G.A. Minutes 3-28-15

G.A. Minutes 3-28-15

A woman standing on the corner waves to us as we drive down the hill on our way to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. It’s the infamous street woman we have known for many years. She follows us down and says, “I hope you guys are gonna make a fire; it’s kinda cold”.

It is kind of cold. The temperature is in the low 40s but the wind is strong. Seeing as it’s still the month of March, we have no complaints.

We’re happy to see the infamous woman. She’s doing well. She stopped drinking and taking drugs early last summer. She was given an apartment in public housing and has kept it so far. She’s fairly intelligent and could probably be reasonably productive but if she went that route, the government would take away all her benefits.

Finding a job would be difficult as she does have a minor criminal history. If she did find one, she’d be working herself to death in order to maintain the same standard of living she currently has. If she then lost her job, even through no fault of her own, she’d be back out in the street and sleeping in doorways and bushes the same as she was before she cleaned up her act.

Come to think of it, she may be more than fairly intelligent. She can see the low wage work situation for exactly what it is. Abject slavery.

We quickly set up everything and get the fire going. The wind makes the flames roar. A few young Native people come over to sit with us.

An Occupier who has been living out of town for quite a while arrives. We take time to hear about what has been going on in his life. He is always interested in discussing the subject of various religions and the fact that most do not practice what they preach. He’s also thrilled about G-tac’s withdrawal from the Penokee Hills mining project.

The out of town Occupier says he’s been thinking lately that the world seems to be dividing into two camps. One camp wants to exploit the earth and everything in it for short term gain while the other camp is attempting to stop the destruction and preserve the earth for future generations. The rest of us agree with his analysis.

A large young Native man who has visited with us a few times in the past arrives. He gets coffee and cookies and asks for the smudge dish. When he is finished he says, “I really appreciate you being here, especially for having sage for smudging available. Miigwitch, miigwitch, miigwitch. It is very good that you are here”.

We hear that a lot from people who sit at our fires. We thank him for joining us.

Some young people we haven’t met before ask us if we will be at CJM on a regular basis. We explain we will. Weather permitting; we will attempt to be at the Memorial every Saturday from about 6pm – 9pm.

However, next Saturday we’ll be in Bemidji joining a protest against Governor Dayton.

We tell them Dayton is throwing his support to the mining companies who want to raise the sulfate levels in MN wild rice waters. Raising the sulfate levels will kill the wild rice. We explain that a Pow Wow is being held next Saturday in Bemidji and Governor Dayton is going to be a guest. The Pow Wow organizers are even planning on having an honor song and dance for him.

The young folks respond in the same way all Native folks we’ve given this information have responded. They say, “WHAT!?!?!” We inform them that we are joining as allies with other Native based groups to express our displeasure and indignation.

An Occupier needs to be reminded what we will be doing on next Tuesday. Another Occupier responds, “We’ll be reviewing what will hopefully be the last movie. Then we will decide what we want to use and we’ll ask the Jefferson People’s House if they will allow us to do a few showings at their place”.

The older African American woman who is also a fixture on the street walks by and waves.

The streets are full of vehicles but few pedestrians. We see a hippie looking guy walking towards us. At first we assume he is someone we know but as he gets closer, we realize we don’t recognize him. He says to no one in particular, “I really like this”. He gives us a power salute and we flash peace signs back at him. He continues walking.

A couple with 3 small children joins our fire. The kids are given apple juice and cookies.

The oldest child plunks down next to an older male Occupier and tells her life story. She is 5 years old and we discover we are acquainted with her biological father. She has many questions and the older Occupier answers her.

The members of her family need to take a short walk. She wants to stay by the fire and the family adults allow her to do so. When they return, they find her still happily asking questions.

During this time we have noticed a DPD SUV drive by several times. Each time slowing way down as it passes the Memorial. We think it wants to make sure we see it.

It’s getting dark and the family needs to go home. Everyone thanks us, waves goodbye and wishes us a good evening. The Occupiers are now alone at the fire.

