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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Keweenaw's Farm Block Fest to offer music, camping, art, July 30, 31, Aug. 1

By Maddy Baron*

ALLOUEZ TOWNSHIP -- Unfamiliar with Farm Block Fest? Two years ago local musician Graham Parsons started a two-night, three-day camping and music gathering on the farm where he grew up in Allouez Township, Mich., just outside Ahmeek in Keweenaw County. The fest features musicians and artists from all over Michigan, with a focus on providing a much-needed outlet for local talent. The gates open this Friday, July 30, and festivities continue into Sunday, Aug. 1.

Parsons found inspiration to create the festival after the death of his best friend and fellow musician, Dan Schmitt. Schmitt had taught Parsons a lot of what he knows musically.

"He was the first person I played music with, first person I formed a band with; he was the first person I recorded music with," Parsons said. "Dan was a prodigious musician. Talent and skill far beyond his years. Beyond music, he had not an enemy. He could hang with anyone, always bringing joy into a situation. He was able to have fun in any circumstance and at the drop of a hat. The energy he held was undeniable.

"When he passed I struggled with the idea of continuing to make music. I had never played without him, but I knew I needed to honor the time we shared and our friendship by seeing what we started through."

The first Farm Block Fest was an emotional experience for all in attendance, according to Parsons. Celebrating Dan’s life through music provided community members and friends from afar an opportunity for sharing their sense of loss, for grieving and shedding tears, and for healing.

Long-time family friend and fellow musician George Krainatz helps with organizing the event. Parsons and Schmitt had started Krainatz in music; if it wasn’t for them he would never have picked up a guitar. Never having had the chance to thank Schmitt for this influence, Krainatz said the Farm Block Fest is a great way to give back because it raises money for the Dan Schmitt Gift of Music Fund which provides music lessons and instruments for area youth who otherwise would have access to neither.

Krainatz invited everyone to come out for a beautiful weekend of fun, especially those with a love of music.

"Graham has done an outstanding job finding talent all over the state of Michigan," Krainatz said. "Artists that perform are class acts that will make you want to dance, and I don’t mean maybe."

Farm Block Fest also occurs with help from Keweenaw Krayons, a local non-profit arts agency. Farm Block Fest not only supports the Dan Schmitt Gift of Music Fund, it also functions as a fundraiser for the local arts community.

This year’s festival features live music and poetry, camping, art vendors and yoga, a three-on-three basketball tournament, and local organic and sustainable food provided by Bill Caputi and Ray Weglarz of Ray’s Polish Fire. New this year are more acts from southwestern Michigan, including the communities of Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Attendees are welcome to explore the 40 acres of pristine wilderness that borders the farm. Visitors will also have the chance to interact with musicians from all over Michigan and local artists displaying their wares.

Farm Block Fest has been growing since it started in 2008. Last year almost 400 people attended. Every year Parsons and his family receive more support from the community, making it a little easier each time to host the festival.

"Ideally we want to keep doing it as long as we are able," Parsons said. "I would like the fest to have some more dimensions in the future -- more activities and vendors. I will always strive to bring more new and diverse music to the Keweenaw through this event."

Parsons added that the goal is to blend community and environment through music in perfect harmony.

Farm Block Fest 2010 kicks off at 5 p.m. this Friday, July 30, and continues until 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, on site at the Parsons’ Farm, 2239 N. Farmers Block Rd, Allouez Township, Mich. Weekend passes, which include camping, cost $35, day passes cost $15 and parking costs $5. Carpooling is encouraged.

2010 Schedule and Lineup:

Friday, July 30:

5 p.m. -- Gates Open
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. -- The Tallest Building
7:15 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- The Chanteymen
8:15 p.m. - 9 p.m. -- Red Tail Ring
9:15 p.m. - 10 p.m. -- Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire
10:15 p.m. - 11 p.m. -- Benjamin Riley Band
11:15 p.m. - 12:45 a.m. -- Rootstand

Saturday, July 31:

