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, April 23, 2011

Finlandia student, alumni fiber art, fashion design exhibit to open at Reflection Gallery Apr. 25

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, will host an exhibit of fiber arts and fashion design artwork April 25 to August 26, 2011.

Finlandia University Fiber Arts/Fashion Design recipients of 2010 Kuhlman Foundation grants are pictured here with Phyllis Fredendall (far right), Finlandia associate professor of fiber arts and fashion design. Students are, (left to right) back row: Eric Hinsch, Abbi Zablocki, Eileen Sundquist, Audrey Chamberlain, Sara Heikkinen; front row: Amanda Moyer and Susie Danielson. Some of their work will be exhibited at Finlandia's Reflection Gallery April 25 - August 26, 2011. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception and artist talk will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 25. The reception is open to the public and refreshments will be served.

The exhibit, titled "Thank You, Barbara L. Kuhlman," features the artwork of students, graduating seniors, and alumni of the International School of Art and Design, all of whom have received grants from the Barbara L. Kuhlman Foundation.

The show includes sculpture, dyed and printed textiles, garments made from hand-dyed silk, and objects made with up-cycled cloth. Artists include Audrey Chamberlain, Sara Heikkinen, Susie Danielson, Amanda Moyer, Eileen Sundquist, Eric Hinsch, Kari Heikkinen, Emily Pierce, Ansley Knoch, Ronda Jones, and J. R. DeMers.

The exhibit celebrates Kuhlman Foundation support; the success of Finlandia Fiber Arts students; and this summer’s Midwest Weavers Conference (June 20 to 25), which will be hosted in Hancock by the Buellwood Weavers Guild and Finlandia University.

The New York-based Kuhlman Foundation provides merit-based grants to fiber arts students across the country. Barbara L. Kuhlman was a fiber educator and her legacy provides support to encourage and sustain fiber arts education in the United States. Since 2004, 19 Finlandia Fiber Arts students -- some of them more than once -- have received the annual grants.

For information about the Finlandia University Fiber Arts/Fashion Design program, contact associate professor Phyllis Fredendall at 906-487-7376 or

For information about the Reflection Gallery, contact Yueh-Mei Cheng, Finlandia professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375, or e-mail

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia University’s Jutila Center campus, 200 Michigan St., Hancock.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Katie Alvord: The Gulf Spill, One Year Later: Still a Good Reason to Get Off Oil

Editor's Note: Although it may still snow here in the UP tonight, Earth Day 2011 is a good time to think about alternatives to driving, especially walking or biking whenever possible. Keweenaw Now guest author Katie Alvord reminds us of this in her latest post on her Divorce Your Car blog -- an article posted on April 20, the anniversary of the BP Oil Spill. Alvord also offered many progressive ideas about transportation in her March 24, 2011, presentation during Michigan Tech's Earth Week: "The Greenest Routes from A to B."

Katie Alvord, author of Divorce Your Car, presents "The Greenest Routes from A to B" on March 24, 2011, during Michigan Tech's Earth Week celebration. Here she shows a photo of bike racks on buses. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Check out Alvord's latest article and, if you missed her series of posts on recovering from oil dependence, see her July 2010 posts and more ...

By Katie Alvord
Posted April 20, 2011

HOUGHTON -- Today marks one year since the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform blew up, killing eleven workers and initiating what’s been called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. This week, news outlets are running retrospectives of this crisis that has not yet ended. There is still oil to clean up, there are still claims to process, and there are still visible environmental effects around the Gulf of this huge spill ... Click here to read the rest of this article.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Huuki, Casperson to hold town meetings in Houghton, Baraga Apr. 23

HOUGHTON -- Local residents can attend town hall meetings with State Rep. Matt Huuki and State Sen. Tom Casperson on Saturday, April 23, to learn the latest happenings in Lansing and have a chance to provide their input on government issues for the lawmakers to consider.

The first town hall meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Houghton at Michigan Tech’s Isle Royale Ballroom in the Memorial Union Hall.

The afternoon session will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the offices of the Baraga Housing Commission, 412 Michigan Ave. in Baraga.