The street is quiet and if we sit up close to the flames, the atmosphere is quite pleasant.

The gray haired woman arrives. We haven’t seen her since last fall. She is one of our favorite people.

As we chat, she tells us she’s been doing a lot of thinking over the winter. Although she’s in good health, she’s reached the age of 75 and has been mentally reviewing her life.

She seems exceptionally lucid tonight and tells us stories of her childhood, stories of health crises in middle age and many other stories she had not told us in the past.

She says, “So I haven’t had much drama in my life and I’ve never married so am what used to be called an old maid. I’ve never had any particular goals, just took life as it came. I’m surprised to find that I’m actually very happy and have a wonderful feeling of peace and contentment”.

All of our attention has been focused on the gray haired woman so we don’t notice the fire dying until we feel the chill.

We pack up, telling the woman when she can expect to find us at CJM again. She responds, “Now if I can just remember”.

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G.A. Minutes 3-14-15

G.A. Minutes 3-14-15

We find an occasional Occupier waiting on the back ledge when we arrive. He says, “I heard through the grapevine that tonight’s meeting was gonna be here at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial”.

The sun is shining warmth upon the site. Except for a small patch of ice beneath the Memorial wall, all signs of winter have been melted away.

Our coats are open and we are without hats and gloves as we set up the chairs, food and fire pit. However, we have these warm clothing items with us as we know it’s not really spring yet and it will get colder when the sun goes down.

It feels really good to be outdoors again.

An Occupier points out that there appears to be another camera hanging from a window in the pawn shop building which sits alongside CJM.

Someone states, “It could be a fake one just put there to intimidate people”. Oh well….. Whatever.

As we are getting the fire started, an Occupier reports, “Bye the way, the Visit with an Elder event at FDL is going to happen this upcoming Tuesday”. We are all pleased about that and we all plan to attend.

Another Occupier remarks, “I finally ordered the last Velcrow Ripper movie. It should be here in about 10 days. We can watch it at my house when it arrives”.

As soon as the fire gets going and the smudge dish is fired up a group of predominately Native American people arrive. Most are folks already known to us.

A homeless couple who we met last year is among them. We are surprised they are still together as their relationship appeared to be quite tumultuous.

We know they had a camp in the woods and ask them how things are going out there.

The man answers, “We don’t have a camp anymore. The cops destroyed it”.

An Occupier responds, “Oh really? Last summer, Chief Ramsey said the DPD wasn’t going to do that anymore”. One of the Occupiers has brought lots of hot dogs and all the fixings.

We let the flames settle down, throw a grill over the top and begin cooking them. Everyone is hungry and the vibe is good. A young native man whom we have met previously tells us he is from Grand Portage. He introduces himself in the traditional Anishinaabe manner and tells us a little about his childhood. He spent most of it in various foster and group homes, finally being allowed to return to live with his mother when he was 17 years old.

A man who sells handmade wooden flutes on the street arrives. He’s always pleasant; we’ve known him for years. Another street man, a gay African American we’ve known for a long time comes up. He is also always very helpful and friendly but tends to run with a rough crowd.

Tonight is no exception. The people he has with him appear to be very drunk and unhappy.

Almost immediately this man’s friends are arguing with all the other street people at the fire. The young Native man is arguing with an older white man about logging. A group of folks are continuing an argument over something that happened last night at Detox and 2 women who are relatives are arguing about who knows what.

The Occupiers are in agreement with the young Native man’s opinion about logging but we know enough to keep that to ourselves right now. We simply ask everyone to calm down. The man who makes flutes says, “You know, all this arguing started when I arrived. It must be my fault”.

The people stop arguing and everyone cracks up. Suddenly everyone is friendly again and we are all eating hot dogs. Go figure. Over the years we’ve noticed the drinking of alcohol seems to produce sudden mood swings. This is one of the many reasons we ask that folks do not drink, at least when they are sitting around our fire.

