Friday, September 28, 2007

MTU Sustainable Futures Institute to hold poster session Oct. 10

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) will cap its Sustainability Day activities with the Third Annual SFI Poster Session to be open to the public from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in Memorial Union Ballroom A on the MTU campus.

James Mihelcic, MTU professor of civil and environmental engineering and former co-director of the Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) , chats with Qiong (Jane) Zhang, post-doctoral researcher and SFI operations manager, during the September 2006 SFI poster session. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2006 Michele Anderson)

The poster show serves to strengthen the network of scholars and community members interested in the important topic of environmental sustainability. This event coincides with the annual meeting of SFI’s Advisory Board made up of representatives from Caterpillar, Dow Corning, General Motors, the Great Lakes Commission, Los Alamos National Laboratory of the Department of Energy, Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University and A and M College, and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)-Forest Service.

SFI is also accepting efforts of community people who wish to make a poster that reflects some aspect of sustainability research or education. Poster topics can range from definitions of the term "sustainability" to public service announcements about sustainability-related topics to research results that illustrate some aspect of sustainability. Poster session presenters do not have to be members of SFI to present their posters.The public is also invited to place votes for the Best in Show Award. Anyone with an interest in sustainability is invited to display a poster in the annual poster show. Please send one-hundred word abstracts to Laura Walz,, by Oct. 1.

See SFI's web page at for further information about poster suggestions and requirements. Also see slides of last year's poster show Annual Sustainability Poster Session Slide Show on SFI's page under "News Archives"

The poster show is sponsored by SFI with generous support of the Graduate Student Council.

"Momix ReMix" comes to Rozsa Center Oct. 5

"Momix ReMix," an exciting new show featuring the "Best of Momix," comes to Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center Oct. 5. Momix, a company of dancer-illusionists, under Artistic Director Moses Pendleton, combines athletic dance, riveting music, outrageous costumes, inventive props and pure talent to create an imaginative and amazing multimedia experience. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton. For over 25 years, MOMIX has been celebrated for its ability to conjure up a world of surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor and the human body. The show comes to Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for one performance only at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5.

As a courtesy to its patrons, the Rozsa Center strives to begin shows on time. There will be no late seating for this performance, and we wouldn't want you to miss the first half of the show, so please arrive on time!

In addition to stage performances world-wide, the company has frequently worked on special projects, in film and in television, and was most recently seen in a national commercial for Hanes underwear. MOMIX has made five Italian RAI television feature broadcasts to 55 countries (including the USSR and China) and has performed on Antenne II in France. MOMIX was also featured in the PBS "Dance in America" series. The company participated in the "Homage à Picasso" in Paris and was selected to represent the United States at the European Cultural Center at Delphi.

"Dream Catcher" by Momix. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

MOMIX dancers Cynthia Quinn and Karl Baumann played the role of "Bluey" in the film "FX II," under the direction of Moses Pendleton. The company is featured on a Decca Records laser disc, appearing with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony in the Rhombus Media film of Mussorgsky’s "Pictures at an Exhibition," winner of an International Emmy for Best Performing Arts Special. In 1992, Mr. Pendleton created "Bat Habits," developed with the support of the Scottsdale Cultural Council/Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, Ariz., and the University of Washington to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco Giants’ new spring training park in Scottsdale, Arizona. This work was the forerunner of "Baseball," which was created by Mr. Pendleton in 1994.

MOMIX is featured in one of the first IMAX films in 3-D, "IMAGINE," which premiered at the Taejon Expo 93 and was subsequently released at IMAX theaters world-wide. In 2004, "White Widow," co-choreographed by Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, was featured in Robert Altman’s movie, "The Company." MOMIX has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Spain, England, Austria, Ireland, Holland, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The company is based in Washington, Connecticut.

Tickets for the October 5, 7:30 p.m. performance are $25, $20 and $15 for the general public and $20, $15, and $10 for students and are available from the Rozsa Box Office (487-3200, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) or online at

Momix ReMix is sponsored the James and Margaret Black Endowment. For more information and photos of Momix, visit their Web site.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Energy Expo to feature alternative energy exhibits at Hancock Middle School Sept. 29

HANCOCK -- The New Power Tour Energy Expo will take place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Hancock Middle School. Admission is free for this day-long educational event, which will feature exhibits and displays, expert resource people and fun activities for youth.

