Saturday, July 13, 2013

National Wolfwatcher Coalition: Michigan DNR lacks transparency, ignores public opinion on wolf harvest

By Michele Bourdieu

Photo of wolves courtesy Wolfwatcher.org.

LANSING -- Nancy Warren, National Wolfwatcher Coalition Great Lakes Regional director, made the trip from Ewen, Mich., down to Lansing for the July 11, 2013, meeting of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC). On their agenda, for the second time, was the question of a public harvest of wolves. In May the commission approved a wolf hunt under Public Act 520 of 2012; but that decision was suspended because of the approval of a statewide referendum on PA 520 -- petitioned by more than 250,000 Michigan voters.

At the July 11 meeting the NRC voted under a new law, Public Act 21, which gives the NRC authority to name an animal (including the wolf) a game species.

Before the vote, Warren presented to the NRC the National Wolfwatcher Coalition position in a statement that is now posted on wolfwatcher.org.* The statement addresses the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Order 13 and Wildlife Order 14 -- Designation of Wolf as Game and Wolf Regulations.**

"The National Wolfwatcher Coalition supports the management of wolves when sound scientific methods are used," Warren's statement/letter begins. "We support non-lethal measures to manage wolf conflicts and the lethal removal of wolves when non-lethal methods fail despite the best efforts of producers to follow good animal husbandry practices."

Warren points out specific statements in the Michigan Wolf Management Plan that call for educating the public about wolf-related conflicts. She quotes the Plan as saying, "'Providing prompt and professional responses to information requests is one way to increase individual understanding, dispel misconceptions, and generate support for wolf management efforts.'"

Noting some of her own experiences in trying to obtain information from the DNR and high fees she was charged for FOIA requests as well as the DNR's blatant refusals to release information, Warren continues, "However now that politics and lobbying groups have largely replaced science, we are seeing a renewed lack of transparency within the DNR. Requests for information are now being stonewalled. The public is being charged excessive fees for information that is in the public’s interest to know. It appears the delays are a deliberate attempt to withhold information because if the truth was known, the DNR could not justify a hunting season as proposed. How many verified livestock depredations have there been since lethal control was implemented? How many verified wolf complaints that meet the standard of human safety concerns have there been since the eight wolves were removed in Ironwood Township? What are the Michigan Nuisance Wolf Management Guidelines? We could not obtain the answers prior to this meeting but it seems reasonable to expect the NRC would want this information, too."

Warren added she was finally able -- after much delay and payment of a $58 fee -- to obtain 7000 public comments sent to NRC about the wolf issue.

"Based on a random sample they appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to a wolf hunt," she said.

Still, for the second time, the NRC ignored public opinion and at their July 11 meeting took action to name the wolf a game species in the state and approve a limited public wolf harvest in three distinct regions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

"Public Act 21 affirms the critical importance of managing natural resources in Michigan on the firm foundation of science," said Natural Resources Commission Chair J.R. Richardson on July 11. "Today's decision supports ongoing scientific management of wolves, just as voters intended when by an overwhelming margin they approved Proposal G in 1996. Managing wildlife through science is far better than managing wildlife through ballot questions, which some organizations support for Michigan. The conservative public harvest proposal approved by the NRC ensures the long-term presence of wolves while providing a valuable tool for managing conflicts between wolves and human populations."

According to the July 11, 2013, DNR press release on the NRC decision, "the regulations establish a limited target harvest of a total of 43 wolves in three areas of the Upper Peninsula where wolf-human conflicts -- including depredation of livestock and pets and human safety concerns -- have been persistent despite employing a number of control measures."***

In her statement to the NRC, Warren notes many unanswered questions about the DNR claims of depredation and human safety concerns.*

Warren told Keweenaw Now she found the NRC decision "very disappointing." Nevertheless, she noted the Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved the language of a second petition form -- this one seeking a referendum on PA 21.

The DNR Western Upper Peninsula Citizens Advisory Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 15, at Cloverland Community Center, 102 S. Cedar Street in Ewen, Michigan. Click here for the agenda, which includes public comment as well as a wolf bill update from the DNR Wildlife Division.

