Ponder Coffee Open Mic Night raises money to shut down oil pipeline

Lake Orion senior Jon Lorts performs on Feb. 6 at Ponder Coffee Company.

Live music and poetry came together to shut down an oil pipeline on Feb. 6 at Ponder Coffee Company.

The open mic fundraiser event was held to raise money for Oil and Water Don’t Mix. The organization is dedicated to shutting down Line 5, an oil pipeline owned by Canadian company Enbridge Energy LLC. Lake Orion senior Jon Lorts helped organize the event and performed music.

“I think everyone in the world should be aware of this issue,” Lorts said. “The Great Lakes are a wonder of the world and people take them for granted.”

The pipeline runs under the water through the Straits of Mackinac and moves nearly 540,000 barrels of crude oil a day since its construction in 1953. Those opposed to the aging pipeline say it poses a significant environmental risk should an oil spill or leak occur.

In Dec. 2018, former Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill creating the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and appointed its three members. At their first meeting, the panel approved a plan to create a tunnel in bedrock under the straits to contain a replacement section of the pipeline.

There was a table at the event that accepted donations to Oil and Water Don’t Mix. The organization uses funds advocate to shut down Line 5.

The easiest thing to do if someone wants to get involved is to become informed about Line 5, Lorts said. There are many organizations dedicated to shutting down the pipeline, but he chose Oil and Water Don’t Mix because it was the one he was the most familiar with. 

Waterford sophomore Nick Imbier learned a lot about Line 5 from coming to the event. 

“Before today, I didn’t know anything,” Imbier said. “I’m glad the coffee and music got me out here.”

Imbier regularly attends open mic nights at Ponder Coffee Company to hear local performers and was glad that the event could inform people, he said.

Ponder Coffee Company co-owner Aaron Cromar was glad to host the event and supports the cause wholeheartedly.

“It was a pretty easy thing to say yes to,” Cromar said. “Its something that's really important, because I am deeply in love with Lake Michigan and the Northwest-Michigan area especially.”

Lorts had one other environmental issue that he wanted to inform people about.

“Pick up your trash people,” he said. “I walked to class from my house today and I picked up four beer cans and it’s such a shame. Just throw it away.”