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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Shelter Home Music Event and Silent Auction scheduled for Sunday, Apr. 5

HOUGHTON -- The Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home is hosting its first-ever Women's Music Event and Silent Auction from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Apr. 5, at the Michigan Tech Forestry Atrium.

Several local artists will perform: Kari Brown, Rhythm 203, SherAaron Hurt, Nicole White and others.

The silent auction features donations from Keweenaw Gem and Gift, Mary Ann Beckwith, Keweenaw Co-op, Sayen's Auto Quick Lube, AutoPro Glass and Tire, Ed Gray Gallery, Christine Young, Marilyn’s Stained Glass and more.

Donations of $5 are suggested. All proceeds will go to the shelter home. For more information, contact Ann Brady (Humanities) at 487-2066 or .

Editor's Note: This event was postponed from the earlier date we posted.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

International Night to offer food, song, dance Apr. 4

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University’s International Club presents the 2009 International Night on Saturday, Apr. 4.

Members of MTU's Indian Students' Association perform at the 2008 International Night. This Saturday, Apr. 4, International Night will include dances from Colombia, India, Africa and China, as well as a martial arts demonstration and singing. Video clip © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Commons. It features exotic cuisine, including Indian veggie curry with a spicy sauce and flat bread, Thai curry, Icelandic saffron chicken, Spanish rice, Hispanic fried plantains, Slavic poppy seed bread and Jamaican rum cake.

Afterward, the show "Around the World in 90 Minutes" begins at 8 p.m. at the Rozsa Center. International students and organizations will perform, including singing; Colombian, Indian, African and Chinese dancing; and an aikido martial arts demonstration.

International singers perform during MTU's 2008 International Night in the Rozsa Center. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu).

Tickets are available at the Memorial Union Commons, the lobby of Fisher Hall and the Rozsa. Tickets are $8 for the performance only. For the dinner and the performance, tickets are $12 for students, $15 for the general public. Visit the International Club Web site for more information.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve to meet Apr. 2

HOUGHTON -- Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve (SBGP) will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Apr. 2, in the UPPCO Building in Houghton.

During the March meeting, and since then on email, members have been discussing the design for a logo. The agenda for the Apr. 2 meeting will include discussion of sales items to produce with the logo. 20% of proceeds would go to stewardship projects for Bete Grise Preserve. The group also hopes to to formulate a Mission Statement at this meeting.

Other items discussed at the March meeting included the possibility of having a table with sales items (T-shirts, hats, etc.) at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District Tree Sale May 1-2. This would be a fundraising opportunity and would raise awareness of SBGP. Members also hope to continue discussion of a potential summer picnic at Bete Grise and to set a date for it.

The meeting is open to interested person and new members.

Author Steve Lehto to do book signing at Copper World Apr. 3-4

CALUMET -- Author Steve Lehto will do a signing of his new book, Michigan's Columbus: the Life of Douglass Houghton, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 3, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 4, at Copper World in Calumet.

Lehto, who is also the author of Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder (a book about the Italian Hall disaster) and the Introduction to Italian Hall: The Official Transcript of the Coroner's Inquest, will be willing to sign copies of these works as well.

New photography exhibit to open Apr. 3 at Vertin Gallery

CALUMET -- "Touring the Backroads of the Keweenaw with Dave Walli," both black and white and color photography, will be on exhibit from Apr. 3 to Apr. 29 at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet.

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" is the title of this photograph by Dave Walli. It is part of the April exhibit at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet. (Photo © Dave Walli and courtesy Vertin Gallery. Reprinted with permission.)

An opening reception will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 3. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

The Vertin Gallery is at 220 6th Street in Calumet. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Sunday. Call (906) 337-2200 for more information or visit the Vertin Gallery Web site.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stupak to hold telephone town hall meeting Apr. 2

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) will hold his first-ever telephone town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. EDT / 5:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Apr. 2, 2009. The telephone town hall will allow residents of the First Congressional District to ask Stupak questions on current national issues before Congress.

"I am excited about the chance to utilize this new technology to reach constituents across the vast First Congressional District," Stupak said. "I want to use this opportunity to hear from you and answer the questions on your mind. The call will last one hour and in that time I will answer as many questions as I can."

Constituents in the First District can join the telephone town hall by calling toll free 877-229-8493 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern / 5:30 p.m. Central on Thursday, Apr. 2. Participants will then be required to enter "14683" as the five-digit access code to join the call.

Any change in the time of event will be announced by the local media.

Visit Congressman Stupak's Web site for information on current issues.

