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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Updated: Walkers complete trek from Eagle Rock to Mackinac Bridge

MARQUETTE -- On Labor Day, Margaret Comfort of Bourbonnais, Illinois, completed her two-week, 175-mile walking journey from Kennecott’s proposed nickel mine site on Eagle Rock near Big Bay to St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge.

The trek was highlighted by rallies and visits to several UP communities in order to bring awareness to the issue of metallic sulfide and uranium exploration and mining. Comfort, along with a vehicle support team and several volunteer walkers, was generously supported by concerned citizens, businesses and tourists along the way. Donations of food, firewood and funds overwhelmed the walkers.

"The love and concern from people opening their hearts and helping out was amazing," Comfort said. "Folks honking and waving energized us to keep moving towards our goal -- the Mackinac Bridge Walk. If I had more time, I would walk all the way to the Capitol in Lansing, camp out on the front lawn and ask our legislators some tough questions: What is the ultimate goal of this destructive new mining process? Why is the state even considering allowing this to happen? Who is to benefit from this risky resource extraction?"

Banners reading "Protecting our Water, Step by Step, from Eagle Rock to the Mackinac Bridge" were prominent on support vehicles and T-shirts worn by the walkers.

"We were always within walking distance of a wetland, stream, inland lake or a Great Lake," Comfort noted. "That is why we were out there…to help protect our most precious gift of water and the Great Lakes."

Kristi Mills, director of Save the Wild UP, one of the sponsors of the Walk, participated in the Walk herself and attested to Comfort's dedication.

"Margaret Comfort is a wonderful lady with a huge heart, and she gave it all to this walk," Mills said. "At the Bridge, crowds of people kept our group from getting near the Governor even during the wee hours of the morning, but the walk/experience/contacts/outreach that we all enjoyed was well worth the trip. Margaret's emotional commitment to this movement brought out yet another love story of the UP. There are so many of them out there."

Mills added the group brainstormed around a campfire one night about the idea of forming a UP Fan Club that people from all over the world could join.

"There would be different levels of membership with very little commitment involved except loving the UP," Mills noted. "We'll see."

Joining Save the Wild UP as sponsors of the walk were the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Keepers of the Water and Northwoods Wilderness Recovery. The groups provided information and materials to communities along the way. For more information on the Walk and the sulfide mining issue, visit

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Keweenaw Kaleidoscope bead project, Great Northern Beadwork exhibit to open Sept. 5 at Community Arts Center

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Kaleidoscope, a group beadwork project including 13 bead artists with connections to the area, is on display at the Community Arts Center in Hancock. A public reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5, at the Arts Center to recognize the artists and sponsors.

Keweenaw Kaleidoscope -- "Color Tour" by Chris vanDomelen of Hancock. (Photo courtesy Community Arts Center.)

Each artist created and donated a 3.5 X 3.5-inch beadwork piece to be sold at auction to benefit the Community Arts Center. Peg McNinch of Silver Rae Studio and Pamlynn Hansen managed the project, and Christine van Domelen of Framed By Kathy framed each piece. The 2006 project received national attention in an article written by Diane Fitzgerald for Beadwork magazine (Feb./Mar. 2008). Silent bids will be accepted through Sept. 26.

Great Northern Beadwork, a national competition held biennially since 2000, will open the same night in the Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery. The closing reception and awards ceremony with judge Diane Fitzgerald will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, there will be a Wine and Cheese Gala event in the Community Arts Center’s ballroom where the Keweenaw Kaleidoscope pieces will be sold at live auction. Admission will be $10. Those not able to attend can assign a proxy bidder. Call Cynthia at 906-482-2333 to arrange.

The beadwork exhibit is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call 906-482-2333.

During the 2006 Northern Bead Symposium at the Community Arts Center, Phyllis Fredendall (center, foreground) faculty member of Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design, joins other participants learning from artists demonstrating beadwork techniques. (Photo courtesy Community Arts Center.)

The Fifth Biennial Northern Bead Symposium will be held from Sept. 26-28. The Symposium includes workshops, bead shopping, presentations and demos of various bead techniques. Call 906-482-2333 for more information.

Michigan 4-H China Art Exchange in Youth Gallery

During September the Youth Gallery of the Community Arts Center is featuring artwork from the Michigan 4-H China Art Exchange. Houghton County, one of 22 Michigan counties that participated, had ten youth selected to send their picture, story or artwork to China. The reception for this 4-H China Art Exchange Exhibit will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, preceded by awards and certificates for the young artists at 5:45 p.m.