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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Copper Country Sister March participants -- 500 strong -- demonstrate solidarity with Jan. 21 Women's March in D.C. and beyond

By Michele Bourdieu

Nearly 500 Copper Country residents turned out for the Sister March on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 21, 2017, in solidarity with the main Women's March in Washington, D.C., and sister marches all over the world. Here marchers line both sides of the bridge and display their signs to oncoming traffic. (Photo © and courtesy Bill Fink Communications, LLC)

HOUGHTON -- Lori Gray and her daughter, Lucy, of Hancock, worked together to create their colorful signs and pink "pussy" hats for the Jan. 21, 2017, Sister March on the Portage Lift Bridge, in solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, D.C., that same day -- brightening the grayness of the cold, wet Keweenaw Saturday.

Lori Gray and daughter, Lucy, display their brightly colored, hand-made signs during the Jan. 21 Sister March on the Portage Lift Bridge. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

Lori Gray said she and Lucy joined the march "to show support for women and other minorities."

The freezing rain on the bridge and cold, damp weather did not deter an estimated 500 or more local concerned citizens -- women, men and children -- from participating in the Sister March.

Participants line up near Bridgeview Park in Houghton for the Jan. 21 Sister March. At 2 p.m. they started up the hill to Shelden Ave. and then walked the length of the bridge to Hancock, with many crossing to the other side. They displayed a variety of signs to traffic heading in both directions.

Leading the marchers as they head up Shelden Avenue are Laura Smyth, left, of Calumet, and Carol Ekstrom of Houghton.

Marchers head from Houghton to Hancock on the Portage Lift Bridge. Most passing drivers honking horns appeared to be supportive, although a few shouted their support for President Donald Trump as they drove by. Click on YouTube icon for larger view. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Many participants learned about the march from an email sent by Susan Burack of Hancock, who was one of several organizers of the event.

Susan Burack, left, of Hancock was one of the organizers of the local Sister March, one of many held on Jan. 21, 2017, not only in the U.S. but in countries around the world.

"I 'instigated' the Sister March, registered it with the Women's March website so we got on the map, spread the word via email, Facebook, and local media," Burack said. "I was amazed at the turnout. Close to 200 people had RSVPed on the website, which was already remarkable. We think there were 500 people on the Bridge -- a couple of people thought 1000!"

One participant who received info on the march from Burack's email and helped spread the word was Faith Morrison, Michigan Tech professor of chemical engineering and associate dean of the Graduate School.

"I really appreciated having an opportunity to gather and express support for the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community, for freedom of religion, for science, truth, and facts, and for civility," Morrison told Keweenaw Now. "It was a very uplifting event, graciously received by the passersby with only a few exceptions."

Despite the inclement weather and somewhat icy sidewalk on the bridge, the mood of the marchers appeared to be upbeat as they continued to line the bridge, eventually on both sides.

Joanne Thomas of Allouez (Keweenaw County) said she noted the estimate of 500 marchers in other local media and felt that was accurate according to the numbers she observed during the march.

Joanne Thomas of Allouez displays a "women power" sign during the Sister March on the Lift Bridge. Behind her is Dr. Jon Neufeld of Portage Health.

Thomas said she participated in the march "because it was the most important thing that I could be doing to confirm women’s advancement -- that  this new administration has threatened. I am grateful to the organizers who arranged this Sister March. It became more relevant and meaningful to millions worldwide than I had realized."

The Minerick family of Houghton was one of many families who marched together on the bridge. Madison Minerick, 10, was proud of the sign she made:

Rob and Adrienne Minerick pause on the bridge for a photo with their children, Madison, 10, and Luke, 6.

"I'd like equal rights when I'm older," Madison said in explanation of her sign.

Her Mom, Adrienne, said the family discussed some of the issues together before coming to the march, such as the fact that women earn 79 cents on a dollar earned by men.

Marlys Bacon of Houghton carried a brightly colored sign that matched her garb:

Marlys Bacon of Houghton displays her sign for passing traffic on the Lift Bridge.

"I don't think women should have to ask men what we can do with our bodies," Bacon said.

Jessica Anderson and her daughter, Aubrey Anderson, of South Range, marched together, displaying their signs.

