See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Houghton County Dems endorse State Rep. Mike Lahti in Aug. 5 primary re-election bid

HOUGHTON -- At its July 3, 2008, business meeting the Houghton County Democratic Party (HCDP) voted unanimously to endorse 110th District Representative Mike Lahti in his August 5th primary bid against John Faccin of Crystal Falls.

In announcing the Lahti endorsement, Brian Hoduski, HCDP co-chair, said, "Mike’s strong record of accomplishment and integrity as our representative is only one reason for this endorsement. Mike knows this district and its people and he has worked hard to promote jobs; better education; and protection of our hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation heritage."

Hodusky noted Lahti was instrumental in saving the Calumet State Police post and has been a force for making insurance laws fairer and more transparent.

"But most importantly," Hoduski added, "Mike is an honest man who is determined to make life better for the people of the U.P."

The HCDP had also endorsed Lahti in his 2006 primary and general election campaigns.

Editor's Note: Read more about Mike Lahti in our Keweenaw Now interview of June 23, 2008. See also Mike Lahti's new blog.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Merle Kindred to describe building energy-efficient house in India July 31

HOUGHTON -- Merle Kindred will present "Building an Energy-Efficient House in Kerala, India" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, in the community room of the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. Using a slide show presentation, Kindred will share her experience in the southwest corner of India, where she commissioned a prototypical house that uses alternative design and construction strategies for energy savings.

During construction of the Kerala house, workers use bamboo for lateral reinforcement instead of expensive, corroding rebar. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos © 2008 Merle Kindred)

Designed by the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), the house is constructed of locally made burnt bricks and mud walls with provisions for solar hot water, biogas, an Indian-designed smokeless chula (wood-burning cooker especially suited for cooking rice), rainwater harvesting, micro-hydro and containment of spring water.

This photo shows the base for the hexagonal tower of mud and rainwater storage.

COSTFORD is a non-profit organization that uses eco-friendly design and social conciousness as a path to positive societal change.

"As the global community becomes increasingly aware of the challenges associated with energy use in all forms, we are going to have to rethink how we construct our built environments," Kindred said.

Merle Kindred is seen here "between a rock and a laptop" during construction of the Kerala house.

The house models the design strategies and construction technology for an energy efficient, cost-effective building based on the principles of architect Laurie Baker (1917-2007), founder of COSTFORD. The site is a quarter of an acre on a terraced hillside overlooking an agricultural valley and open to the prevailing eastern breezes necessary for ventilation in subtropical conditions.

This is a view of the trenched site of the Kerala house from the road.

The site was cleared of underbrush with efforts to preserve coconut, banana, pepper, jackfruit, teak and other indigenous plants not directly on the building site.

"As the house grows, I will continue tending the coconut and banana, pineapple and jackfruit," Kindred noted. "Caring for the natural world helps strengthen my resolve that this house demonstrate a less obtrusive, less offensive presence as an example of an alternative built environment for greater sustainability in design and construction practices in a world grappling with abrupt climate changes from its current lifestyle practices."

The corner stone of the Kerala house is set on Dec. 26, 2007.

An indigenous Kerala cow of the vechur breed plus discarded fruit and vegetable matter from the household will provide fuel for the biogas tank. Waste water will be treated onsite using Indian technology with effluent directed into the biogas tank and purified water returned to the stream for agricultural use. Both spring water and rainwater will be harvested in onsite tanks.

The household is designed for two cultures and three generations of inhabitants and provisions have been made for culturally-diverse visitors with guest quarters equipped with both Indian and Western toilets. Food-bearing and medicinal plants abound and will continue to be nurtured and increased for the health and welfare of the household, livestock (initially cows and chickens), and wild creatures.

Kindred is a recent Michigan Tech graduate with doctoral studies focused on alternative rhetorical strategies relating to altering perception and action in relation to energy use in the residential built environment. She recently presented a paper at the annual conference of the American Solar Energy Society in San Diego. The title is "An Indo-American Venture: Building an Energy Efficient House in Kerala, India, with the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD) Using Indigenous Materials and Appropriate Technology."

At the library presentation, items and books from India will be on display and Indian refreshments will be served. Everyone is invited to attend library events, and presentations are free. For more information please call 482-4570.

