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Friday, September 27, 2019

Keweenaw March and Sail shows solidarity with global youth-led movement for action on climate change

By Michele Bourdieu

As participants in the Sept. 20 Keweenaw Climate March and Sail event gather to march on the Portage Lift Bridge in Houghton, a young marcher displays a sign that expresses the concerns of today's youth about climate change and Earth's future. (Photo © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- An estimated 150 students and community residents enjoyed a sunny, mild afternoon on Friday, Sept. 20, for the Keweenaw Climate March and Sail in solidarity with a massive, worldwide, youth-led movement to draw attention to the climate crisis.

The local event included a march and display of signs on the Portage Lift Bridge and a sail by local boaters on the Keweenaw Waterway near the bridge.

Participants in the Sept. 20 Keweenaw Climate March in Houghton line the Portage Lift Bridge and display their signs of protest to drivers in passing cars, many of whom honk in support. The marchers chant, "Climate change is not a lie! Please don't let our planet die!" (Video by Keweenaw Now)

A group of Michigan Tech students organized the event with the help of concerned local residents, like Susan Burack of Hancock -- who initiated the march and signed the group up with the national organizers, the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition. The Michigan Tech students have now formed a group called Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action.

Displaying their signs on the bridge are, from left, Susan Burack, Nanno Rose and Lora Repp. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Participants displayed a variety of hand-made signs expressing their concerns about climate change.

This sign reminds us that global warming and industrial pollution threaten our supply of fresh water in the Great Lakes. (Photo © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Two Michigan Tech students from Marquette -- Sidney Mechling, left, (holding sign saying "Make America GREEN again") a student in sustainability science, and Ally O'Neill, who is studying environmental science, challenge a certain political leader's failure to understand climate change. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Two members of Houghton High School's Environmental Club -- Samantha Drake-Flam, left, of Ripley, and Abby Ross of Tapiola, join Samantha's Mom, Cynthia Drake, right, for the Bridge March. Cynthia Drake experienced severe damage to her home during the Father's Day Flood of 2018.* (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Becky Darling, left, of Chassell, and Emily Newhouse of Calumet express some of the reasons for the worldwide Youth Climate Strike with participants of all ages. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Keweenaw Now videographer Allan Baker interviewed two young marchers about their reasons for participating in the event:

(Video © Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)**

Concerned Houghton residents Janeen Stephenson, left, and Sherri Lewis display calls for action. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Keweenaw Now asked some Michigan Tech engineering students how they believe their studies will apply to climate change.

Michigan Tech students, from left, Megan Cole of DeWitt, Mich., a student in civil engineering; Isabelle Cervantes of Woodlands, Texas, who is studying sustainability science and society; Jamie Erdmann of Darien, Ill., studying mechanical engineering; and Cameron Whiteside of Grayslake, Ill., also in mechanical engineering, chat with Keweenaw Now on the bridge. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Michigan Tech student Isabelle Cervantes has witnessed effects of climate change in her Texas town, where schools were closed because of recent flooding.

Mechanical engineering student Jamie Erdmann of Darien, Ill., said she wants to "be the change" by helping to research renewable energy.

Cameron Whiteside of Grayslake, Ill., also studying mechanical engineering, said, "I'm not 100 percent sure what I can do with it (a mechanical engineering degree), but climate change is going to require a lot of young minds to help fix the planet."

"Skippers" sail near bridge in support of Climate March

Several local sailboat owners and their guests sailed near the Portage Lift Bridge at the time of the march to show their solidarity with the youth-led movement.

Captain Bruce Woodry's sailboat, the Sarah Belle, joins other boats on the Keweenaw Waterway in sight of marchers on the Portage Lift Bridge. "Captain Bruce" organized the skippers for the Sail. Guests on his boat include Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor in chemistry and climate change expert; students Alexis Pascaris, her friend Alexander, and Shardul Tiwari. Also Cheryl and her dog Rico. In the boat following them, the Dove, are Evan McDonald and Robert Wittig. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Nancy and Dianne Sprague, who spread the word about the Sail to the local sailing club, are pictured in this video on their sailboat, Nimbus Too, along with crew members Anne Newcombe and Will Cantrell. In the boat following them are Dave Nitz and Mary Marchaterre, with a League of Women Voters sign reminding spectators to vote. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

William Lytle, now Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Hancock, commented on the banner promoting solar energy for Hancock.

