Fall Prevention through the “Matter of Balance” Program, UPCAP (Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress)

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Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits due to trauma, and death from an injury among people age 65 and older.  There are many factors that can increase the risk of falling such as past falls, trip hazards, balance problems, improper footwear, poor vision, medications, rushing, memory problems, and so much more. Falls among older adults is a serious issue, but there are many ways to reduce the risk of falling. UPCAP, the U.P.’s Area Agency on Aging, recommends anyone with a fear of falling or who has a history of falling attend a “Matter of Balance” class.

This nationally recognized, evidence-based program was developed at Boston University. The classes are designed to benefit older adults who have sustained a fall in the past, or those who have a fear of falling. People who develop a fear of falling often limit their daily activities which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater.

A “Matter of Balance” has been shown to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults.

It includes eight 2-hour sessions (either once a week for eight weeks, or twice a week for 4 weeks) for a small group of 8-12 participants led by two trained coaches. After attending these classes, participants gain confidence by learning to view falls as controllable.

They also set goals to increase physical activity, giving them increased strength and balance. Participants also learn to make changes at home to reduce fall risk. This may be something as simple as the placement of a rug or a cord.

UPCAP and many community partners offer Matter of Balance classes throughout the U.P. You can visit http://www.upcap.org and click on the Events link to see if an upcoming workshop is in your area. If you don’t see one, please dial 2-1-1 to and ask to be put on the waiting list for the “Matter of Balance” workshops.

Once you are on the waiting list, you will be contacted when a workshop is scheduled in your area. If your group or organization is interested in hosting a “Matter of Balance” class, please contact Tonya LaFave at UPCAP at 906-786-4701.

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Green Living: Our Debt to Trees, Steve Waller

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Summer rises slowly from the northern forest floor. Buds burst into bouquets, injecting their sweet smell into our sterile yards and homes. Last year’s leaves slowly decompose and feed the fruits, nuts, and spices that we harvest and stock on store shelves. We feed our families tree parts.

Pancakes are covered in tree sugar. Dates, figs, olives, palm oil, cinnamon, allspice, pimento, nutmeg, and cloves all come from trees. Cocoa trees are used to make cocoa and chocolate. The berries of coffee trees yield our blessed coffee beans. Our homes are made of wood—walls, cabinets, flooring. Wood warmed our ancestors for thousands of years. Burning coals generated enough heat to extract precious metals from rock. The paper this article is printed on was a tree.

Tree seeds, apple pips, and plum stones have delicious edible tissue.

Animals including mammals (us) and birds eat the fruits and discard the seeds. Pine cones are hoarded by red squirrels. Bears help disperse seed by raiding squirrel caches. Trees feed an entire army of insects who spend their summer gnawing away at the leaves and stems.

Most showy flowering trees are insect-pollinated. Wind-pollinated trees, like evergreens, take advantage of increased wind speeds high above the ground. That is why so many pine cones are near the tree tops.

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Many trees are interconnected through their root system, forming a colony. Interconnections are made by a kind of natural grafting or welding of vegetal tissues. The networking was discovered by injecting chemicals, sometimes radioactive, into a tree, and then checking for its presence in neighboring trees. They are networked. They share resources and communicate with each other. Read The Hidden Life of Trees (Peter Wohlleben) for amazing details.

We plant trees for beauty and shade from the hot sun. Trees form wind breaks, hold moisture and soil after heavy rains. They cool the air like air conditioners, and are homes to birds and mammals. New subdivisions look bare and sterile until young trees invade the neighborhood.

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In the cold winters of the north, trees must grow rapidly in the short summer season when the temperature rises and the days are long. Light is limited under their dense cover and there may be little plant life on the forest floor, although fungi may abound.

The tiniest tree is a dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) found in arctic regions, maxing out at only three inches tall. A coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), named Hyperion after a person in Greek mythology, is no less than 380 feet tall.

I was recently on a road trip, cruising through the dry treeless southwestern states. The lack of trees amplified the heat and wind, keeping the land dry and barren. Animals, even birds, were rare. I felt relieved and most at home when I re-entered the land of trees, where the streams could flow, plants grow, and the wind is broken.

