Earth Keepers, KBIC Tribe, 9 faiths, students honored by Lake Superior Magazine for environment projects

Indian guide don Chosa teaches the tobacco offering to teenagers at an Alger County lake.
Photos by Greg Peterson, Steve Durocher and Samantha Otto
(Marquette, Michigan) – The impact of numerous environmental projects created by the northern Michigan Earth Keepers over the past few years is measured in the hundreds of tons as over 15,000 residents have turned in hazardous waste, teens are restoring wild rice beds, businesses and homes are reducing power consumption and thousands of dollars used  to protect Lake Superior
The non-profit Michigan Earth Keeper Initiative, its nine faith communities, an Upper Peninsula American Indian tribe and over 400 volunteers were  honored this week with the “2007 Lake Superior Magazine Achievement Award.”
The annual award established in 1994 “recognizes organizations or individuals who have improved the well-being of Lake Superior and it’s residents,” said Lake Superior Magazine Editor Konnie LeMay who traveled from Duluth, Minnesota to honor the interfaith environment project.
(Photos by Greg Peterson, Tom Buchkoe, Steve Durocher and Samantha Otto)

LeMay cited “734,000 pounds worth of environmental impact just since the signing the Earth Keeper Covenant in July 2004 by nine faith communities.”
Presenting an engraved crystal plaque during a Sept. 17, 2007 ceremony at Presque Isle Park in Marquette, LeMay said the “spiritual role model of the Earth Keepers certainly has improved the well-being and environmental awareness of Upper Michigan’s residents – it has offered a concrete way to action.”
Crystal plaque from LS Magazine 
The Lake Superior Magazine November issue honors the Marquette-based Earth Keepers whose environment projects include annual Earth Day hazardous waste collections, an energetic student team with its own projects, wild rice restoration, an energy summit, and most recently a classical music concert to protect the biggest, deepest and coldest of the Great Lakes that Native Americans call Gitchie Gummi.
Kyra fillmore, other EK team get award  
UMC Supt others award 
The project is co-sponsored by the Cedar Tree Institute, the Superior Watershed Partnership, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the congregations of over 140 churches and temples representing nine faith communities (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Baha’i, Jewish, and Zen Buddhist).
Rev. Jon Magnuson, who dreamed of creating the Earth Keepers ten years ago, told LeMay that Lake Superior Magazine first announced the existence of the faith-based environment initiative.
Jon w/syrup other 
Kyra's dad, son others 
“Lake Superior Magazine announced the informal announcement of the Earth Keeper Covenant” and we want to thank the magazine for being a partner that way,” Rev. Magnuson said.
The covenant was signed by the leaders of the nine faith communities in 2004 pledging to actively protect the environment and reach out to American Indian tribes.
Rev. Magnuson honored the memory of one of the first signers of the covenant – Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan Bishop James Kelsey who was killed in a June 3, 2007 traffic accident.
Jim Kelsey collage 
Bishop Kelsey was “one of the Earth Keepers true point people for the religious leaders,” Magnuson said.
“Jim Kelsey’s spirit will carry us on  – he was known as the environmental bishop and that was because of this work that he partnered with us on,” Magnuson said.
Magnuson said the Earth Keepers “lift and honor” the members of the “Keweenaw Bay Indian Community have been with us on every one of our initiatives” including a sister effort called the Manoomin project that involves restoring wild rice to seven remote sites in northern Michigan.
2006 blessing of wild rice
2007 blessing of wild rice 
United Methodist Church Marquette District Superintendent Grant Lobb accepted the Lake Superior Magazine award on behalf of the nine faith leaders.
Over 15,000 residents have participated in annual Earth Day hazardous waste collections (2005-2007) at sites across the U.P. have recycled or properly disposed of about 370 tons of pharmaceuticals, old/broken computers, cell phones, pesticides, raw liquid mercury, drain cleaner, oil-based paint, vehicle batteries and many other substances.

2005 – 2007 Earth Keeper Clean Sweep

Pharmaceutical, electronic, household hazardous waste

2007 Pharma clean sweep collage
 
 

The Manoomin Project

American Indian guides teach at-risk teens to plant wild rice.