Learn about everything from solar panels to renewable energy from bio-mass resources. Exhibits and presentations will include energy efficiency; wind turbines; and alternative energy practices being used now at Upper Peninsula parks, schools and businesses. If you want to learn ways to save money on your energy bills, or how to qualify for credits and tax incentives, then don't miss the Energy Expo.

Representatives from state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, energy product and service businesses will be on hand -- along with tables of free information about renewable energy and related topics. Outdoor exhibits will feature wood, wind and solar power and energy systems for camps, homes and workplaces.

The Keweenaw Food Co-op will provide tasty treats and coffee.

At 8 p.m. keynote speaker Dr. David DeYoe, president of Bio-Trend Systems, Incorporated (Canada), will address "The Emerging Bio-Economy -- Creating Local Opportunities in Light of Global Trends" to an audience in the auditorium.

Dr. DeYoe has assisted many communities and companies to capitalize on the benefits of a value-added bio-economy. He will present his strategy for innovative use of renewable resources (particularly forest and agricultural biomass). The focus is on the growing use of forest and agricultural biomass as bio-product alternatives for fossil fuels in production of energy/fuels, speciality chemicals and bio-materials which are more environmentally benign and can support an array of rural business opportunities.

Michael Schira, Houghton-Keweenaw County Extension Director, will host several presentations during the day. Here is the schedule:

10 a.m. -- Girl Scout Troop 91: Wind Power Presentation

10:30 a.m. -- Maria Janowiak, Outreach Scientist, Northern Institute of Applied Carbon Science, MTU School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences: BioEnergy - What's it All About?

11 a.m. -- Chris Case, Facility Manager, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Biofuels And Their

1 p.m. -- Bill Horvath, Chair, Wisconsin Forestry Council, Woody Biomass Task Force: Fuels for Schools Program and Great Lakes Woody Biomass Commodity Exchange

2 p.m. -- Dr. Jeff Naber, Michigan Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering: MTU's Wood To Wheels Enterprise

3 p.m. -- Bruce Woodry, CEO, Sigma Capital Group, Inc.: Tomorrow's Energy Today

4 p.m. -- Melissa Davis, General Manager, New Power Tour, Inc.: Community-Owned Energy Pilot Project

7 p.m. -- Mike Reid, General Manager & Chief Operations Officer, L’Anse Warden Electric Company, LLC: Biomass cogeneration and the progress of the conversion of the 20 MW L’Anse Warden power plant from coal to biomass

8 p.m. -- KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. David DeYoe, Ph.D.: The Emerging Bio-Economy: Creating Local Opportunities In Light of Global Trends

For more information contact Melissa Davis at or visit the New Power Tour Web site.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finlandia galleries host art, photography exhibits

Text by Wade Wainio and Joyce Koskenmaki with additional information from Finlandia University.

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design is now offering exhibits in two galleries in Hancock -- the Reflections Gallery, located on the second floor of the old Portage hospital, 200 Michigan Street, and the Finnish American Heritage Center on Quincy Street.

The Reflections Gallery features the Drawings and Ceramic Sculpture of Sue Kilpela through Sept. 27, to be followed by Photographs by Adam Johnson, which opens with a reception at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Kilpela, who is on the faculty of Michigan Tech University's Department of Visual and Performing Arts, gave presentations of her art to Finlandia students and to visitors at an opening reception in early September. She discussed the various moods and ideas inspiring her work. The drawing titled "July Poppies" represents the sadness she feels when summer is leaving. Some of her ceramic work, such as the untitled porcelain piece pictured here, are expressive of her "being confined, then coming out" of confinement.

This untitled porcelain sculpture by Sue Kilpela, a faculty member of Michigan Tech's Department of Visual and Performing Arts, is on exhibit at the Finlandia University's Reflections Gallery through Sept. 27. The Gallery, formerly the students' gallery for Finlandia's International School of Art and Design, is located at the Portage Campus (old Portage Hospital), on the second floor. (Photo © 2007 Wade Wainio)

Kilpela also indicated a philosophical interest in taxidermy, or "the desire to stuff dead animals." Although she is not against hunting, she noted how, in relation to animals, or even with fruits and vegetables, "we have to kill something to survive," and cited this phenomenon as inspiration for her "Food For Thought" work, which is representative of animal pelts. She also "loves things that are organic," and has found inspiration in the imagery of amoebas and bacteria.