"I welcome everyone to come in to share their ideas and concerns about state government," said Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine. "We’re here to listen to people’s thoughts, answer their questions and get a sense of what people are thinking Michigan’s future steps should be to create jobs and improve the economy."

People unable to attend a meeting can contact Rep. Huuki toll free at 1-888-663-4031, send email to, or address letters to P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, Michigan 48933. Visit his website at

How you can help Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve

BIG BAY -- The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Inc., (YDWP) is one of nine non-profits in the United States selected by Patagonia and Moose-Jaw to be part of Patagonia's Charity Campaign this year. Not only does the campaign help the group raise money for their work, but the group that raises the most money gets an additional $5000 from Patagonia.

The Yellow Dog River, part of which is designated a National Wild and Scenic River, is located near Lake Superior and is now threatened by the projected Rio Tinto-Kennecott Eagle Mine, a sulfide mine for nickel and copper. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

"Please contribute what you can!" urges YDWP's Cynthia Pryor. "We use these funds to preserve lands and waters in our region -- which includes doing the science to document the fragile nature of the Yellow Dog Plains. We are members of the WaterKeeper Alliance and the fact that Patagonia picked us is AWESOME and gives credit to the great work of Emily Whittaker -- our Executive Director -- our Board of Directors and our many members and volunteers."

Click on the link below, then select the donate button. Select Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and donate as much as you can spare. The group who raises the most by May 4, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. will be the recipients of an additional $5,000.

"After you donate, please post the link on your Facebook wall and encourage your friends to donate too!" Pryor adds. "We appreciate all the help and support you have given us through the years. Thank you!"

Click here to donate.

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve featured in Apr. 21, 2011, On Earth article

Just in time for Earth Day, an article titled "Mineral Mining and Its Risks Set to Make a Comeback in Michigan" appeared today, Apr. 21, in On Earth, the magazine published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The article, by Lindsey Konkel, a freelance journalist based in New York City, centers on Cynthia Pryor and her love of the Yellow Dog Plains area as well as her work with YDWP to protect the Yellow Dog River from potential acid mine drainage from the Kennecott Mine.

Click here to read the article.

NOSOTROS to host free Latin dance lessons, "Beach Party" Latin American dance

Beach Party Poster courtesy NOSOTROS. Click on poster for larger version.

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's NOSOTROS Student Organization is offering two great Latin American dance events tonight and tomorrow.

Starting at 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, April 21, FREE dancing lessons -- merengue, bachata, and salsa -- will be offered at the SDC dance room.

Then, on Friday, join the group for a fun and relaxing time, learn how to dance to Latin music and make new friends. From 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, April 22, NOSOTROS will host a BEACH PARTY in MUB (Memorial Union Building) Ballroom A, with free salsa lessons from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by a three-hour open floor with salsa, merengue, bachata and much more!

During Michigan Tech's 2011 International Night in March, NOSOTROS dancers Sarah Ali of Iran and Julio Rivera of Puerto Rico perform a Caribbean Salsa on the Rozsa stage. Learn the salsa and more Latin dances at the free lessons offered by NOSOTROS tonight and tomorrow, April 21-22! (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

This event is organized by NOSOTROS, Latin Student Organization at Michigan Tech, and supported by the Parents’ Fund of the Michigan Tech Fund. For information contact

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Headwaters News: Casperson takes heat at Marquette meeting

Negaunee resident and Michigan Education Association UniServ Director for the area, Stuart Skauge, asks State Senator Tom Casperson questions during an April 18 town hall meeting in Marquette. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Teresa Bertossi of Headwaters News)

By Teresa Bertossi and Gabriel Caplett
Posted April 19, 2011, on Headwaters News

MARQUETTE -- Facing a crowd openly hostile to his support of proposed budget cuts and other measures that crack down on Michigan workers, seniors, and students, Michigan Senator Tom Casperson expressed his support for big business at a town hall meeting in Marquette Monday evening, April 18, 2011.

