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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Copper Country Relay for Life honors, remembers those who battle cancer

The American Cancer Society Copper Country Relay for Life luminaria (illuminated bags) -- each one bearing the name of someone who has battled cancer -- line the Houghton High School track during the evening ceremonies on Friday, June 24. Cancer survivors also leave a 2011 handprint to record their survival to this year. A flaming torch honors those who have not survived. (Video clip courtesy Allan Baker)

Luminaria spell out the message of Relay for Life for those still battling cancer. (Photo by Allan Baker)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Updated: Main Street Calumet to host Farmers and Artisans Market, opening July 1

CALUMET -- The new Farmers and Artisans Market, sponsored by Main Street Calumet, will begin its season with a GRAND OPENING on Friday, July 1, and run every Friday through October 14, 2011. The market hours are 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. in Calumet's Agassiz Park.

Calumet's Agassiz Park will be the scene of the Main Street Calumet Farmers and Artisans Market, which will have its GRAND OPENING on Friday, July 1. (Image courtesy Main Street Calumet)

"Everyone is really excited about the Farmers and Artisans Market," said Dylan Gerhart, market manager. "We will have a variety of fresh, locally grown produce and a fun, festive atmosphere with live music and demonstrations. Calumet is the artistic center of the Copper Country, and we have some great artisans participating. The Main Street Calumet Farmers and Artisans Market will have something for everyone."

The weekly cost to vendors is $10; the seasonal cost for the entire 16-week season is $60.

A meeting for all 2011 Farmers and Artisans Market vendors at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29, in the Main Street Calumet Conference Room, 200 Fifth Street.

Prospective vendors should complete an application, available on the Main Street Calumet Web site.*

The Main Street Calumet Farmers and Artisans Market accepts Senior Project FRESH coupons and EBT Bridge Card (food stamps) for purchasing fresh vegetables and fruit.

Through Project FRESH, seniors age 60 and up with certain income eligibility can obtain $20 worth of coupons that can be used to purchase fresh produce in the farmers market.

"(Project FRESH) is designed in part to help seniors with their budget," says Mike Schira, Michigan State Extension district educator. "It encourages healthy eating habits, and it's meant to encourage more participation in our local farmers markets."

UPDATE: Beginning July 1, these Project FRESH coupons will be available at the Michigan State Extension Office, located at the Fairgrounds in Hancock. Mike Schira adds that the coupons should also be available soon, for those interested and eligible, through the Portage Health Senior Lunch program at several senior lunch meals locations in the Copper Country. Supplies of the coupons are limited. They are only available while the supply lasts.

The following are the senior lunch locations where the coupons may be available, with contact phone numbers:

Houghton County:

Arbor Green (906) 482-8667; Baltic Senior Center (906) 482-8111; Calumet Park Avenue (906) 337-3878; Chassell Fire Hall (906) 523-4000; Dollar Bay Lutheran Church (906) 482-8791; Lake Linden Maple Lanes (906) 296-0713; Lakeview Manor (906) 482-3252.

Keweenaw County: Keweenaw Pines (906) 337-3515.

Project FRESH coupons are also accepted in other local farmers' markets.

For information on the EBT Bridge Card (food stamps), click here.

To learn more about the Farmers and Artisans Market visit or contact Dylan Gerhart, Market Manager, 200 5th St, Suite 201, Calumet, MI, 49913. Phone: (906)281-6302.

*Vendors, click here for the application form. See also the Market Rules on the Main Street Calumet Web site.

Join Carnegie Museum - Nara Nature Park Monarch Butterfly Search June 25

A Monarch butterfly lands on one of its favorite milkweed plants. (Keweenaw Now file photo © Gustavo Bourdieu)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum has teamed up with the Nara Nature Park and created a Summer Science Natural History program. This summer the program will include four explorations of Plants and Pollinators. The first event in this series, a Monarch Butterfly Search at the Nara Trails, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, June 25.

There is no fee for the program, but space is limited, so please email or call 482-7140 to reserve your spot. Since programs are weather dependent, please remember to leave contact information so we can reach you in case of cancellation, postponement, or change of location!

Participants will meet at the Nara Chalet at 10 a.m., hike down to the open field and search for Monarch eggs and/or caterpillars, likely munching on milkweed. Along the way we'll learn about the amazing life of butterflies and why they are important members of our ecosystem. Hopefully, we will find a few to collect and then set them up in glass houses at the Carnegie Museum where they can be fed and watched for the next few weeks as they make their cocoons and eventually emerge from their chrysalis. Then we'll take them back to the Nara and set them free. Participants are invited to visit them at the Museum any time it is open and help let them go when the time comes.

