Thursday, November 15, 2007

Local writer wins journalism award

HOUGHTON -- Katie Alvord, freelance reporter and Keweenaw Now contributor, has received recognition for her series of three articles on climate change in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, published in May and June 2007 on Keweenaw Now.* Alvord is among the winners of the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Journalism Awards, which were officially announced on Nov. 15. She won an award in the online category.

Katie Alvord

Alvord said the award "makes the intense work I did to write this online article series even more worthwhile." She added, "Especially for a small-town freelancer like me, it's a real boost to get this kind of recognition."

Independent panels of science journalists chose the winners of the awards, which honor excellence in science reporting for print, radio, television and online categories. The awards, established in 1945, also include a prize for coverage of science news for children that is open to journalists worldwide. The judges awarded a special Certificate of Merit in the children's category this year as well.

The Press Release for the awards mentioned Keweenaw Now as the publisher of Alvord's three articles, stating, "In a solid example of localized science reporting for a community-based Web site, freelance writer Alvord described the potential local impacts of global warming on a local Michigan community."

Kathy Sawyer, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, said Alvord's "well-crafted and enterprising online package 'zooms in' to capture the effects of global climate change" on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

"The writing, supplemented by telling photos, provides specific, graphic detail for an audience that might not get from any other medium such extensive information about what's happening in their environs," Sawyer said.

Bryn Nelson, a freelance science writer, said Alvord delivered a "compelling, accessible and well-reported analysis of how a global phenomenon could be intensely local for a community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, including its possible impacts on winter recreation, tourism, Lake Superior's water levels and even the moose population on Isle Royale National Park. Alvord also included the necessary nuances to balance the potential dangers against the remaining uncertainties."

The winners of the AAAS Journalism awards also included Kenneth Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times for an ambitious series that examined the profound disturbances that have been occurring in the ecology of the world's oceans.

Other winning articles included an inquiry into mysterious elk deaths in Wyoming, a profile of a largely unknown Black chemist who was a pioneer in the synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants and a look at the merits of telling children they are smart.

The AAAS Science Journalism Awards are sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, L.L.C. The winners will receive $3,000 and a plaque at the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February.

"Informed reporting is essential if the public is to remain engaged with the crucial science issues of the day," said Alan I. Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher of the journal Science. "The awards this year honor truly excellent work, both in national media and in some enterprising local outlets."**

* Editor's Notes: Katie Alvord's articles, still available on Keweenaw Now's archived site,, are titled as follows (click on link to go directly to the article):
"Lake Superior warming fast: Researchers surprised by strong trends," May 3, 2007; "Lake Superior Basin feeling heat: Part 2," June 3, 2007; and "Businesses feel the heat: Lake Superior warms up, part 3," June 30, 2007.

** To read the complete press release on the awards, visit the AAAS Web site.

Katie Alvord is the author of a book about transportation reform, Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile. Over the last 20 years her articles and essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Boston Globe, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Upper Peninsula Post, E Magazine, Northern Lights, Orion Afield, Silent Sports, Sonoma Business, The Urban Ecologist, Utne Reader, Wild Earth and Wine Country Magazine. Read her contributor profile on Keweenaw Now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finlandia Gallery to feature art of John Lundeen Nov. 15 - Dec. 13

HANCOCK -– Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center will host the 17th Annual Contemporary Finnish-American Artist Series with John Lundeen: From the Ether of Superior from Nov. 15 through Dec. 13, 2007.

An opening reception for the artist will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Finlandia University Gallery. At the reception, the artist will give a brief gallery talk about his work. Refreshments will be served. The reception is free and open to the public.

Finnish-American artist John Lundeen works from his studio on the shores of Lake Superior. Images of the lake act as a base for Lundeen’s metaphorical paintings where boats, fruit and mathematical formulas all float above the surface of the water in a playful expression of the wonders of nature and the human mind.

John Lundeen's "L’Ark, 2005." Oil on Canvas, 22" x 32". Click on photo for larger image. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Lundeen explains, "My images reflect a fascination with the workings of nature and the human mind. Fruit trees package their seeds in beautiful wraps and send them off with nourishment to survive a journey beyond the influence of nature."

Lundeen draws parallels between these natural processes and parenting.

"In my work, fruit becomes a metaphor for human offspring," he notes. Lundeen’s metaphorical "parents" send their young into the world with high hopes, relying on knowledge as the nourishment to help them survive.

The ambiguity in meaning of Lundeen’s images is an inherent part of the artwork.

John Lundeen. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

"Fish out of water and boats in the sky and other incongruities in my work will have different meanings to different people. It is my hope that each viewer will construct their own vision and interpretation of my work rather than relying on my explanation," says Lundeen.