At the April 18 town hall in Marquette, State Senator Tom Casperson faces challenges to state's budget cuts. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Teresa Bertossi of Headwaters News)

Casperson insisted that forcing corporations to pay more in taxes will hurt efforts to rebuild the state’s economy.

Negaunee resident and Michigan Education Association UniServ Director for the area, Stuart Skauge, along with most of the packed audience, wasn’t buying it.

"I’ve got a question on that, why is it with the flat tax then -- the 6 percent -- that 95,000 businesses in this state won’t pay any state taxes for business -- 95,000?" asked Skauge. "And then they’re going to take it away from the schools. Are you people idiots down there?"

Meghan McLeod, a teacher from Gwinn Middle School, says she makes $30,000 dollars a year and can’t afford more teacher cuts.

Meghan McLeod, Gwinn Middle School teacher, speaks to Casperson at the Marquette town hall meeting. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Teresa Bertossi of Headwaters News)

"I don’t want to have to, on my 25th birthday, move home with my parents," said McLeod. "I just want to make it clear, I want a level playing field. And you said you took a 10 percent pay reduction, and you were okay with that because you can afford it. I can’t afford it."

Click here to read the rest of this article on Headwaters News.

Boulder Garden dedication on Earth Day, Apr. 22

HOUGHTON -- As part of Earth Day Friday, April 22, the Boulder Garden between Dillman and Fisher on the Michigan Tech campus will be dedicated at a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m.

The concept of the boulder garden, part beauty and part instruction, will be briefly explained. Local school children's musings will be read, followed by a poem and a special banjo song. Everyone is welcome!

For more information, visit the Keweenaw Boulder Garden Web site.

Finlandia singers, band, special guest musicians to present concert Apr. 21

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Singers and the Finlandia Pride Band, along with special guests, will present a Spring Concert at 6 p.m. this Thursday, April 21, at the Chapel of St. Matthew, Hancock.

Special guests will include the Keweenaw Youth Symphony Orchestra under direction of Maggie Twinning, local musician Bruce Rundman, and others.

The Finlandia University Singers and the Finlandia Pride Band are directed by Soren Schmidt, university chaplain, and accompanied by Carla Phillips on piano.

The concert is free and open to the public. For information, call 487-7239.

Finlandia to host "Old Time Fun" Square Dance Apr. 21

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University will host an "Old Time Fun" Square Dance Party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

The event is free and open to the public.

Live music will be provided by The Resinators and Mike Swaney. The Resinators have performed at the Hiawatha Music Festival in Marquette and throughout the Midwest.

Becky Weeks will call the square dances. Dancing experience is not needed, and singles are welcome.

The dance is sponsored by the Finlandia University Campus Enrichment Committee. For information, call Becky Weeks at 906-281-5392.

Portage Library to host Isle Royale presentation on shipwrecks Apr. 21

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host the final event for the season in its "Discover Isle Royale" series of monthly programs that are sponsored by the Isle Royale Institute and Isle Royale National Park.

On Thursday, April 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Liz Valencia will present "Under the Inland Sea: Exploring Isle Royale’s Submerged Cultural Resources." She invites participants to "jump" into Lake Superior with her to explore the incredible collection of shipwrecks around Isle Royale. These wrecks have been called one of the most intact and significant collections of shipwrecks in North America.

Valencia has spent 20 summers working on Isle Royale -- first as a volunteer, then as cultural resources manager and park historian, and currently as Chief of the Interpretation and Cultural Resources Division. A member of the park dive team for eight years, she has had many experiences exploring Isle Royale’s underwater realm.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Michigan Tech art students exhibit work through Apr. 22 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- The students of Michigan Tech faculty Mary Ann Beckwith and Susanne Kilpela are displaying their artwork in the Visual and Performing Arts Annual Student Art and Design Show. The show opened on Monday, April 18, and continues through Friday, April 22, in the Mezzanine levels of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

"Lots of great artwork!" says Susanne Kilpela, who teaches ceramics, 3-D design, sculpture and drawing. A wide variety of student work is on view, at least one piece from each student who participates in any of Kilpela’s or Beckwith’s classes.

Michigan Tech offers a minor in visual arts, although not a major, so students from across campus bring many different perspectives and motivations to their work in Kilpela's and Beckwith's classes.