Notes:

* Click here to read Nancy Warren's July 11 statement to the NRC.
** Click here for Wildlife Order 14: Wolf Regulations as Game Species.
*** Click here for the DNR's July 11 press release on the NRC decision.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Groups concerned about pipeline under Straits to rally near Mackinac Bridge July 14

TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. -- Hundreds of citizens concerned about the risks a 60-year-old oil pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac poses to the Great Lakes will rally at Bridge View State Park at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 14. The  "Oil and Water Don't Mix Rally" will call attention to the aging pipeline and urge state officials to take action to fully protect the Great Lakes from a potential oil spill that would cause great harm.

The event will feature a series of speakers, including climate activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben and others, who will urge Gov. Rick Snyder to insist that federal authorities require Enbridge, Inc., of Calgary, Alberta -- the pipeline owner and operator -- to remove and replace the aging line with the safest, most protective pipe technology available. Local Traverse City chapter "TC 350" has joined with Michigan Land Use Institute and many other state and local groups to organize this rally.

Enbridge is responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River tar sands oil pipeline spill, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. That cleanup is still underway three years and nearly 1 billion dollars after it began because submerged tar sands oil is proving to be far more difficult to clean up than conventional oil.

Rally-goers will also call for a permanent ban on sending tar sands oil through the Mackinac pipeline, or any other lines near the Great Lakes or their tributaries.

"There is no such thing as a perfect, completely leak-free pipeline," according to Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation, who co-authored several reports on Enbridge’s pipeline problems. "A major leak at the heart of the Great Lakes would be a terrible thing for the environmental and lakeshore landowners. This very old pipeline is a disaster waiting to happen."*

Also onstage will be Jerry Dennis, a noted author who writes extensively about Great Lakes history and ecosystems, and representatives from other communities that have been impacted by Enbridge’s pipelines, including Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands and the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council.

Rally sponsors include the National Wildlife Federation, Michigan Environmental Council, Ann Arbor 350, Michigan Land Use Institute, FLOW, the Detroit and Michigan Coalitions Against Tar Sands, the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, the Northern and West Michigan Environmental Action Councils, and Food and Water Watch.

Music will be provided by several northern Michigan artists, including Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, Rachael Davis and Dominic John Davis. Rally-goers are invited to bring a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon enjoying one of Michigan’s most scenic and environmentally fragile spots.

How to get there

Make the drive to the event in your own car, ride with friends, or sign up for a rideshare to give or get a ride. A number of buses from various cities in the Midwest are also being organized.

Click here for a map showing the location of Bridge View State Park.

* The Rally was inspired by an October 2012 National Wildlife Federation report, "Sunken Hazard: Aging oil pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac an ever-present threat to the Great Lakes."

Visit http://oilandwaterdontmix.com/ for more information.

Woods Person: Bienvenido a Nicaragua

By Woods Person
Posted July 8 on woodsperson.blogspot.com
Reprinted in part with permission

During the holiday weekend heavily armed security personnel arrived at the GTac exploration site in Iron County (Wis.). Various people have tried to interview the masked, camouflaged troops to determine where they were from, who employs them and what their mission was. Why do they feel this level of armament is necessary? When asked who they were going to shoot, one guard was heard to answer, "nobody who isn't here to make trouble."

Security has been provided by Iron and Ashland County sheriff’s department officers since a confrontation there between mine protesters and drill crews on June 11th.  The Iron County Sheriff’s office has quickly and successfully investigated that incident and the person(s) responsible have been charged. 

Since that time no other problems have arisen. ...*

Photo: This photo was taken during the July 4th weekend on the proposed mine site in Iron County, Wisconsin, USA, not in Nicaragua or other third world country. (Photo
© Rob Ganson. Reprinted with permission)


* Click here to read the rest of this July 8 article on Woods Person's blog, which includes the perspective of Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk and gives reasons why the Bulletproof Securities of Arizona guards, hired by Gogebic Taconite (GTac), were in Wisconsin illegally.

These armed guards have since been removed "temporarily" according to a July 10, 2013, article on wisn.com, "Mining company temporarily pulls armed guards."

Wis. State Sen. Jauch: Gogebic Taconite security firm is illegal

The following is a statement from Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch regarding evidence that a security firm hired by Gogebic Taconite has been violating Wisconsin law.

July 10, 2013

State officials confirmed that Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) hired a security company, Bulletproof Securities from Arizona, that is not registered in Wisconsin and therefore has been illegally providing services, perhaps for weeks, according to statements made by GTAC spokesperson Bob Seitz.