A group of youngish African American men join us. They’re hungry too. They’re also very grateful and thank us profusely. Soon the Memorial is filled with folks of all ethnicities eating, drinking coffee and apple juice and talking about how wonderful everything is. Then the cops arrive. Of course. Most of the crowd take their full plates and quietly wonder off. 3 squads have pulled up to the 2nd Ave E. side of CJM. They get out and go directly to a young black man who is standing on the sidewalk. An Occupier goes across the street, takes out his cell phone and begins taking pictures.

The rest of us just keep on doing what we were doing.

It seems the DPD isn’t interested in us. They search the young man, put him in a squad and drive away.

Someone informs us the young man called the cops himself. Apparently he was feeling suicidal and called 911 to ask for help. After all that, the Memorial is empty except for the Occupiers. We stand up close around the fire. We zip up our coats. The sun has been down for a while and it’s chilly now.

The flames have become really hot coals. We hold our bare hands over them. Hmmm…. Nice. Then it’s time to leave. We’ll be out at FDL on Tuesday. If the weather holds up we’ll be back here next Saturday.

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G.A. Minutes 3-10-15

G.A. Minutes 3-10-15

We have only 3 Occupiers tonight at the Amazing Grace Café. Seeing as it appears that it’s no longer winter, this lack of attendance is not surprising. During the last 3 days temps have been in the upper 40s with overnight lows in the 30s. Today was close to 60. Snow is rapidly melting, puddles are everywhere; people in Duluth are walking around with their coats open and dazed looks on their faces. They appear to be thinking can this be real? Well, it may be or not be real but it looks like most Occupiers have chosen to get outdoors and enjoy it, just in case normal March weather chooses to return.

We’ve been busy with various actions for several weeks. Another action is planned for tomorrow. This evening will be the first time we’ve been able to discuss things so we decide to go ahead even though we are very few.

Rick Nolan, our very disappointing federal representative from the 8th CD, is holding a Duluth fundraising event tomorrow night at the Vikre Distillery in Canal Park. We will be demonstrating outside the event with Northwoods 350, Idle No More, Northwoods Wolf Alliance and other groups. We plan to let Nolan’s potential backers know that many are not going to ignore his shameless sell out of our land and water to the 1% and their earth destroying corporations.

He has thrown his whole hearted support to Polymet’s sulfide mine, the Keystone XL, Alberta Clipper and other Enbridge projects.
Nolan has even gone so far as to sign on to the Republican letter to remove the Great Lakes wolves from the Endangered Species List….. Again. We want people to know we will not accept Nolan as the lesser of two evils candidate. We hope to convince the potential backers that Nolan isn’t a “shoo in”.

An Occupier asks how things went with last Friday’s NdN Taco Sale. We tell him it was quite successful and that INM/NWA has decided to make it a monthly event, every first Friday. We also remind the questioning Occupier that the next INM/NWA is this upcoming Friday, March 13th.

The Occupier asks if we will be attending the monthly Visit with an Elder next Tuesday March 17th. Another Occupier answers, “I spoke with the Fond du Lac person in charge of that program a few days ago. She says there’s some type of mix-up with the big bosses and she doesn’t know yet if the Elder visit is going to happen”. The Occupier responds, “I hope it will. I’m getting kind of addicted to visiting with the Elders”.

An Occupier reports, “I’m still working on getting that second Velcrow Ripper movie. I have it ordered but won’t be able to make payment for a few more days. Once I do that, they’ll send it out and I’ll get it in about 10 days. I think we’re looking at screening it around the end of the month”.

The same Occupier reminds us the next NAACP meeting will be held Sunday, March 15th, 3:30pm at the Hillside Community Center.
Another Occupier asks, “Seeing as the weather is so very nice and seeing as the weather people say it’s going to stay that way for at least a week, do you want to attempt to hold our next meeting at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial?”
We pause; we look at each other, each with a devilish gleam in our eye.

With so few of us present, do we dare to make a decision like that?