"Although many students come to Michigan Tech with art skills, many others discover their abilities through these classes," Kilpela says. "It's great to watch that happen."

The student show is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday, April 22.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Updated: Green Film Festival to present film on Native American environmental activists Apr. 21

HOUGHTON -- A film called Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action will be shown at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 21, in the Forestry Building Atrium and G002, Hesterberg Hall.

The film recounts inspirational stories of Native American activists who are fighting environmental violations to their homelands.

Chuck Brumleve of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Department of Natural Resources will lead a discussion following the film. Coffee, tea and dessert will be served.

The Green Film Festival is free, but sponsors encourage a $3 donation.

The film, the fourth in a monthly Green Film Festival, is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Keweenaw Land Trust.

Update: Visit the new Web site of New Warriors for Earth for a preview of this film.

Michigan Tech Peace Corps Master's International Volunteers make a difference -- one step at a time

Peace Corps Volunteer Callie Bertsch with school children in a Muslim village in Bulgaria. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of Public Relations

HOUGHTON -- When graduate students Kristina Denison, Callie Bertsch and Michelle Cisz left the wooded hills of the Michigan Technological University campus to serve as Peace Corps volunteers, they headed to countries that couldn’t be more diverse: Zambia, Bulgaria and Paraguay. But the lessons they learned in Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program were remarkably similar.

"I was going to Africa to change the world," says Denison, who spent three years in Zambia, a landlocked little country in southern Africa, between Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "I learned that you have to count the small steps, to be satisfied with planting a seed."

Bertsch expected to bring "some great innovation" to the village of Gurmen in Bulgaria. But she soon realized she was having her greatest impact in a more subjective arena: people's attitudes. "We’re so glad you came to live with us because you’re not at all like we thought Americans were," the Bulgarian villagers kept telling her.

Halfway around the world, in the small South American country of Paraguay, Cisz was busy readjusting her expectations too. "I had big goals, but I had to take small steps," she says. "It was a very humbling experience."

All three women are working toward their Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management in Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. They wanted to travel, to serve and to learn by doing -- the Michigan Tech way -- so they joined a program that lets graduate students combine course work with volunteer service overseas in the Peace Corps. With eight PCMI programs in four different colleges and schools, Michigan Tech has more active Peace Corps volunteers than any other university in the nation. ... Read the rest of this article and see a slide show with more photos on the Michigan Tech News.

Michigan Tech tops Nation in numbers of Peace Corps Master's International Volunteers for sixth year in a row

Michigan Technological University once again has more Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) graduate students actively serving as Peace Corps volunteers than any other college or university in the nation. Michigan Tech has 32 PCMI students currently on Peace Corps assignments. There are also a number of students on campus fulfilling the academic portions of their master’s degrees.

The national Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., announced recently that Michigan Tech has earned the top spot for the sixth consecutive year. Tulane University placed second, and the University of Washington was third.

As of this year, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps, 185 Michigan Tech alumni have served as volunteers, more than half of all the volunteers from Michigan. PCMI graduate students have served all over the world, including Armenia, Belize, Bulgaria, Fiji, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nepal, Paraguay and Zambia, to name a just few.

The Peace Corps partners with more than 80 colleges and universities across the nation to enable graduate students to earn a master’s degree while serving in the Peace Corps. PCMI students begin their graduate studies on campus, serve overseas with the Peace Corps for two years, doing volunteer work on projects related to their graduate studies. Then they return to school to complete their graduate work. ...

Click here to read the rest of this article on the Michigan Tech News.

Prof. Blair Orr named White House Champion of Change

Professor Blair Orr, director of Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International programs, was featured on the White House website as a White House Champion of Change in a story highlighting Peace Corps volunteers through the years. Orr served in the Peace Corps as a Forestry Volunteer in Lesotho from 1978 to 1981. In 1982 and 1983, Blair worked for Lutheran World Relief on forestry in refugee camps in Somalia.