To emphasize to students how artwork can be like a diary, Kilpela noted how, during a troubled time in her life, she began drawing tornado imagery.

The second fall semester exhibit at the Reflections Gallery will feature Photographs by Adam Johnson, a well-known, popular local photographer whose studio is at the south end of the hall from the Gallery.

Johnson does freelance work as well as his work for Michigan Tech, and he is highly regarded as an artist. He has also contributed writing and photographs to Keweenaw Now.*

This photo, titled "Harter," is a sample of Adam Johnson's original photography, which will be on exhibit at the Reflections Gallery for three weeks, beginning Thursday, Sept. 27. (Photo © 2007 Adam Johnson. Reprinted with permission)

The public is invited to greet Adam at the opening reception for his exhibit at 4 p.m. this Thursday, Sept. 27. Refreshments will be provided by the Daily Grind café. The exhibition will continue for the usual three weeks. The Reflections Gallery is open during regular business hours.

Finlandia art students, with advice from the faculty but exercising their good judgment, choose the artists for the Reflections Gallery exhibits. This is a great learning experience for the student directors, each of whom has a semester to choose, organize and hang the exhibitions.

For additional information on the student-run Reflections gallery, or Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design, please contact Yueh-mei Cheng at 906-487-7375 or visit the School's Web site.

Finlandia Faculty Exhibit at Finnish American Heritage Center

The Finlandia University Gallery in the Finnish American Heritage Center is now featuring the Finlandia School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition.

"Shielding -- Luna Moth" (acrylic) by Carrie Flaspohler is part of the Finlandia School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition now being featured in the Finlandia University Gallery at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. Flaspohler is the Gallery Director. (Photo by Gustavo Bourdieu for Keweenaw Now)

The semi-annual exhibit features graphic design, ceramics, studio art, fabric arts and sustainable product design by Finlandia art and design faculty. These works will be on exhibit at the gallery through October 4, 2007. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Call 906-487-7500 for additional information.

*See more of Adam Johnson's photography on his Web site,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Copper Country residents discuss cutting carbon emissions

By Katie Alvord

HOUGHTON -- Locally produced biodiesel, cloth shopping bags, community gardening, and ride-sharing are among many measures that can help combat climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels, said participants at an Oskar Bay gathering on Sunday, Sept. 16.

The suggestions came from 22 area residents who attended "Reducing our Carbon Footprint in the Copper Country," sponsored by the Keweenaw Sustainability Project (KSP) and held at the Keweenaw Land Trust’s Marsin Nature Preserve.

Evan McDonald, Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) executive director, standing, welcomes participants in "Reducing our Carbon Footprint in the Copper Country" to KLT's Marsin Preserve on Sept. 16. (Photo © 2007 and courtesy Michael Moore)

The meeting began with shared observations of local shifts associated with climate change. Some have proved pleasant: spring now arrives earlier, said some attendees; higher lake temperatures have made summer swimming more comfortable, noted others. Warmer summers have also ripened vegetable gardens more quickly.

Libby Meyer, a Hancock resident and music instructor, reported, "I actually got a watermelon from my garden for the first time this year."

But most observed changes were less beneficial. Milder winters with less snow have reduced opportunities for winter sports. In spring and summer, many reported seeing a big increase in the local tick population. Some expressed concern about warmer temperatures allowing entry to more invasive species. At least one attendee noted the greater threat of forest fires as a result of warmer weather. In the west, the recent significant increase of wildfires has been correlated with climate change.

Others brought up the recent lower lake levels, which have affected boating and fishing. Users of the Marsin Preserve, for instance, have been unable to launch a donated pontoon boat due to the lower levels.

There may well be a link between lower lake levels and climate change, said Sarah Green, Chair of Michigan Tech University's Chemistry Department, who attended Sunday’s meeting.

"It turns out that the water levels in Lake Superior are very sensitive to ice cover," Green noted.

Higher temperatures have reduced the lake’s ice cover over the last few decades and kept ice from forming until later in the season. This might be leading to decreased levels since the largest amount of evaporation from the lake generally occurs in December.

