Saturday, August 08, 2009

Protect the Earth: Part 2, Walk to Eagle Rock

By Michele Bourdieu

Just before the Walk to Eagle Rock begins on Aug. 2, 2009, Chauncy Moran reads an Aug. 2 article on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's request to delay a decision on Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company's proposed reuse of the Humboldt Mill to process ore from Kennecott's proposed Eagle Mine. The mine itself is being delayed by legal challenges and pending permits. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated. Please see our photo use policy under slide shows, right column.)

Author's Note: This is the second part of an article on the 2009 Protect the Earth, the second annual Great Lakes Community Gathering of people opposed to metallic sulfide and uranium mining in the Upper Peninsula and nearby Great Lakes states. Part 1 of the article was posted on Aug. 5, 2009.

MARQUETTE -- The Walk to Eagle Rock, a sacred Native American site on the Yellow Dog Plains, on Sunday, Aug.2, 2009, was a community event, bringing together people of at least three, if not more, generations -- Native and non-Native -- from Michigan, neighboring Great Lakes states and even from the far West.

Protect the Earth walkers head toward Eagle Rock on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. More than 170 people attended the event.

The two-mile walk began at a bridge over the Yellow Dog River, which, along with the Salmon Trout River, runs through the area of Kennecott-Rio Tinto's proposed Eagle Project for a nickel / copper sulfide mine that could pollute not only these and other streams in the Lake Superior watershed, but also the Big Lake itself. Many participants in the walk were from Wisconsin and Minnesota, where Kennecott has had and still has other mining interests. The walk ended at Eagle Rock, where Native Americans conducted a spiritual ceremony that they shared with other participants, asking the Creator, in the native Ojibwe language, for protection of the land and water and thanking him for many blessings, including the pleasant weather of the day.

Susan LaFernier, vice-president of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) was the first of several community leaders and environmental activists who spoke to the crowd of more than 170 people gathered at Eagle Rock.

Susan LaFernier, KBIC vice-president, addresses the crowd at Eagle Rock. Behind her are co-organizers Teresa Bertossi of Save the Wild UP and (hidden behind LaFernier) Emily Whittaker, executive director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. At left is musician Victor McManemy. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

"Wasn't it a great walk?" she began -- a question answered by applause from the crowd. "It was wonderful, and it's another wonderful day. It's just beautiful," she said. "This is the annual celebration where we can be proud of the gains that we have made in protecting the natural gifts of our planet, given to us by our God and Creator. Taking care of our Earth and allowing it to take care of itself is not just a responsibility. It is a privilege bestowed upon all of us."

LaFernier has represented KBIC in contesting the Kennecott-Rio Tinto Eagle Project, even attending a Rio Tinto shareholders' meeting in London, England. -- (Click below to hear an excerpt of her talk at Eagle Rock on this videoclip.)

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Susan LaFernier, KBIC vice-president, reminds the audience at Eagle Rock of the history of the Ojibwe (Chippewa) people in North America. (Videoclip by Keweenaw Now) Click here to see a slightly longer video of LaFernier's talk by Yellow Dog Summer's Gabriel Caplett, editor and publisher of the Lake Superior Mining News.

Jessica Koski, also a KBIC member and recent graduate of Michigan Tech University (MTU) in social sciences and environmental studies, spoke about rediscovering her Native American cultural heritage and doing research on environmental issues and Native American sacred sites.

Koski was born in l'Anse and, after growing up in Wisconsin, returned to Baraga to study at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, where, she said, she learned a lot about her cultural heritage and eventually became interested in the sulfide mining issue.

"I learned about our beautiful tribal culture and our values for the land," Koski said.

She had a research opportunity that allowed her to study about the impacts of mining, including acid mine drainage. When she returned to Michigan Tech she became acquainted with others in the community who were interested in the sulfide mining issue and its cultural impacts.*

Jessica Koski of KBIC speaks about her research on sulfide mining and on Native American sacred sites on Aug. 2, 2009, at Eagle Rock.

"I guess it just really lit a passion inside me," Koski noted.

After graduating from MTU last fall, Koski added, she went to Washington, D.C., and had internships on policy and politics related to Native Americans and the environment. While participating in the Washington Internship for Native Students (WINS) program, Koski met Suzanne Harjo, a leader who advocates for Native American rights. When Harjo talked about the Native American Religious Freedom Act, Koski asked her how it relates to Eagle Rock, a sacred site to the Ojibwe.

"She (Harjo) said it doesn't have any teeth," Koski explained, "and we need stronger laws to protect our sacred sites."

During an internship with the Forest Service, Koski said she did research on sacred sites and found more examples of Native American sites threatened by development, including a site sacred to the Shoshone -- Yucca Mountain, proposed for nuclear waste; the San Francisco Peaks in California, sacred to 13 different tribes, where the Forest Service wants to put wastewater on the slopes to create snow for skiing; and a California case in 1988 involving the Forest Service and a logging road that was to go through sacred sites.

In the 1988 case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of government land use rights over the religious freedom of Native Americans.

Koski concluded from her research that, while the First Amendment of the Constitution gives all Americans equal protection to practice their religion, Native Americans don't receive that protection.

"I think this is a major issue for Native Americans," Koski said. "I think it's difficult for people to understand because religion and culture and land are all interconnected."

The Court told plaintiffs from the tribes (in the 1988 case) that they needed to go to Congress and secure legislation that specifically protects sacred sites.

"And we've been unable to do that so far," Koski said.

She said she also learned from going to Washington, D.C. that you can't change everything there. You need to do it locally, through your state government.

Paul Campbell of Calumet, who attended the Eagle Rock event with his wife, Anita, was especially impressed by Koski's presentation.

"We appreciated all the speakers as they were all outstanding in their comments and commitments," he said. "Jessica Koski said it best in paraphrasing from The Mishomis Book by Eddie Benton-Banai: 'We will be given a choice between two roads, one road will be of a headlong rush to technology and the other will be a road to spiritualism. Could the road to technology represent a rush to destruction? The road to spirituality represents the slower path that traditional Native people have traveled and are now seeking again. The earth is not scorched on this trail.' The question is: Where does corporate greed end and common sense start? There is only one Earth."

Outdoor author Eric Hansen of Milwaukee captured the spiritual atmosphere of Eagle Rock with his poem, "A Place Where Water Sparkles": (Click on videoclip below to hear the poem.)

