Friday, October 05, 2007

JPP, fiddle band from Finland, to offer workshop, concerts Oct. 6-7

JPP, the Järvelän pikkupelimannit ("Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä"), will conduct a fiddle workshop in Hancock and present concerts in Calumet and Crystal Falls this weekend, Oct. 6-7. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University.)

HANCOCK -- JPP, the most prominent fiddle band in Finland, will be in Hancock and Calumet on Saturday, Oct. 6, for a fiddle workshop and a concert.

"This is something no folk music fan will want to miss," said Oren Tikkanen, local musician. "JPP is a group of six fiddlers with bass and pump-organ accompaniment that starts with the fiddling tradition of western Finland, adds the swing of Texas fiddling and moves on to the realm of 'new acoustic music.' The members are all well-trained working musicians who are still rooted in folk tradition, but capable of adding elements of jazz, tango and whichever world music elements tickle their whimsy."

JPP will lead the fiddle workshop from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Finlandia University's Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) in Hancock. Participants will have the option to join JPP on stage during the concert beginning at 7 p.m. at the historic Calumet Theatre Saturday night, Oct. 6, or at the Crystal Theater in Crystal Falls, Mich., Sunday, Oct. 7.

JPP frontman Arto Järvelä has taught for the prestigious Sibelius Academy 's Folk Music Department. He has performed with several other musical groups and recorded three solo albums.

In the summer of 1987 JPP, the Järvelän pikkupelimannit ("Little Folk Musicians of Järvelä"), set a world's record by fiddling non-stop at Finland 's Kaustinen Folk Music Festival for an hour and 32 minutes before an electrified crowd. Since then, the famed fiddling group has performed countless concerts and has nine albums to its credit. But their energy hasn't waned - in fact, it's grown stronger.*

The JPP fiddle workshop is part of a two-day workshop opportunity for folk musicians of all ages and skill levels. Kantele workshops will also be offered both Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6.

Joyce Hakala of St. Paul , Minn., a leading authority on the kantele, will conduct two 10-string kantele lessons -- at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5, and again at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. Hakala will also conduct a five-string kantele lesson at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Hakala is a leading authority on the kantele and its use by Finnish immigrants. She is a former director of Koivun Kaiku, one of the best-known kantele ensembles in North America. Hakala has also written two books: The Rowan Tree and Memento of Finland: A Musical Legacy. The kantele is the national instrument of Finland.

Advance registration is required. The cost of each individual workshop is $15.00. Participants may attend both 10-string kantele workshops for $15.00.

To register for the fiddle workshops or to obtain more information, call 906-487-7505. To register for the kantele workshops, call Kay Seppala at 906-523-6271.

*Visit for more information about JPP.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hancock to celebrate Grandma Doors Oct. 12

In front of Hancock's Finnish American Heritage Center, several "Grandma Doors" depict the history of local residents' notable ancestors. (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)

HANCOCK -- The Grandma Doors Celebration will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, in downtown Hancock. The event has been postponed twice because of rainy weather. The public is invited to walk and view the doors, enjoy street musicians on every block and taste refreshments at participating businesses along the way.

In addition, everyone is invited to take the Grandma Door Quiz to win one of many prizes donated by local merchants. Be the first to answer correctly all 15 questions and win a prize! The first prize is a laptop computer from Computer Graphics, while second prize is a 26-inch mountain bike from Hancock Bike Shop. Many other prizes will be awarded, including 18 holes of golf, cash, tickets to cultural events and gift certificates. Ten of the 15 questions are available ahead of time. Five new questions will be available at the Hancock Commons between the Post Office and Northern Mutual on Quincy Street at 6 p.m. Friday night, Oct. 5, as the event begins.

Some of the Grandma Doors, like this one in front of the Hancock Middle School, display collages of photos and mementos as well as stories. (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)

The “ladies on doors” are bringing a great number of family histories to the street. Not only are they ensuring local histories don’t vanish, but they are perking up downtown, utilizing out-of-use doors and showcasing the creativity of this community. The Grandma Doors identify Hancock as a tourist destination offering art, education, history and recycling. Each door stands in front of a business, often telling the owners’ history, or in front of other Hancock landmarks, such as the Middle School and the Finnish American Heritage Center.

Hockey must have been important to this Grandma. See her door in front of the Hancock Middle School to find out why. (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)

"This public art project proclaims the power of creativity and community like nothing else can,” said Mary Wright, project coordinator. “The project has been significantly invigorated with the competent and versatile help of young people doing community service."

