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, June 04, 2011

Mother Earth Water Walkers to reach Baraga June 8

BARAGA -- The 2011 Mother Earth Water Walk is nearing its final destination -- Bad River, Wisconsin -- and will pass through the following Michigan locations this week:
Seney - June 4,5; Munising - June 5,6; Harvey - June 6, 7; Champion - June 7, 8; Sidnaw and Baraga - June 8.

Mother Earth Water Walk 2011 poster courtesy New Warriors for the Earth.*

Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) will host a Welcome Reception for the walkers from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at the Ojibwa Community College Gym in Baraga.

Everyone is welcome to show their support for our most precious and sacred element -- water -- and bring yourself, children, friends and family to walk with these courageous women as they come through on their way to Bad River, Wisconsin.

Donations and gifts are appreciated but are not required.

The 1st Annual Women’s Water Walk took place in April 2003. Several women from different clans came together to raise awareness that our clean and clear water is being polluted by chemicals, vehicle emissions, motor boats, sewage disposal, agricultural pollution, leaking landfill sites -- and that residential usage is taking a toll on our water quality.

Along with supporters, the women walked around Lake Superior in Spring 2003, around Lake Michigan in 2004, Lake Huron in 2005, Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007.**

Editor's Notes:
* Visit New Warriors for the Earth for a larger version of the poster.

** In 2003, our original
Keweenaw Now Web site ( reported progress of the first Women's Water Walk. Click here for some news items on that event.

Celebrate World Environment Day: June 5

HANCOCK -- Sunday, June 5, 2011, is World Environment Day (WED), sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme. It is an annual event aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place all year round but climax on June 5 every year.

World Environment Day began in 1972 and has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

This year's theme -- Forests: Nature At Your Service -- is meant to create awareness of the multiple roles forests play in our lives, including providing a source of livelihood, refuge for many species, and clean air for all.

Do something for the environment on June 5 -- plant flowers or vegetables, plant a tree, create habitat in your back yard for birds and other wildlife, pick up plastic bags floating around the neighborhood, recycle something to keep it out of a landfill ...

Check out the World Environment Day Web page to read how people all over the world are taking action for the environment.

Concerned about climate change? Click here for a section devoted to that topic with links to recent informative articles.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Opinion: The True Value of "Hobby" Classes

By Rick Kasprzak*

The current political climate is very hostile towards public education and arts classes in particular. It has been suggested classes such as shop are "hobby" classes.

I am a direct beneficiary of those "hobby" classes offered in public schools. So are you.

In his workshop, Calumet resident Rick Kasprzak cuts a 2X4 to size using a miter-saw, also known as a "chop" saw. (Photo © and courtesy Rebekah Kasprzak)

Along with a lot of students, I took metal and wood shop classes when I was in Junior High School. At the time, realistically I didn’t put too much stock in them. I was gearing myself towards a degree in electronics engineering, as at the time computers were the wave of the future.

However, the engineering degree didn’t pan out. Now I find myself in a retail career. The Business minor is coming in handy.

I like to think of myself as a capitalist. I recognize a need, and I fill it. Anyone with the savvy can make some capital, which is the point of capitalist market.

One thing the Keweenaw abounds with is vacant properties. With the current economic situation, anyone with credit or cash can take advantage of the opportunities. With the basic tool skills I possess because of those shop classes, I have the confidence to buy those properties and rehabilitate them.

That obviously benefits me, but you may be wondering how that helps you.

Rick Kasprzak assembles a greenhouse he is attaching to his garage, over a raised-bed garden. (Photo © and courtesy Rebekah Kasprzak)

When I purchase a property in tax default, the state and the municipality immediately recoup the back taxes. Also, the property is then held by someone responsible (in this case, me) who will continue to pay taxes. Also, it is in my best interest to fix up the property. That means I am investing in the community by keeping a home from deteriorating. That in turn, has a positive effect on the surrounding homes by adding value to all the properties in the neighborhood.

My intention is to turn these rehabilitated homes into affordable rental housing, another valuable service to the community. As I acquire more properties, I will need to hire contractors and handymen. I will be purchasing supplies and tools from local businesses. I hope to grow my small business large enough that I can retire from my retail job and focus on property acquisition and rehabilitation.