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Eric Hansen, outdoor writer and conservation advocate, reads his poem, "A Place Where Water Sparkles" during the Aug. 2, 2009, Protect the Earth gathering at Eagle Rock. (Videoclip by Keweenaw Now)

Several other speakers from Wisconsin described their own battles to protect land and water from mining pollution.

Representatives from the Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe participated in the spiritual ceremonies preceding the speakers, and some of them spoke as well about their struggle to stop the Crandon mine.

Fred Ackley (Little Bear) of the Mole Lake, Wis., Sokaogon Ojibwe, participated in the spiritual ceremonies at Eagle Rock. Ackley was one of several activists who stopped the Crandon sulfide mine on the edge of his home reservation. He spoke about honoring the strength of women and praying for the safe return of soldiers fighting overseas. Also pictured are Protect the Earth co-organizer Emily Whittaker and (behind her) Ben Kent. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Jerry Burnett said he would never forget the battles they went through in Mole Lake, but warned that continual vigilance is needed.

"Even though they're done for the time being," Burnett said of those battles,"they're always there to threaten us even more. They won't ever go away, and we have to be on our toes all the time."

Jerry Burnett of the Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe speaks about not giving up the fight against polluting sulfide mines. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Formerly a member of Hell's Angels in California, Burnett said he gave that up when he returned home and heard the drum. Its power and strength changed him from the inside out.

"My heart is changed today," Burnett said. "I'm not the person I was 20 years ago."

However, Burnett noted with humor that some of his old life has been useful in confronting the mining companies.

"They don't like me," Burnett said. "As far as I'm concerned, there will never be a mine here, as long as I'm alive. You have to think that in your heart."

Burnett said he thought it was over at Mole Lake, but he's still traveling.

"Your fight is my fight," Burnett said. "We will defeat this. Miigwech (Thank you in Ojibwe)."

Lee Sprague, former Ogemaw of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Sierra Club Clean Energy Campaign Manager, identifying himself as a citizen of territories presently occupied by the State of Michigan, said he had visited Mole Lake and learned about their issues.

Lee Sprague, former Ogemaw of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Sierra Club Clean Energy Campaign Manager, talks about taking responsibility for Mother Earth. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

He noted the corporations talk about their "right" to get a permit to mine the minerals from the earth right here, but nobody's talking about responsibilities, though the government treats the corporations as human beings.

"The one thing that's different between us and the corporations is that we breathe -- we need clean air, water and land," Sprague said. "The corporations do not need clean air, water and land to live -- and yet they have a life. You cannot even kill a corporation. They live longer than people do."

Sprague admitted even he himself has abdicated responsibilities to corporations, letting them interact with Mother Earth, destroying things in their path.

"The fact that you are here," Sprague said to the audience, "tells me that there is an understanding of what our responsibilities are."

Sprague noted the younger generation is more informed now than he was at their age.

"That means we have accepted some of those responsibilities and that we're bringing our young ones up these good ways and that the future does look good and we don't need this current occupation by the State of Michigan," Sprague concluded.

Drumming by Summer Cloud followed his speech.

Tom Williams of Lac du Flambeau, a member of the drumming circle, said he was glad to be invited to Protect the Earth to help support this opposition against mining. He was concerned about the effects it could have on future generations, he said.

"I'm real sad to see some of these statistics that they have about the Flambeau Mine -- what the mining companies leave behind and all the lies that they tell the people," Williams said.

He added that it's important to keep educating the people and more people will join in this effort once they find out the facts.

Tom Williams of Lac du Flambeau tells the crowd mining companies can be stopped.

"I pray to the Great Spirit and all his helpers that you are successful in this opposition against this mine coming over and destroying this beautiful country," Williams said. "Yes, the mining companies can be stopped."

Williams used Mole Lake as an example that a mining company can be stopped if the majority of the people say "No, we don't want this," because they don't want their water and fish contaminated.

Al Gedicks, professor at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, who, along with Laura Furtman and their organization, the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (See Part 1 of this article) is suing Kennecott-Rio Tinto and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources because of groundwater pollution at the Flambeau Mine, said he was honored to be at the event with friends from Mole Lake, who have demonstrated that a broad-based coalition of grassroots activists can defeat the most powerful mining and energy corporations in the world.

Al Gedicks, professor at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, who is involved in a lawsuit against Kennecott-Rio Tinto for groundwater pollution at the Flambeau Mine, relates his experiences with indigenous peoples in various countries, who have confronted mining companies and demanded their rights. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

"It's been done in Mole Lake; it's been done in South America; it's been done in various places where Native populations, indigenous peoples, have confronted much larger forces," Gedicks continued, "-- the corporations, the banks, the states that have conspired to seize the resources and the lands of Native peoples without their knowledge, without their consent, and tried to forcibly take those resources in the face of opposition movements all around the world. This is the legacy of colonialism. It's a dying legacy."

Gedicks noted gatherings such as Protect the Earth are a reminder that that legacy was the past, not the future.

"What we're doing today is the future" he said. "What we're doing is re-asserting the sacredness of these lands, the power of the people and the corruption of the corporations and the states that are illegally and immorally trying to seize resources that they have no right to."

Gedicks related how he has been involved in these resource struggles involving indigenous peoples for the last 30 years -- from Mole Lake to Ecuador to El Salvador.

"In all these places people have come together to protect watersheds, to protect ecosystems and to re-assert the sacredness of these places in the face of the sacrilegious assault on these peoples and cultures by corporations, governments and banking institutions," Gedicks said. "What has united all these struggles is that there is a will -- there is a passion and determination to preserve, protect and conserve these places in the face of corporate greed."

Musician Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine recognized several women who have fasted every month and overnight last year on Eagle Rock.

"That shows, as Fred (Ackley) was saying, that the women are very strong," St. Germaine said.

Water Ceremony

One of those strong women, another Native American leader in the Mole Lake struggle to stop the Crandon Mine, Fran Van Zile, invited participants to bring samples of water from their own areas, speak about it and pour it into a common container.

Participants at Protect the Earth hold up cups of pure water during a ceremony of appreciation and prayer for keeping the water clean. Activist Tim DeCristopher (center) from Utah, who later poured some water from Salt Lake City during the ceremony, stands between Cynthia Pryor, second from left, of the Yellowdog Watershed Preserve and Barbara Bradley (third from right), mother of Yellow Dog Summer's Gabriel Caplett, who took this photo. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Tim DeChristopher, University of Utah student and conservation activist, who spoke on Saturday of his commitment to fighting climate change, brought water from Salt Lake City, where Kennecott Minerals has its headquarters.**

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Tim DeChristopher pours water from Salt Lake City, Utah, during the water ceremony at Eagle Rock on Aug. 2. (Videoclip © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett of the Lake Superior Mining News.)