These actions demonstrate that GTAC has no respect for the public and no regard for the law. Had GTAC not been in such a hurry to hire a militia that’s armed more for war than defense of property, they could have hired a legally licensed Wisconsin firm and provided Wisconsin workers the opportunity to provide a safe working environment at the job site.

GTAC continually plays the victim but in fact they have no one to blame but themselves for hiring a security firm that has not complied with Wisconsin law.

Editor's Notes:

Click here to read the July 8, 2013, letter from Sen. Jauch and Wisconsin State Rep. Janet Bewley to GTAC President Bill Williams, asking him to to remove the heavily armed masked commando security forces (mentioned in the statement above) hired to protect GTAC's property in the Penokee Hills.

Click here to see a video on Indian Country TV, "Hired Guns in the Penokee Mountains."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Club Indigo to feature "Casablanca" July 12 at Calumet Theatre

CALUMET -- The second-greatest movie (according to American Film Institute) ever made in Hollywood is CASABLANCA.  It will be shown by special arrangement at the Calumet Theatre for July's Club Indigo -- this Friday, July 12.

A Mediterranean buffet from the chefs at Keweenaw Co-op, Hancock, will provide an authentic meal at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7:25 p.m. in the theater. Cost: $19 for food and film, $5 film alone.  For the buffet, call the theater before 5 p.m. Thursday to save a place: 337-2610.  Children ten and under receive a special discount. The Gas Light General Store, Copper Harbor, sponsors this film.

Some places still available in Gratiot Lake Conservancy summer workshops

GRATIOT LAKE -- Gratiot Lake Conservancy (GLC) announces that some places remain in the Tracking Workshop to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, July 13, at the Noblet Field Station and Gratiot Lake Preserve. Rain date is Sunday, July 14.

Brian Rajdl, instructor and nature educator, will help participants learn to track animals and to interpret the signs they leave behind. Tracks, scats, feathers, fur, rubs, chews, lays, dens, and  burrows are all signs to help identify WHO has been there, WHAT they were doing, WHEN they were there, WHERE their trail leads. Also, you can interpret WHY they left that particular sign, and HOW it might feel to be that animal.

The fee for this workshop is $20 ($15 GLC members); children under 16 (accompanied by an adult) are $5. Janet Avery Scholarships are available. Advance registration is required.

Download the registration form at http://www.gratiotlakeconservancy.org/TrackingWorkshop.htm and also contact Bonnie Hay, GLC program director, at belh@verizon.net or call her at 906-337-5476 if you wish to register NOW for this workshop. She will give you meeting place directions.

A few places remain in two August workshops: the Beginner’s Workshop on Dragonflies and Damselflies (at sites in Keweenaw County), to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, with Bob Marr, instructor; and the Aquatic Plant Workshop (near Eagle Harbor) with Janet Marr, instructor, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, and Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. Contact  Bonnie Hay at belh@verizon.net or call her at 906-337-5476 to register. (Registration forms are also available from the above links to the workshops.)

For current news about Gratiot Lake Conservancy, click here for their Summer 2013 Water's Edge newsletter.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Our Home is Under Attack

By Ros Nelson and Allie Raven*
Posted July 8, 2013, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted with permission

Everything that Northern Wisconsin holds dear is gravely threatened by Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) and from out-of-control legislation coming from Madison that is selling our precious natural resources, not to mention our democracy, to the highest bidder.

The Penokee Hills would be blasted and excavated into oblivion, becoming the largest open-pit taconite mine in the world, if GTAC is allowed to continue on its present destructive course. First phase: 4.5 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 800-1000 feet deep and, over time, a "war zone" nearly twice the length of Manhattan.

The Penokee Hills above and strip mined land for iron ore in Minnesota below. (Photos © Joel Austin and courtesy Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative)

Where are you in this fight for your water, for Lake Superior, for the health of your children? We hear many people assume that the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa will block this mine. It is not wise to rely on a single strategy or to place the entire burden on one group of people.

As you read this, GTAC is drilling into the Hills to obtain core samples. Their next assault will be "bulk sampling." Vegetation and soil are removed and after holes are bored in the rock, explosives blow sections into six-inch stone and the material is hauled off for testing -- many thousands of tons. Already vehicles have left deep ruts in the roads used to access the drill sites; and drill sites, one by one, are being cleared.