"I personally am glad to see our residents are pushing us to explore clean, local, distributed energy generation," Lytle said. "Their support (financial, technical, and political) is very welcomed within our city."

Following the Sail, Sarah Green led a climate change discussion on Captain Bruce's boat. In addition to her research and teaching on global climate change, Green currently serves as co-vice chair for the Scientific Advisory Panel on the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), United Nations Environment Programme.

"It's fantastic to see this worldwide surge in people, especially youth, demanding real action on the climate crisis," Green told Keweenaw Now. "Individuals cannot avert the inexorable increase in global temperature; political courage is essential. And in a democracy politicians respond to citizen pressure."

Editor's Notes:

* See our June 25, 2018, article by Vanessa Dietz, "Father's Day storm spares all but one in Houghton County."

** Lewis Vendlinski and his twin sister, Catherine, participated in the Keweenaw Climate Community Climate Café in November 2016. See "Keweenaw Climate Community to hold 4th Climate Café Dec. 1 at Orpheum Theater; video report on October, November KCC events."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Cirque Mechanics presents "42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels!" at Rozsa Center Sept. 28

Cirque Mechanics video from YouTube courtesy Rozsa Center. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen.

HOUGHTON -- From the inventive Cirque Mechanics who brought us "Pedal Punk" in 2016, comes 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels! At the center of every circus rests a 42ft ring full of thrills, laughs and excitement. 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels, is the latest invention from the creative minds of Cirque Mechanics. The company dares us to leap into the circus ring and experience the timelessness of this evolving art form. The show's unique mechanical interpretation of the traditional, and its story full of the lore of the historic one-ring circus, create a welcoming place, like a big top, where we can be amazed. The action in 42FT is full of theatricality and a modern sensibility, showcasing a galloping mechanical metal horse and a rotating tent frame for strongmen, acrobats and aerialists. Cirque Mechanics' 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels comes to the Rozsa Center stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Creative Director Chris Lashua spent most of his career on a BMX bike and inside a German Wheel. This new production showcases his innate passion and fascination for all things mechanical and acrobatic. The synergy between man and machine, the hallmark of Cirque Mechanics, is magnificently exposed in 42FT -- A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels. It is that synergy that The New York Times called "exceptional, evocative, eye-catching and grossly entertaining…in a word, excellent."

Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by Boston native and German Wheel artist, Chris Lashua, after the success of his collaborative project with the Circus Center of San Francisco, Birdhouse Factory. Cirque Mechanics quickly established itself as a premiere American circus, with its unique approach to performance, inspiring storytelling and innovative mechanical staging. Spectacle Magazine hailed it as "the greatest contribution to the American circus since Cirque du Soleil."

Cirque Mechanics, although inspired by modern circus, finds its roots in the mechanical and its heart in the stories of American ingenuity. The shows, rooted in realism, display a raw quality, rarely found in modern circus, that makes their message timeless and relevant. The stories are wrapped in circus acrobatics, mechanical wonders and a bit of clowning around.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for youth, and at no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech Fee. Discount family packs are available. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex (SDC), or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sixteen child petitioners filed a historic complaint with the U.N. Here's why, in their own words:

From Democracy Now
Posted on YouTube Sept. 24, 2019

Sixteen young people from around the world filed an official complaint this week to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, calling out the lack of government action on the climate crisis. Crafted by petitioners from 12 countries and between the ages of 8 and 17, the landmark case alleges that U.N. member states’ failure to properly address the climate crisis constitutes a violation of child rights.

Speaking on stage, the youth activists shared their names and explained their motivations for filing a complaint and organizing to fight against climate change.

"The world signed a contract between generations that the present world would leave a world worth inheriting to the future," said 14-year-old activist Alexandria Villaseñor as she introduced her fellow petitioners. "And today I want to tell the world, you are defaulting on that contract and we are here to collect."


Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch their livestream 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. (ET)  See more at, including Greta Thunberg's speech to world leaders at the U.N. Climate Action Summit.