Don Carlson, Baraga County mining inspector, brought water from Pelkie. As a mining inspector, Carlson is not against mining, he said, but in favor of safety and following the rules. Kennecott has been challenged by scientists and mining experts who claim the Eagle Project mining application does not guarantee safety in its design.***

Don Carlson, Baraga County mining inspector, prepares to pour water from Pelkie during the water ceremony conducted by Fran Van Zile, left, of the Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe.

"Safety is the issue," Carlson said, "as much for the workers as for the community."

Another visitor from Pelkie, Marge Krumm, had a special, personal reason for attending Protect the Earth.

"Today is my son's birthday," Marge Krumm said. "I thought this was a good way to honor him."

Her son, the late Oren Krumm, who passed away from a sudden illness in 1998, when he was a first-year student at Michigan Tech University, is known in the Keweenaw for a Brockway Mountain trail, now named for him. He built it as an Eagle Scout project.

Barbara and Bob Wheeler of Houghton brought their sons -- Leo, 9; Toby, 11; and John, 15 to the Walk.

"I totally agree with what was said today," Barbara Wheeler said. "I'm glad that a lot of people are persistent in pursuing it."

Co-organizers Teresa Bertossi and Emily Whittaker of Save the Wild UP and Gabriel Caplett of Yellow Dog Summer were pleased with the turnout at this Second Annual Protect the Earth gathering.

"This year’s Protect the Earth was yet another example of the power of everyday citizens to stand up to spineless government and greedy corporations," said Bertossi. "We must keep moving in this direction, putting our heads together with everyone we know. We no longer have time to sit by and wait for the legal system. If we are to protect our land and water for the future generations we will need action, including all the prayers, creativity and strength we can get to outwit those who have set out to destroy the last of the wild lands and clean water."

Whittaker said she believed two years of success was pretty good.

"It's really a pleasure to get everybody together, out on the plain, from the Great Lakes region and across the country," Whittaker noted.

Yellow Dog Summer's Gabriel Caplett, editor and publisher of the Lake Superior Mining News, introduces one of the speakers at Eagle Rock.

Caplett, who contributed several photos for this article, said he found the level of people's commitment to be more pronounced this year -- especially activists attending the event for the second time, like Jerry Burnett of Mole Lake.

"This year they said if we ever need help they'll be here," Caplett noted.

In Memory of Fred Rydholm

Following the Protect the Earth activities at Eagle Rock, family and friends of the late Fred Rydholm, an opponent of the sulfide mine, gathered at Eagle Rock to honor him.

According to an article in the Marquette Mining Journal, Rydholm, a World War II veteran, who passed away Apr. 4, 2009, was a "local historian, author, teacher and three-term Marquette mayor" as well as a storyteller, guide and mentor to many.

Cynthia Pryor, Sulfide Mining Campaign director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, who is an active opponent of Kennecott's sulfide mine, said she read Rydholm's book during her first winter living in the Upper Peninsula.****

"From the pages of that book came Fred's spirit," Pryor said. "It transformed me."

Cynthia Pryor, right, of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve gives a testimonial in honor of the late Fred Rydholm during a gathering that followed the 2009 Protect the Earth event at Eagle Rock.

Some of Rydholm's family members were also present. His widow, June, spoke about how Cynthia Pryor had brought some water from the Yellow Dog River to Fred's bedside, two days before his death, and Rev. Jon Magnuson was also present for a "last rites" ceremony with this water for Fred.

Rev. Magnuson, who was part of the delegation (including KBIC's Susan LaFernier and Protect the Earth co-organizer Gabriel Caplett) who went to London for the Rio Tinto shareholders' meeting earlier this year, led the group in a song, at June Rydholm's request, "The River is Flowing ...down to the sea ..."

The Rev. Jon Magnuson speaks at the memorial gathering for the late Fred Rydholm following the Protect the Earth activities at Eagle Rock on Aug. 2, 2009.

In London, Magnuson presented Rio Tinto with 10,000 signatures of Upper Peninsula residents and a message from 100 community leaders opposed to the mine.

Some of the people who gave testimonials at the Aug. 2 memorial at Eagle Rock included children of Huron Mountain Club members, who spoke about childhood memories of Rydholm.

One of those who recounted such childhood memories was Dr. Robert Schreiber of Berkeley, Calif., a member of the Huron Mountain Club, who also commented on Rydholm's spirit and love of people.

"And he was a great storyteller," Schreiber said. "He was the most important person in my life. He was like an older brother, a Dad, a mentor."

Schreiber related how Rydholm took him on hikes in the woods, at night, with no flashlight and no fear.

"That was just a great adventure," he said.

He also described how he was impressed by the way Rydholm treated a disabled person, whose handicap did not reveal to most people how intelligent he was. Schreiber, a physician, now works with developmentally disabled people.

Rydholm spoke at last year's Protect the Earth Summit. A video of his speech at that August 2008 gathering is now available in two separate parts on the Lake Superior Mining News. (The Video is provided by Jeff Gibbs.)

In that speech, Rydholm notes he spoke at the first public meeting on the mine in Big Bay: "I said the only thing that I could think of that would be worse than that mine would be an atomic explosion. I still feel that way."

Editor's Notes:
* Jessica Koski also participated in MTU's Earth Week Speakers' Forum on March 19, 2009. She represented the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), MTU Chapter, one of the sponsors of the Forum, and introduced KBIC's Doreen Blaker, who spoke about the sulfide mining. Read Keweenaw Now's article on this talk.

Learn about acid mine drainage from sulfide mining on Save the Wild UP.

** Read more about Tim DeChristopher in Part 1 of this Article.

***A report by mining expert Jack Parker of Toivola addresses the safety issue of Kennecott's proposed Eagle Mine. The report is available on Lake Superior Mining News.

**** Rydholm's book, Superior Heartland, a Backwoods History, is a two-volume chronicle of the history of the Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. First printed in 1989, the book contains more than 1500 pages and 1300 historic photos, maps and illustrations.