There are an estimated 3.04 trillion trees—

half in the tropics, a quarter in the temperate zones and the rest in the northern evergreen forests. About 15 billion trees are cut down annually, and about 5 billion are planted. In the 12,000 years since the start of human agriculture, the number of trees worldwide has decreased by 46%.

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Many butterflies, moths and all other critters that feed mostly on trees are actually made of trees! We are what we eat. We eat trees. We too are rearranged tree stuff!

We should love our trees. We depend on them. Our lives would be miserable without them. We need to understand and support trees better. We owe them appreciation and respect.

Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind- and solar-powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Lean Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Medicine Wheels: South Direction, Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

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Know this. If your healing intention is pure, you can’t make any mistakes.

The use of the Medicine Wheel and its four compass points in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back at least 5000 years(1) – probably much longer. This is actually the traditional and original “Western medicine”—a knowledge and practice almost lost to those of us living today. Although some of the details of different tribes’ medicine wheels differ from North to Central to South America, the major concepts appear similar. For example, among some indigenous North American people, the Bear is the archetype for the West instead of the Jaguar found in South America, but both embody fearlessness as a core attribute.(2)

Each direction is associated with one of the four energetic bodies that make up the human energy field:

the particle or physical world (the body), the realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind), the realm of myth (the soul), and the world of spirit (energy). In North America, the Lakota Sioux also associate each direction with the time of day, the time of year, and the time of life.(2)

For many thousands of years, the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as an interdependent doorway to unique perceptual levels, or states, in order to recover an individual’s true essence, personal power, energy, and inner wisdom for healing.

The Laika people, isolated in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, seem to have a well-preserved and undistorted record of the use and meaning of their Medicine Wheel.(3) Thus we use their version in our personal energy medicine and integrative medicine practice.

Sun in sq.

The physical world (the body) is associated with the SOUTH direction and is represented by Serpent.(3) In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the South direction is Iktokaga, and is associated with noon, summer, and adolescence.(2) This is the material level of perception where most of modern medicine resides—in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, surgery, and pharmacy. It is the realm where reality is 99% matter and only 1% spirit. This perspective is where everything is exactly as it seems or is measured without any judgment or emotions.

Serpent symbolizes knowledge, scientific method, and healing with physical solutions in order to treat diseases and injury. Serpent also sheds its skin and grows a new skin underneath, and so is continually both shedding its past and healing itself. The innate healing intelligence of the body that is gradual, incremental, and pulsed is the domain of the Serpent.

Operating from Serpent level is especially helpful for getting us through immediate trouble. Our reptilian brain is in charge and works from survival instincts, doing without over-analyzing or getting emotionally distraught about it.

snake-48155_1280

The downside of this perspective it is that it is heavily biased toward the physical or particle aspect of reality, which is very comfortable for most of us. It is easy to get stuck here and lose track of the authentic essence of our soul. We can begin to believe that the roles we play in this life—mother, brother, care-giver, etc., are the true self. We can hang on to toxic beliefs and reflex patterns of thoughts that may have been useful to get us through a crisis in the past, but now no longer serve us. They now create suffering and have become destructive for us as well as others.

Each direction is accompanied by four essential teachings.

The Four Teachings of the South are: Non-Judgment, Non-Suffering, Non-Attachment, and The Beauty Way.(3) Look at everything with beginner’s eyes. Avoid indulging or projecting pain. Let go of the labels you have stuck on yourself. Perceive loveliness even in the midst of ugliness. Move upon the Earth in beauty. Bring beauty into every interaction.

Each direction also offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing: the South—things with which you strongly identify; West—things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself; North—things you newly integrate into your life; and East—transcendence and full integration into your luminous energy body.

Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time possesses great power for spiritual growth. To have the most power, they should be done by you privately, electronic gadget-free, in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wild card role in the process. The days of a new or a full moon, or solstices and equinoxes are preferred. It is most important that your ceremony be within a sacred space.