Not bad for a few "hobby" classes.

*Editor's Note: Calumet resident and guest writer Rick Kasprzak attended the May 14 "Save Your School, Show Your Spirit" rally in Houghton. He said he agreed with music teacher Ann Campbell's statements defending "hobby" classes and wrote this article to share his experience with Keweenaw Now readers. See our May 15, 2011, article, "Local teachers, union members rally for schools," with a videoclip of Campbell's comments.

Three Calumet galleries to host First Friday events June 3

CALUMET -- First Friday, June 3, will offer three great events at three Calumet galleries.

"Orchids and Rare Wildflowers" at Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery

Ram's-head Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium arietinum), a native Keweenaw Orchid and a wildflower of Michigan Special Concern, is part of the program photographer Harvey Desnick will present Friday, June 3, at the Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery in Calumet. (Photo © and courtesy Harvey Desnick)

Some of the most fascinating orchids in North America inhabit our Keweenaw Peninsula. Friday June 3, Harvey Desnick, author of the wildflower pictorial Keweenaw Wildflowers Blooming Seasons, will present his program, "Orchids and Rare Wildflowers of the Keweenaw," at the Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) Gallery as part of First Friday Art Night in Historic Downtown Calumet.

Through Harvey’s photography, you’ll see and learn about 26 native orchids and a number of rare and endangered wildflowers growing from the Lake Superior shores to the tops of the Keweenaw cliffs.

The lights will be dimmed to afford the best viewing of this colorful presentation. The program will start at 7 p.m. and will run about 45 minutes. Admission is free. Seating is limited. The CCAA Gallery is located at 112 Fifth Street in Calumet.

Ed Gray Gallery to host Fiber Show

An exhibit by fiber artists Donna Kallner, Bill and Linda Sumner, and Karen Tembruell will open with a reception for the artists from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Friday, June 3, at the Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet.

This show, which will continue through June 29, 2011, will coincide with the Midwest Weavers’ Conference to be held June 19-26 at Finlandia University in Hancock. The theme of this year's conference is "Northern Wefts."*

The Ed Gray Gallery is at 109 Fifth St. Call (906) 337-5970 for more information.

"The Language of Fiber" to open at Vertin Gallery for June

The Vertin Gallery's June show, "The Language of Fiber," will feature the work of Wynne Mattila, Cameron Taylor-Brown and Susan Moran. This show coincides with "Northern Wefts," the 2011 Midwest Weavers' Conference taking place in Hancock June 19-26.*

Wynne Mattila is a self-taught rug designer and weaver, creating "contemporary expressions of weave structures used in traditional Finnish and Scandinavian textiles." She is based in Minneapolis, Minn.

Cameron Taylor-Brown is a Los Angeles-based fiber artist, who, through her weaving, "embraces and celebrates the ancient heritage and language of woven cloth." She has been involved in textiles and education on both coasts in many different arenas.

Susan Moran works with traditional surface design techniques, adapting them to express contemporary images of the human experience of the natural world, while acknowledging the historical significance as well as the functions that textiles have served. She lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"The Language of Fiber" will be on display at the Vertin Gallery from June 3 through June 29, with an reception to be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22, to coincide with the Midwest Weavers' Conference.

Although the reception will be postponed to June 22, the Vertin will be open late on First Friday, June 3, for those who want to get a first look at the exhibit. The Vertin is also pleased to welcome back Ansley Knoch as a special guest curator for this event.

Located in the heart of downtown Calumet, the Vertin Gallery is one of the Upper Peninsula’s premiere galleries, featuring art across all mediums including painting, copper, jewelry, sculpture and fine woodworking. The work in the gallery changes frequently and, each month, premiers a new exhibit to feature fresh new artists of the highest quality. For more information on the gallery and upcoming events, please visit or call (906) 337-2200.