Portage Library to host student exchange travelogues

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host three local students who will give presentations about their travels and experiences in study abroad programs.

Carrie Yarina studied in Turkey for a year under the Rotary Youth Exchange program. At 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, she will show slides of her trip and share her impressions of the culture and rich history of Turkey, its food, language, people and daily life. Participants will learn that Turkey is the home of Santa Claus, the Amazon Warriors, Mount Olympus, Homer, Rumi and more -- and will see items on display from Turkey.

Hannah Kass-Aten will present a slide show about her year of study in Poland under the Rotary Youth Exchange program at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13. Participants will learn about Polish culture, language, food, city and country life, the celebration of traditional holidays and political influences on daily life. Kass-Aten will also describe Rotary organized trips, her host families, the school she attended and display items she brought back from Poland.

Amber Voght lived in Stuttgart, Germany for two months through the Michigan Technological University Study Abroad Student Exchange program. At 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17, she will show slides of her travels in Germany, including visits to Prague and Heidelberg. Voght will share her impressions of Stuttgart, the sixth largest city in Germany, which is famous for its architecture and rich culture, as well as being home to the Mercedes Benz and Porsche museums. There will be items from Germany on display and samples of German chocolate to enjoy.

All library programs are free, and everyone is invited to attend. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Eagle Harbor Art Fair Aug. 8-9 to feature folk artist Jerry Hammes

Artist Jerry Hammes of Calumet, pictured here with some of his folk art, will be the featured artist at the 49th Annual Eagle Harbor Art Fair Aug. 8-9. Click on photo for larger versions and note the historic Italian Hall and the Quincy Mine. (Photos courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

EAGLE HARBOR -- The weekend of August 8 and 9 art lovers and the curious will be flocking to Eagle Harbor for the 49th annual Copper Country Associated Artists' Eagle Harbor Fine Art Fair and Exhibition. Come rain or come shine, the hours of the exhibit are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9.

The churchyard of St. Peter’s by the Sea will be filled with the creations of 53 artists and craftsmen. The broad spectrum of media and styles include hand-thrown pottery, watercolors, oils, hand-woven baskets, fabric, stained glass, hammered metal, wood working, jewelry, decorative arts and photography.

In the basement of the church will be recent work by the members of the Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) including the wonderful historic folk art paintings of this year’s featured artist Jerry Hammes of Calumet.

Click on this photo for a larger version of this Copper Country mining scene by artist Jerry Hammes.

Jerry literally lives with his art. If you were to walk into Jerry Hammes’ home in Calumet, you would most likely find him diligently baking, cooking or painting. He is extremely talented in all of these areas. The back porch of his home contains much of his art work, including a large painting of the 100 block of Fifth Street, Calumet, and some "saw paintings." A few of these will be shown at the CCAA Fair exhibit in the church under trove.

Jerry’s historical paintings have become well known in this area. He not only keeps the CCAA gallery supplied with his prints, but he has been commissioned to do paintings of buildings that have special meanings for people who live locally as well as out of the area.

Anyone interested in Copper Country history will enjoy Jerry Hammes' paintings of nostalgic street scenes such as this one.

Before Jerry became a member of the Copper Country Artists Association, he had been employed at various food markets including the A and P Store, which was located in the building which now houses the Copper Country Associated Artists. In 1991, he retired from Louie’s Super Value in Lake Linden. Since then he has been concentrating on painting.

One of his paintings is of an old fashioned kitchen including the "old" wood stove and another one featuring a wringer washer. He has paintings of various buildings which were located in Calumet -- including the old Woolworth store (five and ten cent store), which was on Fifth Street; Anegone’s confectionary store, which was on the corner of Scott and Sixth; the Italian Hall, formerly on Seventh Street; the train depot on Oak Street in Calumet; Electric Park, located between Calumet and Hancock; mine shafts; many local churches and other notable buildings.

These paintings by Jerry Hammes depict the Albion Street Car Station (above) and the historic Quincy Mine with its train. Click on photo for larger versions.

The quality and diversity of the creative work of Eagle Harbor Art Fair exhibiting artists is well known and annually attracts hundreds of collectors and buyers. Each work exhibited is an original and presented by the individual artist who produced it.

This year food will be served by the Keweenaw Lions Club following the bake sale which will be held in the Fire Hall starting at 9 a.m.

The Copper Country Associated Artists maintain an art center on Fifth Street in Calumet, offering workshops and a gallery of members’ works.

For more information, contact the CCAA show coordinator, Linda Dodge, at 337-3969 or lindadodge@pasty.net; visit the CCAA web site, www.ccaartists.org. or phone 337-1252.

First Friday in Calumet to feature art, books, music Aug. 7

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet will feature two opening gallery receptions, a book signing and organ music this evening, Friday, Aug. 7.

Vertin Gallery

The Vertin Gallery will host "Paintings by John Lundeen," with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 7, in the Gallery. The exhibit will run through Sept. 2.

Lundeen, whose background is Finnish, has his MFA in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He supported himself by doing fine building work for Frank Lloyd Wright's protogees, and he lives in a beautiful house on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lake, where he can daily watch the lake and its moods.

The Vertin Gallery is at 220 Sixth St., Calumet. For more information call 906-337-2200.

Ed Gray Gallery

"A Cabinet of Curiosities," a one-person show in Printmaking, by Emily Gray Koehler, will open with a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at the Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery, 109 Fifth Street, Calumet.

For more info call 906-337-5970.

Conglomerate Café


A Meet the Authors and Book Signing with Peter Oikarinen and Barbara Simila will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 7, at the Conglomerate Café.

Their books will be available: Simila's Watermarks: Poems from the Coast of the Keweenaw, and Oikarinen's Armour: A Lake Superior Fisherman and Island Folk: The People of Isle Royale.

Art prints w/ poetry will also be available. The café, at 104 Fifth St., will be open until 9 p.m.

Visit the Web site Big Lake Gallery for more information.

Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's

The Keweenaw Heritage Center will feature pipe organ music by guest organist Mike Maksimchuk on the newly restored 1899 Barckhoff Tracker Pipe Organ. The Center will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. for people to view the summer exhibit, "Keweenaw's Musical Heritage" photo display, and enjoy the pipe organ music.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Protect the Earth 2009: Part 1

By Michele Bourdieu

Eagle Rock, a Native American sacred site on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette, was the destination of the Protect the Earth Walk on Sunday, Aug. 2. More than 170 people participated in the event to show opposition to Kennecott-Rio Tinto's proposed "Eagle" Project sulfide mine. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

MARQUETTE -- Last weekend, Aug. 1-2, "Protect the Earth 2009," the second annual Great Lakes Community Gathering of people opposed to metallic sulfide and uranium mining in the Upper Peninsula and nearby Great Lakes states, offered workshops with expert speakers; musical entertainment; Native American dance, drumming and spiritual ceremonies; and a two-mile walk to Eagle Rock. This Native American sacred site is a proposed target of the "Eagle" Project, Kennecott-Rio Tinto's potential metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette.

The Walk began here at a bridge over the Yellow Dog River, one of the streams that could be polluted by acid mine drainage should the sulfide mine be finally approved.

Following the program at Eagle Rock, family and friends of the late Fred Rydholm, local historian and opponent of the mining, gathered to honor him with testimonials.

Walkers, young and old, begin the two-mile trek to Eagle Rock on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009.

Keweenaw Now was privileged to be present at these events. This is the first in a two-part article on "Protect the Earth 2009."

Saturday's events were held in the Whitman Building on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

Although participants had to choose between two simultaneous presentations for each of four time slots, they had an opportunity to meet the speakers, exchange ideas and ask questions during the break times and again during the walk to Eagle Rock on Sunday.

"It was a wonderful weekend," said Eric Hansen -- prize-winning author, conservation advocate and hiker, who gave a slide presentation of his photos of the Upper Peninsula titled "Our Spiritual Homeland (An Iconic Landscape and Its Regional Magnetic Power)."

"These are our heroes," he said of his fellow presenters, several of whom are conservation and environmental activists.

Hansen himself has written articles pointing out the dangers that metallic sulfide mining poses to groundwater, streams and lakes in both Michigan and Wisconsin. In his July 27, 2008, article, "Headwaters are no place for toxic new mining," published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he mentions the Kennecott-Rio Tinto proposed sulfide mine for Marquette and Baraga counties as well as the Aquila Resources project known as the "Back 40."

Eric Hansen, prize-winning author and hiker, chats with Keweenaw Now's editor during the Aug. 2, 2009, Walk to Eagle Rock.

While giving credit to Wisconsinites for the victory against the Crandon mine and the present Wisconsin moratorium on sulfide mining, he notes this potential "Back 40 mining site "is just a stone’s throw from the Menominee River and the Wisconsin border."*

The message from Hansen, and from other speakers at the workshop, was that protecting the earth goes beyond individual state or provincial borders. Concerned citizens need to work together, share experiences, combine their efforts and communicate with both federal and state representatives.

Tim DeChristopher: "The Case for Extremism"

One of the youngest voices among the workshop speakers was that of Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student and conservation activist, who is presently facing a trial for his acts of civil disobedience and a possible prison sentence if convicted.

In his presentation, "The Case for Extremism," DeChristopher said the paradigm of compromise, centrism, negotiation, discussion in terms of economics rather than moral arguments, etc., needs to be shifted towards one of "extremism" -- where one can take a much stronger stance and be less compromising in trying to protect something.

Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, speaks on "The Case for Extremism" during the Aug. 1 Protect the Earth workshops at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

"When we compromise (with corporations that are trying to destroy something) we're always taking smaller steps backwards," he said, "and we're kind of getting to this point where we don't have much backwards to go."

DeChristopher gave the early women's movement as an example of changing from compromises (in order not to offend men) to stronger protest movements in front of the White House where they got arrested and made more progress in a short time.

"What people feel is extreme is what wakes them up," he noted. "It's hard to tip the scales from the middle."

DeChristopher said extremism is needed now because it is appropriate for the problems we face: catastrophic climate change, peak oil, water issues.

"These are literally life-or-death issues. Some of them are civilization-threatening issues," he said.

If we're trying to show people that these are life-or-death issues, but we don't put ourselves on the line for them, people aren't going to be inspired to fight for them, he explained. DeChristopher put himself on the line for the climate crisis when he disrupted an illegitimate oil and gas lease auction of public land in Utah toward the end of the Bush administration last December. He has been charged with two felonies for his civil disobedience.

DeChristopher noted that young people are not hopeful when environmental groups ask them to do something easy -- "one-click activism." They're more likely to be hopeful of change if they're asked to do something bold. He gave the example of students his group asked to go to Washington, D.C., to close down a coal-fired power plant, risking arrest; and he showed a short film of this enthusiastic protest.

After showing a short film about acts of his civil disobedience and the support he's received for his efforts to call attention to the crisis of climate change, Tim DeChristopher fields questions from members of the audience during his workshop session at Northern Michigan University Aug. 1, 2009.

The fact that these direct-action protests now include "respectable" writers, scientists and politicians gives him hope, DeChristopher added.

To a question on his upcoming trial, DeChristopher answered, "We really want to put climate change on trial. We want to establish that the threat of climate change creates a greater moral imperative than just following the law as it exists right now."

Jon Saari, president of UPEC (Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition), commented to DeChristopher that his civility is a strong point. Saari noted the young economics student's calm, honest demeanor must have impressed a conservative congressman, whose views were obviously not sympathetic to environmentalists, to invite DeChristopher to speak.

Eric Hansen, also in the audience during DeChristopher's talk, noted activists need to remind themselves of the victories of citizens' campaigns of the past, such as the victory of citizens of Wisconsin who "stared down Exxon" to prevent the (Crandon) sulfide mine and the success of the Porcupine Mountains campaign in 1944.

"When we see these other things and remind ourselves, then we realize that yes we can do this. The corporate media is not going to remind us of our power," Hansen said.

Before going into the auction, DeChristopher said, he had made a conscious decision to act as if he wasn't helpless. When he realized that he was risking jail by bidding money he didn't have in order to raise the bids on land he didn't want to be sold for fossil fuels, he decided he could live with going to jail, but could not, in conscience, pass up the opportunity to do something to combat climate change -- an issue he feels threatens the survival of his and future generations.

He also cited Martin Luther King's four steps of direct action: first, educate yourself to be sure you know what the problem is; second, try to negotiate; third, purify yourself; and fourth, take action. DeChristopher noted that step of self-purification is often overlooked -- that is, approaching the action from a very grounded and honest kind of perspective and having facts to defend the action against attacks.**

Wisconsin group files lawsuit on illegal water pollution in Flambeau Mine

A large crowd attended the presentation "Illegal Water Pollution at the Flambeau Mine," by Laura Furtman of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.