Please email or call to reserve your spot by Friday evening, June 24!

In late July we will host "Bug TV"; in August we'll learn about Honey Bees; and in September we'll talk about Gardens for Pollinators and visit the Pewabic Street Community Garden. More information about July, August, and September programs to come shortly!

Located on the corner of Huron and Montezuma in historic downtown Houghton, the Carnegie Museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays noon - 5 and Saturdays noon - 4. Parking is available behind the building or in the City lot across Montezuma Avenue. Free admission. Visit them on Facebook for more updates on exhibits, events, and activities.

Toivola celebrates Midsummer at Agate Beach

Finnish Midsummerfest was held last weekend in Agate Beach, Toivola. The big kokko (bonfire) next to calm and beautiful Lake Superior was impressive for both kids and adults. Happy solstice and Juhannus! (Photos © 2011 and courtesy Leena Vanni)

Letter: The Yellow Dog Plains -- Truly a Sacred Site

Posted June 22, 2011, on Stand for the Land

I have had the opportunity to visit many sacred sites in both North America and abroad in my lifetime. I have been touched and blessed at the Black Hills and the Badlands, the Great Smokey Mountains, the sacred sites in the Dolly Sods Wilderness and the petroglyphs of West Virginia, the Great Serpent Mound in southern Ohio, Gonandagan, Cross Village, Ojibwa Island, Taos, the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver Island, Sainte Anne de Beaupré, Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall, Lourdes, Cashel, Newgrange.

What struck me most, however, about the Yellow Dog Plains is that it "spoke back."

My friend Beth and I spent a gorgeous night at a friend’s winter cabin in late July 2007. You could not hear a sound, the area is that remote. However, during the night, I did hear sounds. My mind could not comprehend what I was hearing. It did not sound like a car passing by on the road in the distance; nor did it sound like the wind whispering through the pines.

It was a soothing, but mysterious, sound.

The next afternoon, while travelling home, it occurred to me what that sound was. It was the sound of the Spirit of the Yellow Dog Plains.

And that is why I continue the fight to protect the Plains.

Margaret Comfort, Michigamme

Singin' Sheriff Ron Lahti to open "Musical Mondays" June 27

CALUMET -- The Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s will kick off the 2011 summer music series, "Musical Mondays," at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 27, featuring the area’s popular "Singin' Sheriff Ron Lahti and Friends."

Ron’s easy listening country style music has been enjoyed for years by locals and visitors. He will be joined by Ken and Mary O’Connor and Dave Stahl.

No admission charge, but a free-will offering will be taken to benefit the universal accessibility lift project at the Keweenaw Heritage Center.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recall Rick Snyder petition signing to be held at Orpheum Theater June 26

HANCOCK -- A Recall Gov. Rick Snyder petition signing event will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, at the Orpheum Theater (former PIC Theater), 426 Quincy Street, Hancock.

"Any Michigan registered voter can sign the petition at this event," said Krissy Sundstrom, Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw County captain with the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder. "You do not have to be a resident of Houghton County."

Krissy Sundstrom, Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw County captain with the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder, displays the sign she carried at Bridge Fest last Saturday, June 18, to call attention to the petition signing at Bridgeview Park in Houghton. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Sundstrom confirmed the local petition signing effort has received solicitation approval from the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce. This covers the Houghton, Hancock, and Calumet areas. In addition, the group has the permission of the City of Hancock and Hancock Police for the petition signing.

Volunteers collected petitions at Bridgeview Park in Houghton during Bridge Fest on June 18.

Among the signers were Ray and Molly Franks of Beulah, Mich., in Benzie County (near Traverse City). They were visiting family members in Dollar Bay and brought their grandchildren -- Angus, 7, and Cecilia, 4, to Bridge Fest.

Ray (standing, center) and Molly Franks, right, stop at the Recall Rick Snyder petition table in Houghton's Bridgeview Park last Saturday, June 18. They are accompanied by their grandchildren -- Angus, 7, and Cecilia, 4, of Dollar Bay. Volunteers seated at the table are, from left, Janet Burkholder of Bootjack (originally of Hancock), Sean Clancey, Kari Sloat of Baltic and Amy Maki of Hancock.