You can create sacred space as a healing bubble around your chosen Medicine Wheel site by “calling” to the four direction master archetypes (S-Serpent, W–Bear, N–Hummingbird, E–Eagle, as well as down—Mother Earth and up—Father Sky). With humility and gratitude, ask for their power and assistance in your personal healing work.

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We have found soft rattling or drumming and offering tobacco gifts to the “spirits of the site” greatly facilitate this “calling.” Use a compass if you’re not certain of directions. The creative and intimate process of constructing your Medicine Wheel in a natural setting, using natural items found at your chosen site, quiets the mind and creates a highly meditative state. In sacred space there is no time, and you can trust your instincts and synchronicity.

Healing work with the Medicine Wheel begins with honoring the South direction and creation of a mandala in the sand, snow, or grass. Find one or two sticks to represent roles with which you currently identify, and that you mentally are ready to let go. Choose two additional objects (stones, acorns, pine cones, etc.) representing two of the “Teachings of the South” that you feel you are ready to mentally accept.

Place these objects in the South portion of your Medicine Wheel and leave them overnight on your mandala. Return the following day. Powerfully blow the mental and emotional attachment of your roles into the chosen sticks, but retain the lessons the role has taught you. Put them into the West space of the mandala. Place one or both of the “South teachings” objects into the West space as you also move these teachings firmly into your awareness. Savor in stillness how this feels.

If you can’t honestly do this, leave one or both in the South space for future Medicine Wheel work.

Leave and return the next day. Feel if any further movement is possible (roles, teachings). Collect your role sticks and teaching objects. Destroy your Medicine Wheel. Leave no trace! Close sacred space by thanking and releasing the four archetypes as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Within the next two weeks, build a fire safely somewhere in open sacred space, and ceremonially throw your role sticks into the fire as you stomp your foot, intending for your mental attachment to them to be destroyed. Retain the objects representing “teachings” as daily reminders, and to be used in the next Medicine Wheel.

Now take the time to see how these mental and emotional changes begin to work in your life until your next Medicine Wheel ceremony, honoring the West direction.

Footnotes:
(1) Scherrer, D., Native American Medicine Wheels; Stanford University, 2015 & Medicine Wheel / Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark; Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO Website) 2017
(2) Oklevueha Native American Church
(3) Four Winds Society, Light Body School, Shamanic Energy Medicine Training

Jude Catallo and Scott Emerson, MD of Timelesshealing.org are both graduates of The Four Winds Society: Shamanic Energy Medicine Intensive Apprenticeship 2017 – ongoing; members of the Oklaweva Native American Church 2016 – ongoing; and Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Spotlight On… Alicia Smith, Owner of Acupuncture of Marquette 

Tell us what happens at Acupuncture of Marquette.
Basically, we do a health intake with all different kinds of questions and develop a complementary health treatment plan using acupuncture. Sterile, non-reusable needles are used on the meridians, which are pathways through the body affecting the nervous system.

 

How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture looks at the whole body as an ecosystem and helps balance it. In Eastern theory, acupuncture points are being chosen to balance the body’s chi or life force energy. It’s also fascia-related – the interconnected tissues of the body send electrical impulses throughout. One area can impact another. Western medicine describes acupuncture as increasing blood circulation, and decreasing inflammation and tight muscles. And acupuncture may remove blockages, for example blood stasis, phlegm accumulation, stomach accumulation.

Groups of qualities (yin/yang) are considered in deciding where we need to balance you. Yin is water, fluid, slow-moving, fleshy, cooling; yang is fast-moving, hot, dry, loud. It’s a way to compartmentalize what is not in balance in the body. Someone with a very red face, maybe constipation, is considered to have yang excess and yin deficiency. Post-menopausal symptoms also indicate yin deficiency.

Certain acupuncture points have certain qualities.

Acupuncture can have a local quality – you may have tennis elbow and we are providing acupuncture there, but this also affects digestion because it’s on the large intestine meridian. Acupuncture points work on the body both distally and locally. For example, we can work with headache issues by moving energy away from the head and bringing it to the hand. This helps a lot with stress.