Map of the Bad River Watershed where all the wastewater from the mine would flow. (Map © The Nature Conservancy and courtesy Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative)

HUMAN HEALTH

The watershed’s surface and groundwater provides drinking water for the towns of Ashland, Mellen, Highbridge, Marengo, Odanah and Upson. The vast amounts of water required to mine would cause a drawdown of the water table; and, when the rock is crushed to powder, it will release sulfuric acid, mercury, lead and arsenic into the soil and water.

The explosives required for mountain top removal create particles the size of a virus which transmit easily on the wind and are highly carcinogenic. The human system cannot block particles of this size. Miners on the Iron Range have higher rates of the rare mesothelioma, and higher rates of lung cancer and heart disease than the general Minnesota population.

Taconite mining is the second largest source of mercury emissions after coal power plants in the Lake Superior basin. Most northern Wisconsin waterways are already under fish advisories for mercury.

IRONY OF "THE PITCH"

GTAC proposes to offer us a 355-acre, man-made lake, as they turn their backs on the largest freshwater lake in the world, Superior, into which their acid drainage and other contaminants will flow.

The Tyler Forks, one of the "puddles" that could be legally filled in by mining waste. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)

LOCAL ECONOMY

If the Penokee Range, Copper Falls State Park and Bad River Watershed are effectively destroyed, significant tourist, farming, fishing and hunting income will also be lost. Mining does not bring lasting prosperity. Median household income in St. Louis County, with Minnesota’s largest taconite mines, was 22 percent below the state average between 2007 and 2011. Cliffs Natural Resources is laying off 625 workers at taconite mines in Michigan and Minnesota due to falling demand for taconite.

Mining creates a devastating boom/bust economic cycle, fostering an array of economic and social problems. Businesses created in mining towns typically include strip bars, pawn shops, massage parlors, and payday loan and bail bond offices.

NO MORE WILD RICE

The Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs (40 percent of the wetlands in the Lake Superior basin), at the mouth of the Bad River Watershed have been designated a Wetland of International Importance. They host a diversity of habitat, plants, and animals; are a spawning and nursery area for fish; and provide critical stopover habitat for migratory birds. The Lake Superior Chippewa have harvested wild rice in the sloughs for centuries and continue to enjoy it as a sacred food. Pyrite and other sulfide minerals, when exposed to water and air from blasting, produce sulfuric acid which would flow into the Bad River and the sloughs.

Lac Courte Oreilles and Bad River Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa sovereign flags. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)

A potential lease between GTAC and Iron County for toxic mine waste storage would affect over 1,000 acres of wetlands, many connected to trout streams. This mine would create an estimated 910 million tons of waste rock, likely producing sulfate pollution greater than that in the St. Louis River in Minnesota, where wild rice shows damage from sulfates up to 100 miles downstream from the Mesabi Iron Range.

Safe taconite mining is a myth. No taconite mine has ever operated, anywhere in the world, without producing enduring air and water pollution.

TAKE ACTION

Help to protect the Penokee Hills and waters by sending a tax-deductible donation to: Penokee Hills Education Project, P.O. Box 834, Ashland, WI 54806 or to: Defend the Bad River, P.O. Box 39, Odanah, WI 54861. Donate online at: www.badriver-nsn.gov.

Other important action steps include reading more about this critical issue at www.penokees.org, attending public meetings and community forums, voicing your concerns to local officials, and discussing the situation with your neighbors.

Our pristine environment and life-giving aquatic resources can never be replaced, but could easily be destroyed with disastrous long-term environmental, social, and economic consequences. Is this the legacy we want to leave to the future?

* Guest authors Ros Nelson and Allie Raven live in Northern Wisconsin.

Editor's Note: Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative notes that Wisconsin Voices interviewed Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, about various aspects of the proposed mine. Click here and scroll down for the videos.

Senators Levin, King call for "London 11" summit to increase pressure on Assad following Mideast trip

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- The United States and other members of the "London 11" nations should convene a meeting of political, military and intelligence officials "to comprehensively plan for additional steps that could be taken to up the military pressure on the Assad regime" in Syria, Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Angus King said today in a joint statement following their trip to the region.