Ray and Molly Franks said they were happy to sign the petition because they don't approve of Governor Snyder's policies.

"We have teachers in our family," Ray Franks said. "We're pro-working-class people and pro-environment."

The Franks also said they have a camp not far from Big Bay, Mich., and are concerned about the impacts of the proposed Eagle Mine.

Despite a chilly wind and rain Saturday, volunteers spent several hours at the table; and some circulated through the crowd with their sign to call attention to the petition signing at Bridgeview Park.

Petition volunteer Janet Burkholder of Bootjack (originally of Hancock) said, "I'm a retiree who cares what happens in my state."

Marquette Petition signing Saturday, June 25

Marquette citizens can sign the Recall Rick Snyder petition at the Downtown Marquette Farmer's Market and the general downtown area from 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 25. They will also have petitions for the recall of the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) legislation. Look for the orange shirts.

Iron County Petition signing events

Citizens in or near Iron County will have several opportunities to sign the petition to recall Gov. Rick Snyder:

Thursday, June 23 -- 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the West Iron District Library, 116 W. Genesee Street, Iron River, MI

Saturday, June 25 -- 9 a.m. to Noon at the West Iron District Library, 116 W. Genesee Street, Iron River, MI

Saturday, July 9 -- 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. in front of the Iron County Courthouse, 2 S. Sixth Street, Crystal Falls, MI.

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

Opinion: What's the rush on mine permitting?

By Al Gedicks*
Published on May 19, 2011, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Should the state's regulatory authority over the metallic mine permitting process be dramatically reduced to accommodate the wishes of a mining company to receive a permit in record time? This is not a hypothetical question.

Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) has met with several legislators about its proposed open pit iron ore (taconite) mine along the border of Ashland and Iron counties to push legislation that would drastically speed up the mine permitting process.

The present review process, which was the result of hard-fought environmental battles in the 1970s, can take several years, depending on the complexity of the mine plan and the potential environmental impacts of the project. However, Sen. Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and state Rep. Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) plan to propose legislation that would reduce the review to 300 days. GTAC President Bill Williams told a reporter that his company may abandon its plans for a $1.5 billion taconite mine and processing plant if the process takes too long.

Ever since a grass-roots Indian and environmental alliance defeated a proposal to build a metallic sulfide mine at Crandon, the international mining industry has considered the state among the least favorable places for mining investment.

In 1998, the state passed the Mining Moratorium Law, which requires that before the state can issue a permit for the mining of sulfide ore bodies, potential miners must provide an example of where a metallic sulfide mine in the United States or Canada has not polluted surface and groundwaters during or after mining. In 2003, the Sokaogon Chippewa and the Forest County Potawatomi tribes bought the Crandon mine property for $16.5 million and ended a 28-year conflict over the mine.

GTAC now wants to turn back the clock on environmental protection and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. Gogebic Taconite is a limited liability company
registered on the Toronto Stock Exchange and owned by the Cline Group, a coal mining company based in Florida. Christopher Cline is a billionaire who owns large coal reserves in Illinois and Northern Appalachia.

If GTAC has its way, local citizens and the Bad River Chippewa tribe, who will be most directly affected by the proposed mine, will have little opportunity to participate
in a thorough review of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the project. What information might be disclosed during a mine permit review process that would be so threatening to GTAC?

Bad River Chippewa Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. is concerned that this mine could discharge polluted water to the Bad River watershed and the tribe's wild rice beds in the Kakagon Sloughs, a 16,000-acre complex of wetlands, woodlands and sand dune ecosystems that is one of the largest freshwater estuaries in the world. Wild rice is a sacred plant for the Chippewa and is very sensitive to water contamination as well as fluctuations in water levels. Dewatering operations at the proposed mine could lower the water table around the mine. It was the effort to protect the Sokaogon Chippewa's wild rice beds that propelled the Crandon mine conflict.

The proposed mine involves extracting taconite by removing about 650 feet of overburden and creating a narrow pit around 4 miles long, up to 900 feet deep and a quarter-mile wide. The overburden would be dumped in massive tailings piles along the northwest side of the Penokee-Gogebic Range and at the headwaters of the Bad River Watershed. These large tailings piles have the potential to generate acid rock drainage if sulfide minerals are present in the waste rock.