Signatures needed for letter to Stupak in support of Renewable Energy Standard

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Michigan Tech University graduate Joe Dammel, who now works for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), is requesting from northern Michigan residents, constituents of U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak, signatures in support of the UCS effort to pass a Renewable Energy Standard (RES).

"Congressman Stupak sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce committee, and we need his support to get strong RES legislation enacted this year," Dammel writes.

More information about this effort and the UCS new analysis on the jobs, consumer savings and carbon dioxide benefits of a national standard can be found on the Union of Concerned Scientists' Web site. Keweenaw Now has agreed to publish here Joe Dammel's letter to Stupak.

Please read the letter. If you wish to sign it in support of a Renewable Energy Standard, please sign it by emailing your name, occupation/organization and town or city of residence to Joe Dammel at by Friday, Apr. 3, 2009.

The Honorable Bart Stupak, Member
House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee

Dear Congressmen Stupak:

As a diverse group of university faculty, graduate students, foresters, loggers, and community members, we are writing to urge you to co-sponsor the renewable electricity standard (RES) bill (H.R. 890) introduced by Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Todd Platts (R-PA) in February. The bill would require that 25 percent of our nation’s electricity would come from clean and truly renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass by the year 2025.

The RES is one of the most viable ways to develop viable, long-term markets for Michigan’s renewable energy resources, including biomass, which would create jobs and income in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

As you know, Michigan is currently bearing the brunt of this recession, with unemployment rates in many counties across our great state approaching 20 percent. The additional investment in renewable electric generation would create thousands of well-paying jobs that will put Michiganders back to work. Furthermore, because of the substantial biomass resources on private and public lands, including the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests, rural Michigan will experience a substantial economic boost through their sustainable utilization.

Increasing the market share for renewable energy resources would also have substantial environmental benefits. An RES is one of the most important and readily available approaches to reducing greenhouse gases from the electricity generation sector, a major contributor to man-made global warming. In addition, an RES also would help reduce conventional pollutants including nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions.

By substantially increasing renewable electricity generation, the RES would enhance national energy security by diversifying our sources of electric generation. At a time when the United States is increasing energy imports, an RES would make America more energy self-reliant. The reduction in the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity would also limit fuel price volatility, which is important to both industry and consumers. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy’s own Energy Information Administration has found in several studies that an RES would actually cause natural gas prices to decline.

We believe the time has come for Congress to move quickly to enact national RES legislation. The costs of inaction for our economy, environment and national security are too high. Although 28 states and the District of Columbia have adopted individual RES programs, the country will not realize the full potential for renewable electricity without the adoption of a Federal program to enhance the states’ efforts. With passage of a robust RES bill, we will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, save families money on their utility bills, and create jobs to help lift Michigan’s economy out of recession.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.


Name, Occupation / Organization, City of residence

To include your name on this letter to Congressman Stupak, simply email your Name, Occupation / Organization and City of residence to by Friday, Apr. 3, 2009.

Editor's Note: Joe Dammel, who graduated recently from MTU with a degree in environmental engineering, was an active member and former president of MTU's Engineers Without Borders and a writer for the MTU Lode.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finlandia University International School of Art and Design Annual Juried Student Exhibition to open Mar. 31

HANCOCK -- A juried exhibit of Finlandia University student artwork is featured through April 21 at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

A reception for the artists will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mar. 31, at the gallery, with a fashion show at 7:15 p.m. Awards for excellence will be presented at the opening. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"The annual juried exhibit showcases the talent of Finlandia art and design students and provides a wonderful opportunity for our faculty, staff and community members to purchase the artwork of our students," notes Finlandia University Gallery Director Carrie Flaspohler.

The exhibition includes works by International School of Art and Design students studying the fine art and design disciplines of drawing, painting, illustration, ceramic and glass design, fiber and fashion design, sculpture, product and interior design, graphic design, digital media and mixed media/installation.

The three-person exhibition jury includes a Finlandia faculty member, a Finlandia graduating art and design senior and a community member.

"The members of this jury spend hours selecting the final pieces for inclusion in the exhibit," adds Flaspohler. "Every year I look forward to listening to the wonderful discussions about ideas and aesthetics that take place during the jurying process."

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. The Finlandia University International School of Art and Design Annual Juried Student Exhibition will be on display through Apr. 21, 2009.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

World is water-stressed, lecturer says

By Katie Alvord

HOUGHTON -- A crowd of nearly 700 students and community members heard water policy expert Sandra Postel deliver Michigan Tech's second annual World Water Day lecture on Monday night, March 23, in the Rozsa Center.