Levin, D-Mich., and King, I-Maine, recently completed a five-day trip to Jordan and Turkey, where they conferred with government officials in each country as well as U.S. diplomatic and military personnel, and visited camps in both nations where some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria’s civil war have fled. Levin is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and an ex-officio member of the Intelligence Committee. King is a member of both committees.

Citing the threats to U.S. interest and to regional stability if the conflict continues, Levin and King called for expanding efforts to train and equip vetted members of the Syrian opposition. In addition, they call for the "London 11" nations "to comprehensively plan for additional steps that could be taken to up the military pressure on the Assad regime. … For this reason, we call upon the Administration to convene a meeting of the political, military, and intelligence leaders of countries committed to the end of the Assad regime. The objective of this summit should be to develop specific options and plans for a range of contingencies and to enlist firm commitments from our friends and allies, so that the Assad regime and its supporters will understand the seriousness of purpose of this joint effort."

Click here for the full text of the senators’ joint statement.

Bonnie Hay wins 2013 Heart and Hands of Keweenaw Award

HANCOCK -- Environmental Educator Bonnie Hay's enthusiasm and love of nature, the environment, and education is contagious. This year, Hay’s contributions to environmental stewardship and education in the Keweenaw won her the Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award.

During the July 4th celebration at Churning Rapids, Bonnie Hay, left, Gratiot Lake Conservancy executive director, receives the 2013 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award from Terry Kinzel, founder of The Heart and Hands Society. Suzanne Van Dam, right, a member of the Heart and Hands selection committee, announces the award. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

Founded in 1998, The Heart and Hands Society gives the award annually to acknowledge Copper Country residents who have "given of their heart and hands in the service of peace, justice, or the environment." The winner of the award is honored at the 4th of July celebration at Churning Rapids (Hancock) and receives a monetary award of $1,000, which is to be donated to the local charity of his or her choice.

"Bonnie Hay is warm, knowledgeable, and passionate about her love of nature," says Suzanne Van Dam, a member of the Heart and Hands Award selection committee. "She’s a role model for us all, showing how one individual really can make a difference. We are proud to select her for the 2013 Heart and Hands Award."

Hay has a long-standing commitment to the Keweenaw. Her grandparents emigrated to the area for work in the copper mines and she spent childhood summers here. In the early 80s, she helped with MNA (Michigan Nature Association) projects and was involved with AWAKE (Association Working Against Keweenaw Exploitation) in the early 90s. She has also been a member of KLT (Keweenaw Land Trust) for many years.

Hay has been executive director of the Gratiot Lake Conservancy (GLC) since it began in 1998. GLC is a Michigan Not-For-Profit Corporation formed in 1998 to conserve Gratiot Lake, its watershed, and environs. The Conservancy promotes informed land stewardship through education and research related to the ecology/history of the lake and nearby areas in the Keweenaw. 

GLC's educational programs for both youth and adults have been Hay's responsibility. She has initiated and facilitated a variety of programs and workshops focused on the environment, including the following: Natural Shoreline Workshop (with KLT); Aquatic Ecology (MTU summer youth program); Aquatic/Wetland Plants; Astronomy; Dragonflies/Damselflies; Animal Track/Sign Identification; Artist-in-residence.

This cabin at the Gratiot Lake Noblet Field Station is the staging area for many of GLC's education and research activities that Bonnie Hay facilitates. Research internships and field studies have included Gratiot Lake clams, algae, birds, and small mammals. Students have also studied Lake chemistry and biology, the Little Gratiot River, and an old beaver dam. Other programs have focused upon creation of poetry, stories, photos, paintings, and illustrations related to the ecology.  (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Jim Hay)

Bonnie Hay is also actively involved with KISMA (Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area) as a steering committee member.

Botanist Janet Marr, KISMA coordinator, says, "Bonnie’s knowledge, especially of aquatic invasive species control and management, is a huge asset to this group."

Bonnie Hay displays a bag of invasive garlic mustard she collected in Laurium during one of Janet Marr's invasive species projects.

Hay is the editor of the GLC publication Guide to the Aquatic Plants of Gratiot Lake and Other Keweenaw County Lakes. This 22-page full color handbook with accompanying CD is used by organizations and individuals interested in the ecology of U.P. inland lakes and students of GLC-sponsored wetland and aquatic classes.

