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Friday, January 22, 2016

Heikinpäivä mid-winter festival offers family fun, classes, music, dance in Hancock

Members of Hancock's Finnish Theme Committee lead the 2015 Heikinpäivä Parade. See more photos from last year's Heikinpäivä celebration in our Heikinpäivä 2015 slide show. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HANCOCK -- Finnishness is at a fever pitch in the Copper Country as the Heikinpäivä mid-winter festival gets underway in Hancock with opportunities for the whole family.

A great way to get the entire family ready for Heikinpäivä is to come to Family Fun Night at 6:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Friday, Jan. 22, at the Finnish American Heritage Center. Kids of all ages (4 – 94) will have a grand time doing traditional Finnish song games, taught by Kay Seppala. In addition, instructors from Salolampi Finnish Language camp will lead families in organized learning through play activities. Refreshments will be provided. Reservations are requested, but not required. $5 per family. Call 523-6271.

Then, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24, the Heikinpäivä Hymn Sing and Concert takes place at Zion Lutheran Church in Hancock. This is a wonderful opportunity for folks of Finnish descent to enjoy many of the hymns that have been familiar in Finnish congregations of the area for decades. The Hymn Sing is free and open to the public.

Classes Monday at Zion Lutheran Church, Hancock

Monday, Jan. 25, includes a full slate of enrichment classes, all of which take place at Zion Lutheran Church. For $10 per person, per class, you can learn Finnish folk music techniques, gluten-free baking, or arm knitting.

Ralph and Jaana Tuttila of Minneapolis, Minnesota are this year’s Heikinpäivä artists in residence, and as their first order of business they’ll be providing instruction in playing Finnish folk music in their course "Finnish Folk Music -- Many Voices." The class will be offered at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday. $10 per person. The Tuttilas are known well for their work with the Minnesota-based Finn Hall Band, which has performed in the Copper Country numerous times.

Ralph and Jaana Tuttila of Minneapolis, Minnesota are this year’s Heikinpäivä artists in residence. (Photo courtesy Ralph and Jaana Tuttila)

Also at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, Edith Mäki, the longtime proprietor of Spice of Life Bakery in Hancock, will teach folks how to bake gluten-free items. Using the "from scratch" techniques for which she’s been known for years, Edith will share some tips on how to provide some tasty treats that every one of your friends and family will enjoy. $10 per person.

And, new to the festival this year, Painesdale resident Terri Taavola Wuorinen will lead a course in arm knitting at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. To take this class, you’re asked to bring two skeins of No. 6 yarn. Even if you’ve never knitted before, you’ll surely learn this technique in short order and begin crafting your own original items.

Advance registration for Heikinpäivä enrichment classes is appreciated. To sign up for your favorite classes -- and to register your friends at the same time -- call 482-1413.

Heikinpäivä concert to feature unique folk instrument

It’s been played by folk musicians for more than 600 years, but the nyckelharpa isn’t an instrument that’s a regular part of the music scene in the Copper Country.
Until now.

Minnesota-based musicians Jaana Tuttila and Cheryl Paschke, both members of the Finn Hall Band, will perform a variety of tunes on the nyckelharpa -- which is actually Sweden’s national instrument -- at a 7 p.m. concert Friday, Jan. 29, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock.

The nyckelharpa or "key fiddle," has strings similar to a violin's, which produce tones by the drawing action of a bow. Evidence suggests the first nyckelharpas may have arrived from Germany as early as the 14th century. Both Jaana Tuttila and Paschke have played the instrument for a number of years, in solo performances and as part of the Finn Hall Band as a whole.

Dance Lessons

JaanaTuttila and her husband, Ralph, are this year’s Heikinpäivä artists-in-residence. Their Finnish folk music course next Monday (see above) will include lessons on the nyckelharpa. They will also offer dance lessons -- Finnish tango and humppa -- at 6 p.m.  Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the Finnish American Heritage Center. $10 a person. They’re also planning to make visits to area schools to introduce the next generation to the folk music traditions.