In 1995, he worked with Ed Frayer to establish the Loret Miller Ruppe Peace Corps Master’s International Program in Forestry at Michigan Technological University. Loret Miller Ruppe raised her family in Houghton, Michigan, and was the longest serving director of the Peace Corps.

Click here for a video clip of Blair Orr on the White House Web site.

(Photo of Blair Orr courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Kennecott Eagle Minerals to hold community forums Apr. 19, 20, 21, 26

MARQUETTE -- Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) will be holding four community forums on the Eagle Mine -- each one from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. -- on April 19, 20, 21 and 26.

The first of these forums will be held TONIGHT, April 19, at the Humboldt Township Hall, 244 Co. Rd. FAF, Champion, MI 49814.

On their Web site, Kennecott states, "The community has told us they want to know more about our project -- and we have a lot to tell, including updates on the mine, the mill, and transportation. The aim of the community forums is to exchange and share information between Kennecott and community members about the Eagle project.

"Most important, these forums will give the public an opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback on these topics and any other aspects of our operation and possible impacts on the community," the Web site notes.*

Mining expert Jack Parker of Baltic has written to Matt Johnson, KEMC manager of external affairs, asking that the two-hour time limit be extended to allow people to speak as long as they need to.

"Have your experts on hand to answer questions," Parker writes. "We don't expect you to answer them. Maybe you can moderate, but we need mining men to answer mining questions, geologists on geology, water treatment specialists, accountants on money matters, Hal Fitch to explain his unique interpretation of the law -- Part 632 in particular, ore processors to explain what you really intend to do at Humboldt. Explain exactly how you came to select Eagle Rock as the portal site -- and how you are going to wiggle your way from under that red herring."

Parker goes on to refer to his own testimony and writings concerning the instability of the mine, as indicated in the permit application.

"Tell us why you doctored the rock quality data which went into mine design and how you can ignore the implications concerning mine stability and safety," Parker asks. "In case you don't remember any such thing we can put details on the screen. Maybe you can even explain how a group of non-miners can evaluate applications for mining permits without understanding what is involved. These are not legal matters -- just common sense."**

Three more forums will be held as follows:

Wednesday, April 20: Country Village Banquet and Conference Center, 1035 Country Lane, Ishpeming, MI 49849.

Thursday, April 21: Powell Township School Gym, 101 Deutsch Avenue, Big Bay, MI 49808.

Tuesday, April 26: Ramada Inn of Marquette, 412 W Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855.

* If you cannot attend a forum, and would like to submit a question or comment, you can submit it online at

** Click here to read about Jack Parker's reports on the instability of the Eagle Mine as proposed.

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club to hold annual meeting Apr. 20

Hungry skiers stop for soup along the Maasto Hiihto river trail during the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club's Third Annual "Glide 'n Gorge" ski-and-eat event on March 6, 2011. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Keren Tischler)

HANCOCK -- On Wednesday, April 20, the annual meeting of the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will take place. All members (ski pass holders) and interested public are invited. There will be a social/pot luck dinner at 6 p.m. and the meeting at 7:30 p.m. If you wish to attend the dinner, bring a pot of whatever you like to eat to pass around; beverages will be supplied by the club.

Skiers head up Sisu Hill, which leads from the Maasto Hiihto river trail up to the Chalet, where desserts were served during the 2011 Glide 'n Gorge event. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Keren Tischler)

The dinner and meeting will be at Ruth and Glen Archer's deck (weather cooperating -- not looking good, otherwise inside their house) overlooking the lift bridge/canal. Head up Quincy Hill north on US41 from Hancock and take the first right after the overlook turn onto Kowsit Lats Road (if you get to the blinker/Quincy Mine you've gone too far). You'll be headed downhill and curving to the right. Take the next right onto No. 7 Flats Road and continue downhill to the last house (big white house, #49351) at the end of the road.

View of Swedetown Creek from the Maasto Hiihto river trail on March 6, 2011. (Photo © 2011 and courtesy Keren Tischler)

At this meeting the election of the Board of Directors will take place. Anyone interested in being a board member or anyone with questions please contact Jay Green, KNSC president, at 487-5411 or email

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nexus speaker Terry Reynolds to present history of Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Mining Co. Apr. 21

HOUGHTON -- Dr. Terry S. Reynolds, professor of history in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech University and a dedicated member of the Friends of the Library, will give an invited presentation at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus.