Water policy expert Sandra Postel delivers a World Water Day lecture Mar. 23 in MTU's Rozsa Center. The photo in her slide, projected here, shows a treadle pump in Bangladesh. Postel, who took this photo, said the pump, costs only $35 and helps poor farmers irrigate crops to feed their families. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Postel's speech, titled "Dividing the Waters: Strategies for a Warming, Water-Stressed World," was introduced by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Alex Mayer, who directs the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society.

Postel told the audience that world water problems have increased since she began working on these issues more than 25 years ago. Formerly employed by the Worldwatch Institute, she now heads the Global Water Policy Project, based in New Mexico.

Showing a world map with broad swaths of territory marked as water-stressed, Postel cited numerous statistics demonstrating over-use of water.*

"We are using tomorrow's water to meet demands today," she said.

Extensive diversions from several major world river systems -- including the Yellow, Indus, Ganges, Colorado, Rio Grande and Australia's Murray-Darling -- now keep their waters from reaching the sea, Postel said. She added that overpumping of groundwater has caused water tables to drop in many countries, including China, India and the western United States.

Water is renewable but finite, Postel stated, pointing out that it has no substitutes. Thus, she noted, endless growth in water demand is incompatible with maintaining both aquatic ecosystems and human economic growth.

"This is the inconvenient truth about water," Postel said.

Climate change will further complicate the global water picture by altering the hydrologic cycle, bringing more intense storms and increasing drought in some areas while intensifying floods in others, she noted. Already the effects of climate change appear to be unfolding faster than expected.

"Australia is now Ground Zero for what we can expect to see with drought," Postel said, referring to the recent deadly firestorms that swept through large parts of that country, particularly the Murray-Darling river basin, after eight years of scant rainfall.

Climate change is also reducing the amount of snow and ice that provides runoff for lowland farming, Postel explained. The snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range is down, and mountain glaciers are retreating faster than expected around the world. This portends problems with food production and the potential for a significant ecological refugee problem.

Despite a current water situation that she described as "gloomy," Postel asserted that water-stress problems can be successfully addressed.

A key strategy for solving water problems, she said, is to draw a "sustainability boundary" around the amount of water needed to sustain aquatic ecosystems.

This benefits human communities as well as other species, she pointed out, since natural waters hold benefits that are critical to human survival. These benefits include water purification, groundwater recharge, flood and drought mitigation, nutrient cycling and other services provided naturally by intact aquatic ecosystems.

For instance, Postel cited one study showing that maintaining more forest cover in watersheds actually controls water treatment costs. When forest cover in the studied watershed dropped from 60 percent down to 10 percent, the area's water treatment costs tripled.

Using a sustainability boundary is not an approach that has been used in the past, Postel remarked. But, she said, quoting Albert Einstein, "'You can't solve a problem in the mindset that created the problem.'"

The sustainability boundary concept is explored more fully in the book Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature, which Postel co-authored with Brian Richter of The Nature Conservancy.

The concept is also consistent with what Postel called her water ethic: "Provide all living things with enough water before some get more than enough."

"If we have reverence for all life, it's hard to argue with this," she said.

Postel also advocated strategies that get more utility from a given amount of water, a conservation approach she called "water productivity." She cited several examples of farms, cities and industry using this approach, including the giant Unilever Corporation.

Unilever has reduced its water use by 63 percent since 1995, Postel said, and now has some zero discharge facilities which reclaim and recycle water for industrial use. The company also helps its suppliers improve their water productivity.

She noted as well that cities sometimes seek to build additional reservoirs or other water projects when they might gain just as much supply from simply plugging leaks in pipelines. One city in Japan dropped leakage from water pipelines to around 5 percent, compared to the 20 to 30 percent most municipalities lose through leakage. Such measures can save cities money by eliminating the need for new water projects.

Postel also pointed out ways that personal lifestyle choices can save water. A portion of beans takes much less water to produce than an equivalent portion of beef, for instance, suggesting significant water savings if more people eat less meat. Because animal agriculture uses so much water, a pair of leather shoes can take 8,000 liters of water to produce. Growing plant foods uses much less. One tomato, for instance, can be produced with 13 liters of water, according to Postel's statistics.

Hancock resident Gustavo Bourdieu attended Postel's lecture and seemed particularly struck by this comparison.

"My conclusion is eat tomatoes and go barefoot," Bourdieu said.

* Click here for a map showing water stress around the world.

Editor's Note: Guest author Katie Alvord is a freelance writer and author of Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile. She was the winner of the 2007 Science Journalism Award for Online Reporting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her series of articles about the Great Lakes, published on Keweenaw Now.