9 a.m. -- Breakfast
10 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. -- Poetry and TBA
11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. -- Open-mic with George Butala
12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. -- Corie Brown and Mark Lavengood
1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. -- Katie Lee
2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. -- The Turnips
3:30 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. -- Pitchy Kanto
4:30 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. -- The Derek Tuoriniemi Experiment
5:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. -- Fiona Dickinson
6:15 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. -- Dinner Break
7:15 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Photographers
8:15 p.m. - 9 p.m. -- This is Deer Country
9:15 p.m. - 10 p.m. -- The Nerves
10:15 p.m. - 11 p.m. -- Matt Jones and the Reconstruction
11:15 p.m - 12:15 a.m. -- Raven Congress
12:30 p.m. - 2 a.m. -- Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds

Sunday, Aug. 1:

9 a.m. - 10 a.m. -- Breakfast, Stretching, Yoga, Re-hydrating, and Poetry
10 a.m. -- Three-on-three Basketball Tournament commences
10:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. -- Gitis Baggs
11:30 a.m. - Noon -- The Sound-Stable-Minds
12:15 - 12:45 p.m. -- Huffing Pink
1 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. -- The Brothers of Ina

* Editor's Note: Guest reporter Maddy Baron is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Technological University.

Local historian Larry Lankton to speak at Portage Library July 29

HOUGHTON -- Larry Lankton, local author and Michigan Tech professor of history, will present "Water, Life, and Industry on the Keweenaw" from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, July 29, at Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

Starting from the mid-19th century, copper, forests, and water were the three key natural resources that shaped settlement patterns and a way of life and industry on the Keweenaw. Lankton’s talk will particularly emphasize the importance of water within the realms of transportation, industrial development and community location.

He will also explore changes in attitudes about water and how water resources and lakes came to be better protected in the region after more than a century of being seen as convenient dumping grounds for industrial waste byproducts, especially stamp sands.

Lankton’s primary area of study and research is 19th century American industrialization and the social history of industrial communities. He particularly focuses on the history of the copper mining industry in the Keweenaw. Lankton has authored three books and several journal articles on the history of the Lake Superior copper district. His research has been supported by fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution, the Hagley Museum and Library, and the Dibner Institute at MIT.

There will be a book signing after the presentation for his new book Hollowed Ground: Copper Mining and Community Building on Lake Superior, 1840s – 1990s.

The Portage Lake District Library continues to offer programs for the community as part of its Summer Reading Program series of events.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Portage Library Summer Reading Program: More than just a good read

By Samantha Stauch*

HOUGHTON --Portage Lake District Library Community Program Director Chris Alquist walks over to her desk, places a hand on the caterpillar cage and peers at the inhabitants. Alquist speaks of the animals in her care with a voice full of love and awe. It is clear to anyone within earshot that Alquist truly cherishes the creatures.

During the Portage Lake District Library's June 12 Summer Reading Program open house, Community Program Director Chris Alquist, right, helps young people and their parents sign up for the program. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Today, Alquist sat down to discuss the Summer Reading Program. Free to children of all ages, the program's theme this year is "Make a Splash at Your Library: Dive into a Good Book!" The Summer Reading Program has been providing events that encourage children to keep diving into books all summer long.

"It gives kids the chance to get to be with other kids," Alquist said. "It is a memory-building experience and enriches their lives. It’s an opportunity to move away from the TV."

Alquist has all sorts of plans to accomplish these goals. From picnics to animal visits, Alquist has compiled a diverse menu of summer activities to serve the children, youths and parents who frequent the community’s library.

"The library has to be a lot of things to a lot of people," Alquist explained.

The Houghton High School Key Club will continue to host Summer Reading Program storytimes on Thursday, Aug. 5, and Thursday, Aug. 19. Alquist's colleague Maria Silva will host the regular storytimes. All storytimes take place from from 11 a.m. to noon each Thursday.

One of Silva's storytimes could feature a live llama if Alquist succeeds in finding transportation for the creature. Alquist has identified someone who is willing to share their llama, but she hasn't quite worked out how to get the llama to the library. She needs someone with a trailer.

"Books are so special and an absolute treasure," Alquist said. "Being able to bring a child to a place where there are so many good books is the best gift we can give our children."

