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, February 07, 2009

Phi Kappa Tau in Hancock wins MTU Carnival fraternity division

By Kara Sokol

HOUGHTON -- Phi Kappa Tau brought home the gold in Michigan Tech's 2009 Winter Carnival statue competition, nabbing first place among the University's highly competitive fraternities.

MTU Winter Carnival visitors admire Phi Kappa Tau's snowy creation, "Aliens Come from Far Away, the Men in Black Save the Day," first-place winner in the fraternity division. The winning fraternity is located in Hancock. See our slide show for more photos. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)*

Their creation, "Aliens Come from Far Away, the Men in Black Save the Day," captures an icy scene from the Men in Black movie: our heroes zapping large-scale alien creatures in the New York City Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The display is located in front of their house, 1209 West Quincy St. in Hancock. The spacey creation captures this year's Winter Carnival theme, "An Icy Place Gets a Blast From Space."

A streetlight detail from Phi Kappa Tau's winner. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Second-place winner Delta Sigma Phi wowed with a frosty depiction of characters from the show "Futurama." Their creation, titled "At Work with Fry and Bender in a Frozen Urban Splendor," is located in front of the fraternity house, 1421 Woodland Road, near Wadsworth Hall.

Delta Sigma Phi won second place in the fraternity division with this display. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Coming in third in the fraternity division was Tau Kappa Epsilon with their frosty creation, "Fifty Years in Space Frozen in Place." The display, laden with rocket ships, airplanes and men on the moon, can be seen near Michigan Tech's Administration Building.

Tau Kappa Epsilon's "Fifty Years in Space Frozen in Place" took third place in the fraternity division. (Photo © 2009 Chao Zou. Reprinted with permission.)

In the women's group division, Alpha Sigma Tau grabbed first-place honors for their icy diorama, "Houghton Should Start an Investigation on this Front Yard Space Invasion." Visit the sorority house at 916 College Ave. to witness the front yard under siege by extraterrestrials.

Second-place honors went to Delta Phi Epsilon for their Buzz Lightyear rendition, "To Michigan Tech and Beyond."

Coming in third was Delta Zeta's interplanetary courtroom scene "Two Robots Fight For What is Right in a Gloomy Place in Outer Space."

The top statue-builders in other categories:

Student Organizations: Army ROTC, first; Air Force ROTC, second; Inter-Christian Council, third.

Residence Halls: The Summit, first; Mama's Boys, second; The Northern Alliance, third.

One-Nighter University Housing: Bastille, first; 4D, second; Asphodel Fields and Atlantis, third.

One-Nighter Off-Campus: Lutheran Student Movement, first; Concordia Student Ministries, second; Boy Scout Troop 208, third.

One-Nighter On-Campus: VPA Nightclub, first; Computer Science Learning Community/Daddy's Girls, second; Mu Beta Psi, third.

Editor's Notes: Kara Sokol is a writer for Michigan Tech. Guest photographer Chao Zou is a graduate student in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech.

*See our two slide shows (right-hand column) for more MTU Carnival photos.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Local art galleries offer first Friday evening receptions Feb. 6

CALUMET, HANCOCK -- Art galleries in Calumet and Hancock will offer opening receptions and art activity tonight, Friday, Feb. 6.

The Vertin Gallery in Calumet will hold an opening reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Joyce Koskenmaki's "Animals and Hiding Places," which will be on exhibit through March 4, 2009.

"These are oil paintings I have been working on for the past year and a half," Koskenmaki says. "I hope you will all come to see all of these shows."

At Calumet's Omphale Gallery, a reception for the February exhibit will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Tom Rudd, Sculpture and Prints, and Margo McCafferty, Drawings.

Just around the corner from the Vertin and down 5th Street from the Omphale is Ed Gray's Miskwabik Gallery, where the First Friday show is "This Place Called Keweenaw," an all-media, open, juried show, opening Feb. 6. The reception will be from 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. For more info call 906-337-5970.