For more information about the concert, or any aspect of Heikinpäivä, call (906) 487-7549 or find Heikinpäivä on Facebook. For the full schedule click here. More details on Heikinpäivä 2016 coming soon ...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rozsa to present "Pete Seeger: The Storm King" Jan. 22; Sound Installation to open in Rozsa Gallery Jan. 22

Pete Seeger World Café Show. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts presents "Pete Seeger: The Storm King" -- an evening of live music, poetry and video with a look back at the great hero of 60s, his music, peace activism and the counterculture movement. This beautiful collection of recorded stories, narratives, and poems spoken by the late Pete Seeger and longtime protege, producer and drummer Jeff Haynes, is set to live, multi-genre music that enhances Seeger’s marvelous reminiscences. "Pete Seeger: The Storm King," comes to the Rozsa at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22.

See Jeff Haynes with Richie Stearns, Sara Milonovich, Sean Harkness, and Timothy Hill, in a multi-media presentation interwoven with recordings and video of the great Pete Seeger. This performance is based on the Grammy® nominated audio project conceived and produced by world-renowned, Grammy award winning percussionist and producer, Jeff Haynes.

Pete Seeger, right, with percussionist Jeff Haynes. (Photo © Richard Dorbin and courtesy Rozsa Center)

In this unique blend of spoken word, music, and video, Pete Seeger's spoken words will be piped in as Jeff Haynes and accompanying musicians perform a combination of new music and music written by or popularized by Pete Seeger -- featuring traditions as diverse as African Music, Blues, Bluegrass, Classical Guitar, Folk, Jazz, and East Indian Music -- and performances of some of Pete's songs that were inspired from his travels around the world.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $10 for youth. No charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Advance reserved seating is now available, please order tickets early! Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Noise Floor, a Sound Installation by Josh Loar, opens in Rozsa Gallery Friday, Jan. 22

Noise surrounds us. In the industrial world we are constantly bombarded with sounds, most of which we no longer even notice (the hum of compressor motors, the whine of routers, the whirr of hard drives, the roar of lawnmowers). Noise Floor is an interactive exhibit by artist Josh Loar, focused on the pervasive noise around us -- mechanical and cultural -- bringing into focus sounds that we normally shut out of our conscious minds.

A reception with the artist will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, in the Rozsa Gallery A-Space. The exhibit is free and open to the public and continues through Saturday, Jan. 30. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

Josh Loar, Michigan Tech professor of practice in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, is a multimedia artist and designer whose works have been featured in galleries and salons from NYC to Los Angeles. His design and music composition has been featured in countless stage shows, films, TV programs, theme parks and concerts. He is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, director, writer, painter, filmmaker, and all-around general artist type.

Finlandia Gallery to host International School of Art and Design Alumni Exhibit Jan. 21 - March 19

"Opportunities in Color," 2014, Digital Print by Amanda (Moyer) Rogers. A 2011 Finlandia alumna, Rogers now lives in Metro Detroit and works as marketing coordinator at Pewabic -- a non-profit historic ceramic studio located in Detroit. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University International School of Art and Design (ISAD) will present an alumni exhibit at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Jan. 21 to March 19, 2016.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21. An artist talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"Great Blue," Watercolor and Ink, 2015, by D.C. Wilson, a 2010 Finlandia alumna. Wilson now lives in Madison, Wis., where she is the Arts and Web Coordinator at a day center for adults with developmental delays. Wilson designs art projects and helps arrange gallery shows for her clients.

In the 17 years since the bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree program began at Finlandia University, 148 students have graduated in five concentration areas: Ceramic Design, Fiber Arts and Fashion Design, Integrated Design, Graphic Design and Digital Art, and Studio Arts.

The Alumni 2016 exhibit spotlights the current work of 20 Finlandia BFA graduates.

"Osteology," woodblock print book, three-page spread, by Bonnie Loukus. Finlandia graduate Loukus combines letterpress printing, bookbinding, papermaking and block printing to create limited edition books, cards, broadsides and prints. She currently works as Assistant Director at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock.