As Alquist walks toward the exit she stops at the children’s book area and gazes out the window at the Summer Reading Program’s garden. Alquist wonders out loud why the garden has not been growing. She then silently ponders for a moment and gives the strong impression that this challenge is next on her list -- how to stimulate growth in that garden.

Like someone who loves to garden or nurture creatures, Alquist lovingly tends the Summer Reading Program so that whoever walks through the library doors will receive the nourishment that only reading and literacy can provide.

For more information about Portage Lake District Library, visit their Web site.

*Editor's Note: Guest reporter Samantha Stauch is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech University.

Schedule update for Protect the Earth July 30, 31, Aug. 1

BARAGA -- A second update of our article on the Third Annual Protect the Earth Gathering in Baraga and on the Yellow Dog Plains this weekend has more details. Click here for the updated schedule of events.

Local soccer league promotes diversity, camaraderie among kids from different schools

By Peter Mayer

HOUGHTON -- The clouds parted, the sun shone through, and it became clear that God is a soccer fan. The 16-18-year-old Copper Country Soccer Association (CCSA) championships commenced on a gloomy day at the start of July; but, as the players stepped onto the fresh green turf at Michigan Tech’s Sherman Field, the weather finally cooperated, letting out the sun as if to give a nod of approval to the players.

The whistle blew, and the air was filled with the sound of stampeding cleats. Game play was fiercely competitive; clearly neither team would let go of a victory they had worked so hard to achieve.

In the first match on Thursday, July 1, the Auto Pro Glass and the Tire Reds forced the series into two games after a winning goal by Chris Coy defeated the Pat’s Foods Blues 4-3 in double overtime.

On Friday, July 2, the Blues opened scoring with a goal by the Blues' Evan Griffith -- followed by a penalty kick by Dylan Borel. The Reds' Heath Johnson responded with his own penalty kick, but ultimately the Reds fell short after the Blues' goal by Matt Strong and another penalty kick by Dylan Borel. The Blues won the division championship 4-1.

The excitement, the turnout of fans and the intensity of the players all validate the immense popularity of youth soccer. Every year the CCSA grows as more kids and teens discover the allure of the sport. Run completely by volunteers, the CCSA celebrates the diversity of players from all areas of the Keweenaw.

Camaraderie between players is strong even with the assortment of kids from different areas. This all-inclusive league allows players of any level of experience or skill to play on a team and assures some playing time to all. This challenges the coaches, who must teach the sport to all kinds of players in a small amount of practice time. That challenge, however, is exactly what the coaches love about the CCSA.

"Yeah it is tough but the toughest part is pulling (a player) off (the field)," the Blues' Coach Todd Mattson explained.

The Reds' Coach Chris Coy attributes most of the league’s growth to the players.

"I think it’s growing because we get a lot of kids who start young and get their friends to play," Coy said.

The Reds' Assistant Coach Bob Wheeler identifies diversity as the best aspect of the league.

"What I like about soccer is that it’s a mix of kids from different schools," Wheeler explained. "When (the players) see kids from different schools they are less of the enemy."

Good sportsmanship is emphasized and the players understand the principles. It is common to see players helping their opponents up off the ground or supporting their dismayed teammates who commit an error.

The recent change from Hancock High School fields to Sherman Field also contributes to the growth of the sport. The proximity to the city and the larger fan seating increase exposure to the community. Both coaches and players note a definite improvement in playing on a turf field.

As Coach Coy puts it, "It takes the field variable out of the picture and lets the players' skill shine through."

Diversity, camaraderie, enthusiasm, sportsmanship: all these aspects promote a league that provides a constructive and fun activity for a growing community of youth soccer players.

Editor's Note: Guest reporter Peter Mayer is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Michigan Messenger: DNRE reassurances on Kennecott mine fail to convince environmentalists, skeptics

By Eartha Jane Melzer (Published July 26, 2010, in the Michigan Messenger)

The first mine to be permitted under Michigan’s non-ferrous metallic mining law -- the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company nickel sulfide mine west of Marquette -- continues to draw concerns and criticism.

Michigan has dwindling resources for environmental regulation and its environmental and natural resources divisions are undergoing transformation and downsizing.