Furtman, a pharmacist, gave a power-point presentation showing how Kennecott-Rio Tinto's partially reclaimed Flambeau Mine site near Ladysmith, Wis., which the mining company cites as a success, is actually polluting a stream that leads to the Flambeau River.

Laura Furtman speaks about the water pollution from the "reclaimed" Flambeau Mine near Ladysmith, Wis., that Kennecott Minerals terms a "success."

Furtman, Professor Al Gedicks of the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse and the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC) are plaintiffs in a lawsuit now being filed against Kennecott Minerals and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the basis of this illegal water pollution.

Gedicks, WRPC’s executive secretary, who also spoke during the Protect the Earth workshops on Aug. 1 and at Eagle Rock on Aug. 2, is quoted in WRPC's press release on the lawsuit: "It appears that FMC (Flambeau Mining Co., a subsidiary of Kennecott Minerals) has been glossing over its own data in order to claim that the Flambeau Mine is an environmental success story, when the data actually shows that the Mine is causing pollution just as we had predicted before it was permitted by the DNR back in 1991. We are pursuing this case now in order to bring out the truth and hold both FMC and the DNR legally accountable for the damage being done to our environment by The Flambeau Mine."

The Flambeau Mine, an open-pit metallic sulfide mine (for copper, gold and silver), operated between 1993 and 1997 in northern Wisconsin.

"They left behind 4 million tons of low-sulfur waste rock -- and the company defined that as being waste rock containing one percent or less sulfur," Furtman noted. "They also left behind 4.5 million tons of high-sulfur waste rock. A lot of that rock contained 50 percent or more sulfites, mostly pyrite."

Furtman showed slides -- diagrams and aerial photos -- showing how close the mine pit was to the Flambeau River -- within 150 feet of the river (the Company had to get a DNR variance to put it that close, she said).

During the mining years they stored the high-sulfur and low-sulfur waste rock on two separate piles and had a water treatment plant to deal with polluted water, she explained. Polluted water from the pit and polluted runoff from the ore-crusher area went into separate ponds and then into the water treatment plant. From there it went into the Flambeau River. Polluted sludge that the wastewater treatment plant removed went on top of the high-sulfur waste rock stockpile.

"At the end of mining everything got shoved into the pit -- without a liner," Furtman said. "Now all that same stuff is still in the pit."

She pointed out the company's own diagrams show the direction the groundwater flow is through the pit, toward the river.

The company back-filled the pit, put grass on top of it and now gives walking tours for unsuspecting people from Michigan and Minnesota to show it off.

"'This is grass over a grave,'"she quoted her mentor, the late Roscoe Churchill, as saying.

Furtman showed also the misinformation in the media that quoted Jon Cherry, project manager for Kennecott's Eagle Project near Marquette, as saying the Flambeau Mine in Wisconsin had no environmental incidents and received a Certificate of Completion.

Laura Furtman showed this slide with a quote from Jon Cherry, project manager for Kennecott's Eagle Project near Marquette, saying the Flambeau Mine had no environmental incidents and the company received a Certificate of Completion indicating it had fulfilled its obligations. Click on photo for larger version.

The facts, according to Furtman, are that the company, in May 2007, got partial certification for planting grass over the pit (surface reclamation only).

"That's not the issue (the grass). The issue is the water," Furtman said. "Groundwater contamination was not factored into the decision to give them this partial certificate of completion."

I feel they're misrepresenting this to you," Furtman said.

She noted the certificate didn't deal with groundwater contamination or river monitoring data (e.g., effects on walleye).

The question you need to ask, Furtman said, when the company calls the Flambeau mine successfully reclaimed, is "But what about the water?"

Three scientists analyzed the water from a pond designed to collect runoff from the reclaimed mine -- water that flowed into a stream near the mine, known as Stream C (or named Churchill Creek by Furtman for her friend Roscoe Churchill). In 2008 the copper level in Stream C was found to be 10 times the water quality copper standard set to protect fish. The zinc level was about twice the water quality standard. The scientists also determined water monitoring by the company has been insufficient, since the company hasn't been reporting levels since 2005.

This slide in Laura Furtman's presentation indicates the studies done by three scientists, who analyzed Kennecott's own data on the water. Click on photo for larger version.

Furtman pointed out also that Kennecott's own report indicates a low level of life in Stream C, which enters into the Flambeau River. Thus, the scientists concluded that Stream C is being used as a conduit for contaminated water from the mine to the Flambeau River -- without a state discharge permit.***

Speakers, music and film

Other workshop speakers on Saturday included Al Gedicks of the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse, who spoke on "Multicultural Movements"; Lee Sprague, former Ogemaw of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Sierra Club Clean Energy Campaign manager, who discussed "Impacts of Coal-Fired Power Plants on Michigan's Great Lakes"; Stuart Kirsch, author and University of Michigan professor of anthropology, who spoke on "Fighting the Mines in Papua New Guinea"; Kevin Kamps on "Don't Waste Michigan" (Beyond Nuclear); and Mike Collins of the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, who spoke about "The New Economy."

Musical entertainment on Saturday included Megan Tucker, Anishinaabe Hoop and Fancy Dancer, and folk music played and sung by Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine, Victor McManemy and Skip Jones.

Megan Tucker, Anishinaabe Hoop and Fancy Dancer, performs a hoop dance during the Aug. 1 Protect the Earth events at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

video

Victor McManemy entertains with an inspirational folk song during the Protect the Earth music performance Saturday evening, Aug. 1, in Northern Michigan University's Whitman Building. Other musicians pictured are Bobby "Bullet" St. Germaine (in cowboy hat) and Skip Jones. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

Save the Wild UP, one of the sponsors of Protect the Earth, presented two movie demos Saturday evening in NMU's Mead Auditorium. One was a repeat showing of Tim DeChristopher's film shown earlier in the day, with clips of his bidding at the Utah auction and the protest at the Washington, D.C., coal-fired power plant. The second film was part of a film in progress, "Yoopers vs. Giant Mining Corporation," by filmmaker and composer Jeff Gibbs, who has worked on films with Michael Moore and who is currently working on a new project with Moore, due out this fall.

Click here for Part 2 of this article, on the Walk to Eagle Rock.