There are all different types of acupuncture needles – some longer, some shorter, different diameters. I tend to be gentler, using them without having to go so deep into people. I think a good acupuncturist meets the person’s energy where it’s at, addressing the person’s disposition and issue.

There are also different theories on how acupuncture treatment should be created. Some use abdominal diagnosis, palpating the stomach. Others use their sense of smell, seeing the skin color, taking the pulse, looking at the palm, feeling temperature differences, and/or running their hands up and down meridians to see where blockages are.

What do your clients most commonly come in for?
Often pain—back, neck, arm. Also infertility issues, anxiety, depression, PTSD syndrome. We can work on back pain and anxiety at the same time.

Acupuncture is a viable treatment option. It’s non-invasive, with no side effects beyond possibly feeling tired. In today’s world of medicine, much more invasive procedures are often used. Now more medical professionals are recommending acupuncture before prescribing surgery.

What do your clients like about it?
They feel very relaxed afterward. They feel comfortable in my clinic because the building is a house. It’s personal. They feel safe talking about what’s going on, being in a traditional setting rather than one where a medical record is created that follows you through life and could potentially be used against you. If you’re diagnosing using Chinese medicine, the insurance companies typically don’t understand it.

What kinds of benefits does it offer?
All ages can benefit from acupuncture. It doesn’t interact with medications. That’s why I really like this natural form of medicine. It’s very safe when done by a qualified professional, not a weekend class attendee. Acupuncture creates an environment in your body to help it heal.

If you don’t feel right, or are in a slump, potentially even just one treatment could help you. It can help with transitioning with the seasons, grief, over-consumption of anything that’s throwing you off in some way so you haven’t felt right since. It can help you safely move off of pain medication.

Some will take the input and heal faster. Some acupuncture points will go double-duty and work on additional things such as infertility or depression. There’s also a set of points that help the system as a whole. Doing acupuncture, you’re opening all the meridians. They’re interconnected, so your body’s going to do what it needs to do.

What are your qualifications and experience?
I went to Bastyr University in Seattle and did my internships, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. I took the pre-med program at NMU, and am on the verge of completing my PhD through the California institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. I’ve been in practice since 2013.

What made you decide to become an acupuncturist?
I was dissatisfied with the Western medicine approach… Once I made the switch to Bastyr, I found acupuncture seemed to make sense. I wanted to work with my hands and practice a form of healing that did no harm… I found through my research that acupuncture has been around for a very long time and has a whole culture behind it. This was humbling, to embark on learning a system of medicine that had helped people heal for centuries.

What do you enjoy most about your practice?
I enjoy seeing all different types of people and treating all different types of conditions. I see a lot of first-time acupuncture patients. Here it’s newer, whereas it was very common in Seattle. I really like my patients, and living in the natural environment of the U.P., offering personalized care in a comfortable, cool, little clinic.

Why should someone come to Acupuncture of Marquette?
For pain and stress relief, balance, like when you feel you need a tune-up, wellness care, so life can be even better. When you fall off your wheel and need some support. When you want to find non-invasive, non-pharmacological help.

What else should people know about acupuncture?
It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not scary. It’s really relaxing. It’s a different type of medicine from a different paradigm and culture—not a pill in a bottle, not an injection with fluids in it. The dangers of trying it with a board-certified acupuncturist are very minimal.

Acupuncture has been around for a very long time. America is a melting pot, and this type of medicine is a gift we should embrace. It may seem to you that it’s different, that it’s strange, that maybe it doesn’t work, but have you actually tried it?

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Bodies in Motion: Direct Connection—Yoga in Nature, Crystal Cooper

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Breathe in. You are here, in this body, at this time. You are aware of and immersed in your surroundings. Perhaps you’ve arrived stressed, scared, weak, or in need. A peaceful simplicity welcomes you. Breathe out. Why not unplug, unwind, reset, recharge? Where? The porch, the beach, the woods, the mountains. All viable options are yours for the indulging.