These issues need to be evaluated in a fair and open environmental review through which the public and the Lake Superior Chippewa bands have the opportunity to have full disclosure of the potential impacts of the project. Legislation that would reduce the review process to 300 days would severely limit full disclosure of these impacts and be in direct violation of both state environmental law and treaties with the Lake Superior Chippewa bands.

Zipperer has expressed his desire to have the legislation passed before the end of the current session on June 30. Why is this legislation being fast-tracked? If passed, this legislation will effectively exclude Wisconsin citizens and tribes from having a voice in one of the most far reaching environmental decisions facing northern Wisconsin communities.

* Guest author Al Gedicks teaches sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and is author of Resource Rebels: Native Challenges to Mining and Oil Corporations.

Editor's Notes: This article was published on May 19, 2011, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Reprinted here with permission of the author. It also appeared in Headwaters News, posted on June 7, 2011.

On June 21, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article titled "Mining company says project on hold until Legislature changes law," which states, "Gogebic Taconite says that it won't proceed with a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin until the Legislature rewrites laws to speed the state's review process to construct mines."

A June 22 article in the Wisconsin State Journal, "Iron ore mine plans on hold in northern Wisconsin," reports Gogebic Taconite claims the projected open-pit iron mine would create jobs in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as well as Wisconsin. Gogebic Taconite has proposed building the mine in Ashland and Iron counties (Wisconsin) in the Penokee Range, the headwaters of the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior.

Neither article mentions Native American rights or the Chippewa wild rice beds. The State Journal article notes the legislature will probably take up the issue again in the fall.

Sen. Levin calls for even larger troop drawdown in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement on June 22, following the president's address on Afghanistan:

"The president’s decision represents a positive development, although in my view the conditions on the ground justify an even larger drawdown of U.S. troops this year than the president announced tonight. I will continue to advocate for an accelerated drawdown in the months ahead, and for enhanced training and partnering with Afghan forces, because only they can provide durable security for their nation.

"The conditions justifying a larger drawdown include the progress U.S. and Afghan troops and our allies have made to improve security in Afghanistan; the faster than expected growth of the Afghan security forces; the death of Osama bin Laden and the decreasing number of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan; and the need to transition as quickly as possible to Afghan responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to increase the chances for long-term success of the mission there."

Background on Afghan National Security forces:

• The Afghan National Security Forces are ahead of schedule to meet their target of 305,000 by October of this year.
• There are more than 100,000 more Afghan soldiers and police than there were when the U.S. troop surge began.
• 96 percent of Afghan army units and 83 percent of police units in key terrain districts are partnered with ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) units.
• From April 2010 to March 2011, the number of major operations that were conducted with partnered Afghan units rose from 54 percent to 95 percent across all the regional commands.

Editor's Note: To watch and listen to President Obama's June 22 speech, visit the White House Blog.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Story Line" community art, history project exhibited in conjunction with "Rockland" opera

By Michele Bourdieu

Artist Mary Wright displays her "Story Line" project in local venues. Here she has hung some of the cloth panels with stories about ancestors on the terrace near the Fifth and Elm Coffee House in Houghton. She invites everyone to participate in the project by writing a story about an ancestor who faced adversity. The community art project is being exhibited in conjunction with the Pine Mountain Music Festival's opera Rockland. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- If you've noticed -- hanging on clotheslines at various public locations around town -- white fabric panels, each imprinted with a story and photograph representing a family's history, then you've been introduced to "The Story Line" project, coordinated by artist Mary Wright.

This display of thousands of family stories will coincide with Pine Mountain Music Festival’s New World premiere of Rockland, an original opera by Finnish composer Jukka Linkola, on July 15 and 17, 2011, at the Rozsa Center in Houghton. Based on real events that occurred during a miners’ strike in 1906 at the Old Victoria Mine, the opera celebrates the universal human struggle to overcome adversity.

Mary Wright poses with a collection of "Story Line" panels at the June 11 Art and Music Festival in Houghton. This week the panels will be hung at the Rozsa Center in preparation for the opera Rockland, which will have its New World premiere on July 15 and 17 at the Rozsa.

"What makes 'The Story Line' project such a good promotional boost for the opera Rockland is the fact that it has so much value in itself, even apart from the opera," says Peter Van Pelt, Pine Mountain Music Festival executive director. "It is encouraging so many people to research their family history -- and it is encouraging respect for history, just as the opera is doing. U.P. history, at both the macro and micro levels, is such a rich lode, and it is good to see it being mined like this."