The Grandma Door project is a way to celebrate the lives of women. People are invited to share their family histories by providing family photos and brief stories or biographies. Prototypes for the Grandma Doors were first seen during Heikinpäivä last January. The creation of Grandma Doors officially began in June with support from the Coalition for Grief and Bereavement and work sessions at the Community Arts Center.

Cynthia Coté, director of the Community Arts Center, noted, "The beauty of public art is that it engages people in art -- people who may not otherwise see how art fits into their lives."

Here is an example of a door celebrating two generations of Grandmas. Elsie Maria Perala Tuisku made "the best pancakes in the world, " while her mother, Jenny Perala, born in Finland, "always had time for her grandchildren and that plate of molasses cookies!!" (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)

The ongoing project has close to 100 doors, many of them featuring both sides of the family on either side of the door. The project has involved hundreds of people including students from Hancock and Ontonagon high schools, families, individuals and artists. Several artists in residence have assisted individuals in executing their ideas from photographs of the honored matriarchs.

Rick Kauppila, Hancock native and owner of UP Fabricating in Rock, Michigan, constructed and donated the metal support stands for each door. Additional support for the project came from Upper Peninsula Power Company, Portage Health Systems, Hancock Business and Professionals Association, Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center, the Copper Country Community Arts Council, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Hancock.

The Hancock City Council, in fact, voted on Sept. 19 to contribute an additional $1000 to the project.

Families are making pilgrimages to visit the Door project, which inspires visitors and residents alike to park their cars, walk the streets, look at the images and spend time reading the stories.

One resident was heard to say, "Mary, you’re turning Hancock into a walkable community."

For more information call Mary Wright at (906) 361-5548 or the Community Arts Center at 482-2333.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Keweenaw county to hold public informational meeting on Brownfield Redevelopment Oct. 3

EAGLE RIVER, MICH. -- The Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners will hold a public informational meeting regarding a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Mohawk School in Mohawk. The regular County Board meeting will follow this informational meeting and may include a resolution on the topic.

"Brownfield Redevelopment is to identify hazardous waste and petroleum waste sites within the County for possible cleanup efforts so the property can be put back into use for economic development or recreational purposes," said Janet Shea, chair of the Keweenaw County Economic Development Steering Committee.

Keweenaw County is planning to submit two grant applications totaling $400,000 to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for EPA Brownfield Site Assessment. The applications must be submitted by the Oct. 12, 2007 deadline.

The EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applications through four competitive grant programs, the first of which is the assessment grants, Shea explained. These grants will be used to identify and prioritize suspected brownfields within Keweenaw County, perform Phase I and II environmental site assessments and conduct community outreach activities.

The grants would allow the County to develop a County-wide brownfield inventory of hazardous substances and petroleum contamination. These two grants would not include the cost of actual cleanup.

The Keweenaw county Board of Commissioners now meets regularly at 6:30 p.m. on the first and the third Wednesday of the month in the Mohawk School.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Peace Corps to honor Blair Orr, MTU Master's Program Oct. 2

HOUGHTON -- Representatives of the United States Peace Corps will honor Michigan Tech Professor Blair Orr of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science in a ceremony marking the twentieth anniversary of MTU's Peace Corps Master's International Program, the largest in the nation. Current Michigan Tech students and alums are also invited to speak. The event will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Memorial Union Peninsula Room A.

Professor Orr is the coordinator of the Peace Corps Master's International Program in Forestry, which is named for Loret Miller Ruppe, Director of the Peace Corps from 1981 to 1989. A resident of Houghton, Mich., and recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from Michigan Tech, Loret Miller Ruppe was the longest-serving Director of Peace Corps. She passed away in 1996. A generous grant from Director Ruppe's estate to the U.S. Peace Corps established the Loret Miller Ruppe Fund for the Advancement of Women in order to provide women in developing countries with small financial grants to support grass-roots development projects.

In addition to the Forestry program, Michigan Tech also has Peace Corps Master's International Programs in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Geology, Geological Engineering and Geophysics; and Science Education. These programs allow Peace Corps Volunteers to earn a Master's Degree that combines graduate study at Michigan Tech with training and two years of Peace Corps service.

For information about these programs click on the links to their Web sites on our links list on the right, below the archives.

Visit the Keweenaw Now archives to read about Amber Lily Kenny of Houghton, a recent graduate of MTU's Master's International Program in Forestry, and her work in Togo, West Africa.