In an interview with Michigan Messenger this month state Department of Natural Resources and Environment spokesman Bob McCann -- formerly spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality -- offered a dismal picture of how the state would regulate the mine. He said that the controversial nickel sulfide mine, like other businesses in Michigan, might be inspected once a year or less due to dwindling state resources. He also stated that Michigan has no system to pay for regulation though assessing fees, and that the $17 million financial assurance bond put up by Kennecott was expected to be enough to close up the mine if the company disappeared, but that any environmental damages that the mine might produce would have to be pursued in court....Read the rest of this article in the Michigan Messenger.

Stand for the Land: Statements from Cynthia Pryor's sentencing

From Stand for the Land, posted Monday, July 26:

MARQUETTE -- Today (Monday, July 26, 2010) in Marquette County Court, Big Bay citizen, Cynthia Pryor was granted a six-month delay of sentence for the trespassing charge she received on June 15th, after her defense was thrown out. ... Read the rest of this Stand for the Land article quoting Pryor's attorney, Pryor and Judge Kangas.

Cynthia Pryor's message about her sentencing was also posted on Stand for the Land on Monday, July 26, 2010. In her message, she includes her statement at the sentencing.

Pryor says, "My action that day on the Yellow Dog Plains was a direct action against one of the largest mining companies in the world -- who took the law in their own hands. I was just one person who refused to leave a land that was mine by right of birth, citizenship and by law.

"While this is just a little misdemeanor of trespass -- I believed then, and I believe now, that Kennecott acted without authority to remove me from state and public land. They did not have the authority nor the right to use our legal and law enforcement system against me or the people of this community and this land. But they were allowed to. They knew then and we know now, that the state surface lease had not yet been implemented at the time of my arrest. The EPA had not yet made their "final decision" regarding the need for a federal permit. The state surface lease was clear ..." Read the rest of Pryor's message on Stand for the Land.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Second Update: Third Annual Protect the Earth Gathering to be July 30, 31, Aug. 1

Participants in last year's Protect the Earth walk from the Yellow Dog River to Eagle Rock on Aug. 2, 2009. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

BARAGA, MARQUETTE -- The Third Annual Protect the Earth Great Lakes Community Gathering will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 30, 31 and Aug. 1, in three different locations: on Friday at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, Baraga; on Saturday at the Ojibwa Pow-wow Grounds, Baraga; and on Sunday on the Clowry Trail, Yellow Dog River.

"This event will bring together some of the most prominent environmental and indigenous rights leaders from across the region including Winona LaDuke, Al Gedicks, Lee Sprague, Stuart Kirsch and more," said Jessica Koski, head organizer and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) member. "There will also be a focused session on mining in the U.P. with expert perspectives on metallic sulfide mining, treaty rights and Anishinaabe cultural concerns, international movements and lessons from Wisconsin's Native-Environmental alliance and grassroots efforts to stop the Crandon Mine."

Winona LaDuke -- Native American activist, environmentalist and writer -- will be the featured speaker during both the Friday and Saturday events. On Friday she will speak at 6 p.m. at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, Baraga. At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday LaDuke will give the keynote address at the Ojibwa Pow-wow Grounds, Baraga.

LaDuke is an enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg of the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. A graduate of Harvard University, LaDuke is known as a voice for Native American economic and environmental concerns throughout the United States and internationally. She is the founding director of both the White Earth Land Recovery Program and Honor the Earth, a national Native American foundation. Besides being named by Time magazine, in 1994, as one of the nation’s 50 most promising leaders under the age of 40, LaDuke was the Green Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000.

The featured musical guest will be Joanne Shenandoah, Iroquois singer, composer, actress and acoustic guitarist.

Winner of a Grammy Award and many Native American Music awards, Shenandoah has performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House, Kennedy Center, Earth Day on the Mall, Woodstock '94, the Parliament of the World's Religions in South Africa and at events in Spain, Turkey, South Korea and thousands of venues in the United States.

This year Protect the Earth is organized and hosted by Oshkinawe-Ogichidaag Akiing -- "New Warriors for the Earth" (NWE), a new Native and non-Native environmental organization dedicated to educating and empowering our communities to take action to protect Aki, Mother Earth. Its mission is to raise awareness about mining and other social-ecological injustices facing the Upper Great Lakes region and Mother Earth.