During a recent presentation of her "Story Line" project at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, Wright told visitors how, during the 1906 Copper Boom at Rockland, "miners were working excessive hours in unsafe conditions for wages too low."

The miners -- mostly Finnish -- decided to strike and two of them were killed. The story, found in a journal written by an eye witness and recovered in 1996, inspired Jukka Linkola to write this opera, which will also be performed in Finland this summer.

"You don't have to be Finnish to be involved in this project," Wright said. "You don't have to be involved in mining. You don't have to be from here. Anybody can be part of this."

Mary Wright tells visitors to her Portage Library presentation about "The Story Line" project and how they can write a story about one of their ancestors for the project. (Video clip by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Wright said she has been working in 21 schools in seven different Upper Peninsula counties to collect stories for this project. She collected as many as 1500 stories at just one school, and she still wants more.

"We all have stories, and I want them all -- to be part of this great work of regional, cultural history and art," Wright noted. "Without those people behind us we would simply not be here."

Mary Wright tells the story of Croatian immigrant Anna Podnar, written by Podnar's granddaughter, Kendra Turpeinen of Chassell. Click here to read the story on "The Story Line" Web site. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

This is a perfect time to honor your ancestors and to give your family a voice in "The Story Line,” one of the largest creative and historical public exhibitions ever to take place in Michigan.

Just write a short (200-400 word) story in the first person -- from the point of view of an ancestor of yours who overcame adversity. Select a photo of your ancestor. If a photo is not available you can add a photo of an object related to his or her life -- even a recipe or a tombstone. Materials are free, provided in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Humanities. Your story and photo will be photo-transferred onto a piece of white cloth and displayed on the Michigan Tech campus on laundry lines representing the common threads that connect all people -- including diverse ethnic groups and generations.

The story panels will be displayed inside and outside the Rozsa Center beginning this week.

Please send your stories to or contact Mary Wright, Event Coordinator, by phone at 906-361-554 to learn more about how you can participate.

See examples on the website,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Calumet Library to host slide presentation, book signing by Kim Hoagland

CALUMET -- Alison K. (Kim) Hoagland will present "Buildings for Workers," a slide show and talk based upon her recent book -- Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country, a 2010 Michigan Notable Book -- at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 22, 2011, in the computer lab adjacent to the Calumet Public Library

The presentation is to be followed by informal discussion and a book signing in the library; books will be available for sale at that time.

Author Kim Hoagland, left, now chair of the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, and Erik Nordberg (foreground, speaking), Quincy Mine Hoist Association Board member, lead visitors on a tour of Company Housing at the Quincy Mine in July 2008. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Hoagland’s book explores the influence of mining companies upon domestic life during the early days of the mining boom. It highlights the architecture of immigrant communities -- the homes, churches, and schools in the Keweenaw’s company towns during the nineteenth century, providing a look at the daily life of the working class.

Alison K. (Kim) Hoagland is professor emerita at Michigan Technological University, where she taught history and historic preservation for fifteen years. Before that, she was senior historian at the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service. She has been a member of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board and president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. She chairs the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

Kim Hoagland signs a copy of her book Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country for visitors to her July 2010 book signing at North Wind Books in Hancock. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Calumet Public Library.

Calumet Library summer hours are Summer Library hours, June 5 - Sept. 9, are Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wed. - 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Calumet Public Library will be closed: July 4, Aug. 1-12 and Sept. 5.

For more information, visit the library or call 337-0311 ext. 1107.

*Editor's Note: See our July 8, 2008, article "Quincy Anniversary Special Events to include Tour of Company Housing July 10," with historic photos of company housing and more about author Kim Hoagland.

Popular organist returns for U.P. recitals

HANCOCK -- Christina Harmon, who has roots in the Upper Peninsula but now lives in Dallas, returns to the U.P. to give organ recitals in four communities this month. She was brought here in 2009 by Pine Mountain Music Festival (PMMF) and was warmly embraced by her audiences. She returned in 2010 to make recordings with some of her favorite organs, and now is back again.

On Monday, June 20, she will perform at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Lake Linden; on June 22 at First Lutheran Church, Iron Mountain; on June 24 at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church, Escanaba; and on June 27 at Bethany Lutheran Church, Ishpeming. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. local time. Tickets are $20, or $10 for children and students.

These are some of the most beautiful churches and most impressive organs in the U.P. In these concerts, Harmon will be joined by two trumpet players: Mark Flaherty of Marquette Symphony Orchestra and Joel Neves, conductor of Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra.

