New York

By Michele Bourdieu

On Sept. 19, 2014, Amtrak passengers riding a People's Climate Train assemble for a group photo at a train stop in Buffalo, NY, on the way to New York City for a weekend of workshops, meetings, lectures by climate activist leaders and the Sunday, Sept. 21,  People's Climate March. Some stayed in New York on Monday, Sept. 22, for a Flood Wall Street march as well. Pictured with the group are Houghton residents Allan Baker, Keweenaw Now videographer, and his wife, Shirley Galbraith, Keweenaw Now guest author (second row, seated right).* (Photo by Gustavo Bourdieu for Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- The Amtrak train for New York City, dubbed the "People's Climate Train" by passengers who boarded it in San Francisco, picked up more passengers bound for the Sept. 21 People's Climate March along the way. Amtrak arranged for the group to be seated together in two cars, which facilitated a day of presentations, workshops and discussions on various climate change issues -- and networking among both young and old. A spirit of camaraderie and solidarity prevailed.

Susan Riederer, co-chair of the Boulder, Colo., Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) chapter, was one of the organizers of talks and discussions on the People's Climate Train.

Keweenaw Now staff boarded the train in Chicago at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18. Friday was a long day, especially since a health emergency on the train caused a delay of several hours; yet the nearly 24-hour ride from Chicago to New York City was nothing to those people we met who had been riding the train since California and other points west.

One of these, Diana Cabcabin of San Francisco, gave a presentation about Typhoon Haiyan, which had affected her family directly since it struck their town in the Philippines:

During workshops on the People's Climate Train on the way to New York City on Sept. 19, 2014, Diana Cabcabin of San Francisco talks about Typhoon Haiyan, which struck her family's home town in the Philippines. In a later presentation, Cabcabin speaks about mining companies that exploit poor communities in the Philippines. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Cabcabin is a member of Women for Genuine Security, a group that advocates for justice and educates the public about historical inequities. She questioned the value of trade agreements in the Asia Pacific region that favor large corporations rather than people in poor communities vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

A California journalist and author, Christopher Cook, spoke about the relationship between climate change and industrial agriculture with large-scale food production:

San Francisco journalist and author Christopher Cook notes that industrial, concentrated agriculture around the world produces great amounts of toxic pollution and carbon emissions while making it difficult for subsistence and small-scale farmers to survive. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Cook, who is the author of Diet for a Dead Planet, also published an article on riding the train from San Francisco. He actually filed the article when the train stopped in Chicago, and it was posted on Sept. 19.**

Activist James Blakely of Boise, Idaho, said he also boarded the train in San Francisco. He spoke about his recent experience in Alberta, Canada -- participating in the 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk with First Nations people who are most immediately impacted by this industry:

James Blakely of Boise, Idaho, recounts his participation in the 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada. led by First Nations tribes of the area. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)***

Blakely pointed out that the boreal forests, once rich in biodiversity, are destroyed to enable the industry to mine the tar sands. The process puts so many toxins into the environment that the First Nations people can no longer hunt and fish as they used to do for subsistence.

"The only real jobs up there are for the oil companies, so they're now almost forced to work for the oil companies or leave their land," he said.

According to Lemmon McMillan of Evanston, Ill., talking about climate issues must include the intersectionality of poverty, racism and gender inequality. These social justice issues, along with government corruption and U.S. foreign policy, are all connected, he says.

Lemmon McMillan of Evanston, Ill., joins in the discussion of climate change and insists it must be discussed in connection with social justice issues, especially poverty and racism. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

McMillan, whose own heritage includes Native American and African American roots, is working on a series of videos intended to discuss these issues and how they are all related.

McMillan said he spoke with teenagers from an African American community on the south side of Chicago and one asked him why he should be concerned about climate change that might kill him in 20 or 30 years when he's facing situations (police or gang members) that could kill him now.

"The climate movement needs to answer that question," McMillan said. "We all have to support each other and understand that all our issues are related."

Two other Illinois residents -- Jill Paulus of Wheaton, Ill., and Joyce Good of Chicago -- spoke about an environmental issue that is now impacting people of many different socio-economic groups -- fracking:

Jill Paulus of Wheaton, Illinois, and Joyce Good of Chicago speak about fracking in Illinois and legislation to regulate it. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Paulus and Good spoke about citizens' grassroots efforts to learn about legislative "rules" for fracking and the importance of participation in public hearings on the issue.

The climate movement, led by 350.org and other groups, more recently has been encouraging students on college campuses to influence their colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuel companies. This divestment takes as a model the divestment from South Africa which helped to end the unjust apartheid system.

On the People's Climate Train, Becky Romatoski, a graduate student at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), spoke optimistically about increasing numbers of colleges, students and faculty now beginning to divest from companies that produce fossil fuels:

Rebecca ("Becky") Romatoski, a doctoral candidate in nuclear science and engineering at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), talks about students, faculty and colleges that are divesting from fossil fuel companies. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

"The biggest issue is not hurting these people (fossil fuel companies) financially, but hurting them on a moral level," Romatoski said.

Romatoski is a member of the student group Fossil Free MIT. After the Sept. 21 People's Climate March, she wrote to Keweenaw Now saying the march was a great way to recruit more MIT students for that group, which is active in raising awareness of climate change on campus.****

"Our group right now has succeeded in getting MIT to have a committee on climate change which will propose actions for MIT, and our group has secured divestment as one key aspect the committee will consider," Romatoski writes.