* Click here for information on the Midwest Weavers' Conference.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Copper Range Historical Museum to host Open House June 4

SOUTH RANGE -- The Copper Range Historical Museum, 44 Trimountain Ave., South Range, Mich., will host an Open House from noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 4, to celebrate the museum’s first day of operation in the summer 2011 season. Admission to the Open House is free.

The Copper Range Historical Museum in South Range will host an Open House from noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 4. Free admission. (Photo courtesy Karen Johnson, secretary, Copper Range Historical Society and Museum of South Range)

The Copper Range Historical Museum’s collection of displays, artifacts, and photos provides visitors with a sense of what life was like for copper miners and their families during the copper boom years in the late 19th and early- to mid-20th centuries.

Copper Range Historical Museum hours are noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, June 4 through October 1. The museum is closed on Mondays in June and September. A $1 donation is suggested; children and museum members are admitted free.

This summer the museum is participating -- with more than 1,300 other museums nationwide -- in the National Endowment for the Arts’ Blue Star Museums program, which offers free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families.

To contact the museum, call 906-482-6125. To arrange a free group tour, call 906-482-6844.

Petition-signing event for Snyder recall to be June 4 in Hancock

HANCOCK -- A petition-signing event for the Rick Snyder recall effort will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, at the Keweenaw Co-op Community Room, 1035 Ethel Ave., Hancock.

This is the first of several signing days in the Copper Country for the Rick Snyder recall effort. Come sign your name and/or pick up petitions to disseminate to your various communities/areas. Detailed instructions will be available during pickup.

VERY IMPORTANT: Park along the street ONLY. Do NOT park in the Co-op's parking lot to attend this event.

PLEASE NOTE: Allowing a group to use the Community Room does not in any way constitute an endorsement of that group's beliefs by the Keweenaw Cooperative Board of Directors, Keweenaw Cooperative management, or Keweenaw Cooperative staff; and no claim to that effect nor claim of Keweenaw Cooperative sponsorship may be used explicitly or implicitly, in advertising.

Reasons to recall Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder:

Rick Snyder has indicated a desire to eliminate collective bargaining and other employee rights and favors tax cuts for the rich while taxing pensions and increasing taxes for the poor. He intends to assign emergency financial managers (EFMs) to any community or school district that has to request assistance in times of financial stress. The EFM will have the full authority to dissolve unions and overrule local governments.

We in the Upper Peninsula know that Lansing very often doesn't have our best interests in mind. According to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, nearly the entire Upper Peninsula is considered to be a "blighted" or "distressed" area. The prospect of a state-appointed financial manager from Lansing taking control of our communities and penalizing our public workers becomes all too real.

On top of that, Snyder has proposed to slash funding for K-12 and Higher Ed. Once again, the standards that are applied to school districts and public universities downstate rarely apply to us; and we may be forced to consolidate even further than we already have.

Join us here for some essential Yooper solidarity and join with our brothers and sisters downstate who also value democracy, community, and the simple values and inalienable rights of the middle and lower class.

For more information and updates about the effort please visit The Committee to Recall Rick Snyder Web site at Learn about the the local Upper Peninsula effort at

Event coordinator: Krissy Sundstrom

Click here for a map with directions to the Keweenaw Co-op.

Photo: "Recall Rick" sign at the April 2, 2011, Bridge Walk for Unity in Houghton protesting Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's budget with proposed cuts to schools, taxes on the working poor and seniors' retirement, and tax breaks for corporations -- as well as the Emergency Financial Manager legislation, which could allow the governor to fire elected officials and take over municipalities and school districts. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Click here
to read our Apr. 4, 2011, article about the Bridge Walk for Unity.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Portage Library to host creative writing workshop June 2

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host a creative writing workshop with local author Rekha Ambardar from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2.

In her workshop, "Beginnings, Endings, and the Stuff in Between," Ambardar will discuss strong beginnings and endings in fiction writing with a focus on ways to retain tension in the middle of a story.

This workshop is geared towards adults and young adults, and both experienced and beginning writers are welcome. Writing materials and handouts will be provided.

Ambardar is the author of two contemporary novels, His Harbor Girl and Maid to Order, and over ninety short stories, articles, and essays in print and electronic magazines. She is an assistant professor of business at Finlandia’s International School of Business.

