Elder Bios—Long Memory Project: Activism in Northern Michigan


Randy & Kay bond

Kay and Randy began their activism in 1987 opposing the nuclear arms race. They were co-founders of the Michigan Peace team and have worked in war zones around the globe. They have been called “ adjudicators, troublemakers and irritants” and they gladly accept those terms as their occupation.


mary eschbach

A wild and crazy heartfelt activist.

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stephanie mills

Stephanie Mills is a longtime bioregionalist. She is the author of Epicurean Simplicity and In Service of the Wild among other books as well as numerous reviews and articles. Mills has lived in Maple City since 1984. Visit her online: www.smillswriter.com.

victor mcmanemy

Recognized by Pete Seeger and Floyd Westernman as an outstanding folk artist-activist in the Great Lakes region, McManemy’s songs have been at the forefront of struggles and movements for justice and peace. From North American and Great Lake bioregional congresses, from the decks of Greenpeace ships, to the big tops of the international Indian Treaty Councils, to protests at nuclear power and weapons plants, to demonstrations for peace and the rights of indigenous people, he has walked the walk, talked the talk, and written and sung the songs.


sally neal

88 years old
Board member
Harm Reduction Michigan
Facilitated IndyFlix film series
Initiated 5th & Oak Tuesday lunch


jim olson

James Olson is Founder and President of Flow for Love of Water (FLOW), a Great Lakes Water Policy Center, and senior principal of Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C., Traverse City, Michigan.  Jim writes and publishes research, reports, and articles on current and emerging issues, including water, commons, public trust, climate change, water levels, Great Lakes diversions, privatization, water scarcity, and new solutions to systemic threats to water in the 21st century, Jim is a frequent speaker for presentations, lectures, and panel discussions. He also teaches a new Water and Sustainability and Public Trust course at the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute, Northwestern Michigan College.  

grant parsons

Grant was an English major and studied with the poet Robert Hayden. His first substantial case as a lawyer was NMEAC v Traverse City in 1986, when he represented NMEAC in a successful suit to stop the 7-story “Bayview Mall” development. Since then, in addition to his civil practice, he has periodically represented NMEAC and other grassroots efforts on a pro bono basis, usually to stop large scale development. Various open spaces preserved by his clients are his proudest accomplishment. The site where the Bayview Mall was planned  is now the site of the Farmers Market in downtown Traverse City.


bill rastetter

Bill was headed toward a traditional legal career until the 1960s intervened. After stints with a legal services program in Indiana and a public interest law firm in East Lansing, in the mid-70s he and Carolyn Weed moved to a Leelanau farm where they've had a large organic garden for more than 40 years. In 1980 he was recruited to represent the long-dormant local Indian Tribe (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) in the federal court litigation involving Great Lakes fishing rights reserved by the Indian signatories to the March 28, 1836 Treaty of Washington; subsequent litigation confirmed that inland fishing, gathering, and hunting rights also were reserved in the 1836 Treaty. These treaty-reserved rights now provide the Tribe with legal standing and factual bases for challenging threats to Michigan's natural resources, including those posed by Enbridge (Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac) and Nestle (groundwater pumping).  The once-downtrodden Indians now are at the forefront of legal efforts to protect Michigan's water resources.


greg reisig

Co-Chair of NMEAC and a NMEAC board member since 2004
Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council
Founding member of the FLOW (for love of Water) board 2010
Board Member Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy 1994-2004
Founding member of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay board 1994-2000


ann rogers

NMEAC Co-Chair, mother, grandmother, teacher, former Traverse City Commissioner, member of NMEAC for over 35 years, and a board member since 1997. Ann is also an activist for environmental justice, social justice and economic justice. Her life-long love of the forests and waters of Michigan carried over into many environmental activities with students including participation in the very first Earth Day activities in 1970, scientific trips aboard the Inland Seas, and even encouraging a student protest to protect trees around Norris School from being cut for a parking lot. She was privileged to participate in the world Climate March in NYC in 2014 and to host numerous speakers who have come to share their expertise on the Climate Crisis and the imperative to embrace green renewable energy.


sally van vleck

Sally has been an activist since the ’50s, first starting in the civil rights movement in high school; then on to the anti-war movement in college and right into the environmental/peace movement as a young adult. She taught school in the inner city of Detroit, in the Migrant Program in northern Michigan and substitute-taught in special-ed in Traverse City. Her long activism led her to the Neahtawanta Inn, where the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center was born, as the non-profit branch of running an environmentally sustainable, welcome and affirming inn for the past 40 years, hosting individuals looking for respite as well as workshops, programs, speakers and performances. Sally began teaching yoga as a young adult and has taught and practiced yoga for over 40 years. She was married to Bob Russell for 26 years; he passed away in 2013. She has four daughters and a bunch of grandkids.