Thursday, May 04, 2017

March for Science from Houghton to Hancock calls for science-based government policy

By Michele Bourdieu, with additional photos and videos by Allan Baker

Carrying signs to show support for science, facts and scientific research, more than 400 participants in the Apr. 22, 2017, March for Science gather near the Keweenaw Waterway in Houghton before heading across the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock and back. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- The April 22 (Earth Day) March for Science attracted more than 400 participants of all ages, many of whom carried signs to show their support for science and love of Mother Earth. The pleasant, sunny weather added an atmosphere of celebration rather than protest. Michigan Tech faculty, researchers and students joined with concerned community members -- including families with their children -- in a demonstration of unity and support, calling on government to base policy on scientific facts and research.

Before the march, the large crowd gathered near the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge for a brief rally led by organizers Emily Shaw and Nicole Wehner, Michigan Tech graduate students in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Organizer Emily Shaw; Tim Scarlett, Michigan Tech associate professor of archaeology and anthropology (Social Sciences); and Amlan Mukherjee, associate professor in Michigan Tech's Civil and Environmental Engineering Service Systems Engineering Program speak during a brief rally preceding the April 22 March for Science. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Pictured here just before the march begins are Rolf Peterson, right, co-director of Michigan Tech's Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, recently named a "Hero of Science" by Discover magazine (May 2017 issue), and Brian Hoduski, co-chair of the Houghton County Democratic Party, with his message for Donald. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Carolyn "Candy" Peterson of Houghton said she was happy to participate in this march after being energized by the Women's March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017. Peterson rode on a bus to that march and made many friends, she added.*

At the rally, waiting for the march to begin, are Carolyn Peterson, left, and Nancy Langston -- Michigan Tech professor of environmental history (Social Sciences) and member of the Great Lakes Research Center, who is also very active in the Keweenaw Climate Community, a local group concerned about climate change.

Carrying a colorful sign is Bill Deephouse, Audubon member and retired DNR official, with Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech senior writer -- both fishing enthusiasts. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Valerie Talsma, a science teacher at Watersmeet High School, made the trip to Houghton with two of her students.

Valerie Talsma, science teacher at Watersmeet High School, center, is pictured here with two of her students, who accompanied her to the Apr. 22 March for Science -- Hailey, left, a ninth grade student in physical science, and Katelyn, a tenth grader studying biology. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I spent 10 years in Ann Arbor, and I'm used to protests and marching," Talsma said, "and I brought two students with me."

Valerie Talsma, Watersmeet High School science teacher, displays the "bee" hat she wore in the march -- a hat that says more than a sign about the importance of saving pollinators that are endangered. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

More than 400 people, many displaying a variety of colorful signs, set out to walk from Houghton to Hancock across the Portage Lift Bridge. Click on YouTube icon for a larger view. (Video by Keweenaw Now and Allan Baker)

Displaying their creative signs at the head of the march are, from left, Anna-Catharina Wilhelm, Cassandra Gietek, Michael James, and Anna Kubek. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

 
"Science is for Everyone" and "I Love Science" are the messages on this young marcher's sign. (Photo by Allan Baker)

March organizers asked participants to find fun, creative, and personal ways to engage in the march, and community sign-making events preceded the march. Marchers were also asked to use recycled materials to create their signs. (Photo by Allan Baker)

So as not to stop the flow of traffic on US-41, participants marched under the bridge and then up the hill to cross it to Hancock. They then marched under the bridge again and returned to Houghton on the opposite side of the road.

Marchers descend a stairway to cross under the bridge in Houghton, away from traffic, before crossing the bridge to Hancock. (Photo by Allan Baker)

March for Science, participants march across the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock.  Click on YouTube icon for a larger view. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

One of the main messages of the march is expressed on this sign. (Photo by Allan Baker)

Beth Flynn, Michigan Tech emerita professor of reading and composition (Humanities), who also joined her daughter, Kate Flynn, for the Jan. 21 Women's March in D.C., enjoyed the good weather and pleasant company for the Houghton-Hancock March for Science.*

"This is great," Beth said. "The weather is perfect. There were over 400 people and only one person who yelled out something negative -- and many positive honks."

Beth Flynn greets Carolyn Peterson on the Hancock side of the bridge. Both of them participated in the Women's March in Washington, D.C., last January.* (Photo by Allan Baker)

Two Keweenaw County residents from Ahmeek -- Joan Schutte and her daughter, Rita Snabb -- joined Lynn Gerou of Hancock on the bridge, displaying their signs for passing traffic. Each of the three commented on why she came to the march.

Displaying their signs to traffic during the March for Science are, from left, Rita Snabb of Ahmeek, Lynn Gerou of Hancock and Joan Schutte of Ahmeek. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"We're disgusted with the way things are going," Rita Snabb said. "We don't need the Great Lakes destroyed."

Schutte, Rita's 82-year-old Mom, added, "I cannot believe this man got elected president."