The teens learn to respect themselves, nature and tribal customs

2007 Manoomin teens 
 2006 Manoomin collage
2005 Manoomin collage 
The Earth Keeper Manoomin Project have planted over one ton of wild rice seeds in the past three years through the hands of at-risk teenagers and American Indian guides. The project teaches teens to respect themselves, nature and American Indian heritage.
2007 Manoomin Tai Chi relaxation collage
The Manoomin Project includes classroom time and other learning like Tai Chi relaxation exercises and listening to stories from American Indian elders. In July 2007, KBIC elder Glenn Bressette of Harvey, MI explained how he overcame some of the same obstacles the at-risk teens are currently facing.
2007 Manoomin Storyteller #2 collage
2007 Manoomin storyteller 
Bressette described racism in Marquette when he was young when his mother told all her children to lie about their American Indian heritage. Bressette said he was called a “dirty Indian” and an “old drunken Indian.” Bresette said when he was in his teens police officers shot at him as he tried to steal gasoline and described how he became an alcoholic trying to numb the pain from racism.

The Boreal Chamber Symphony 

“One night only” July 15, 2007 Lake Superior Day 

2007 Boreal Chamber Symphony collage 
The Boreal Chamber Symphony was formed by Midwest classical musicians during April 2007 that made its “one night only” performance a free benefit for the Earth Keepers on Lake Superior Day. The musicians to raised thousands of dollars for the Lake Superior Defense Fund.
2007 LS Day concert practice on lakeshore collage
2007 June 25 LS Day press conference collage 
Nearly 400 people attended the nearly four hour event  – the debut of the Boreal Chamber Symphony directed by Craig Randal Johnson of Minneapolis – raising thousands of dollars for the Lake Superior Defense Fund. Thousands of people watched an on-line video made of a rehearsal on the edge of the lakeshore using Lake Superior as an musical instrument following a June 25, 2007 press conference at Presque Isle in Marquette that promoted the concert.

2007 Earth Keeper Energy Summit

Over 500 businesses, churches/temples, and homeowners pledged to reduce power consumption, some received energy audits, millions in energy savings in next few years 

2007 EK Energy Summit collage  
This summer’s Earth Keeper Energy Summit inspired 500 businesses, homeowners and churches/temples to reduce their power consumption – and many signed up for energy audits. The participants are expected to reduce their utility bills by millions of dollars over the next few years.

The Northern Michigan University

EarthKeeper Student Team

TNMU EK Student Team collage 
The Northern Michigan University EarthKeeper (NMU EK) Student Team is creating chapters at three other Upper Peninsula of Michigan universities. The nine Earth Keeper faith leaders and the KBIC President/CEO Susan LaFernier stood together at NMU on April 6, 2006 to announce the creation of the student team.
The student efforts have included an adopt-a-watershed project and spreading the Earth Keeper message to children and adults at schools, churches and temples.
The NMU EK Student Team participated in all Earth Keeper events. In October 2006, the students recorded a video for an MTV contest.
2006 NMU EK Benefit Concert collage 
On October 6, 2006, Rev. Lynn Hubbard of Eden on the Bay Lutheran Church in Munising sponsored a benefit concert for the student team with Greg LaCombe and the Loose Ends band.
Rev. Hubbard has scheduled a second benefit concert for the student team at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, October 12, 2007 at Upfront & Company restaurant in Marquette. The public is encouraged to attend the free benefit concert.
LS Magazine award shots collage 
The Earth Keepers have been fortunate to receive several international awards including the Lake Superior Magazine honor.

 
Pictured left to right (in above photo) are Earth Keeper consultant Ron Sundell; Cedar Tree institute Executive Director Rev. Jon Magnuson, Catholic Earth Keeper Kyra Fillmore representing Roman Catholic Bishop Alex Sample, Lake Superior Magazine Editor Konnie LeMay, United Methodist Church Marquette District Superintendent Grant Lobb, Jewish Earth Keeper Jacob Silver of Temple Beth Sholom in Ishpeming, U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak’s District Director Tom Baldini, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan Operations Coordinator Jane Cisluycis, and Superior Watershed Partnership Executive Director Carl Lindquist.
In August 2006 and repeating again in 2007, the Grand Rapids, Michigan based Acton Institute named the Earth Keeper Initiative and the Cedar Tree Institute one of the 13 hardest working faith-based non-profits in America.
The Manoomin Project received the hardest working honor in 2006 putting two Cedar Tree Institute projects on the hardest working list. World Magazine did features stories on the projects as part of the award.