Deadline for early Chain Drive registration is May 31; volunteers still needed

Participants in the 2010 Portage Health Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival head for the trails after crossing the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock. The Chain Drive Festival is held annually in conjunction with Bridge Fest. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2010 and courtesy Kate Flynn)

HANCOCK -- The Portage Health Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival is once again ready to roll out on Father's Day Weekend, June 18. The race features 16- and 32-mile point-to-point events starting in downtown Houghton, traversing Maasto Hiihto, Churning Rapids and a few private trails on its way to the finish at Portage Health in Hancock.

Be sure to register by Tuesday, May 31, in order to receive a discount and an event t-shirt. After May 31 the fees go up and t-shirts are not available.

Single track, elevation and rocks -- what more could you ask for? There's also a Junior Chain Drive for those 13 and under.

Please visit to register or to receive additional information. All proceeds go to support trail efforts in the Keweenaw!

Please note: Junior Chain Drive registration is day-of-race only.

Volunteers still needed for race

Dan Dalquist, Chain Drive volunteer organizer, reports the good news that all the first aid teams, all the sweeps, all registration volunteer spots are full. Still, more volunteers are needed.

"We need people for traffic control,' Dalquist says. "This is a short-time commitment and involves you and a partner at many locations, stopping cars at a particular location as the racers fly past. Once the trace Sweep passes, you are done! We have spots in Houghton and in Hancock and near the finish line at Portage Health."

Volunteers are scheduled for Navy St. and Tezcuco on site at 0900 to stop parking along Navy St. in Hancock.

"This is a great way to see the racers," Dalquist adds, "a lot of fun for spouses, partners and those cyclists who are not racing! Cheering and applauding and ringing cow bells are encouraged!"

If you can volunteer, call Dan Dalquist at 906-337-0356 or at 906-370-2206 or email him at

Heart and Hands Award nominations due June 23

HANCOCK -- Do you know anyone who has given of Heart and Hands in the service of peace, justice or the environment in our local community? Please consider nominating this person (or couple) for this year’s Heart and Hands Award. The nomination form only takes a moment to fill out, and the recognition will mean a lot to a deserving individual! Nominations are due June 23, 2011.

In 1998 the Martha and Floyd Heart and Hands Society was founded with a small endowment from the estate of Martha and Floyd Kinzel. The intent of the society is to provide recognition to a person who has given of her or his heart and hands in the service of peace, justice, or the environment who might otherwise not be recognized.

As the endowment has grown, the Society has been able to offer an accompanying monetary award which is given to a local, nonprofit organization designated by the awardee. This year the monetary award will be $1000. There is also a youth award for a young person age 18 or under for $250. The award is announced on July 4th at the annual HorseTail Scramble at Churning Rapids.

Submit nominations by June 23, 2011 to: Heart and Hands Award, 53044 Hwy M203, Hancock, MI 49930 or email

Please include the following information: Candidate name and address; your name, address, phone number, and email. Answer in 500 words or less: How has the candidate had a significant impact on the Keweenaw community giving of themselves in a caring, committed, or heartfelt way in the area of peace, justice, human needs and/or environmental stewardship? Please be specific about what form their contribution and involvement has taken.

Click here for the nomination form.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hancock Tori (market) to open June 1

HANCOCK -- The Hancock "Tori" (Finnish for "market") will open its 2011 season at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 1, on the front lawn of the former Middle School on Quincy Street, next to the Finnish American Heritage Center. The Tori hosts vendors of fresh local produce, baked goods, preserves, handcrafts, and more.

During the 2010 season at Hancock's Tori, a large display of baked goods, jams and jellies can be seen at the table of Martha Sohlden of Chassell. In the background are Sandy Soring of Copper City, 2011 Tori manager, who makes baskets, and Gustavo Bourdieu of Hancock, who sells fresh vegetables and honey. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2010 and courtesy Dorn Dyttmer)

The Tori is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out) every Wednesday and Saturday during the growing season.

For information contact Sandy Soring at 906.337.1391 or email

Visit the Tori blog for more photos from last year's market.