This time you choose to flee to the wilds, submerging yourself into the elements. It feels sneaky, thrilling, fearless, or empowering. The mind is silent and the senses vital here. Now you can feel with the subtle, deeper parts of yourself. It is quiet in a different way. The present sounds are more alive. The surrounding scents invite you to remember to smell them. You realize you are holding the tensions of the day in your body, and that you can release them. Observing other living beings, you realize the grass and bird hold nothing but what is essential.

You move into downward-facing dog pose, pressing your hands and feet into the wood, grass, soil, or rock. Breathing in, you fill to your capacity, then exhale. The earth is pressing back, supporting you. Your body is being rejuvenated—the stresses and pressures of the day and your life being gently released or powerfully pushed out. Fully released and truly connected to this space, you receive a glimpse of understanding that you are indeed one with all.

. . .

We make choices every day, every moment. Time and energy are utilized for all that life requires and offers. How mindfully and intentionally are these resources prioritized? Consider the idea of taking back our time and energy from those entities that abduct it, deviation for the greatest good. What a wily, wholesome way to protest the perpetual adversity faced, rallying for our inherent life force.

Cleansing and growing the connection to our vitality, we can practice yoga outside, additionally healing the human connection to earth. This is good work. This is an individual grassroots movement to be built upon in times to come. This foundation gratifies immediately and long-term, fortifying personal resilience. Immersed in a natural yogic practice, one does not require proof or over-thinking—the facts of goodness and righteousness are felt, known.

Yoga means union, the harmony of awareness and intention, body and mind, soul and earth.

Physically, yoga can allow vast synergistic opportunities—oxygenating tissues, lubricating joints, and restoring and strengthening subtle, vital connections throughout the body. A yoga practice begins with the breath and mental presence. No matter the origin of one’s practice, the purpose is an honest, focused communion. This can begin in the living room with a book or Youtube video, in a studio on the mat, or simply with gravity, the earth, and your body.

Once an understanding of the poses exists, like words, they are sequentially placed to make an intentional sentence. Each sentence, or stream of poses, is mindfully carried out to compose a paragraph, eventually telling the story of your yoga practice. Within this story line exist possibilities to get curious, experimental, creative, and playful!

Life offers us the occasion to be in our bodies and to go be out in the world.

We can reproduce our own energy, free of charge. No flexibility, strength, or shape is required. These qualities are inherently cultivated through each small, practical step of the practice. Sustainability on a large scale begins with reviving our sovereignty on an individual level. Allowing our leadership to shine through in our personal choices, yoga can act as a brilliant mirror throughout life.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. Her communion with the northwoods deepened upon beginning yoga in 2013. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Healthy Cooking: Wild Blueberry Ice Cream, Val Wilson

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There is nothing more delicious in the summer than wild blueberries grown in the U.P. They are sweeter and juicier than any other blueberries I have tasted. It is always a thrill when you come across some wild blueberries growing in the woods and get to pick them for yourself. And you are getting extra health benefits from the wild ones.

Although all blueberries have a high amount of antioxidants, wild ones contain more of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanin may be responsible for some biological activities such as preventing or lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. And it’s responsible for the beautiful blue color of the berries. If you are lucky enough to pick a bunch of blueberries, you can make some ice cream with them.

Have you heard of Aquafaba?

It is an exciting ingredient used in many vegan recipes. Aquafaba is the water left over when you cook chickpeas. You can cook the chickpeas yourself and save the water, or you can use the water from canned chick peas. Something amazing happens when you whip the Aquafaba in a mixer for about 10 minutes—it gets fluffy similar to a meringue created by egg whites! It increases five times in volume when you whip the chickpea liquid. For best results, you need to add a stabilizer. Cream of tartar works best.

Once the Aquafaba is whipped up and you’ve added the flavors you want, you freeze it to make great ice cream. Because Aquafaba is basically bean water, it contains very low amounts of calories, fat, protein, or carbohydrates. The ice cream is vegan, and the only fat or calories it contains are what you add to the Aquafaba, making it a great low-fat, low-calorie dessert.  It is a soft ice cream and melts fast, so packaging it in small, one-serving containers to freeze works best.