Notes:
* Click here to read Eric Hansen's article, "Headwaters are no place for toxic new mining." See also Hansen's prize-winning 2005 essay, "It was a big trout. A good trout. A good, big trout," which first appeared in the Chicago Tribune. In this essay he describes the U.P.'s rich natural heritage and the threat from sulfide mining. It received first prize for newspaper conservation and environmental writing in the annual Excellence in Craft awards of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Read more about Eric Hansen on his Web site.

** To learn more about Tim DeChristopher and his organization, Peaceful Uprising, visit http://www.peacefuluprising.org. See a video clip on YouTube of DeChristopher's participation in the Aug. 2 water ceremony at Eagle Rock.

***For more information on the lawsuit against the Flambeau Mine and the work of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, visit the WRPC Web site.

You can also read Kennecott's point of view on their reclamation of the Flambeau Mine on their Web site.

Flying Dump Trucks exhibit to open Aug. 6 in Kerredge Gallery

HANCOCK -- The Community Arts Center is pleased to present Flying Dump Trucks: an Art Installation Celebrating a 50 year Reunion, by Dale Junttila, Aug. 6-29, at the Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery in Hancock. A reception, with a gallery talk, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6.

Flying Dump Trucks is a wall-mounted exhibit depicting (250) vintage Tonka Toy dump trucks in flight. The full exhibit is almost 40' long and 8' high with streams of red and teal dump trucks "taking flight" at a 10-degree angle. It resembles a massive flock of Canadian Geese "on take-off and heading South" for winter migration.

The exhibit is a compilation of 20 years of gathering Tonka Dump Trucks circa 1959 made in Mound, Minnesota, by designer and collector Dale Junttila of Minneapolis.

Junttila says in his artist's statement: "Upon finding a perfect mint specimen, it occurred to me that all of these trucks (in my small collection) were very special -- a link to my past, my childhood, my era. So I decided to set about hunting down mass quantities for a grand exhibit. I scoured every flea market, garage sale, estate sale, antique shop that I could find. Each dump truck arrived one-at-a-time and was welcomed to its rightful place in the exhibit. It is my hope to encourage people to 'stop and wonder' and experience (or re-experience) a point in time -- before moon-landings, before personal computers, before video games and before cell phones -- when kids just wanted to 'play-in-the-dirt.'"

Dale Junttila grew up in Iowa and is a lifelong summer resident of the Copper Country. He is a designer and Principal at Finnwood Company, an industrial design, project management firm. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Janelle and four sons.

The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock, Michigan. This exhibit is partially funded with a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and corporate sponsorship from McGann Building Supply in Hancock. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or email ccarts@chartermi.net.

A Pipe Dream comes true -- Organ Celebration Concert in Calumet Aug. 5

By Anita Campbell*

CALUMET -- At 7 p.m. tonight, Aug. 5, the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's will present a Pipe Organ Celebration Concert. This is the debut of the Center's 1899 newly-restored pipe organ with guest artists. The event is a benefit for Keweenaw Heritage Center's universal accessibility project. Tickets are $5.

A Celebration Concert on this historic, restored organ will take place tonight, Aug. 5, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's, Calumet. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

This Friday, Aug. 7,as part of "First Fridays in Calumet," the Keweenaw Heritage Center will present Pipe Organ music with Mike Maksimchuk from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on this historic organ.

History of the organ

It's interesting to think back about the Barckhoff Church Organ Company located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1899 and picture the many German immigrants employed there, bringing with them from the old country their expertise in organ building.

A group of organ enthusiasts in Calumet cleaned the 957 pipes in preparation for the recent restoration of this historical Barckhoff tracker pipe organ built in Latrobe, Penn., in 1899.

Carl Barckhoff and his employees built over 3000 organs in his lifetime. Most of his organs were of course built for churches, but he also built residence organs and organs for recital halls, Masonic temples and at least one college.

Carl Barckhoff was born in Wiedenbruck, Westphalia, Germany, in 1849. His father, organ builder Felix Barckhoff, brought the family to the United States in 1865; and in that same year the first Barckhoff organ was built in this country. The firm, established in Philadelphia, was for a time during the 1870s known as Felix Barckhoff and Sons -- the sons being Carl and Lorenz.

Carl continued managing the organ building company after his father's death and relocated to several different towns due to various misfortunes, such as the financial panic of 1893, a fire in 1897 and a disastrous flood in 1913.

The business grew and in 1889 the Barckhoff Church Organ Company had 54 employees in 17 classifications: carpenter, wood worker, cabinet maker, works engineer, teamster, bookkeeper and stenographer. By 1904 the company was shipping "an average of three organs per week, and nothing smaller than two-manual instruments." Barckhoff organs are unfortunately not identified by opus numbers. Due to the various disasters, all company records have been lost. Nameplates have merely his name and location.

The Barckhoff Organ in Calumet

The Barckhoff Church Organ Company remained in Latrobe, Penn., for only three years. It was during this short period that the two manual, 16-rank tracker pipe organ was built and installed in the Carmel Lutheran Church of Calumet in 1899. This tracker organ served the Calumet Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Carmel Lutheran, until 1965, when the congregation merged with the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Laurium.

When Carmel Lutheran closed, the congregation donated the pipe organ to their retired pastor and organ enthusiast, the Rev. John Simonson, and his wife, Hortense, also an organist. The Simonsons had a building constructed to house the organ on their wooded property near their home in Dollar Bay. Besides the steeply pitched roof, the organ house featured haymow doors like those on a barn, which were there "to let the music out." The Simonsons and friends and family enjoyed several years of pipe organ music before the death of Hortense in 1990 and John in 1991. The Simonson children chose to donate the organ to the Keweenaw Heritage Center in Calumet.

The Keweenaw Heritage Center

Formerly the St. Anne's Catholic Church, the Kewenaw Heritage Center, at the corner of 5th and Scott streets, was built in 1900 for the large French-Canadian community that had immigrated to Calumet to work in the booming copper mines. The structure was built of red standstone with French Gothic ornamentation generously applied.

After decades of service, St. Anne's was deconsecrated in 1966 and sadly fell into years of decay and desecration. Eventually, the abandoned building was home only to pigeons. Lack of heating and the rugged Keweenaw winters, took their toll.

In 1994 the Keweenaw Heritage Center began a broad-based community effort to purchase and restore St. Anne's. Their intent was to use this historically and architecturally significant building as a home for a community center, highlighting the social history of Michigan's Copper Country. Local contributions and several grants from foundations, the National Park Service and the hard work of numerous volunteers have brought St. Anne's back to life.