Harmon will offer a workshop for organists in the morning of Tuesday, June 21, on the historic tracker Barckhoff organ at Keweenaw Heritage Center in Calumet, sponsored jointly by the Center and Organists of Keweenaw. The cost is $15 per person (cash or checks payable to Christina Harmon). Contact Jan Dalquist at (preferred) or call 906-482-0709 for information and registration.

Harmon was so impressed with some of the organs that she played on in 2009, that she has produced a CD called "Eight Historic Organs of the Copper Country." It will be available locally for $15 and also through and the Organ Historical Society. One of the eight organs featured is that of St. Joseph Church in Lake Linden, where she will perform on June 20.

Christina Harmon is a respected figure on the international organ circuit and has played at such prestigious places as Westminster Abbey in London and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. She is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Southern Methodist University and has a doctoral residency from the University of North Texas.

Her U.P. roots are in Menominee, where her father was a church and school choir director.

Besides the organ concerts, other events in the PMMF 2011 season will include opening galas in Lake Linden and Iron Mountain; a string octet; a two-piano recital by Stephanie and Jonathan Shames; a recital by renowned Finnish baritone Esa Ruuttunen; a musical revue featuring songs about New York and Paris by Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Edith Piaf and others; appearances by Ameriikan Poijat, a brass septet from Minneapolis; and the New World Premiere of Rockland, an opera based on local history, at the Rozsa Center in Houghton on July 15 and 17.

Pine Mountain Music Festival presents a season of opera and classical music each June-July in the Dickinson County area, the Marquette area, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and other towns in the Upper Peninsula. Visit the web at or call 888-309-7861 for more information. Tickets are available through the Rozsa Center box office, telephone 877-746-3999, or at the door if space permits.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Updated: "White Forests, Blue Sky" textile art to be at Finlandia Gallery June 20 to Sept. 8

Awakening City (detail), by Riita-Liisa Haavisto. Hand and machine embroidery / stitching. Cotton, linen, silk, viscose. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- Finnish textile artists, mother and daughter Riitta-Liisa Haavisto (1930-2009) and Anna-Riitta Haavisto, will exhibit their work at the Finlandia University Gallery June 20 to September 8, 2011. The gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

The exhibit is titled "White Forests, Blue Sky: Two Generations of Art Textiles, Paper and Metal Constructions." Two events related to the exhibit will take place.

Update: The first, which will be part of a "Gallery Walk" in conjunction with the 2011 Northern Wefts Weavers' Conference, will be a reception from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at the Finlandia University Gallery. Anna-Riitta Haavisto will present a talk at 3:15 p.m.

The Weavers' Conference takes place in Hancock from Monday, June 20, through Saturday, June 25.

The second is a closing reception from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, with Anna-Riitta Haavisto, who will speak at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Riitta-Liisa Haavisto and Anna-Riitta Haavisto transform the traditional methods and materials of the textile arts in markedly different ways. Riitta-Liisa employed an expressive, painterly approach to embroidery, using jewel-toned fabrics and threads to create scenes inspired by nature, folklore, and current events.

Riitta-Liisa’s daughter, Anna-Riitta, stretches the boundaries of fiber art in thought-provoking, three-dimensional sculptural objects constructed of sand, stones, steel, plastic, fiber, silk, cotton, paper, wood -- and even water.

Square Dance, (detail), by Anna-Riitta Haavisto. Mixed technique / wood, cotton, paint. (Photo © Tuomas Taavitsainen and courtesy Finlandia University)

The mother’s and daughter’s work may differ in execution; but what they share of their personal histories, life experience, and inspirations creates an artistic resonance in their work.

"Although they are from different generations, Riitta-Liisa and Anna-Riitta share a common source of inspiration: Laila Karttunen (1895-1981), one of the most renowned textile artists in Finland and Riitta-Liisa’s aunt," notes Pirkko Vekkeli in the article "Relative Values" for the journal Embroidery (UK, 2002).

"Laila Karttunen’s love of vibrant colors and textiles made a deep impression on her younger relatives," Vekkeli explains. "One might say that these characteristics have been transferred from one generation to the next. Both mother and daughter draw from the same tradition: a passionate use of color."