Aquafaba Blueberry Ice Cream

1/2 cup Aquafaba
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup maple syrup

Put the Aquafaba and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl of a standing mixer. Using the whisk attachment, start on low speed, slowly increasing the speed until you reach high speed. (With a Kitchen Aid Mixer, whipping it on #8 works great.) Whisk the Aquafaba for 8 to 10 minutes until you have achieved a stiff consistency and it has increased in volume about 5 times.

While whisking the Aquafaba, put the blueberries and maple syrup in a sauce pan and heat on low until warm. Gently fold the blueberry syrup into the whipped Aquafaba. Put in small, one-serving containers (half pint containers work well). Cover and put in freezer for a couple of hours until completely frozen.

Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Vegan Cooking with Kids, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: The “UPsurge” in the Arts

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Have you noticed how creativity is bubbling over through myriad arts endeavors throughout the U.P.? As Marquette Arts & Culture Center Director Tiina Harris explains, “If you don’t have anything to do, it means you’re not looking. There are a lot of really dynamic choices out there-everything from knitting, painting, and ceramic classes to more pop-up, learn-to-paint options-lots and lots of art opportunities, even metalsmithing.” Harris adds, “More community members are taking art classes, whether at the university or local art center. We have a strong tradition of painting, ceramics, and fiber arts but now the sector has expanded to include more film, graphic design, and the literary arts… Everything seems to be booming.”

This boom is woven into the fabric of U.P. communities.

47 North Belly Dance, a fusion belly dance troupe based in Houghton/Hancock, has swelled to include fifteen dancers from a start of three just four years ago. The troupe performs at all kinds of local venues, including half-time at local roller derby home shows. Co-leader Allison Mills says, “We’ve seen classes grow, but not nearly as much as our audience—they’re an explosion of positivity and enthusiasm!”

And how many communities with populations under 21,000 do you know of that not only have a city band, symphony, art museum, and chorale societies, but also a professional modern dance company? TaMaMa was founded in 2016 by Tara Middleton, Maggie Barch, and Marissa Marquardson to “create innovative movement-based art and integrate it into the community… pushing the boundaries of traditional dance.” TaMaMa has performed in art galleries, art festivals, even on rock walls and in busy downtown crosswalks, as well as more traditional venues such as the Forest Roberts Theatre, where they’ll perform “Collections” in early June.

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Photo from TaMaMa Dance Company

Those up for developing their own moves can check out new options with free classes by local instructors during the Blueberry Dance Festival. Held in late July, the Marquette festival also includes master dance classes, a professional dance performance, and a dance showcase and competition.

MACC Director Harris says, “People are desiring to get together and collaborate more, and do more—there’s a new Drink & Draw group meeting at local bars. The local knitting guilds have younger members now, so people in their 20s to 80s are knitting together. The Marquette Poet’s Circle is making its mark across the entire U.P. They have readings, exhibits, and are strong advocates for writers living in the U.P. They’re doing some really interesting projects connecting artists and poets together. Our senior arts classes have a waiting list – they never used to. We’ve added a senior theater class. Eight-twelve seniors attend local theater performances and rehearsals together. Many of those taking these classes have no previous experience in the arts or theatre. Retirees are looking for something to do…. The100DayProject has increased people’s desire to pick up a new creative habit or get back into an old one.” elaborates Harris.

Local theatre groups throughout the U.P. are performing at beautiful historic venues such as the Calumet Theatre, Negaunee ‘s Vista Theatre, and the Historic Ironwood Theatre, as well as more unusual ones, such as Marquette’s boathouse-turned-performance-venue Lake Superior Theatre, and Shakespeare and Wolf’s Head Theater productions at the Ore Dock Brewing Company. Escanaba’s Players de Noc recently advanced to the prestigious AACTFest Regional competition, and youth theatre is thriving in many parts of the U.P.

Originality, a tell-tale sign of a healthy arts scene, is also blossoming.

The Vista Theatre recently went beyond tried-and true favorites with a production of “The Brain Trust,” by local playwright Bill Hager. Cindy Engle, founder of online source MarquetteMusicScene.com, notes local bands are playing more of their own original tunes. She says the number of bands overall has increased too, as well as new venues for them with more coffee shops and restaurants having live music nights.