Lundeen graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a bachelor’s degree and continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving a master’s degree in 1963. Lundeen managed an architectural design and construction company for 29 years before retiring to Au Train, Mich., in 1992. His artwork has been exhibited across the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. He is also a participating artist in the traveling exhibition "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home," organized and sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. This exhibit will tour five venues in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, including a stop at the Finlandia University Gallery from Dec 20, 2007 - Jan. 31, 2008.

John Lundeen: From the Ether of Superior will be on display through Dec 13. The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 487-7500 for more information.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MTU to celebrate International Week, Food Festival

By Shahryar Rizvi

HOUGHTON -- When defining the effect of food on overall social cohesion and well being, Anthropology scholar Penny Van Esterick coined the term "food praxis." The Thanksgiving holiday is a clear example of food's effect on social cohesion. As a part of International Week, Nov. 12-14, Michigan Tech's International Club aims to evoke food praxis with a banquet of foods from around the world.

The feast begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

"We want to express global diversity in terms of food, which we think is effective as indicated with traditional holiday feasts," commented International Club Vice President Donisha Das.

In assembling the menu, Food Committee Chair Aaron DeGabriele intends to represent all continents, including cuisines which are obscure to most Americans.

The International Food Festival will also feature a a lecture by Bucky Beach titled "Diversity in Global Cultures and Sustainability in Cultural Heritage" and a fashion show.

MTU's International Programs and Services offered students the opportunity to enter the International Education Week reflection-paper contest and the Study Abroad photo contest, and the winners will be awarded at the event.

Tickets are available for $8 and can be purchased in the Fisher Hall lobby, the Memorial Union Commons or by contacting Donisha Das at

The food festival is one of several events being held as part of International Education Week, a national initiative launched by former President Bill Clinton. The 2007 theme is "Fostering Global Citizenship and Respect," announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

This initiative started in 2000 to recognize the significance of international students, curricula and programming in U.S. higher education. The Office of International Programs and Services (IPS), in partnership with the International Club, the Memorial Union and different units of the university, is offering a series of educational and cultural events during the week.

Also on Wednesday, Nov. 14, the World Forum will feature "Peace Corps and Service Learning: What is It and Why Should You do It?" -- a discussion led by Michigan Tech faculty and students who have participated in the Peace Corps program.* The World Forum will be held from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. in the West Lounge of McNair Hall.

Throughout the week, a display of international flags in the Memorial Union and different international cuisines every day at lunch time will recognize the fact that Michigan Tech is emerging as a global university. This trend will also be demonstrated by international students wearing their cultural attire and Michigan Tech administration and staff wearing international ties and scarves to celebrate internationalization at Michigan Tech.

*MTU has several Peace Corps Master's International programs -- in Forestry, Environmental Engineering, Geology and Science Education. See links in the right column of this page.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Updated: Finlandia community play by Yeats to be Nov. 16, 17, 18

HANCOCK -- The fall Finlandia University community play, At the Hawk’s Well, will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

The play is directed by Melvin Kangas and features players, singers and musicians from Finlandia and the Copper Country community.

At the Hawk’s Well, by Irish poet W. B. Yeats, is an experimental play based on a fragment of ancient Irish mythology and patterned after Japanese "Noh" drama. The minimalist play features one main and one companion character, the use of masks and faces painted to resemble masks, chant-like singing and minimalist scenery.

Set during the early medieval period, the story concerns a young keeper (Randy Wakeham) and an old keeper (Oren Tikkanen) of a well from which springs the water of eternal life. The keepers are tricked by the Guardian of the Well (Paula Oye) into missing the water when it finally flows. Instead of continuing to wait, the young one goes to do battle, while the old one stays by the well.

"Finlandia University's Melvin Kangas not only directs the production, but has also composed wonderfully evocative music for it, drawing upon Japanese and Celtic musical sources," Tikkanen notes. "Kangas plays the score on kantele (Finnish table harp) and keyboard, with a very talented ensemble that includes Robin Oye on flute and vocalists Phyllis Fredendall and Megan Plis."

Other members of the cast include Rebecca Stadius, Maija Stadius, Ren Olson, Marie Kangas, Jessica Kilpela, Terry Sayatovich and Erica Hilts.

Here are some comments from viewers of the dress rehearsal:

"This is an effectively mysterious metaphor about the human condition."

"The slow pace draws one in as the dramatic tension gets higher -- and the music and singing are lovely."

Tickets are $5.00 per person and are available at the door. Finlandia students are free with university ID.