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UPEC Livestreams: Keeping you connected with the UP environment

Our series of livestreams, co-hosted by Board President Horst Schmidt and Vice President Evan Zimmermann, keeps you up-to-date with environmental issues facing the Upper Peninsula.

Please note: as of November 2021, you can view all archived recordings of the livestreams anytime on UPEC’s Facebook page. Earlier posts below link to UPEC’s YouTube channel, which is no longer being used for this purpose.


Dr. Al Gedicks, environmental sociologist and Indigenous rights activist

Anahkwet (Guy Reiter), executive Director of Menīkānaehkem, Inc.

Dale Burie, Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin have joined forces to protect the Menominee River from the Back Forty Project, a proposed metallic sulfide mine next to the river. So far, their combined public education efforts and legal challenges have forced the withdrawal of Aquila Resources, a Canadian exploration company, from the project. However, a new company, the Gold Resource Corporation (GORO) of Denver, Colorado, has acquired the assets of Aquila Resources and has asserted that they will have all the permits for the Back Forty Project in hand by the end of 2023 with construction to begin by early 2024. On the next Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition Livestream, representatives of this environmental and tribal alliance will discuss how they have brought the Back Forty permitting process to a standstill and how they plan to continue their efforts to protect the Menominee River from any proposed metallic sulfide mine.

Our Guests

Dr. Al Gedicks is an environmental sociologist and Indigenous rights activist and scholar. He has written extensively about Indigenous and popular resistance to ecologically destructive mining and oil projects. In 1977 he founded the Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy and assisted the Mole Lake Sokaogon Ojibwe Tribe in successfully resisting Exxon’s proposed metallic sulfide mine upstream from the tribe’s sacred wild rice beds. He is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the Executive Secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, a statewide environmental organization to educate the public about metallic sulfide mining projects in the upper Midwest. He is presently working with the Menominee Nation and the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River to oppose the Back Forty Project next to the Menominee River.

Anahkwet (Guy Reiter) is a traditional Menominee who resides on the Menominee Reservation and the executive Director of Menīkānaehkem, Inc., a Menominee Indian community organization. Anahkwet serves his community as an organizer, activist, author, amateur archaeologist and lecturer. He also is a member of the Menominee Constitutional Taskforce.

Dale Burie is a retired Safety Coordinator from Tyson Foods, Nashville, Tennessee. Upon retiring and building their retirement home only 1/4 mile from the Menominee River 20 miles North of Marinette, Wisconsin. Dale and his wife Lea Jane became aware of the threat to the river from Aquila Resources sulfide mine exploration company from Toronto, Canada. Dale and Lea Jane organized their first meeting pf the "Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.". The Coalition's work continues challenging the next owner of the Back Forty project on the Menominee River. Their website is

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Palm oil is the most widely-used vegetable fat in the world, appearing in food, soaps and cosmetics, plastics, inks, and biodiesel. While some companies insist palm oil is a “golden gift to the world,” critics argue that it poses the single greatest threat to the world's tropical forests. In the next Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition livestream, historian Jonathan Robins explores the 500-year history of palm oil as a global commodity, tracing its role in the slave trade, the Industrial Revolution, colonial exploitation, and the beginnings of today’s palm oil boom in the era of decolonization and the Cold War. Robins will highlight the roots of today's controversies over palm oil and show how history can help us envision more sustainable futures for palm oil and the people who produce and consume it.

Jonathan Robins is associate professor of history at Michigan Tech and author of Oil Palm: a Global History (2021).

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“Making Their Problem Our Problem: How the Public Relations Industry Manipulated the American Public for the Benefit of the Fossil Fuel Industry”

Melissa Aronczyk, Associate Professor, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University

Maria I. Espinoza, Ph.D. candidate, Sociology Department, Rutgers University

In their new book A Strategic Nature,* Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza examine public relations as a social and political force that shapes both our understanding of the environmental crises we now face and our responses to them. On the next Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition livestream, Aronczyk and Espinoza will share insights from the book. Drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnography, and archival research, Aronczyk and Espinoza document the evolution of PR techniques to control public perception of the environment since the beginning of the twentieth century. A Strategic Nature shows how public relations restricts alternative paths to a sustainable climate future.

Melissa Aronczyk is Associate Professor in the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers University. Her writing on media, publicity and environment has been published in Environmental Sociology, New Media & Society, Enterprise & Society, Public Relations Inquiry, and featured in The Washington Post and the podcast Drilled.

Maria I. Espinoza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology department at Rutgers University. Her research centers on risk communication, environmental politics, and the climate-health nexus. Her work has been published in Social Science & Medicine, Big Data & Society, Environmental Sociology, and Climatic Change. She holds a B.A. from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and an M.A. in Sociology from Syracuse University. She has worked both in the social sector as a venture coordinator for Ashoka in the Andean Region and in the private sector as a consultant conducting social and environmental impact assessment studies.

*Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza, A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism (Oxford University Press, 2022).

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