Original poetry is shared publicly in places such as The Preserve in Marquette. Original writing is encouraged at the Marquette Poet’s Circle’s monthly workshop and open mike nights, and at U.P. Poet Laureate Marty Achatz’s monthly poetry workshops at Ishpeming’s Joy Center.

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The center’s monthly Out Loud nights foster sharing of all kinds of creative forms. Owner Helen Haskell Remien also points out, “People appreciate when a visual art exercise is a component of a retreat — yoga retreat, energy-related retreat, writing retreat, coach-led retreat. It brings a deeper spiritual depth and meaning and context to the art.  And this seems to be desired by many.”

Remien adds, “Another desire among attendees has been art offerings for kids,” which Ishpeming resident Mark Hall has begun meeting through monthly art workshops for all age groups.

Amber Edmondson and Raja Howell’s book arts workshops at Joy Center have been so popular they are now bringing their vision to reality with a place of their own—Wild Pages in Ishpeming’s Historic Gossard Building, with art and writing supplies, workshops, and locally-created books and art.

In fact, Ishpeming is experiencing a bit of an arts renaissance, with artwork and art classes available at multiple locations—Nook ’n Cranny Art Studio and UPTown Gifts, which are also in the Gossard, Rare Earth Goods, which holds informal weekly music jams too, and Inspired Art & Gifts within Globe Printing.

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Feeding that artistic flame is imperative to keeping it burning brightly, and artists are doing just that at the Marquette Artist Collective, a new group which, as their website explains, welcomes all visual artists and “strives to support each others’ creativity and the arts in our community,” with twice-a-month gatherings, plus art shows in their downtown gallery, and other local spaces. And new art studios have also popped up along Marquette’s Third Street area, offering visitors glimpses of the art-making process, artwork for sale, and art classes.

In Munising, UP~Scale Art, owned and operated by the Munising Bay Arts Association, provides a cooperative option for local and regional artisans to exhibit and sell their art, a yearly internship program teaching the business side of art, and eventually, a range of workshops and art classes. More art can also be found at businesses throughout the area.

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The Calumet Theatre, a National Historic Landmark offering symphony, folk music, jazz, opera, theatre, dance, and community events, is bringing more big names to this intimate 700-seat venue, with five Grammy award winners and nominees performing there this year. New Executive Director Marlin Lee is passionate about making the theatre a go-to for outstanding performances, and utilizing his media marketing and independent concert promotion experience to bring in even more big name acts.

At Michigan Tech, the Rosza Center is focusing diligently to provide memorable, consistent programming for all ages so that “not just kids but the entire family can come together,” explains Programming and Development Director Mary Jennings. More events are being scheduled on the weekend too, so those from other parts of the U.P. can attend more easily.

In Ironwood, non-profit Downtown Art Place (DAP) worked hard to renovate its beautiful structure alongside the Historic Ironwood Theatre with help from dedicated volunteers, private donations, grant funding, and city government. Now in its seventh year, volunteer-run DAP exhibits juried displays of work from fifty to sixty regional artists, has a complete ceramics studio plus classroom space for an array of art classes, and provides the city’s lowest rental cost to 12 – 18 artists leasing art studios there. Board President Howard Sandin also notes an increase in the number of both artists and visitors DAP serves, with tourists from each state as well as other countries in the past year.

New art galleries have sprung up in town since DAP began. Ironwood is also home to Theatre North, the oldest still-functioning theatre group in MI, the Range Art Association, established in 1954, and emphasizes music in the schools, with HIT Idol run annually for youth by the Historic Ironwood Theatre with a guest judge from TV.

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Sandin notes, “There’s a tremendous economic benefit for any area with ongoing support for the arts. For every dollar spent, $8 – $10 comes back…. The city is smart enough to know there is a real benefit to having an active art culture downtown, and has helped make buildings available.

He elaborates, “After 5 p.m., downtown Ironwood used to be dead. It’s thriving now, with nine new businesses opening in the last year, including a brewery. There’s greater enthusiasm. It’s lively now.”