Pills of Joy I (2006), by Anna-Riitta Haavisto. Mixed technique / Pill containers, cotton. Size: H 1.96 in. x W 1.96 in. x D 0.78 in. (5 x 5 x 2 cm). (Photo © Matti Huuhka and courtesy Finlandia University)

Riitta-Liisa Haavisto was trained as a fashion designer and she worked for the Finnish fashion industry for most of her career. At the same time she was a lecturer in several art colleges in Finland, for example at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. She was also a full time lecturer at the Häme Polytechnic for 14 years.

Riitta-Liisa was the president of the Finnish Association of Fashion Designers MTO for a number of years and she has won many prizes in various design competitions over the years. She also received the prestigious Bruno Mathsson Award for Nordic Design in 1984 and became an honorary member of the Finnish Association of Designers ORNAMO in 2005.

After her retirement Riitta-Liisa Haavisto concentrated mainly on producing her artworks.

"Haavisto’s fibers of choice are silk, cotton, linen and viscose -- always mixed in one piece and sometimes used together as a single thread for the right color effect and texture," describes Nell Znamierowski in Embroidery in 2005.

"One of Finland’s most highly regarded embroidery artists, Riitta-Liisa Haavisto will long be remembered for her elegant abstractions stitched with an uninhibited style," notes Carol K. Russell in Fiber Art Today (U.S., 2011).

"In layers of impossibly fine threads, she suspends her audience somewhere between recognition and sensation. Her designs were inspired by people, of whom she made piles of sketches, or by childhood imaginings of hobgoblins and fairies inhabiting the Finnish forests," continues Russell.

Anna-Riitta Haavisto studied textile art and design in London, England, from 1977 to 1980 and 1981 to 1982, first at the University of East London and later at the Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design (current names).

Anna-Riitta’s approach to her art is experimental, often employing non-conventional materials in her sculptures. She draws inspiration from nature, as well as from culture, religion, and political and environmental subjects.

Sweet Times, by Anna-Riitta Haavisto. Mixed technique / paper, newsprint (Financial Times), Size: 19.68 x 19.68 x D 1.57 in. (50 x 50 x d 4 cm). "Inspired by the iconic box of chocolates from the film Forrest Gump, her work Sweet Times contains similar layers of possibilities and surprises," writes Carol K. Russell. (Photo © Matti Huuhka and courtesy Finlandia University)

In her article for Fiberarts, "The Haavistos of Helsinki" (U.S., 2001), Russell describes the strength of Anna-Riitta’s sculptures: "Anna-Riitta transforms vast, interconnected human dilemmas into taut, focused fiber sculptures. Her approach, less descriptive than either her mother's or her aunt's, reflects a rare inner consonance with an unpredictable and often discordant universe."

Since 1998, the Haavistos’ work has been featured in more than 22 joint exhibitions in Finland, England, Scotland, Norway, Germany, Spain, the United States, and Canada, and in dozens of group exhibitions.

More information about the artists is included in the book, Fiber Art Today, by Carol K. Russell, published in 2011 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, Atglen, Pennsylvania, USA.

This exhibition celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Finnish Association of Designers ORNAMO.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Updated: Michigan legislature moving swiftly to limit local zoning authority on natural resource extraction

From the Michigan Township Association:

LANSING -- Legislation introduced on Wednesday, June 15, in both the Michigan House and Senate was already approved by a House committee and is likely to be voted on by the entire House next Tuesday, June 21. Township officials need to make contact immediately with legislators.

The bills are intended to reverse a significant Michigan Supreme Court decision (Kyser v. Kasson Twp.) rendered in July, 2010, related to local zoning authority over gravel operations. A joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee was held on Thursday morning on SB 470, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Fremont Twp.), and HB 4746, sponsored by Rep. Matt Huuki (R-Stanton Twp.), the latter of which was reported out of the House committee.*

The identical bills, while intending to reverse the Kasson Twp. case, go well beyond the issue of gravel mining and say that "an ordinance shall not prevent the extraction of valuable natural resources from any property unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of those natural resources."

The Michigan Township Association (MTA) testified against the bills and notified members of both committees that the legislation would significantly weaken existing local zoning ordinances related to the extraction of any natural resource. The bills would render zoning regulations which prevent the extraction of natural resources in any zone invalid unless "very serious consequences" can be proved to result from the proposed extraction. MTA has learned that the House is intending to vote on HB 4746 on Tuesday, June 21.

MTA asks that you contact your state representative and state senator immediately to voice your strong opposition to this legislation.