2006 LS Bi-National Forum award collage
On September 8, 2006, the Lake Superior Bi-National Forum presented the Earth Keepers with its Environmental Stewardship award during a ceremony in Marquette attended by the 9 faith leaders.

Earth Keepers media coverage collage
The Earth Keepers and the Manoomin Project have been fortunate to receive a large amount of positive coverage by the news media including national magazine articles, an United Methodist Church national TV crew did a story in Marquette during the 2007 clean sweep, and Rev. Magnuson was one of the guests on a national Native American radio talk show on September 14, 2007.
Numerous national magazines have done stories on the Earth Keepers including Grit, The Lutheran, Thrivent Magazine and others. The Associated Press has run numerous stories on the Earth keepers and the U.P. media has been very supportive.

The Earth Keeper Team

A core group of about a dozen dedicates souls who inspire 400 plus volunteers and whose faith communties have turned out over 15,000 northern Michigan residents to three Earth Day clean sweeps that have recycled or properly disposed of about 370 tons of hazardous waste.

 Earth Keeper core team photo by Kyra Fillmore
—– 
Having fun while protecting the environment: Rev. Jon Magnuson, whose dreamed up the Earth Keepers ten years ago, shares a light moment with one of the hardest working volunteers during the Lake Superior Magazine press conference in Marquette, MI on Sept. 17, 2007.
Catholic Earth Keeper Kyra Fillmore of Marquette is a mother of two young children who shuffles a busy home life with doing God’s work. Her husband and father are also very active in Earth Keepers.
2007 LS Mag Presser Jon-Kyra light moment: 
— 
Over one ton of pharmaceuticals and over $500,000 narcotics was collected during the 2007 Earth Keeper Clean Sweep at 19 free drop-off sites across a  400 mile area of northern Michigan. The drugs were destroyed in a high-tech, low pollution, EPA-approved incinerator near St. Louis, Missouri. 2007 pharma all pills collage
— 
Over 320 tons of electronic waste (below) was turned in by the public during the 2006 Earth Keeper Clean Sweep. Old/broken computers, cell phones and other electronics were recycled.  The photo by Tom Buchkoe of Marquette represents about 80 percent of the e-waste that was turned in by the public, small businesses and schools.
2006 E-waste ELKCS Buchkoe photo:

The annual “Blessing of the Wild Rice” (below) is held each September in Marquette as a show of respect for the return of the once native grain – and to thank the supporters of the Manoomin Project. Everyone has a fun time and the meal includes various forms of wild rice.
2007 Blessing - poeple having fun:
The wild rice is prepared in several ways including searing the grain into a crunchy treat mixed with dried fruit.
2007 Blessing of WR - fresh rice cooked crunchy:  
— 
Native American guide Don Chosa created this offering (below) to nature during the 2006 Blessing of the Wild Rice.
2006 WR lessing - offering prepared by Don Chosa:
— 
A member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Native American guide Don Chosa and the teens (below) bring the natural offering into the woods where it was placed behind a log during the 2006 Blessing of the Wild Rice in Marquette.