Jessica Anderson, left, and her daughter, Aubrey Anderson, came from South Range to join the Sister March.

"I'm here because women are the backbone of the country -- any country," Jessica said.

The progress of the country depends on women, she added, because they raise the future leaders.

During the march, more and more participants joined, slowing the pace while marchers at the front of the line crossed U.S. 41 to continue on the other side of the bridge for the return to Houghton.

The Sister March in Houghton on the Portage Lift Bridge slows down at a few points while marchers on one side of the bridge wait for many of those at the head of the march to cross traffic safely to the other side of the street. Eventually participants stood or walked on both sidewalks lining the bridge. In this video clip a few latecomers hurry up an icy hill to join the march.

Pastor Bucky Beach of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton carried a rainbow flag in the march.

"Women's rights are all people's rights," Beach noted. "Women's issues are all people's issues. The rainbow flag represents that we need to stand together, not apart."

Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, carries a rainbow flag representing unity. Pictured with him, from left, are David Hall and his wife, Dana Van Kooy, of Houghton and Ramon Fonkoué of Cameroun, Michigan Tech associate professor of French language and French and Francophone culture and literature.

Keren Tischler of Hancock carried a world flag in the march, reflecting her concern for the planet.

Keren Tischler of Hancock carries a world flag across the Lift Bridge during the march.

"I participated in the Sister March because showing up feels like the right action right now," Tischler said. "I think our planet and its occupants need help bringing voice to matters that involve dignity, respect and stewardship. Seeing both sides of the bridge packed with people made me proud of our community."

Krissy Sundstrom of Houghton and Kayla Cowan of Calumet carried signs supporting women's issues.

Kayla Cowan of Calumet, left, and Krissy Sundstrom of Houghton display their signs of concern for women's issues. In the background, carrying her colorful Kindness sign, is Susan Dlutkowski of Stanton Township. Susan's husband, Dave Harmon, and their two daughters also participated in the march.

"I am here to stand in solidarity with the women and families who are marching in D.C.," Krissy Sundstrom told Keweenaw Now. "This event has been filled with friendship, kindness, and positive energy. It has been a wonderful experience!"

More photos:

More colorful signs of solidarity.

Gloria Melton, retired Michigan Tech dean of students, with her sign.

Grace Parikh, Michigan Tech Ph.D. student in Forestry, is joined by her fiancé, Daniel Jamison, visiting from Duluth. Daniel said he joined the march with Grace "to support the cause."

Displaying brightly colored signs to cheer the cloudy day are, from right, Deb Mann, her daughter Meryl Lucchesi-Freyberg (both of Houghton), and Tiffany Scullion of Tamarack City.

After crossing U.S. 41 in Hancock, marchers return to Houghton on the opposite side of the bridge, displaying their signs to the passing traffic. Cynthia Coté, Copper Country Community Arts Center executive director, in white jacket, is visible in the crowd.

Connie Julien of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and Sons of Norway displays a progressive message about the limited options for women in the 1950s, while Emily Newhouse (not visible here -- see video above) "plays" her Woman Card (a reference to one of Donald Trump's comments on Hillary Clinton).

Her big smile indicates that Renee Bernal of Calumet, center, is happy to be marching.

Another happy participant is Amy Wisti of Hancock, active Democrat and former aide to former First District U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak.

Retired Michigan Tech librarians Janet Dalquist, left, and Ellen Seidel, march together. In the background, all in pink, is Kathy Roberts of Hancock Township.

The march wouldn't be a community event without Nancy, left, and Dianne Sprague of Ripley.

Marchers in Houghton express several concerns with their signs, and the pink "pussy" hats show solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, D.C.

One of the youngest participants gets a ride from Mom.

After the march, Frank Fiala, Fifth and Elm coffee house owner, center, welcomes marchers for hot soup and drinks. Here he chats with former Hancock City Councilman John Slivon and his wife, Ann Pace. Pace, an active Democrat, said she participated in the march "because it was the right (left) thing to do."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rep. Scott Dianda's resolution names January 2017 as Finnish American Heritage Month

LANSING -- State Rep. Scott Dianda’s (D-Calumet) resolution declaring January 2017 as Finnish-American Heritage Month won approval in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Jan. 12. Michigan is home to the highest density of Finnish-Americans, and more than 30 percent of the Upper Peninsula’s Copper Country residents can claim Finnish ancestry.