GLC's award-winning website has a wealth of information contributed by Hay, which her webmaster/ photographer husband, Jim Hay, has posted there. Included are informational pages on diverse watershed topics, programming guide for workshops, and 15 years worth of GLC's information-rich newsletters (Water's Edge) that Bonnie produces and edits.*

Carol Ekstrom, Scott Rutherford are runners-up for Heart and Hands Award

Carol Ekstrom, chair of the Green Sanctuary Program at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) and Scott Rutherford of Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) were also nominated for this year's Heart and Hands Award.

Heart and Hands Award winner Bonnie Hay, right, holding the sculpture on which winners' names are engraved, and 2013 nominees Scott Rutherford and Carol Ekstrom are honored during the July 4th celebration at Churning Rapids.

Ekstrom, while a geology professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., taught environmental geology and led students in community outreach and service learning. Since coming to the Copper Country four years ago, for "retirement," she has devoted most of her time and effort to the areas of environmental education and sustainability, spearheading and chairing the KUUF Green Sanctuary Program -- a national Unitarian program to encourage members and their community to impact the environment in a more sustainable and conscious way.

The program acted as a catalyst for KUUF to partner with KLT, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society in establishing the Green Film Series at Michigan Tech. Ekstrom has also provided leadership in establishing at KUUF a series of Mining Forums featuring guest speakers and open to the public.

Scott Rutherford, born and raised in Lansing, Mich., has a background in economics. During the years he was assigned to USAID in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), he became disillusioned by U.S. policies in third world countries. He eventually took early retirement and became active in the peace and justice movement, advocating non-violence. In California, he worked for the peace movement during the Contra wars in South America. Rutherford organized and participated in a 40-day fast on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while continuing to work for peace and justice in California. He also helped form an organization to help Viet Nam veterans go back to Viet Nam for healing and reconciliation.

Since moving back to Michigan, Rutherford became active in the Michigan Peace Team and, more recently, joined those protesting the Iraq War in Houghton and Hancock. He has also been involved with Native American issues and protests against Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine. Rutherford is now working with Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) on their educational and research project to help people understand the consequences of possible mining in the Keweenaw.

* Click here to visit the Gratiot Lake Conservancy Web site.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Backroom Boys Jazz and Polka Band to play for dancing in Covington July 9

CALUMET -- The Backroom Boys Jazz and Polka Band will be at the lovely, breezy-but-covered, Covington Pavilion from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 9. They'll be playing swing, jazz, and old-time music for you to dance on the Pavilion's St. Urho Memorial Hardwood Floor. The Pavilion is in Covington Township, on Highway M-28, one mile west of the intersection with US-141.

The Backroom Boys Jazz Band -- from left, John Munson, Bob Norden and Oren Tikkanen -- play favorite tunes on the patio at Carmelita's in Calumet for First Friday, July 5. Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 9, they will be joined by Bob Hiltunen, drums; Belinda Matfolk, bass; and Randy Seppala, percussion, to form the Backroom Boys Jazz and Polka Band for dancing at the Covington Pavilion. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Says Oren Tikkanen, "As someone (possibly me) has repeatedly said, 'The Covington Pavilion is the sweetest place for summertime music-making and dancing in the whole UP!' Come on down, up, or over to Covington -- it will be worth the drive."

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Videos, photos: Italian Hall Ceremony in Calumet

By Michele Bourdieu

Keweenaw National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum welcomes visitors to the Italian Hall Ceremony on June 20, 2013. Standing at left is Dave Geisler, Calumet Village president, and seated behind the speakers' podium are, from left, Jim Kurtti, Finnish American Heritage Center director at Finlandia University and Honorary Consul to Finland for the Upper Peninsula; Paul Lehto, Calumet Township supervisor; Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director (not visible); Eva Torstila (not visible); Pertti Torstila, Finland's Secretary of State; Rev. Robert Langseth; and Larry Lankton, Michigan Tech professor of history. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- A large crowd gathered at the site of the 1913 Italian Hall disaster in Calumet on June 20, 2013, for a ceremony honoring the 73 victims, mostly children, who who were crushed to death in the stairwell of the Italian Hall when someone yelled "Fire" -- a false alarm -- during a Dec. 24, 1913, Christmas Party for the children of striking miners. The event, co-sponsored by the Keweenaw National Historical Park and the Village of Calumet, was part of Calumet Day during the recent FinnFest USA. Keweenaw Now presents some video clips and photos of the ceremony.