 As for the People's Climate Train, she notes it was a great and unique experience.

"I will never forget it and the empowerment and excitement from the experience!" Romatoski adds.

Amanda Gabryszak boarded the train in Salt Lake City and, once she realized it was a People's Climate Train, joined in the discussions and workshops, played her guitar in the lounge and regretted that she had to get off in Buffalo, NY, and was unable to attend the Climate March.

Amanda Gabryszak took this photo on the People's Climate Train and wrote a blog article on her experience, noting she even led a workshop on conservation biology. Keweenaw Now's videographer, Allan Baker, is pictured here in the aisle. While people often had to stand in the aisle to hear the speakers, they were very considerate about making room for other passengers passing through the cars. (Photo © and courtesy Amanda Gabryszak. Reprinted with permission.)*****

Susan Riederer, co-chair of the Boulder, Colo., chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, also commented about the positive experience of the People's Climate Train, the Climate March and the Flood Wall Street action, in which she also participated.

"I am still on a high from our time together (on the train), the march and then my time with the Flood Wall Street direct action," she wrote in an email to Keweenaw Now last week.

Here Riederer speaks about the Citizens' Climate Lobby:

During the workshops held on the People's Climate Train Susan Riederer of Boulder, Colo., describes her experience working with the Citizens' Climate Lobby. (Video by Keweenaw Now)******

Another speaker who rode the train from San Francisco -- Pete Gang, an architect from Petaluma, Calif. -- explained the connection between green building and climate change:

Architect Pete Gang of Petaluma, Calif., speaks about green building and climate change. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Gang pointed out that at least 40 percent of all energy is used in the making and operation of buildings. In addition, 50 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is used for heating and cooling space and water.

"Green building is a very simple idea -- just trying to make buildings that are more energy efficient, resource efficient and people friendly," Gang explained, "because actually a lot of buildings that we build, especially commercial buildings, are full of chemicals that are known to be toxic to humans."

Gang said he has designed green residential buildings with a range of alternative techniques, including straw-bale, which is an agricultural waste product that could be put to better use as wall insulation. His guidelines for building an energy efficient house follow this order: 1) reduce the demand by designing the building so it needs minimal energy for heating or cooling (with insulation, windows, size, etc.); 2) use energy-efficient appliances; 3) use renewables like solar and wind to provide energy.

Three activists planning to participate in the Sept. 22 Flood Wall Street action spoke about action and civil disobedience, encouraging listeners to take training that would be provided in New York before committing to a civil disobedience action. They also explained that supporters would also be needed for those who may get arrested.

Aaron "iLLLy" Murphy described his own efforts to find active solutions to the climate problem:


Aaron "iLLLy" Murphy suggests possible solutions to the climate problem, including his own experience living in an intentional community, Dancing Rabbit Eco-Village in Missouri. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Illinois resident Hillary Colby described her experience with civil disobedience in Chicago:

Illinois resident Hillary Colby speaks about her experience as one of the original Chicago 22 who risked arrest in front of the federal building in Chicago during a protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline in June 2012. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Bobby Wengronowitz, a graduate student at Boston College and one of the organizers of the workshops and talks on the People's Climate Train, shared his views on why "putting your bodies on the street" in the Climate March is a good beginning and why the Flood Wall Street action is even more important:


Activist Bobby Wengronowitz emphasizes the importance of the Flood Wall Street action planned for Sept. 22, 2014, in New York City (a day after the People's Climate March). (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Regina Birchem of Minneapolis, a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, said she chose to ride the People's Climate Train to New York rather than taking a bus from Minneapolis because of a train experience she had in 1995 -- traveling from Helsinki to Beijing for the 4th World Conference of Women:


Regina Birchem of Minneapolis explains how a 1995 train ride with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom -- from Helsinki to Beijing for the 4th World Conference of Women -- inspired her to take the People's Climate Train to the 2014 People's Climate March in New York. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Finally, as the train approached Penn Station late Friday evening, Jorge Arauz of Ecuador, who now lives in Madison, Wis., told Keweenaw Now why he was heading for the People's Climate March.

Jorge Arauz of Madison, Wis., displays the sign he made to take to the People's Climate March. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"It's just painful to live every day seeing what's happened," Arauz said. "It's outrageous to see the inaction of our leaders."

Soon Arauz was leading the group in a song titled "Sing for the Climate":


As the People's Climate Train approaches New York City on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, travelers keep up their spirits and motivation as they join in singing.

Notes:
* This is the second in a series of articles about the People's Climate March and related events Sept. 19-22, 2014, in New York City. Shirley Galbraith is the author of "People's Climate March, Part 1, Letter: Houghton couple travel to New York to march for planet's future," posted on Keweenaw Now Sept. 30, 2014.

** See Christopher Cook's article, "All Aboard the People’s Climate Train," posted Sept. 19, 2014, on Earth Island Journal.

*** Click here to read more about the Tar Sands Healing Walk.

**** Read about Fossil Free MIT on their Web site.

***** Click here to read Amanda Gabryszak's blog entry on the People's Climate Train.

****** Click here to learn about the Citizens' Climate Lobby.