During the KBIC Pow-wow in Baraga last weekend, New Warriors for the Earth members sell their new tee-shirts and offer flyers, bumper stickers and information about Protect the Earth. Pictured here, from right, are Jessica Koski, Protect the Earth head organizer; Jessica's sisters Michaela and Rachael; and E, KBIC member and musician. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Schedule of events

Friday, July 30, at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC), Baraga:

1 p.m. - 2 p.m. -- Workshop on Historic Preservation: The National Historic Preservation Act (KBOCC Room 111) by Will Gilmore (Archaeologist involved in the drafting of Section 106), Preston Thompson (Ho Chunk Traditional Court Member) and Ritchie Brown (Ho Chunk Tribal Member)

August 2009 view from the top of Eagle Rock, a Native American sacred site. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

2:30 p.m. -- Student Presentations (KBOCC Atrium)

3:30 p.m. -- KBIC Strategic Energy and Sustainability Initiatives (KBOCC Room 111) by Char Spruce, KBIC Natural Resources Department

4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. Opening Community Potluck Dinner* (KBOCC Gym)

6 p.m. - 7 p.m. -- Featured Guests: Winona LaDuke and Joanne Shenandoah
(Joanne Shenandoah will sing some songs, followed by Winona LaDuke's presentation.) (KBOCC Gym)

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. -- Film Screening of Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action (KBOCC Room 111)

Saturday at Ojibwa Pow-wow Grounds, Baraga:

8:30 a.m. -- Welcome with Four Thunders Drum

9 a.m. -- Opening Prayer and Remarks

9:30 a.m. -- Keynote speech by Winona LaDuke

10:15 a.m. - 12 p.m. -- Speakers on Environmental Issues Facing the Great Lakes Region, featuring Lee Sprague (Climate Change Adaptation Strategies), Jeff Gibbs (Biomass) and Kathy Berry and Zak Nicholls (Sarnia's Chemical Valley in Aamjiwnaang First Nation)

12 p.m. -- Break for Lunch (on your own, vendors)*

1 p.m. -- Presentations and Discussion on Eagle Rock and Mining in the Upper Peninsula, featuring Charles Brumleve, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Mining Specialist (Mining Overview); Doreen Blaker, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Cultural Committee (Native American/Anishinaabe Perspectives); Jim St. Arnold, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (Treaty Rights); Robert VanZile, Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa (Grassroots Activism); Al Gedicks, Professor-Activist at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (Lessons from WI’s Native-Environmental Alliance); Stuart Kirsch, Anthropologist at the University of Michigan (Indigenous Movements, Lessons on Campaigning); Open Discussion (Participants and Audience)

Evening Events at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College:

5 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. -- Traditional Feast*

7 p.m. - 10 p.m. -- Protect the Earth Concert Featuring Joanne Shenandoah, Bobby Bullet, E and Skip Jones

* Please bring your own tableware and utensils for all meals.

Sunday, Aug. 1, on Clowry Trail, Yellow Dog River:

11 a.m. -- Welcome and Picnic (bring your own), Yellow Dog River

12 Noon -- Annual Walk to Eagle Rock

1 p.m. -- Speakers and Music at the fence line.

Distress flags (hung upside down) on Kennecott's fence at Eagle Rock. (July 2010 photo courtesy Stand for the Land)

Wild blueberry picking too! The plains are full of wild blueberries this time of year, so bring your blueberry pails for the sweetest, tastiest blueberries you’ll ever pick!

Details and directions are available at Stand for the Land.

For more information contact

Events are sponsored by the Western Mining Action Network, Indigenous Environmental Network, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Save the Wild UP, Keepers of the Water, Northern Michigan Center for Native American Studies, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, and Yellow Dog Summer.

Editor's Notes: Read Keweenaw Now's two articles on the 2009 Protect the Earth events and speakers: See: "Protect the Earth: Part 1" (published Aug. 5, 2009) and "Protect the Earth: Part 2, Walk to Eagle Rock" (published Aug. 8, 2009).

Photos of Winona LaDuke and Joanne Shenandoah courtesy New Earth Warriors. Reprinted with permission.