Ways to reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions

The Sunday afternoon gathering also brainstormed a long list of options for reducing fossil fuel use and carbon emissions. Suggestions included weatherization of low-income homes, more energy efficient construction, turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use, switching to compact fluorescent lighting, helping schools establish Safe Routes to School and Walking School Bus programs so parents don’t have to drive their kids, supporting efforts for improved walkability and bikeability such as the new Houghton Bike Plan, and joining the Keweenaw Freecycle listserve to reduce consumption.

Terry Kinzel, center, of Hancock, who uses water, solar and wind energy for his home, discusses energy efficiency with Libby Meyer, right, an organic gardener. At left is Dave Bach, who has built several energy efficient homes for Habitat for Humanity. (Photo © 2007 and courtesy Michael Moore)

Sarah Green and Hancock resident Keren Tischler both felt some sort of ride-sharing web resource would be helpful for local travel. Susan Burack of Hancock suggested expanding the use of cloth bags at area stores, and a spirited discussion of that idea ensued.

Jane DeMartini, a recent arrival to the area, reported using biodiesel to drive her diesel VW Jetta most of the way from the west coast when moving here. However, that ended when she reached the U.P. since, she noted, the closest place to fill up with biodiesel is in Green Bay. She and friends Susan Serafini and Ed Kraai have since looked into producing biodiesel locally on a small scale.

Other local efforts to develop renewable fuels have already begun, noted Melissa Davis of the New Power Tour. Several will be featured at the Energy X•Po to be held at Hancock Middle School on Saturday, Sept. 29, with events scheduled between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.*

"We'd like to invite everyone to show up for the X•Po and get a better handle on renewables and possibilities for our energy future," Davis said. "It will all be gathered in one place -- that's a great opportunity, and maybe the weather will cooperate."

MTU student Matt Manders advocated community gardening, which can reduce the fossil fuel needed to get food from farm to table. He hopes to assemble a group to help foster community gardening throughout the region.

"I’m looking for gardeners to help start a fun-oriented organization that strengthens community through gardening in the Keweenaw," Manders says. "We are looking for people with a diversity of backgrounds in gardening who want to help assist all gardeners, create a network to share ideas, start new community gardening projects and educate all about the fun and benefits of gardening."

Both "burning souls" who want to help organize the group and people who just want to join in occasionally are welcome, Manders added. Anyone interested can contact him at 906 482-6137.

Attendees at Sunday’s meeting also discussed the art exhibit "Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the North Woods," which opened at the Omphale Gallery on Saturday, Sept. 15. The exhibit features artists’ interpretations of climate change and runs until October 25th.

Katie Alvord, right, author of this article and of the book, Divorce Your Car, speaks at Sept. 16 climate change gathering at the Marsin Nature Preserve.**

KSP organizers were pleased with the outcome of their event.

Beth Flynn, one of the organizers, said, "We were not at all sure how it would play itself out but were very pleased with the results. The attitude and contributions of the participants were wonderful!"

Michael Moore, another organizer, commented, "It was nice -- not to mention productive and inspiring -- to see our collective intelligence in action as a community. For anyone who feels uncertainty due to competing challenges such as climate change, the local economy, and the strains we put on our natural resources, it was good to come away with things we can actually do together."

However, added organizer Vern Simula, "We need to do more; we need to involve a broader, more diverse audience; we need to engage business and governmental decision makers at community policy levels; and, most importantly, we need to nurture the ethic of simple, sustainable living that will not only improve the quality of our lives but also be seen as the best way for us to cope with the 'hard times ahead.'"

*Energy X•Po details can be found at (Watch for an article on this, coming soon.)

Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now contributor Katie Alvord, author of this article, is a local free-lance writer. Keweenaw Now recently published her series of three articles on climate change: "Lake Superior warming fast: Researchers surprised by strong trends,"
"Lake Superior Basin feeling heat: Part 2," and "Businesses feel the heat: Lake Superior warms up, part 3."

Houghton seeks public comment on Bike Plan

HOUGHTON -- The City of Houghton Biking Committee has created a proposed Bike Plan and is looking for public comment. An opportunity to comment in person will be offered from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007, at the City of Houghton City Center, 616 Shelden Avenue. All comments will be taken back to the committee and considered before the plan is presented to the Houghton Planning Commission and Houghton City Council. Comments may also be e-mailed to Lori Hauswirth at Copies of the proposed plan are available at the City of Houghton Offices at 616 Shelden Avenue and on the web at