Editor's Notes:
Text courtesy Merle Kindred and Portage Lake District Library. Photos courtesy Merle Kindred, through

Merle Kindred,
Keweenaw Now guest columnist, has family roots in the Copper Country that date back to great grandparents who settled in Atlantic Mine in 1900, but left for Saskatchewan in 1912. Merle was born in Toronto, Ontario, and raised in Warren, Michigan. She has served as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer in the U.S. Virgin Islands and as a CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) Volunteer in Jamaica. Merle also trained teachers for six years in the Bahamas. She has been active locally in Habitat for Humanity. See her profile and links to her articles on our archived Keweenaw Now site.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yellow Dog Summer to hold Protect the Earth Summit Aug. 2-3 in Marquette

MARQUETTE -- Yellowdog Summer invites the public to join a Protect the Earth Summit On the Shores of Gichigami (Lake Superior) on Saturday, Aug. 2, in Marquette and Sunday, Aug. 3, at Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock rises above the Yellow Dog Plains, potential site for Kennecott Minerals' proposed Eagle Project sulfide mine. (Photo © 2007 Sue Ellen Kingsley)

The event is part of an effort to take back the land from multinational corporations and protect our freshwater from metallic sulfide and uranium mining.

Workshops will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, in the University Center (UC) Explorer rooms, 2nd floor, at Northern Michigan University (NMU). A rally including speakers and music will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday night from at the bandshell on Presque Isle in Marquette. In case of rain, the rally will be held at NMU’s UC Explorer rooms.

Speakers will include Susan La Fernier, vice-president, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community; Paula Sherman, co-chief, Ardoch Algonquin and First Nations Rights activist; Al Gedicks, author, filmmaker and Wisconsin mining activist; Laura Furtman, author, Wisconsin Flambeau Mine expert; Fred Rydholm, local historian and landowner on the Yellow Dog Plains; Skip Jones, Wisconsin folk singer, educator and social activist; and more.*

Sunday morning, Aug. 3, will include a walk to Eagle Rock on the Yellow Dog Plains -- rain or shine. All those who join are invited to a celebratory picnic feast on the plains and a camp out. Bring blueberry pails!

On Eagle Rock, a staff with two carved fish dangling from its point bears the carved message SACRED WATERS SACRED LAND. (Photo © 2007 Sue Ellen Kingsley)

"Yellow Dog Summer," according to the group's Web site, "intends to rally citizens from the Great Lakes Region and, specifically, communities along Lake Superior to stop Kennecott’s Eagle Project on the Yellow Dog Plains. The group will also do what it can to assist citizen movements opposing metallic sulfide mining in other parts of the UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario. We chose to stop the Kennecott project as a first step for the group, as this project is further along and could set a dangerous precedent for the future of our public lands and freshwater resources. Because Kennecott’s project is located on the Yellow Dog Plains, Yellow Dog Summer was named to honor this specific ecosystem."

Yellowdog Summer follows a set of principles developed by the Women’s Peace Camp at Seneca, New York, in 1983. These include an attitude of openness and respect without engaging in physical or verbal violence toward anyone they encounter. They will not bring or use any drugs or alcohol other than for medical purposes; they will carry no weapons; and they will not run.

*Editor's Notes: Visit the Yellowdog Summer Web site for the workshop schedule, complete list of speakers and detailed directions to Eagle Rock.

Susan La Fernier was one of four citizens from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who attended Rio Tinto’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center (QEII), in London, England, last April. The other three were Gabriel Caplett from Yellow Dog Summer and Northwoods Wilderness Recovery, Cynthia Pryor from the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and Fran Whitman from Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK). Read Gabriel Caplett's article, "UP Citizens and KBIC Vice-President Address Rio Tinto Board, in London" on the Northwoods Wilderness Recovery Web site.

In a recent article on Save the Wild UP, "Rio Tinto's CEO Brett Clayton Sneaks through Town," Clayton had agreed at the April meeting in London to hold a public meeting with the mine opposition back in the United States. He visited the U.P. this past week; but, according to the article, he "only took time to meet with the Lake Superior Community Partnership and the Marquette County Ambassadors." Read the article on Save the Wild UP.