Gerou noted, "We want to keep the regulations that Obama put in to protect the environment."

Marchers cross the Lift Bridge a second time, returning to Hancock. Some wear pro-science t-shirts for the event. Click on YouTube icon for larger view. (Video by Allan Baker and Keweenaw Now)
 
Following this March for Science in Houghton, Sarah Green (with sign), Michigan Tech professor of chemistry and noted climate scientist, left for Washington, D.C., to participate in the People's Climate March on Saturday, Apr. 29. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Pictured here after the march are, from left, Petra Hüntemeyer, Michigan Tech associate professor in astrophysics (Physics); Amlan Mukherjee, associate professor in Michigan Tech's Civil and Environmental Engineering Service Systems Engineering Program; Sarah Hoy, Michigan Tech postdoctoral scholar in Forestry; and Susan Cristanelli Stifler. (Photo by Allan Baker)

Representing Finlandia University at the March for Science and showing their concern for Mother Earth on Earth Day are Finlandia President Philip Johnson and his wife, René, Finlandia assistant professor of  religion and philosophy. René also participated in the Jan. 21 Women's March in Washington, D.C.*

March for Science organizer Emily Shaw said she and co-organizer Nicole Wehner were happy with the turnout at the march but still hopeful the demonstration would lead to further community action.

"Nicole and I are incredibly excited about the number of people that turned out for the march and we believe it is a testament to this community's positive relationship with science," Shaw told Keweenaw Now. "However, a one-hour march isn't enough. Our community needs to channel the momentum from the march into political action. We need people to get involved in the community organizations that are doing advocacy work that protects and defends STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) funding and supports evidence-based policy."

More photos: Portage Lake District Library offers activities before, after March for Science

Preceding the March for Science, the Portage Lake District Library invited participants, including families with children, to Hands-on Science: Activities and demonstrations, led by students and educators from the area. Following the march, the Portage Library was the scene of "What do we do next?" -- a community action meeting focusing on impacting policy decisions.

Hands on Science:

Assisted by students and educators, kids enjoy making signs and other items related to science during the Portage Library's "Hands-on Science" activity preceding the March for Science on April 22, 2017. (Photos in Library by Keweenaw Now)

Reese Gwaltney, second grader at Houghton Elementary, proudly displays her sign about protecting a favorite animal. Click on photos for larger versions.

Lillian Griffis of Hancock says her sign is about "a chemistry experiment gone wrong." 

Andrew Plummer, 6th grader at Houghton Middle School created this hoop glider, a flight experiment, during the "Hands-on Science" event at the library.

Katie Plummer, 8th grader at Houghton Middle School, holds the tiny airplane she made.

Munkaila Musah, from Ghana, a Michigan Tech Ph.D. student in forestry, checks out the science experiments and gets ready to head for the march.

After the March: "What do we do next?"

Following the march, concerned community members met at the Portage Library in small groups to discuss community action topics. Discussing climate change as well as cleanup work at the Torch Lake Area of Concern are, from left, Nicole Wehner, co-organizer of the March for Science; Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC); Chris Alquist, Portage Library community program director; Kyla Valenti, Michigan Tech student in social sciences; and Mark Campbell, martial arts instructor. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Discussing politics and policy are Houghton County Democratic Party members, from left, Anne Newcombe, Valorie Troesch, Brian Hoduski (HCDP co-chair) and Cathy Campbell Olszewski.

Residents interested in more local and sustainable forms of energy production are pictured here: clockwise from left, Kathryn, who is concerned about excessively high electric bills; Lindsey Wells, Michigan Tech student in computer science; Timothy; and Munkaila Musah, from Ghana, Michigan Tech Ph.D. student in forestry.
 
Discussing water and terrestrial resources are, from left, Stefan Hupperts, Michigan Tech graduate student in forestry; Kevin Nevorski, Michigan Tech graduate student in biology; and Petra Huentemeyer, Michigan Tech associate professor of astrophysics.

STEM education is the subject of discussion here for, from left, Joan Chadde, director of Michigan Tech's Center for Science and Environmental Outreach; Katherine Wiykovics, Michigan Tech graduate student in computer science; Stephanie Tubman, middle school science curriculum developer (Mi-STAR program**); and Rudiger Escobar of Guatemala, Michigan Tech post-doctoral researcher in geology and Stephanie's husband.

Rudiger Escobar of Guatemala, post-doctoral researcher in geology at Michigan Tech, participated in the March for Science and the discussions afterwards in the Portage Library. He had a positive reaction.

"I think it was great -- showing support for what we scientists do," Escobar said.

Most recently his research takes him to the West Coast, where he has been studying volcanoes, landslides and transportation.

Notes:

* See our Feb. 3, 2017, article, "Local mothers, daughters, friends inspired by joining Jan. 21 Women's March in D.C."

** To learn about the Mi-STAR program click here.