For those who want to practice some art, the the Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery at 112 Fifth Street in historic downtown Calumet will offer a basket-weaving demonstration led by Dolly Luoma from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 6. Dolly will have all the reed you’ll need to weave your own small basket. It’s a great introduction to weaving and fun for the novice or experienced weaver.

Finally, back in Hancock, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Copper Country Community Arts Center will hold a reception and gallery talk for Yvonne LeMire, Sculpture, and Jon Anthony, Paintings. This show runs through Feb. 28. Call 482-2333 for information.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

MTU's T.E.A. group to raise funds for Greg Mortenson's schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Michele Bourdieu

Greg Mortenson with Sitara "Star" schoolchildren, Afghanistan. Click on photos for larger versions. (Image courtesy Central Asia Institute)*

HOUGHTON -- Step into Fisher Hall today, Thursday, Feb. 5, to warm up during your tour of the Michigan Tech Carnival statues and take a minute to notice members of a new student organization selling restaurant raffle tickets for a worthy cause -- Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute for building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The raffle, with meals donated by local restaurants as prizes, is just one of several fundraisers the students plan to hold this semester -- from bake sales to tee-shirt sales to letter-writing and more.

During his visit to Michigan Tech last August 2008, Greg Mortenson, co-author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time, speaks about building schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson gave several presentations during his visit, speaking to MTU students, faculty and community members as well as students and faculty from Finlandia University and local high schools, some of whom are pictured here. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

After reading the book, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time, co-authored by Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, and listening to Mortenson speak at MTU last fall, a small group of inspired students began having meetings to discuss ways they could get involved in supporting Mortenson's work. The group has expanded to nearly 60 members at MTU and formed a chapter of a non-profit organization called T.E.A. -- Taking Education Abroad.

Travis White, president of MTU's T.E.A. chapter, is a Michigan Tech student in mechanical engineering with a French minor. White said MTU's T.E.A. group is just one of about six chapters that have now formed all over the State of Michigan. White and a group of friends from his home town, Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, founded the non-profit student organization last summer.

"It all started last summer at a campfire," he explained. "One of my friends mentioned reading the book (Three Cups of Tea) and how much of an impact it made on his life ....He inspired us all to read it."

Porters carry roof beams 18 miles to the Korphe School, Pakistan, as described in the book, Three Cups of Tea. (Image courtesy Central Asia Institute)

White and his friends met again a week or so later in the summer and decided the best way they could help Mortenson's school building projects in Central Asia would be to start a non-profit student organization. They continued to meet often during the summer and contacted Mortenson's Central Asia Institute (CAI) to find out how they could coordinate efforts with them.

The Central Asia Institute, founded by Mortenson, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.*

Greg Mortenson with Nowseri schoolchildren of Azad Kashmir (earthquake region), Pakistan. (Image courtesy Central Asia Institute)*

In August and September, armed with information from CAI, White and his friends then left for their various colleges and started chapters of T.E.A. in several Michigan colleges and universities that now include Lake Superior State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Hope College, Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech. The movement is spreading to schools in other states as well, including Notre Dame in Indiana.

White also learned that the incoming first-year students at MTU were required to read the book last summer as part of the Reading As Inquiry summer reading program and that co-author Greg Mortenson himself would be coming to Michigan Tech to speak about his work. White, who is studying leadership through MTU's Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership, and other Pavlis students Jessica Banda, now vice-president of MTU's T.E.A. chapter, who is studying scientific and technical communication and journalism, and Travis Anderson, a mechanical engineering student, put together a Power Point presentation and held some information and organizational meetings last fall. This semester their focus is on holding a fundraiser every two weeks with a goal of raising $12,000 in one semester -- the cost of building one of the CAI schools in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

In October 2008, MTU student Travis White speaks about fundraising at an organizational meeting of the group T.E.A., Taking Education Abroad, which now meets regularly on campus to plan fundraisers for Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

At the first meeting, Banda commented on Mortenson's presentation at MTU. She was especially struck by the ex-mountain climber's efforts to fit in with the culture of people from a small village who had rescued him after his failure to climb the second highest peak in the world, K2, in the Karkoram mountains of Pakistan. After the villagers asked him to build them a school where they had none, he found himself traveling under challenging, often primitive and dangerous conditions, to various remote towns and villages and building more schools. How did he do it?

