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Saturday, October 22, 2011

FOLK to announce new project at Annual Meeting Oct. 25

BARAGA -- Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) will hold their Annual Meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Ojibwa Senior Citizen Center in Baraga.*

The meeting will inaugurate a new chapter in FOLK’s efforts to protect and preserve the ecological integrity of the Lake Superior Watershed. It will also include a presentation by visiting Wisconsin activist Frank Koehn of the Penokee Hills Education Project.

During the 2011 Protect the Earth Great Lakes Community Gathering last August near Champion, Mich., Frank Koehn, an active member of the Wisconsin Green Party and a leader of the Penokee Hills Education Project, speaks about taconite iron ore mining in the Penokee Hills. Koehn will be the guest speaker at the Oct. 25th Annual Meeting of FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw). (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Following a brief business meeting FOLK members will present their new initiative:
FOLK Mining Education and Empowerment Project: Assessing the risks and benefits of new mining in the western Upper Peninsula.

Guest speaker Frank Koehn, northern Wisconsin activist and politician, will present Old and New Mining in the Lake Superior Basin: Time for a Unified Regional Response.

Koehn has been active in environmental, treaty rights and human rights causes -- including opposition to the Crandon and White Pine mines, support of Ojibwa treaty rights, and support for the proposed Seventh-Generation Amendment to the US Constitution. He was the first Green Party member in the U.S. to be elected to a public office: the Bayfield County Board of Supervisors. He continues to be active in the Wisconsin Green Party, which he helped to create. Koehn is currently one of the leaders of the Penokee Hills Education Project, which is resisting the mining of taconite iron ore in the Penokee Hills. He lives in Herbster, Wisconsin.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

* To get to the Ojibwa Senior Center, going south from Houghton, turn right on M-38 in Baraga. Cross the railroad tracks and take a right on Main Street. Follow Main Street a half mile. The Ojibwa Senior Center will be on your left.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Author Ellen Airgood discusses her novel at Calumet Public Library

Author Ellen Airgood speaks about her novel, South of Superior, during a presentation at the Calumet Public Library in September. (Photos © 2011 and courtesy Katie Alvord)

Story and photos by Katie Alvord*

CALUMET -- About forty people at the Calumet Public Library gave U.P. author Ellen Airgood a warm reception last month as she talked about her debut novel, South of Superior, released earlier this year by Riverhead Press.

Set in a small U.P. tourist town resembling Grand Marais -- where Airgood and her husband own the West Bay Diner -- South of Superior centers around a woman who moves up to the fictitious hamlet of McAllaster from Chicago. The novel unfolds as her life becomes more intertwined with others in the community.

"The story is fictional," Airgood said, "but I really hope it's true."

Fans of the book have already commented to her about the realism of her characters.

"People say, 'These characters are so real, how do you do that?' and I don't know," Airgood said. But she added that her work at the diner probably helps.

"From the first of May to the end of October, it's all diner, all the time," she noted, which leaves her little time to write. Yet she thinks her stories and characters "marinate" as she washes dishes and waits tables. "I deal with people all day, every day," she said. "As I do, the characters are all kind of in my head. They're just always with me. They all become very, very real to me as I try to pay attention to what people are really doing."

Author Ellen Airgood discusses the writing and publishing of her first novel, South of Superior, during her September presentation at the Calumet Public Library.

According to Airgood, her publisher considered this a book about community, but she didn't see quite so clearly that it was about community.

"I think I saw it somewhat, but not totally," Airgood noted. "As a writer, sometimes you yourself don't have as much perspective on what you're writing."

Some distant readers have told Airgood they didn't know towns like McAllaster still existed.

"That's not the way of the world anymore," she told her Calumet audience as she talked about places like her fictitious town, or like Grand Marais. While some express nostalgia for small towns, Airgood noted that living in one can have two sides.

"It's not all beer and skittles," she said. "It's very good but it's very hard. People can be nasty but at the same time people will help people they don't like. No one leaves anyone out in the cold."

Lake Superior is as much a character in the book, Airgood said, as the people of McAllaster.

"I wanted to write about the kind of people Superior creates," she recounted. "It's the spirit of the characters I'm trying to get across."