Reynolds’s presentation, "The Survivor: Cleveland-Cliffs and Michigan’s Iron Ore Industry, 1847-2006," will look at the history of the only surviving independent iron mining company in the United States.

"In the late 19th century," Reynolds noted, "there were well over a hundred companies in the Lake Superior basin whose primary focus was iron ore mining. Today there is only one: Cliffs."

His new book, Iron Will: Cleveland-Cliffs and the Mining of Iron Ore, 1847-2006, is co-authored with Virginia P. Dawson and published by Wayne State University Press. The April 21 presentation will explore the importance of Michigan’s iron ore mining industry both to the Upper Peninsula and to the nation, the historical factors behind the Cliffs survival, and the sources on which the study was built. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

After a decade at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Reynolds came to the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech in 1983. He chaired the department for twelve years, 1990-2002, helping to develop its first graduate programs, before returning to teaching and research. He was the 2004 recipient of Michigan Tech’s distinguished teaching and has authored or edited numerous books and articles on aspects of the history of engineering and technology.

The event is part of the library’s events series, "Nexus: the Scholar and the Library," which illuminates ways scholars and scientists productively use libraries and archives. It is open to the public and is sponsored by the Van Pelt and Opie Library, the Friends of the Van Pelt Library, and the Michigan Tech Social Sciences Department. Free refreshments will be served. For further information call (906) 487-2500, email or visit

Finlandia to hold Earth Day Festival Apr. 19

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University encourages the public to participate in an Earth Day Festival from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at the Finnish American Heritage Center and on the adjacent lawn.

Festival-goers will enjoy an afternoon of music, dancing, games, earth-friendly food, student presentations and informational booths.

Participants who "BYOM" (Bring Your Own Mug—or water bottle) can enter a raffle for prizes, including a grand prize mountain bike, donated in part by Hancock Bike Shop. Prizes will be awarded throughout the afternoon -- t-shirts, gift certificates, books, edible medals, and more.

Music will be performed by Captain Woody Boogie and The Pirates of Groove, an eleven-piece band that features rock, blues, R and B, funk, and pop. The upbeat, high-energy band is described on their Facebook page as "pure musical pleasure" with its blend of rich horns, an experienced rhythm section, and talented vocalist Ansley Knoch.

The Earth Day Festival is organized by the Finlandia University Sustainability Committee, and funded by the Office of Student Affairs and the Finlandia Campus Enrichment Fund.

For more information, contact Suzanne Van Dam, associate professor of English, at 906-487-7515 or

Schedule of Earth Day Festival events:

3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. -- Games: Relay races, volleyball, face painting, and more on the lawn of the former Hancock Middle School.

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. -- Dinner: Earth-friendly food served in the Finnish American Heritage Center theatre. Bring your own mug or water bottle to receive a free drink and to enter the raffle!

5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. -- Music and dancing featuring The Pirates of Groove, along with student presentations and informational booths, in the Finnish American Heritage Center theatre.

Rio Tinto to explore for minerals in Ottawa National Forest

From Lake Superior Mining News
Posted April 16, 2011

MARQUETTE -- Rio Tinto has notified the Ottawa National Forest of plans to explore for minerals within the federal forest. While the federal government owns surface rights to the parcel, the minerals are privately-owned, so the Forest Service is obligated to approve the exploration request.

Rio Tinto plans to drill about nine miles north of Kenton, in Houghton County, Mich., on the Ontonagon Ranger District.

Click here to see a map of the exploration area.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Runners, walkers raise funds for Japan Disaster Relief

By Michele Bourdieu

During the April 16 Walk / Run for Japan, Aram Kim of South Korea, a Michigan Tech student in mechanical engineering, volunteers as a safety monitor -- sometimes running in place herself to keep warm -- as a runner dashes by on the wet pavement near College Avenue in Houghton. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Despite the wet snow and rain that fell on the Houghton area Saturday morning, about 35 intrepid participants and 30 volunteers showed up on the Michigan Tech campus for the April 16 Walk/Run for Japan.