"He found himself a contact and worked with him and followed his lead as to what would be culturally appropriate," Banda noted. "He overcame so many obstacles and was still able to accomplish his goal....That's something we can all learn from."

Jessica Banda, right, vice-president of MTU's chapter of T.E.A., and Katie Dobbins, MTU student in computer engineering, offer information and brochures about T.E.A. at the D-80 Conference held at Michigan Tech last November. Both are studying leadership in MTU's Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership.** (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Katie Dobbins, also a Pavlis Leadership student, said she learned about T.E.A. from Travis White and decided to read the book, Three Cups of Tea.

"I think it's amazing," Dobbins said, "just the story about how he got to know the people and to build them a school and how that expanded into the Central Asia Institute."

Travis Anderson said he was interested in T.E.A. because he would like to get involved in foreign affairs, especially in the field of education.

"I think education is really important," Anderson said. "I think everyone should have the opportunity to receive education."

Mortenson's chief goal has been to introduce the education of girls in remote places where customs are often opposed to girls attending school.

During his talk at MTU, Mortenson said, " If you educate a boy you educate an individual. If you educate a girl you educate a community."

Greg Mortenson, addresses a large crowd of students, faculty and community members on Aug. 27, 2008, in MTU's Rozsa Center. In this video clip he explains why educating girls can reduce terrorism in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Video clip by Michele Bourdieu)

Some of the female graduates of Mortenson's schools have gone on to secondary and post-secondary schooling and then returned to their villages as health workers or teachers, educating other women and reducing the number of women dying in childbirth. Other graduates have become enlightened mothers who refuse to give permission to their sons to join the Taliban.

Civil engineering student Joshua Jensen said he was also inspired by Mortenson's book and by his presentation in the Rozsa Center last August.

"It was such an awesome presentation," Jensen said. "There were people out in the lobby watching it on T.V. There wasn't a seat in the house."

Jensen, a second-year student at MTU, said he heard about the book because he was working as a mentor for residence life.

"I read the book, and I was looking for ways to make it real in the community -- some service opportunities -- and this (T.E.A.) looks like a great way to get involved with that," Jensen added.

During a planning meeting in January 2009, T.E. A. members, from right, Joshua Jensen, Kari Paquette and Raeanne Madison finalize plans for the restaurant raffle fundraiser now being held on the MTU campus. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Jensen is also planning to participate in Pennies for Peace, a project in elementary schools started by Greg Mortenson's mother, who was a teacher in Wisconsin at the time he founded CAI. In schools all over the U.S. now, children collect an amazing number of pennies to support Mortenson's school-building efforts. This month, several MTU student volunteers will be giving presentations about Pennies for Peace in at least six local Copper Country Schools.

Benjamin Fedorka, Computer Science Learning Community Program coordinator, who is organizing Pennies for Peace volunteers through the MTU Learning Communities in the Residence Halls, said he will be leading a group of volunteer students in a visit to South Range Elementary School during the week of Feb. 12. Six other groups of MTU students are organizing visits to six other elementary schools in the area.

During a recent T.E.A. meeting, Benjamin Fedorka, standing, right, Computer Science Learning Community Program coordinator, tells other T.E.A. members about the Pennies for Peace program beginning this month in area schools. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

"We're going to tell them a little about what education is like in Pakistan and Afghanistan and how one penny can make a difference in the world," Fedorka said. "We need volunteers!"

MTU students who would like to volunteer may contact Fedorka at Teachers who wish to run their own Pennies for Peace campaign can find resources at

During her recent presentation about T.E.A. in an English class at Finlandia University, Jessica Banda reported that in late January, T.E.A. students held their first fundraiser -- a competitive pop can collection in the MTU dorms. Men and women competed and collected about $170 in 45 minutes. She invited Finlandia students to join T.E.A., and some of the students in the class offered to sell some restaurant raffle tickets. (These are being sold on a donation basis.) Watch for announcements of future T.E.A. fundraisers.