The at-risk teens involved in the Manoomin Project first arrive – in essence doing community service – after being sentenced in juvenbile court. Many of the teens have so much fun planting and testing the wild rice they ask to return the next year.
These teens are truly a joy to work with and only need a little bit of positive attention to grow into the great leaders of tomorrow. The Manoomin Project honors the teenagers and the KBIC for working so hard to restore wild rice to northern Michigan. Below are links to a tribute music video honoring those involved in the project. 
2006 Manoomin Blessing of Rice cute kid 
Earth Keeper related website addresses are:
Earth Keeper TV:
http://earthkeepers.blip.tv/
The Cedar Tree Institute:
http://www.cedartreeinstitute.com/
The Superior Watershed Partnership
http://www.superiorwatersheds.org
The Lake Superior Interfaith Communication Network:
http://www.lakesuperiorinterfaith.com/
—–
Earth Keeper TV Manoomin Project Music Video on blip tv:
http://blip.tv/file/341528/
You Tube – Manoomin Project Music Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0QPBLruQZ8

articles:
World Magazine:
http://www.worldmag.com/articles/12177
Manoomin Project article/photos (scroll down a little bit):
http://www.cedartreeinstitute.com/envprojects.html

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About yoopernewsman

I am a news reporter, writer and investigative journalist and began my career about 40 years ago as a young teenager in Augusta, GA after moving south during the middle of high school. I'm a news reporter, writer & investigative journalist specializing in street news, plus Indigenous, civil rights & environment reporting. Currently volunteer media advisor for numerous American Indian & environment related nonprofits that include the Navajo Lutheran Mission in Rock Point, AZ & its executive director Rev. Dr. Lynn Hubbard, the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute (CTI) in Marquette, MI & its many projects founded by Rev. Jon Magnuson, Author Joy Ibsen of Trout Creek, MI, Celtic Christianity Today (CCT) founded by Rev. Dr. George Cairns, the Turtle Island Project founded by pastors Hubbard & Cairns. In its third summer, the CTI Zaagkii Wings & Seeds Project & its volunteers built a16-foot geodesic dome solar-powered greenhouse that was built in this summer at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) in an effort to restore native species plants to northern Michigan. It's located at the tribe's Natural Resources Department north of L'Anse along Lake Superior. During the summer of 2010, Zaagkii Project teens built & painted 25 beautiful reliquaries that are boxes made from pine & cedar that are used to store seeds for planting & included samples of Native American medicine including sweetgrass, cedar, sage & tobacco. From April-June 2009, I promoted the EarthKeeper Tree Project that planted 12,000 trees across northern Michigan. Co-edited "Unafraid," the second book by Author Joy Ibsen of Trout Creek, MI that was printed in May 2009 based on her father's handwritten sermons she found in shoebox. I edited numerous videos for nonprofit CCT. Began career 35 years ago as teenager in Augusta, GA after moving south during middle of high school. I was co-coordinator of the 1986 original James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta, GA, where the Godfather of Soul was always trashed by local media who didn't report anything positive about the music icon. Mr. Terence Dicks was the other co-coordinator & most recently served as chair of the Augusta Human Relations Commission and serves on the Georgia Clients Council. Mr. Brown taught us to "fight the good fight" by battling all forms of racism & evil while not uttering a bad word about those who try to block justice, respect, fairness & kindness to all. As a child, I lived in the Harbert, Michigan home built by late poet Carl Sandburg, where the legendary author penned some of his greatest works including his Chicago works & Lincoln papers. The four-story home had a sundeck on the top & a cool walk-in safe in the basement. The neighborhood (Birchwood) has numerous cottages used for other purposes by Sandburg like the milk house where they milked goats. My parents remodeled fourth floor of the home that stands atop the Lake Michigan sand dunes/bluffs. They found items that belonged to Mr. Sandburg concealed in the walls including prescription bottles with his name, reading glasses, & a small, thin metal stamp with his name. I've worked for dozens of newspapers & radio & TV stations in GA & MI. I'm volunteer media advisor for several interfaith environmental projects involving Native Americans across Upper Peninsula of MI including the Turtle Island Project, The Zaagkii Project, the Interfaith Earth Healing Initiative, EarthKeeper Initiative & the Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project. The Zaagkii Wings & Seeds Project restores bee & butterfly habitat to help pollination of plants following death of billions of bees. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth & Marquette teens built butterfly houses, planted/distributed 26,000 native plants to help pollinators. The Earth Healing Initiative assisted EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge. EHI helped organize interfaith participation across eight states for the 100 plus recycling projects (April 2008) involving recycling millions of pounds of electronic waste & proper disposal of millions of pills/pharmaceuticals. EPA goals were exceeded by 500%. Under an EPA grant, EHI provided free media services for the cities/groups/tribes including videos & press releases. The EarthKeeper environment projects include an annual Earth Day Clean Sweep (2005-2007) at 24 free drop-off sites across a 400 mile area of northern Michigan that collected over 370 tons of household hazardous waste. The 2007 EarthKeeper Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep collected over one ton of drugs plus $500,000 in narcotics in only three hours. Some 2,000 residents participated & many brought in pharmaceuticals for their family, friends & neighbors. In 2006, 10,000 people dropped off over 320 tons of old/broken computers, cell phones & other electronic waste, all of which was recycled. In 2005, residents turned in 45 tons of household poisons & vehicle batteries. The Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project teaches teens to respect nature & themselves by having American Indian guides escort them to remote lakes & streams in northern Michigan to plant/care for wild rice. The teens test water quality to determine the best conditions for the once native grain to survive. The Turtle Island Project was co-founded in July 2007 by Rev. Lynn Hubbard of Rock Point, AR (Ex. Dir. of the Navajo Lutheran Mission) & Rev. Dr. George Cairns of Chesterton, IN, United Church of Christ minister & research professor for the Chicago Theological Seminary. TIP promotes respect for culture & heritage of indigenous peoples like American Indians. TIP is a platform for American Indians to be heard unedited by whites. Rev. Hubbard says whites don't have the knowledge or right to speak on behalf of Native Americans. I specialize in civil rights, outdoor, environmental, cops & courts reporting thanks to my late mentor Jay Mann (Jan Tillman Hutchens), an investigative reporter in Augusta, who lived by the books "Illusions" & "Jonathon Livingston Seagull." Love to fish, hunt, camp & skydive. Belong to Delta Chi national fraternity. I was active in Junior Achievement, band played cornet. With my dear friend, the Rev. Terence A. Dicks, we were the co-coordinators of the 1986 original James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta, GA, where the Godfather of Soul was always trashed by the local media who found no reasons to print or report anything positive about the music icon. I am honored to help the human rights activist Terence Dicks - with some of his projects including the nonprofit Georgia Center for Children and Education - and the economic initiative he founded titled "Claiming A Street Named King." I am the volunteer media advisor for several environmental projects across Michigan's Upper Peninsula including EarthKeeper II - an Initiative of the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, MI. EarthKeepers II is an Interfaith Energy Conservation and Community Garden Initiative across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Goals: Restore Native Plants and Protect the Great Lakes from Toxins like Airborne Mercury in cooperation with the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Forest Service, 10 faith traditions and Native American tribes like the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Previously known as the Earth Keeper Initiative - that project included many environmental projects including an annual Earth Day Clean sweep at two dozen free drop off sites across a 400 mile area of northern Michigan. The target of the 2007 Earth Keeper Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep are all kinds of medicines. In 2006, some 10,000 people dropped off over 320 tons of old/broken computers, cell phones and other electronic waste, all of which was recycled. In 2005, residents turned in 45 tons of household poisons and vehicle batteries. The Manoomin (Wild Rice) Project taught at-risk teens (just sentenced in juvenile court) to respect nature and themselves by having American Indian guides escort them to very remote lakes and streams in northern Michigan to plant and care for wild rice. The teens conducted water quality and other tests to determine the best conditions for the once native grain to survive. I have always specialized in civil rights, outdoor, environmental, cops and courts reporting thanks to my late mentor Jay Mann (Jan Tillman Hutchens), an investigative reporter in Augusta, who lived by the book "Illusions."
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3 Responses to Earth Keepers, KBIC Tribe, 9 faiths, students honored by Lake Superior Magazine for environment projects

  1. owen59 says:

    Congratulations from across the Pacific

  2. ruben says:

    One step in the right direction for many others to follow. Wish I could have been there or contribute my time. You got such great enthusiastic who love Nature and are concerned with Environmental Issues.

    My best wishes to your project. Hope it goes further empowering many youth and others alike to devote their time to preserve and bring awareness that matters to all man kind.

    🙂 Ruben

  3. Pingback: Health blog

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