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U.P. communities are also coming to life with the addition of murals. “CUPPAD (Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development) received an Art Place grant to help create murals in the U.P.,” says Harris. “There are three or four in Iron Mountain, one in Manistique, and more in the works in Gladstone and Munising. There has been interest in Marquette as well.”

In addition to the numerous long-running arts festivals already established throughout the U.P., new ones are further livening things up—Forestville, a craft beer and music festival at the Forestville Trailhead in Marquette is now in its fourth year with almost double its initial attendance; the Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival and Calumet’s Dam Jam Music Festival, both also founded in 2015; Fresh Coast and 41 North annual film festivals; and five-year-old Arts Week in Marquette.

“The initial idea for Arts Week was to showcase local artists and provide opportunities for the community to participate in free and low cost art experiences outdoors,” says MACC Director Harris. “The City of Marquette contributes $1,500 plus staff time as well as revenue from the sale of ads in our program. Yet, Art Week leverages over $15,000 investment through events coordinated by groups such as Pine Mountain Music Festival, Hiawatha Music Co-op, Marquette City Band, and countless others.

People want an opportunity to experiment with something new.

The level of participation in Art Stroll has skyrocketed with 38 participating businesses this year, up from 20 when we started. There are more signature events during Arts Week now too, such as the Fresh Coast Plein Air Painting Festival,” explains Harris. “The idea is to get people outside to enjoy the natural environment Marquette has to offer. It’s an opportunity not only for artists but also for art appreciators to watch a painting happen in real time.  Now in its third year, the Painting Festival has grown and received over $5,000 in sponsorships.

There are more artist-in-residencies throughout the U.P. now also, including in Munising, Marquette, and Mackinac Island, along with long-established ones in the Porcupine Mountains and Rabbit Island. This will be the second year for Evolve MQT’s Creative Residency made possible through the Marquette Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office. “This year we welcomed a woodcarver, writer, and photographer. All three are well-respected in their fields,” says MACC Director Harris. “Our hope is that they share their experiences of living and working as creatives here in Marquette with the rest of the world, and connect and work with local artists too.”

Harris continues, “This area always has been a cool place to live, but now more than ever… and with that there are more creative people… I think you’re seeing more young people moving here. A recent study shows young people are moving for quality of life first rather than jobs leading their decision. I think we’ve all met people who’ve moved here because it’s an interesting place and then they try to find out how to make a living here. It’s made easier through technology and working from home.

The arts are “a bigger leader than outdoor recreation and growing faster than many industries in the U.S.,” explains Harris.

“This can be seen throughout statewide and local marketing efforts.  Travel Marquette released a video last year featuring artisans and makers, and how the U.P. inspires their work. There’s also been more support from local government. The City of Marquette gives annually to public art. Ironwood is working on an arts and culture master plan. Munising integrates public art projects throughout the downtown, and Iron Mountain recently welcomed several murals into theirs. I think that will soon be the norm in the U.P. – municipalities participating in public art, and supporting arts and culture.”

Arts in the U.P. are also benefiting by connecting across the miles. U.P. Arts & Culture Alliance (UPACA) “hosts meet-n-greets across the U.P. to hear what what’s important to people,” explains Harris, who is also chair of the non-profit. “With representatives from almost all fifteen counties, this very new group is sharing resources, connecting creatives, and advocating for the arts in the U.P.”

State and regional connections led to Escanaba’s Bonifas Arts Center’s application to host an exhibit of early American paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Manoogian Collection, which occurred last year. And experts through novices from throughout the U.P. and beyond come together to share and learn valuable information at the U.P. Publishers & Authors Association’s Spring Conference, and through their newsletter and Google forum. Out of this has come the U.P. Reader series, showcasing U.P. authors’ work.

“The U.P. has a strong tradition of arts and culture—it’s growing and it’s changing, but it’s always been there,” adds Harris.

There have been periods when the arts have been invested in more than others.  I think we’re at a high point right now, because we understand the impact arts make on both our quality of life and economy. Whether it’s an illustration on a locally crafted can of beer, or reading a book by a local author, the arts are an integral part of our daily lives.”

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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