For information on purchasing raffle tickets or contributing in other ways to T.E.A. fundraisers, please email Jessica Banda at

* For video clips taken at some of CAI's schools, visit their Web site.

** For information about the Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership at Michigan Tech, visit their Web site.

Reflection Gallery to hold reception for student artists Feb. 5

HANCOCK -- A reception for student artists D.C. Wilson and Lana Bosak will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Finlandia University Reflection Gallery today, Thursday, Feb. 5.

Lana Bosak of Underwood, Minn., and D.C. Wilson of Iron Mountain, Mich. -- both junior-level Finlandia University illustration majors -- will exhibit their book illustrations through Feb. 15 at the Reflection Gallery, Hancock.

A page from Finlandia University student artist Lana Bosak's coloring book, Pigeons: A Coloring Experience. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Bosak’s book is titled Pigeons: A Coloring Experience. She describes it as a silly coloring book depicting different "types" of pigeons, everything from your normal every day pigeon to pirate pigeons and French pigeons.

Wilson ’s ink and watercolor children’s book is called Digabee Dugabee. She explains that the book is about creatures called digabees and dugabees who work together to build a flower. The story is a brightly colored and includes a rhyming narrative that focuses on friendship, determination and acceptance of different lifestyles.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, Hancock. For additional information, contact Yueh-mei Cheng at 487-7375.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

John Perona: 1920-2009

By Oren Tikkanen

CALUMET -- As you may have heard, our dear old friend and mentor, Johnnie Perona, left us on February 1. There will be a visitation at the Ryan Funeral Home on 6th St. in Calumet from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3; and from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. we will be gathering down the street at the Michigan House to continue our remembrance of John and to play some of the music that he loved and taught us.

The late John Perona adds some of his percussion talent to ethnic music being played during Heikinpäivä 2008. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Members of his last band, the Finnwoods Ramblers, will be there; and we may hear from some of the Pasi Cats, the Thimbleberry Band and who knows who all...

Raised in an Italian immigrant family in rural Calumet, Johnnie learned to play the music of his own heritage and went on to absorb, play and transmit the music of the Finns, the Slovenians, the Croatians, the French-Canadians and, of course, the USA. He played the concertina, the 2-row accordion, the fiddle, the mandolin and the guitar, but achieved national recognition for his rhythm bones and his unique chiming spoons.

This very brief video clip, captured at Heikinpäivä 2008, recalls Johnnie's distinctive rhythms. (Video clip by Michele Bourdieu)

John was named as a Master Folk Musician by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program and passed on his skills to a number of apprentices and students, one of whom went on to win the World Bones-Playing Championship in Ireland.

If you can't join us on Tuesday night, John's funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church on 8th St. in Calumet.

Editor's Notes: Keweenaw Now thanks Oren Tikkanen, local musician, for permission to post this article.

John Perona's obituary is published in The Daily Mining Gazette, Feb. 2, 2009.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

MTU announces Black History Month events

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University will recognize Black History Month this February with a series of events that celebrate African-American history and culture.

The importance of Black History Month is "to remember the struggles that African-Americans have had in the past, to recognize our accomplishments, and to enjoy the hopes of tomorrow," said Kari Brown, coordinator of this series of events.

A doctoral student, Brown is the interim coordinator of African-American Student Support in Educational Opportunity.

All events are open to the public.

The schedule of activities follows.

Sunday, Feb. 1 -- Throughout the month of February, the Carnegie Museum in Houghton will host an exhibit of pictures and bios of African-Americans who live and work in the Keweenaw community. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, noon to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Monday, Feb. 2, noon -- A one-hour seminar on, and a sampling of, African crops and slave cuisine, Alumni Lounge A and B, Memorial Union Building. Learn about crops brought from Africa to North America during the slave trade and how they were used. You'll be able to sample some items.

Friday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. -- Black film festival, two short films, U115, Minerals and Materials Building: Hidden Heroes: African-American Women in WWII and From the Top of the Key, a chronicle of a mother trying to get her son into college. Enjoy pizza and pop.