Describing herself as stubborn, the author said her stubborn nature kept her going through the 18 years of serious writing and rejection letters that finally led to publication of her first book. She has wanted to be a writer since age ten, when she was growing up on a farm in Michigan's thumb. Airgood started writing professionally shortly after moving up to the U.P.

Ellen Airgood signs copies of her novel, South of Superior, after her presentation in the Calumet Public Library in September.

After penning several young adult manuscripts and publishing some essays, she turned to writing a novel for adults. It took her seven years to finish South of Superior. Along the way she hired a freelance editor to help revise the book, and she worked with a London literary agent to revise it further.

While at times she despaired over the book, Airgood noted, her determination paid off when the final version of South of Superior got a nod from Riverhead Press. After the boutique literary division of Penguin released Airgood's novel in May, she and her husband threw a book launch party in Grand Marais that attracted around 200 people.

It's all been a huge boost for Airgood's writing career. One of her young adult novels, Prairie Evers, will be released through Penguin's Young Reader's Group (Nancy Paulsen Books) in May of 2012.

She has also started work on another novel for adults -- this one set in the Keweenaw.

"I'd like to set the book where there's a strong sense of culture," Airgood said, commenting that she senses that here in the Keweenaw region. "A sense of place is very important to me, not only in life but also in writing."

Keweenaw resident Joanne Thomas, who read South of Superior and attended Airgood's presentation, commented on Airgood's ability to capture the local culture in the details of her story.

"Ellen possesses a keen eye in observing the flavor of the personality we call 'yooper,'" Thomas said. "The smallest details of life, person and surroundings were noted in this book. "That made me grin in recognition of our particular culture. Her portrayals of the characters present to the reader the multi-faceted dramas in seemingly ordinary or mundane lives. Yes, everyone has a story, and she knows how to tell it."

Airgood's presentation was organized by Grandpa's Barn Bookstore and the Friends of the Calumet Public Library. South of Superior is for sale at Grandpa's Barn in Copper Harbor, as well as at other local bookstores. Read more about Ellen Airgood on her web site.

* Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now guest writer Katie Alvord is the author of Divorce Your Car and several articles on Keweenaw Now, including three prize-winning articles on climate change in the Lake Superior Basin. Click here to read about her journalism award and links to these articles, which were published on Keweenaw Now in 2007.

Khana Khazana to present Finnish cuisine Oct. 21

HOUGHTON -- This week's Khana Khazana (food treasure) will introduce Finnish cuisine by Heidi Jarvikyla, an exchange student studying English. The Finnish lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Food Court.

The menu will include karjalanpaisti ja perunamuusi (a traditional Finnish stew with beef, pork and carrots served with mashed potatoes), kaalikääryleet (oven-baked rolls with meat, rice and spices) and marjakiisseli (a thick dessert soup with berries and whipped cream).

A full meal costs $6, and each dish is available a la carte for $2. A free fountain soda, tea or coffee comes with a full meal.

This weekly ethnic lunch is a collaboration of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spirit of Harvest Speakers' Forum, Powwow to be Oct. 21-22 at Michigan Tech

Lowery Begay performs a hoop dance with 15 hoops during the 2007 Spirit of the Harvest Speakers' Forum in the Rozsa Center. The Four Thunders Drum accompanies, at left. Begay, an inspirational speaker and renowned Navajo hoop dancer, returns to Michigan Tech this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22, for the Spirit of the Harvest Speakers' Forum and Powwow. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Native American Student Association will host two events this weekend. On Friday, Oct. 21, a Speakers' Forum will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Douglass Houghton Hall Ballroom on the Michigan Tech campus. The Spirit of the Harvest Powwow will follow on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Student Development Complex (SDC) MultiPurpose Room. Grand Entry starts at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public.

The Speakers' Forum on Friday will include an opening ceremony with a drum group, information about Michigan Tech, a tour of campus laboratories, and, at 1 p.m. in Douglass Houghton Hall, a presentation by Lowery Begay, motivational speaker and Navajo hoop dancer.

Special Presentations during the Powwow include the following:

Hoop Dance by Lowery Begay -- 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Honor Song for Army SPC Robert L. Voakes, Jr. -- 3 p.m.
Pink Shawl Presentation -- 4:30 p.m.
Feast for Dancers/Drummers 5:30 p.m.

