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Cook County Commissioners Declare April 15-22 International Dark Sky Week

At its March 14th Board meeting, Cook County Commissioners proclaimed April 15-22 as International Dark Sky Week. The Tribal Council of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa made the same proclamation.

The resolution was brought to the Board and Council by Starry Skies North, the Du­luth-based chapter of the International Dark- Sky Association. According to its website, International Dark-Sky Association is a glob­al organization promoting “win-win solu­tions that allow people to appreciate dark, star-filled skies while enjoying the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting.”

The site has a calendar of events schedule showing worldwide events during this week.

Light pollution is the inappropriate or ex­cessive use of artificial outdoor lighting. It is a consequence of our industrialized and grow­ing society. Among other things, light pol­lution interferes with astronomical research, disrupts ecosystems, has some adverse health effects on humans and other animals, and it wastes energy. More important to those liv­ing on the edge of wilderness areas is that it washes out starlight in the night sky.

 The International Dark-Sky Association has designated more than 80 International Dark Sky Parks worldwide. In the area of Starry Skies North, it has designated Voya­geur National Park, the Boundary Waters Ca­noe Area Wilderness, and Quetico Provincial Park as Dark Sky Parks.

Starry Skies North kicks off Dark Sky Week with an invitational screening of the docu­mentary “Northern Nights, Starry Skies.” It will be an online event Sunday, April 16 at 7 p.m. PBS North and The Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline Uni­versity produced the one-hour film The film examines the threat of light pollution and presents examples of citizen action to min­imize light pollution. It celebrates the night sky with photography by Travis Novitsky of Grand Portage. Following the screening there will be a Q&A panel with Novitsky, Bob (As­tro Bob) King, and Cyntia Lapp. The panel is moderated by Bob Foucault, the film’s director. Online registration is required for the screening and can be made at the Starry Skies North website.

In 2018, Visit Cook County, the umbrel­la tourism association in Cook County, launched its first Dark Sky Festival. Held an­nually in December, the event has grown and continues to bring in experts in the night sky and space exploration. The 2023 event takes place December 7-9, 2023. “The night sky is something that is an in­credible and unique natural resource,” says Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County. “For centuries the night sky has been revered by our ancestors as sacred and important. It is truly something to cele­brate.”

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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