The Keweenaw Heritage Center is now one of 18 Heritage Sites of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. The pipe organ was moved to the Keweenaw Heritage Center in May of 2000 thanks to the efforts of Mike Dudenas, then President of Keweenaw Heritage Center. It was temporarily placed in the chancel area until funds could be raised to repair the plaster and leaks in the choir loft of the building. The organ sat untouched for six years until 2006 when the choir loft was repaired and plans were made to move and restore the pipe organ. Fundraising efforts began with an ambitious "Adopt-A-Pipe" program initiated by volunteer, Mike Maksimchuk. Generous grants and major donations were received from the Strosacker Foundation, the Taubman Foundation, Mrs. Valeda Tomasi of Calumet and Mr. David Simonson of North Carolina.

Restoring the Organ


Anita and Paul Campbell pose with the Barckhoff Organin July 2007 shortly after it was moved to the Keweenaw Heritage Center. The Campbells were very active in the organ restoration efforts. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

Organ builder Jim Lauck, owner of the Lauck Pipe Organ Company, of Otsego, Mich., was contracted by the Keweenaw Heritage Center to restore the Barckhoff pipe organ. Lauck has been building organs since 1975 and works on many of the Copper Country's historic pipe organs. In June 2007, on a hot muggy day, twenty-five volunteers worked with Lauck to dismantle and move the pipe organ from the first floor chancel area to the balcony of the Keweenaw Heritage Center. The move was completed in 10 hours. Volunteers continued to fundraise and work on the organ during the summer and fall of 2007 under the direction of Jim Lauck, all dreaming of this day when the grand old Barckhoff tracker pipe organ would fill this majestic building with amazing music. Lauck praised the ambitious volunteers for their 700-plus hours of restoration work.

We look forward to filling the Keweenaw Heritage Center with glorious pipe organ music once again. Guest artists Wayne Seppala, of San Diego, Calif., and Mike Maksimchuk of Calumet, Mich., will perform at the Celebration Concert tonight. Don't miss it!

*Editor's Note: Anita Campbell, the author of this article, is a Board member and secretary for the Keweenaw Heritage Center and chair of the Center's Organ Restoration Committee.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Vegan Vitality" members to offer forum on ethical eating Aug. 9

HOUGHTON -- Joanne Thomas, along with fellow "Vegan Vitality" group members, Anne Haywood and Gretchen Janssen, will give a forum on the purpose, philosophy, mission and activities of this area's vegan-interest group at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF), located in the BHK Building in Houghton.

The health, environmental, economical and ethical reasons for our society to make attempts to eat more plant-based foods, as well as common myths about vegans, will be discussed.

"We wish to offer the community a source of education, sharing healthful eating ideas, support and the promotion of more plant-based eating," Thomas explained.

Vegan snacks will be available for coffee hour. The event is free and open to the public.

The following is an article on "Ethical Eating" by Joanne Thomas, reprinted in part with permission from the KUUF newsletter for August 2009:

Ethical eating in the Unitarian Universalist community involves many topics, including hunger, free and fair trade, environmental sustainability, community supported agriculture, vegan/vegetarian diets and the ethical treatment of animals in our food chain.

In pondering the "interconnectedness" of our eating practices, habits and customs, I saw the "meatless-eating" topic to be highly connected to our health-care crisis (which is connected to our economic crises), to our global warming crises, as well as to ethics.

The meatless diet appears to be one apparent solution to our many social/global problems, yet the subject often appears to be avoided or minimized. I would guess that may be for the following reasons:
  1. The meat industry is such a prominent and powerful force in the U.S. and in western society.
  2. Americans are a highly compassionate people and are intentionally left incognizant of the factory farm abuses.
  3. There are many false stigmas associated with being a vegan as well as labeling between meat-eaters and vegans.
  4. The habits, social customs and traditions in meat eating are so deeply ingrained in various life styles that adopting a more plant-based diet seems uncomfortable, perplexing and subject to scorn from peer groups.
Our objective in offering this forum is to attempt to narrow the gap in understanding among all perspectives on the subject, as well as offer this simple message: the idea that each and every attempt at increasing the amount of plant-based foods in our diets -- and decreasing the amount of meat-based food items -- will have a direct effect at improving our health, helping our environment and reducing factory-farm animal abuses. Adjusting one's diet alone, to any degree, and in any comfortable way, will be a contribution to solving our many impending problems; and it doesn't even require money or effort.

Education, support, community and sharing the surprising good taste of plant-based meals are the ideals of the Vegan Vitality group. Folks of all diets are welcome to participate in the group's activities with freedom from any pressure or adverse attitudes about their food choices. We are a welcoming, inclusive and respectful advocacy group for healthy ethical eating.

Keweenaw Co-op membership approves organizational change

HANCOCK -- Members of the Keweenaw Co-op in Hancock approved a change from a buying-club business model to a member-owned business model in a recent vote of the members. The ballots of the proposed reincorporation were counted at the special meeting on Saturday night, Aug. 1; and the proposal passed with 644 "Yes" votes of the 1,009 sent. Overall 693 votes were returned, with 41 "No" votes and eight unsigned envelopes.

The Keweenaw Co-op Board conducted a campaign preceding the vote to change the Co-op from the present buying-club business model to a member-owned business model, as can be seen with the information posted in the store near the ballot box. The Board also sent several pages of information by mail to the members, explaining the purpose of the vote. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Co-op)

According to Michigan law the unsigned and unreturned ballots are considered "No" votes as well. The vote needed a majority of the 1009 votes sent in order to pass.

"The Board is very pleased with the high level of participation," said Co-op Board member Roger Woods. "Not only did we pass the proposal, but we reached out to thousands of our members. The level of excitement and interest in the Co-op’s future is obvious from the level of participation and the number of 'Yes' votes."

The Co-op staff and Board of Directors are working on a complete transition plan to move from the fee-for-a-discount model to members investing in a common share of stock. Information concerning the transition will be available on the www.keweenaw.coop Web site and in the store.

Specializing in natural and organic foods since 1973, the Keweenaw Co-op offers goods and services that appeal to consumers who have a meaningful sense of environmental and social responsibility and incorporate those values into their buying decisions. The Co-op is presently located at 1035 Ethel Avenue, Hancock. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Visit the Keweenaw Co-op Web site for more information and updates.