"Our graduates have moved to all parts of the world to pursue their careers in art," notes Gallery Director Carrie Flaspohler. "It is wonderful to see where their life journeys have taken them."

Flaspohler says Finlandia's ISAD alumni study and work as far away as South Korea and Oregon, while some continue to live and work in Hancock.

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., Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Michigan Tech Prof. Carol MacLennan to speak on "Mine Polluted Waters" at Carnegie Museum Jan. 19

Michigan Tech Professor Carol MacLennan will discuss "Mine Polluted Waters: What are our Options?" Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Carnegie Museum. Click on image for larger version. (Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum)

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Natural History Lecture Series at the Carnegie Museum will present "Mine Polluted Waters: What are our Options?" a lecture by Carol MacLennan, Michigan Tech professor of anthropology and Dept. of Social Sciences graduate director, on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Refreshments and introductions begin at 6:30 p.m., and the lecture and discussion will be from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Community Room downstairs.

Professor Carol MacLennan speaks about Torch Lake issues during the July 30, 2015, Keweenaw Geotour, "Copper Mining Waste of Lake Superior Today," on Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz. Bill Rose, Michigan Tech professor emeritus in geology, led the series of educational tours for the public last summer. Highlights of this tour included visits to the Gay and Torch Lake stamp sands. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The Keweenaw's experience with the Torch Lake Superfund Site and Area of Concern raises questions as to how we can better understand the mechanisms and government programs we have at our disposal to clean up our watered environment and prevent future pollution. What strategies have worked in other communities? How can we navigate complicated programs and technical issues in order to protect human health and restore the environment. This seminar and discussion will examine our history of pollution, untangle the various efforts to clean it up, and introduce some new ideas for addressing the issues.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Drone Catcher: "Robotic Falcon" can capture, retrieve renegade drones

Mo Rastgaar's drone catcher speeds toward its target drone. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Marcia Goodrich
Posted January 7, 2016, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted with permission

In January 2015, a Washington, DC, hobbyist accidentally flew his DJI Phantom quadcopter drone over the White House fence and crashed it on the lawn.

Two years earlier, a prankster sent his drone toward German prime minister Angela Merkel during a campaign rally.

Small drones have also proven to be effective tools of mischief that doesn’t make the national news, from spying to smuggling to hacking. So when Mo Rastgaar was watching World Cup soccer and heard about snipers protecting the crowd, he doubted that they’d fully understood a drone’s potential.

"I thought, if the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down -- it might contain explosives and blow up," Rastgaar said. "What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there."

Safe Drone Catcher

So Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, began work on a drone catcher, which could pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events -- even the White House.

It’s a deceptively simple system: a launcher that shoots a big net attached to a large drone by a string. The system can be autonomous, controlled by a ground-based human pilot or a combination of the two.

After an intruding drone is spotted, the drone catcher takes up the chase and fires the net at it from a distance of up to 40 feet. Because the net is so big and can be deployed so quickly, it can overwhelm even the fastest, most maneuverable small drone.

Once trapped, the intruder doesn’t have a chance, as illustrated in this video.

"It gets really entangled," Rastgaar said. "It’s not going anywhere."

Then the net swings down below the drone catcher, which ferries its cargo to a safe location.


"What makes this unique is that the net is attached to our catcher, so you can retrieve the rogue drone or drop it in a designated, secure area," Rastgaar explained. "It’s like robotic falconry."

Other members of the team who worked on this project are Evandro Ficanha, a research engineer working with Rastgaar, PhD student Guilherme Ribeiro and recent mechanical engineering graduates Ruiyu Kang and Dean Keithly.

Rastgaar and Ficanha have filed for a patent on this drone catcher system and think that it could have several potential applications -- from foiling spy drones, smugglers and terrorists to supporting federal regulations.

"The FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] has just announced that drones must be registered, and we think the catcher could help enforce the law by catching unregistered drones," Rastgaar said.