The Powwow ends at 8 p.m.

Click here to learn more about Native American programs at Michigan Tech.

Click here to see more photos of Lowery Begay's 2007 performance at Michigan Tech.

Northern Michigan University to host Native American film, poetry, music Oct. 19

MARQUETTE -- Northern Michigan University Center for Native American Studies will host a free showing of the film Remembering the Songs at 7:30 p.m., TONIGHT, Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Jamrich Hall room 102. The film showing will be followed by a poetry and musical performance by visitors from Salish Kootenai College’s (Pablo, Mont.) Center for American Indian Policy and Applied Research (CAIPAR).

The visiting team is taking part in the "Crossing Borders with HeartLines" project, which is sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and involves creating, publishing and distributing K-12 Native American tribal history education materials that adhere to Native standards and protocols.

The visitors include renowned Native flute players, singers and recording artists Fernando Cellicion-Zuni, Gary Stroutsos and Paul Thompson-Diné, as well as federal Indian law expert Daniel Decker; Salish poet, journalist and author Jennifer Greene, whose book of poetry What I Keep received the 1988 North American Native Authors Poetry Award; and Milken National Educator Award recipient Julie Cajune, who helped to found the CAIPAR. Cajune was selected for the 2011 Montana Governor’s Humanities Award and was named one of "50 visionaries changing your world" by the Utne Reader in 2009.

Grand Traverse Tribal Chairman Derek Bailey to run for First District Congressional seat

TRAVERSE CITY -- Calling for an end to the gridlock that has gripped Washington, Derek Bailey, Tribal Chairman for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, recently declared his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in Michigan’s First District.

Derek Bailey, Tribal Chairman for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, recently announced he will run as a Democrat for the First Congressional District of Michigan -- the seat now held by Republican Congressman Dan Benishek. (Photo courtesy Derek Bailey for Congress)

Bailey will run as a Democrat -- joining Democrat Gary McDowell, who announced his candidacy in mid-September -- in the Democratic primary. The winner of that primary would challenge Republican Congressman Dan Benishek, one-term incumbent, who defeated McDowell by a small margin in 2010.

"In Congress we need vibrant, creative and strong leadership in advancing the needs of the citizens in northern Michigan," said Bailey. "We need to look at reigning in spending and reducing the nation’s overwhelming pile of debt. We need to look at sensible tax policies that are balanced, fair and responsible, and that address needs of working people and not energy companies, which have seen record profits."

Bailey noted he would work with both parties to solve problems if elected.

"I am running to truly represent the citizenship in District One in word and in deed, to make sure our voice is heard," Bailey said. "Now is the time to promote respect and dignity for every citizen in our district. I'm dedicated to working collaboratively in Washington for the betterment of our citizenship and national economy."

Bailey said he would work to protect the Great Lakes environment. He has been an outspoken tribal and community leader on Asian carp and other invasive species.

"Protection of our greatest natural resource must be shown through a commitment driven by knowledge, understanding and spirit. I will bring that strong northern Michigan voice to the halls of Congress," he said.

Bailey said he would work to strengthen education, and he currently serves on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education -- an appointment made in November 2010 by President Obama. He said he would be a fierce advocate for early childhood education and meeting the needs of rural families.

"Our children, our future leaders, not only need but demand that we find educational opportunities and funding that will secure their success in the future," Bailey said.

He added, "We need to build bridges between our citizens. Working together respectfully -- rolling up our sleeves and getting the work of the people accomplished -- is the basic expectation for our representatives. I pledge, and stand by my past work efforts, that I will bring this perspective to Congress, and, simply, get work done.

"We are all in this together," Bailey said. "We need jobs and we need stability in our economy. Our elected leaders need to start rowing the boat and stop rocking it."

Michigan's First Congressional District has been redrawn for the 2012 election cycle. It now includes the entire Upper Peninsula and portions of the northwest Lower Peninsula, including several counties currently not in the First District.

"It’s time for true leadership in Washington to work together to address the challenges before us," Bailey said. "Let's build the bridges that cross our differences and create a stronger nation for all, just as the founding fathers envisioned. The time is now: our nation's future depends on us."

Bailey was elected to tribal council in 2004 and served until 2008, when he was elected tribal chairman.