Airi Natsumushi, right, of Japan, a student at Finlandia University, and artist Pamela Kotila, a graduate of Finlandia's International School of Art and Design, return from downtown Houghton to the Michigan Tech campus during the 5K Run last Saturday.

Slushy sidewalks and streets from the campus to downtown Houghton didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the 5K runners and 3K walkers who donated their energy and money to American Red Cross disaster relief for those who have suffered from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor incidents in Japan.

A message written on the back of Airi Natsumushi's shirt asks for prayers. Her outfit was designed by her mother, who is a fashion designer in Japan.

Michigan Tech student Rui Pan of China gives a victory sign as he rounds a curve with other runners heading back to campus during the 5K Run for Japan.

According to Kazuya Tajiri, Michigan Tech assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and organizer of the event, volunteers from several organizations participated:
- Houghton High School Key Club
- Michigan Tech Japanese Conversation Club
- Michigan Tech Korean Student Association
- International Students from Finlandia University
- Michigan Tech Air Force ROTC program.

Houghton High School Key Club members, from left, Cassie Van Dam, Salina Zhang, and Katie Naber volunteer for the Walk/Run. The Key Club members also sold t-shirts at the fundraising event. Cassie Van Dam's mom, Finlandia Professor Suzanne Van Dam, was volunteer organizer for the Walk /Run.

"We had many supporters who could not show up for the event but donated money," Prof. Tajiri added.

Michigan Tech Professor Kazuya Tajiri, center, organizer of the Walk / Run, is pictured here with volunteers Ryan Towles, right, academic adviser, and James Walker, Michigan Tech graduate student in computer science.

After the Walk / Run, some participants gathered in the lobby of the Walker Building for a light snack and group photos.

Walk / Run participants and volunteers gather in the lobby of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center for a group photo. In the foreground, holding Professor Tajiri's son, Yamato Tajiri, is Motoyuki "Moto" Kidokoro, Michigan Tech accounting major, who helped organize the Walk / Run. Not pictured, but assisting with the activity, is Momoko Tajiri, Professor Tajiri's wife.

Michigan Tech Professor Kazuya Tajiri, organizer of the Walk / Run, with his son, Yamato Tajiri. The Tajiri family arrived at Michigan Tech last August. They are from Kumamoto in southern Japan.

In addition to Michigan Tech and Finlandia, the following community organizations helped support the Walk / Run: City of Houghton; Michigan Tech Athletics and Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education Department; Houghton High School; the Rozsa Center; Monte Consulting; American Red Cross, Superior Upper Peninsula Chapter; Family Dollar; and Walmart.

Note: Anyone wishing to donate to Japanese Disaster Relief can send a check made payable to the American Red Cross to JDRF, c/o Kazuya Tajiri, 1400 Townsend Drive, 815 ME-EM Building, Houghton, MI 49931.

"We will take it to the Red Cross office," Professor Tajiri said. "Of course the check can also be sent directly to the American Red Cross, but in this case the sender has to clearly state the money should be used for Japanese Disaster Relief," he explained.

The Red Cross also accepts online donations.

More photos ...

Volunteer Aram Kim of South Korea with Karen Bess of Chelsea, Mich., and her dog, Macha. Both Kim and Bess are studying mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech.

More volunteers! Working with Aram Kim, right, are Michigan Tech students Brittney Szabo, left, an Air Force ROTC student, and C. J. Yang of South Korea.

The Web site announcing the Walk / Run lists 11,600 lives lost, 17,000 homes lost, and 492,000 evacuated because of the Japan disaster.

Updated: Utah Moms for Clean Air lead protest against Rio Tinto at company's AGM in London

LONDON, ENGLAND -- Last Thursday, April 14, 2011, British mining giant, Rio Tinto, the parent company of Kennecott Copper (and of Kennecott Eagle Minerals), held its AGM (annual shareholders’ meeting) in London, England.