Michigan House of Representative contact information link:

Michigan Senate contact information link:

To contact District 110 Rep. Matt Huuki directly, call 517-373-0850. Call State Sen. Tom Casperson at 517-373-7840. For District 109 State Rep. Steven Lindberg (D-Marquette), call (517) 373-0498.

You can contact the MTA Legislative Department, Michigan Townships Association, at 512 Westshire Drive, Lansing MI 48917; phone 517-321-6467; FAX: 517-321-8908;

*Editor's Note: See our April 25, 2011, article, "At Houghton Town Hall meeting local elected officials attack federal regulation of gas drilling, mining."

Update: See "Local Control Over Natural Resources - Web Update," posted on June 20, 2011, by Vince Hancock of Three Pines Gander.

Opinion: A Break Down of the NFL Breakdown

By Rick Kasprzak*

I’m a huge Packer fan and have been for life. More importantly, I love football. Any kind -- pros, college, high school, even Pop Warner. I’m such a big fan I tape all the bowl games so I have some football to watch in the off-season.

It’s looking like my football methadone might have to last a little longer than usual this year.

Among the Packer fans I routinely run into at work, the big question I was asked recently was "Think there’s going to be football?"

My answer was that I think there will be football. I believe owners are hurt more by the absence of ticket sales than players are without a salary. Obviously Tom Brady or Peyton Manning has more of a cushion than some guy who is a bench warmer. However, logic tells me that since most owners are billionaires, they have more to gain from games. Therefore, they also have more to lose. An organization such as Green Bay doesn’t figure into that, since they are owned by 100,000 different people who can’t make a profit. I’ll get into the reasons the Green Bay Packers are the greatest organization ever in another piece someday.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the issue, the owners want to increase the season from 16-18 games. In my mind, that equals a pay cut, since players would be playing two extra games a year but for the same money. The owners are also supposed to share TV revenue with the players. That equals about $9 billion a year. The players get 60 percent (but remember that is split between 1696 players, an average of $3,183,962 per player. The rest is for the owners, who each get $112,500,000. But the owners declared last season they wanted to skim the first billion off the top, before the split, since their operating expenses have increased. The players asked for proof -- open the books. The owners refused. In effect, they said, "Trust us; you have our word we need that money." Frankly, if someone asked me for a billion dollars I’d want to see proof they actually needed it and weren’t going to fritter it away. The players filed suit and the owners locked them out.

Owners planned for this eventuality by structuring a contract with the TV networks that guarantee them a payout this year even if no games are played. They were ready for playing hardball. The players have asked a judge to put that money in escrow because in effect it gave the owners a war chest to survive a war with the players this year, and some of that money would belong to the players if games were being played. There is nothing dirtier than someone using your own money to crush you.

I mentioned to a sales rep at work my belief the owners will wake up someday. He said he was thinking just the opposite -- that the players will cave because they will miss that million-dollar paycheck. Then he went into a spiel about how unfair it was to the owners the players can dictate their own pay, benefits, and games played a year and so on.

Why should we care? It’s an argument between millionaires and billionaires. I’m never in a lifetime going to earn what Aaron Rodgers gets for one season. For me, the answer is simple. What is happening in the NFL is a microcosm of the struggles of unions in this country to remain alive.

I pointed out to the sales rep that it is about getting fair market value for your work. Whether I think a player’s salary is obscene is irrelevant. It’s about getting paid as much for your work as the market can bear. And NFL fans are willing to pay, with tickets, jersey and other merchandise purchases and paying premium prices for goods advertised during games. The union is also very much about control over the conditions in which we are working.

I offered him this scenario. Say your boss comes to you and says you are still going to work 40 hours a week but only get paid for 32. His operating expenses have increased and he needs to bank those eight hours of pay. You, being reasonable, ask him for proof of these extra costs and he says, "No. My books are private. You have to take my word for it that there is no other way." At this point I lose my reasonability and I say no. In the case of the sales rep I used his commissions as the example that he was going to only be paid for commission on the first $40,000 he made in sales for every $50,000 he actually sold. His answer was "No way. I’d tell my boss to take a hike."

That’s what NFL players are telling their bosses, and they feel strong enough to do that because they are unionized. If unions are systematically eliminated across America I’m sure we are all going to be working 40 hours and paid for 32.

*Editor's Note: Guest writer Rick Kasprzak is a resident of Calumet. See also his June 2, 2011, article, "Opinion: The True Value of 'Hobby' Classes."