For more information, visit Derek Bailey's Web site or email

New "Green Fire" film on Aldo Leopold to be shown Oct. 20

HOUGHTON -- Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for our Time will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in G002 Hesterberg Hall and Atrium, Michigan Tech Forestry Building.

The film will be followed by refreshments and discussion with Dr. Stan Temple, a distinguished ecologist and fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This is the first Copper Country showing of this new documentary film. Free admission; $3 suggested donation.

The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

Green Fire describes the formation of Leopold’s conservation ethic, exploring how it changed one man and later permeated through all arenas of conservation. The film draws on Leopold’s life and experiences to provide context and validity, then explores the deep impact of his thinking on conservation projects around the world today. Through these examples, the film challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship with the land community.

The high-definition film utilizes photographs, correspondence, manuscripts and other archival documents from the voluminous Aldo Leopold Archives as well as historical film and contemporary full-color footage on location, including landscapes that influenced Leopold and that he in turn influenced.

The film also features commentary and insight from some of today’s most recognized and credible scholars and conservation leaders, including three of Aldo Leopold’s children -- Nina, Carl, and Estella -- Leopold scholars, noted environmental writers, scientists, humanities experts, public policy leaders, business leaders, and leaders of non-profit groups inspired by Leopold.

Read more:

This event is sponsored by the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, Keweenaw Land Trust and the Keweenaw Unitarian Fellowship.

For more information, contact David Flaspohler in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences at Michigan Tech (906-487-3608 or or Joan Chadde with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (at or 487-3341.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keweenaw Krayons offers new classes, Open Studio

MOHAWK -- Keweenaw Krayons will be offering several new classes / workshops this month. You can now register for these classes online by visiting the Keweenaw Krayons calendar page and clicking on the class that interests you. (See below)*


This class begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18! Darlene Basto teaches this four-part class to introduce students to the ancient art of Qigong. This class series offers simple movements, self-massage, breathing and meditation techniques to assist you in becoming and staying healthier and minimizing stress. Research shows many diseases are stress-based, or are augmented by stress-filled lives. This method teaches "profoundly simple" tools to better manage those moments to boost your immune system.*


Rachel Tober teaches a two-part Mosaics Class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 21. Students will learn how to design a mosaic, cut glass and ceramic pieces, and grout an object of their choice (optional). Cost is $30, which includes tools and supplies. No experience necessary. Materials provided: Cutting and nipping tools, glue, stained glass, tiles or glass backing. You also have the option to bring stools, tables, a window or frame you would like to use in the piece. There are still spots available. Register online* or call 934 - 3824 for more details.

Realistic Crayon Drawing

The first class in Realistic Crayon Drawing will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 21. Diana Langdon teaches this four-part series, in which participants learn techniques to produce amazing crayon drawings. The series will cover sketching, shading, burnishing, color layering, finishing and more. Class fee covers all materials. Participants will receive crayons, sharpeners, bristle brush, and Stonehenge paper. Workshops will culminate in one finished work by each participant being matted, framed, and included in a Keweenaw Krayons exhibit. Cost for the class is $20. Register online* or call 934 - 3824 for more details.

Solo Voice Workshop

Each workshop participant will learn breathing techniques, phrasing and more, using a song chosen at the first workshop. Students will improve confidence and vocal delivery through practice and performance at each session, to culminate in a final public recital at Keweenaw Krayons. The four-session workshop will held from 12 noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, beginning Oct. 22. Call 934 - 3824 to find out if registration for this workshop is still open.

Free Open Studio and Free Guitar Lessons

Come to Keweenaw Krayons' Open Studio from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 20, and from 12 noon to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 22, to make whatever you want! Selected supplies and materials will be available -- including paper and paint, crayons, markers, colored pencils, in addition to classic craft materials like cards and magazines, paper towel rolls and milk jugs. If you can dream it, you can make it. Open Studio is free through December; donations are welcome.

Also on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to noon, free group guitar lessons are being offered for youth 14 and under, courtesy of the Dan Schmitt Gift of Music Fund. Keweenaw Krayons also has several small guitars for little hands to lend for the duration of the 2011-2012 school year. Lessons are free through December. Call Elise at 934 - 3824 for more details.

*Click here to register online for any of these classes or call 934 - 3824 for more details.