Outside the AGM, Utah Moms for Clean Air led a peaceful protest rally against the company. Approximately 150 colorful balloons were popped one at a time, each representing a premature death because of air pollution spewing from the company’s operations in the greater Salt Lake City area.

As in previous years, the company’s highly questionable environmental and social record came under public scrutiny from campaigners around the world. As proxy shareholders, community activists Chalid Muhammed, Meg Townsend, Cherise Udell, Patricia Feeney and Roger Moody were able to attend the full shareholders' meeting and speak directly to the Rio Tinto Board and CEO.

Chalid Muhammad, a prominent Green activist from Indonesia, demanded to know why the company had not fulfilled its undertakings to fully compensate local people for human rights abuses (rape and burning down a village) and loss of their land at Rio Tinto’s now-closed Kelian gold mine in Kalimantan.

Activists challenge Rio Tinto on rights of children, indigenous peoples

Meg Townsend, who works for a prominent New York law firm, declared the company had failed to observe the religious rights of Native Americans at one of its prospective mine sites in Michigan (Kennecott Eagle Minerals' Eagle Mine near Big Bay) and may contaminate the entire Lake Superior watershed with byproduct waste from their planned mining operation of nickel.

"You claim that you strive to benefit local communities," Townsend said at the meeting, "but in your construction of the Eagle Mine, in fencing off the sacred Eagle Rock from the Anishinaabe people, you are violating treaty rights established in 1842 by the federal government. This sacred site is no longer able to serve as a site of worship for the tribal people. Even if they could access Eagle Rock, blasting from mine activity would interfere with prayer and important ceremonies at the site."*

Also from North America, Cherise Udell, representing Utah Moms for Clean Air, pointed out that residents of Salt Lake City, and in particular young children, were grievously suffering from toxic emissions at the company’s massive Bingham Canyon copper mine. She said between 1,000 and 2,000 Utahans die prematurely every year due to chronic air pollution exposure. Since Kennecott is the area's number-one pollutor and responsible for aboout 30 percent of the pollution in the Wasatch Front airshed, they are also responsible for about 30 percent of the premature deaths. Furthermore, she challenged Rio Tinto's CEO as to why the Bingham Mine does not have a bond.

When Udell asked for a public debate in Utah abut the costs and benefits of the Bingham Mine expansion, Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese replied that Rio Tinto does not need need a citizens' majority as to whether the company can mine or not.

"You have a regulatory process," Albanese was quoted as saying, "to decide whether we can have a permit to expand."

To which Udell replied, "That is true, but the system is broken; otherwise I would not need to be here in London defending the rights of Utah children to breathe clean air."

Patricia Feeney, director of Oxford-based Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) raised urgent questions about the impacts on water quality of the company’s proposed Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia.

Other questions related to the company’s position on the rights of Indigenous Peoples to withhold their consent for mining projects, including those that would be affected by the Pebble project in Alaska. The issue was also spotlighted in a letter by a leader of the Aboriginal Mirrar people in Australia, who fear for the consequences of the company’s uranium extraction on their territory.

Rio’s empty promises

The question and answer session lasted two hours -- one of the longest since Rio Tinto first became a "battle ground" between communities and the company in 1981.

Asked for his assessment of who had "won" and who had "lost" at this year’s AGM, Roger Moody, co-founder of Partizans (People against Rio Tinto), said, "It’s not a case of winning or losing. On the one hand, Rio Tinto has certainly made some concessions to its opponents -- for example, selling some of its more dubious coal mines. On the other hand, the gap between its promises and actual performance is as wide as ever. For example, the company says it’s in contact with aggrieved Indonesian communities still suffering from lack of compensation for the impacts of its closed-down Kelian gold mine. But, as Chalid Muhammad pointed out today, their grievances have remained unaddressed for the past couple of years."

For photos of the protest see
and also (origin of most of this press release).

*Editor's Note: Last year at this time Jessica Koski of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community spoke about the Eagle Mine and Native American treaty rights during the 2010 Rio Tinto AGM. See her Letter to the Editor posted on Apr. 14, 2011, on her recent letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder concerning long-term impacts of the Rio Tinto / Kennecott Eagle Mine.