"Finnish 'sisu' -- grit and determination -- helped build Copper Country," said Dianda. "Finnish immigrants went to work in U.P. mines and helped make Michigan the world’s largest provider of copper for decades. Their work ethic, their strong cultural heritage and their belief in the value of a good education have created strong communities throughout District 110; and I’m pleased that my House colleagues have recognized these contributions by approving my resolution."

Dianda will present the resolution to community leaders at Hancock’s Heikinpäivä, the annual mid-winter celebration of Finnish ethnic identity and culture that marks the midpoint of the winter season. Hancock is also the home of the only institution of higher education founded by Finns in the United States, Finlandia University.

The Heikinpäivä parade will highlight a day of activities for the whole family this Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. (2016 file photo by Keweenaw Now)

"It’s not at all surprising that Finnish immigrants founded Finlandia University, as Finland is known for its excellent system of education that follows children from their first days in school and prepares them for either the university or training for a good-paying skilled trade job," said Dianda. "We would do well to study their system and adapt their ideas to improve our public education system so we do a better job of preparing our students for college or meaningful careers in the trades."

Dianda invites his downstate friends to visit Hancock and enjoy Heikinpäivä 2017. Click here for the schedule of activities this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore exhibit is at Community Arts Center through Jan. 28

This Finnish River Boat (Hamalainen vene), made with traditional Finnish woodworking and boat building skills, is on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center for the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore group exhibition coinciding with the City of Hancock’s Heikinpäivä mid-winter festival. (Photos courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center presents Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore, a group exhibition coinciding with the City of Hancock’s Heikinpäivä mid-winter celebration. The exhibit features boat-themed art by 16 local and regional artists, as well five paintings and a wood carving from the Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center Archives. An additional piece of significance, a full sized Finnish River Boat, has been added to the exhibition, on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

The boat and the boat-themed artwork will be on display through Jan. 28. A public reception will take place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28. Finnish style refreshments will be served.

The Finnish River Boat (Hamalainen vene) was made as part of Michigan State University Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program by the late Elmer Johnson, master artist, and his apprentice David Paavola in 1991.

Johnson grew up in the Lake Linden area and was taught by his parents and grandparents how to build Finnish-style boats. In 1956 Johnson began a woodworking business in Lake Linden. In the 1970s, his childhood interest in traditional boat building was rekindled and he built them annually for over twenty years.

Elmer Johnson met David Paavola through involvement in the Hanka Farmstead, a local historical site that preserves Finnish cultural traditions common to the area. Together they used traditional skills in woodworking and boat building to construct this boat. The curved keel is carved from a continuous piece of pine with a decorative knob on the bow end.

Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore

Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore is on exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery of the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock through Jan. 28, 2017.

The Kalevala is a 19th century work of poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. It is regarded as the national epic poem of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. For this exhibit, artists submitted work related to boats and passages from the Kalevala in mediums including photography, fiber art, assemblage, painting, and pastels.

This bas relief wood carving by Chassell artist Wilmer Savela is one of the works on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center for the exhibit.

Artists taking part in this year’s exhibition are Bob Dawson, Toivo Salo, Tammy Gajewski, Rod Waara, Cynthia Coté, Madhura Mehendale, Stephen Smith, Paula Jacobs, Bryan Lowney, Leona Blessing, Kanak Nanavati, jd slack, and Phyllis Fredendall. The exhibition includes a selection of boat-related artwork from Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center Archives. Works on loan include paintings by Mabel V. Mustonen, Sigfred Silberg, Koski, and Rankin; a block print by Kathleen Johnson Oettinger, who was part of the Finlandia University Gallery’s Finnish American Artist Series; and a bas relief wood carving by Chassell artist Wilmer Savela. Some of these were early Finnish American artists living in the Copper Country; others were directly from Finland.

Exhibitions are supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a. m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information call 482-2333 or visit the website