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m. -- Buffet, ethnic foods, Food Mall, Memorial Union

Wednesday, Feb. 11, noon -- Presentation, Black fraternities and sororities, Alumni Lounge A, Memorial Union

Thursday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m. -- Reception, Carnegie Museum

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m. -- "The 'N' Word," Alumni Lounge A, Memorial Union

Thursday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. -- "A Night in Harlem: Stompin' at the Savoy," lobby, Rozsa Center

Saturday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. -- Open mic for songs and poems, G17–19, Wadsworth Hall

Thursday, Feb. 26, noon -- Lt. Col. Otha Thornton, US Army, Tech alumnus, Red Metal, Memorial Union

Friday, Feb. 27, 5 p.m. -- C. S. Giscombe, author, poet, editor, 134 Walker Arts Center

Saturday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m. -- Dinner, Ballroom, Memorial Union

Saturday, Feb. 28, 8 p.m. -- Music, food, and dancing, including a performance by the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, Rozsa Center

Besides educational opportunity, sponsors of Black History Month include the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series, the city of Houghton, the Graduate Student Council, the Black Student Association, the African-American Students Organization, the Department of Humanities and Dining Services.

Sons of Norway to sponsor 2nd Annual Barneløpet Cross-Country Ski race for youth, families Feb. 7

HANCOCK -- The members of local Sons of Norway Ulseth Lodge 5-620 invite area youth to the 2nd Annual Barneløpet Cross-Country Ski race from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Maasto Hiihto cross country ski trails, Hancock. Registration begins at 12 noon at the ski chalet.

At the 2008 Barneløpet three-year-old Naomi Hohnholt of Hancock and her dad, Chris Hohnholt, skied the 1 Km event together. (File photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

The Barneløpet, a Norwegian word meaning, "the children’s race" is open to all youth ages three through 17. The non-competitive event is sponsored by Sons of Norway Ulseth Lodge, the Keweenaw Community Foundation, Portage Health and the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club. The Keweenaw Community Foundation has provided a grant for the event, and Portage Health will provide refreshments for the skiers after the race.

"This is a special day for youth and their families to spend some time skiing," said Wayne Stordahl, president of Sons of Norway Lodge 5-670. "Cross country skiing is a very popular family activity in Norway and we want to encourage this idea here. We also want to spotlight the great cross country trails in Hancock."

Wayne Stordahl, left, of Hancock, president of Sons of Norway Lodge 5-670, and Jay Green of the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club organized the 2008 Barneløpet Cross-Country Ski race. (File photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will groom four courses for the event. Relatively easy one-, two-, and four-kilometer courses will be open, as well as a more difficult six-kilometer course, which descends into the gorge and follows the stream.

Skiers can "stride" any of the four courses, and a large time clock will be running for those who wish to time themselves. Children who finish their course will be awarded a colorful Norwegian Olympic-style enameled medallion. Skiers will also be treated to cookies and hot chocolate.

The Barneløpet entry fee is $5 for one skier and $10 for a family of two or more. Entry fees for the Copper Country Ski Tigers (CCST) will be paid by the CCST. Parents are welcome to ski with their children.

Also during the Barneløpet on Feb. 7, the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club will award its annual Youth Skier Scholarship to two area Ski Tigers youth who plan to participate in the USAA Junior Olympics March 7 to 15 in Truckee, California.

A registration form for the 2nd Annual Barneløpet can be downloaded at

For additional information about the Barneløpet, please contact Wayne Stordahl at 906-482-0292.

Sons of Norway is an international organization promoting Norwegian traditions, fraternal fellowship and cultural learning in the United States, Canada and Norway. Local Sons of Norway lodge activities may include language camps, scholarships, handcrafts, cooking and cultural classes, heritage and sports awards programs, travel opportunities and the Viking Magazine. Sons of Norway, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., was founded in 1895.

For more information about Sons of Norway visit their Web site.

Editor's Note: Read about the First Annual Barneløpet held in February 2008 and see more photos in our Feb. 23, 2008, article "Kids ski with parents in first Barnelopet at Maasto Hiihto."