Friday, October 16, 2015

Hancock Labyrinth project continues on October Saturdays; volunteers make a difference

By Michele Bourdieu

Hancock Labyrinth volunteers, from left, Jake Jurkowski, Aaron Townley, Jared Townley and Gunnar Johnson are pictured here with bags of weeds they collected on Saturday, Sept. 19, during a Labyrinth cleanup morning. Jake, Aaron and Gunnar are members of Michigan Tech's Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity. Jared was visiting his brother and joined the group. The Labyrinth maintenance project continues this month. More volunteers are needed on Saturdays, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- On a sunny Saturday in mid-September, Jared Townley was visiting his brother, Michigan Tech student Aaron Townley, a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, which is located in Hancock, and cheerfully joined a group of Phi Kappa Tau volunteers in helping with maintenance of the Hancock Labyrinth -- a project of the Copper Country Community Arts Center.

Jared was digging up some of the rocks marking the Labyrinth path and raising them to the surface.

Jared Townley, visiting his brother Aaron Townley on Sept. 19, digs up rocks and replaces them in the paths of the Hancock Labyrinth. The Townley brothers are from Freeland, Michigan.

"The rocks got plowed under when the snowplows came through in the winter," he explained.

Jared, a theology and classics major, recently graduated from Valparaiso University in Indiana, and Aaron is studying engineering at Michigan Tech.

Carol Kozminski, Copper Country Community Arts Center board member and Labyrinth project leader, expressed appreciation for the hours of volunteer help from community members and students. She noted the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity members have been regular helpers with the project.

Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity members Andrew LeSage, left, and Rob Shlimovitz clear tall grass around the plants and sculptures of the Labyrinth on Sept. 12, 2015. 

Two more Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity members, Andrew LeSage and Rob Shlimovitz, who were helping at the Labyrinth earlier in September, said their fraternity is a social one but offers a lot of community service.

"We especially try to get back to Hancock to help because they do so much for us," LeSage noted. "Hancock is very supportive of us, especially during Winter Carnival."

Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity has one first place in Michigan's Winter Carnival fraternity division several times over the years.

Pictured here after a Saturday morning of hard work on the Labyrinth are, from left, Phi Kappa Tau members Andrew LeSage and Rob Shlimovitz with Allyson Jabusch, volunteer coordinator, and Carol Kozminski, Labyrinth project leader.

Assisting Carol with coordinating the volunteers is Allyson Jabusch of Hancock.

"She's my great volunteer who calls everybody to help," Kozminski said.

Jabusch has dedicated many Saturday mornings to working on the project with other volunteers.

Visitor Mary LeDoux, right, who was in town for the Sept. 19 Parade of Nations, chats with Allyson Jabusch, left, and Carol Kozminski about the Labyrinth.

"It's years in the making and if the citizens want it they've got to help," Jabusch said. "Thanks to the efforts of Phi Kappa Tau brothers at the Labyrinth Park the last two weekends (in September) more than a dozen bags of weeds and a pile of dead pine trees were produced. Also many, many rocks were unearthed that had been buried by winter snow plowings."

Located at the base of the Lift Bridge near the Ramada, the Hancock Labyrinth was built in 2000 by volunteers led by community artist Mary Wright.* Gardens and sculptures were added in 2003 by community artists and volunteers. The Labyrinth is now on a National Registry of labyrinths.

This sculpture tells the history of the Hancock Labyrinth. Click on photo for larger version.

Jabusch adds that the Ramada Inn has also been helpful in grooming this special spot near the motel.

"It serves as a place of solace, right in the middle of the intersection of Hancock, Houghton, and the Keweenaw Waterway," she said. "With more  cyclical  maintenance of the gardens by local citizens, the Labyrinth would serve as a kind of pocket park adding to the attractiveness of the City’s waterfront -- a great walking destination!"

Anyone wishing to volunteer on the next two Saturdays in October can call Carol Kozminski, gardening project leader, at 523-5570 or the Copper Country Community Arts Center at 482-2333 for more information -- or just show up around 9 a.m. on Oct. 17 or 24.

To learn more about labyrinths in general visit www.labyrinthsociety.org. The Hancock Labyrinth is listed on the World-wide Labyrinth Locator: http://labyrinthlocator.com.

* Click here to read a July 2000 article on the building of the Labyrinth and its purpose -- archived on Keweenaw Now's precursor, Keweenaw Today, thanks to Pasty.com.

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