On June 20, 2013, the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, plays the National Anthem of the U.S.during the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration in Calumet, Michigan. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)
 
The Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, plays the National Anthem of Finland at the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration in Calumet, Michigan.

Pertti Torstila, Finland's Secretary of State, speaks at the Italian Hall Disaster Site Commemoration on June 20, 2013, in Calumet, Michigan. Torstila speaks in English, expressing his appreciation for the opportunity to hear the story of Italian Hall and the role of Finnish immigrants to the Copper Country. He also offers a brief message in Finnish to the people of Finland.

Assisted by the Calumet High School Junior ROTC Color Guard, Calumet Village President Dave Geisler and Finland's Secretary of State Pertti Torstila lay two memorial wreaths at the Italian Hall Disaster memorial arch from the doorway at the Italian Hall. The arch is all that remains of the building and serves as a monument at the site of the tragic event that occurred here on Dec. 24, 1913.

Calumet Village President Dave Geisler recounts what occurred outside the Italian Hall on Dec. 24, 1913, after people learned about the tragedy -- especially parents looking for their children -- and how the bodies were taken in procession to the Calumet Village Hall. He invites the audience to follow the Turku (Finland) Wind Band in a commemorative procession along that same block of Elm Street and to visit the exhibit of historic photos set up in the Village Hall.

Following the commemorative ceremony at the Italian Hall Memorial, the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band from Turku, Finland, leads a procession along Elm Street from the location of the historic Italian Hall to the Calumet Village Hall -- in memory of the procession of mourners on Dec. 24, 1913, when the bodies of 73 victims of the Italian Hall tragedy were taken to be laid out in that same hall.

A historic photo of the funeral for the Italian Hall victims, which was held on Dec. 28, 1913.

Historic photo of some of the coffins of the victims. White coffins are those of children, who were the majority of the victims.

After the Italian Hall Ceremony, visitors view a display of historic photos related to the tragedy. In the foreground is a photo of the Italian Hall as it existed in 1913.

More photos:

The Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland, and the Calumet High School Junior ROTC Color Guard (right) participate in the June 20, 2013, Italian Hall Ceremony in Calumet.

The Rev. Robert Langseth speaks during the Italian Hall Ceremony.

Members of the Turun Metsänkävijät Wind Band of Turku, Finland. At right is one of two memorial wreaths that would be laid at the Italian Hall arch to honor the victims.

Community Arts Center hosts "Food for Life" photography project by Christine Garceau

Photographer Christine Garceau explores how food shapes us culturally and geographically in her exhibit "Food for Life," on display at the Kerredge Gallery of the Copper Country Community Arts Center through July 31. (Photos by Christine Garceau and courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- "Food for Life" is a photography exhibit by Christine Garceau on display at the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery. The exhibition is divided into three sequences. The first is the "identity" sequence that explores how food shapes us culturally and geographically. The second is the "labor" sequence that looks at the hard work people do to make their own food. The third sequence, "inter-generational," examines the way food literacy is passed down from one generation to the other.

"Food for Life" will be on display through July 31. The public is invited to meet the artist at a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9.

 
Jon Saari, Fruit. By Christine Garceau.

Christine Garceau’s photography project springs from her passion to understand how food contributes to our personal, cultural, political, and economic identities. In the summer of 2010, she began photographing an organic community garden in the Marquette area. Gardeners varied in ages from 93 to babes on the backs of their mothers. The project continued into the winter months when Garceau invited friends, family members, and even strangers to come to her studio with "the one food they could not live without." She has continued to explore Food for Life through documenting traditional foodways in peoples’ homes in Austria, Michigan and Wyoming.

"The images I am capturing for this project are informed by the convergence of the longstanding traditions of documentary photography and testimonial narratives from the individuals I photograph," Garceau says. "On its basic level this project seeks to explore our human connection to the land we inhabit and the interactive communities we build upon it."

The "intergenerational" sequence of Christine Garceau's "Food for Life" photography exhibit examines the way food literacy is passed down from one generation to another.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information call (906) 482-2333.