Someone inquires, “Is all the stuff ready?” Someone else answers, “It can be”.

We don’t imagine any of the others, not present, would object to the idea. “Let’s go for it!”

On that happy note we pack up to leave. Seeing as the meeting was a short one, we decide to drive by the Vikre Distillery and take a look at the set up.

See you next Saturday at CJM.

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G.A. Minutes 2-24-15

G.A. Minutes 2-24-15

We are a small group tonight at the Amazing Grace Café. It’s a good thing we’re here. If not for us, the place would be completely empty.

It’s hard to say why no one is out and about this evening. It’s not storming and the temps are a little above zero. The past several weeks have seen wind chills to -30 and -40.

The weather is probably not what’s keeping folks at home. As a matter of fact, most of our normally severe winter weather has visited the East Coast this year.

Maybe everyone is beginning to burn out on the cold even if it hasn’t been terribly bad this year. If we start dreaming of spring this soon we will surely be insane by April.

An Occupier mentions she had an interesting conversation with a professional organizer friend of ours today. The organizer had just returned from a tar sands conference in Madison.

He told the Occupier that people from 350.org and Honor the Earth were in attendance. He said the Alberta Clipper is definitely now on the radar.

The Occupier is quite pleased with this news. She says, “I am so totally excited! I’ve been trying to get people to understand the threat that Enbridge poses to our North Woods land and water. It sounds like folks may be finally getting the message.” We are all also pleased and ready to join and support the “Big Guns” in whatever ways that we can.

Another Occupier tells us about the NAACP meeting she attended a little over a week ago. She reports, “It was pretty wild. There were more black people than white people. Many people we know were there.’

“A 30 something black man was trying to tell folks about a daughter of Malcom X who is coming to Duluth soon. The old president allowed him to speak but whenever he said something the old president didn’t like the old president would say, “You’re out of order”. The man would ask why he was out of order but the old president wouldn’t answer.’

“Finally the man yelled, “You’re out of order! You’re a dictator and we don’t like it. Your days are numbered!” It appeared that the rest of the people agreed with the man.’

“People started talking about committees and the old president informed an older black man that he had been removed as chairperson.

The older man said, ‘How can I be removed? I was just recently voted in by the membership’.

The old president said, ‘I’m the president and I can remove and appoint anyone any time I want’. The older man was so angry he had to leave the room for a while’.

“The new president was also there. She said, ‘Everybody needs to read the bylaws. She had her friend read the relevant bylaw. It seemed like the particular bylaw did not exactly support what the old president was saying’.

“I could see that the new president was pretty smart. The old president then said,’ Let’s just finish the official meeting, then we can stay after and talk about all this stuff’.

“I left as soon as the official meeting was over because I’m not a member and I didn’t want to over step my bounds’.

“As soon as I have $35.00 to spare I’m going to join. I have a lot of experience reading and understanding bylaws and such”.

Another Occupier wants to show us his recent mathematical equations having to do with explorations of a 4th dimensional view of everyday reality. Many of us take this opportunity to go out for a smoke break.

Upon return, an additional Occupier reports that the next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NdN Taco Sale will be held on Friday March 6th11am-2pm at the Duluth Indian Center.
Several Occupiers volunteer to be delivery people and another will help with the cooking.

Someone informs us about plans for Rod Coronado’s visit to our area. As things stand now, he will be giving his Wolf Patrol presentation at the Perch Lake town hall, 4 or 5pm on Wednesday, March 4th. It’s probably going to be a potluck and we generally bring a big salad.

We’re also informed that at the last INM/NWA meeting someone suggested we make a movie about the wolves’ importance to a healthy environment. All of those in attendance were very excited about this idea. The Occupier giving us this information states she has some experience with movie making so realized the members did not realize how very difficult making a movie actually is. The Occupier has a friend who is skilled in animation so suggested this might be an easier way to go. INM/NWA members were open to the idea.

Just as the staff is preparing to close up and we are preparing to leave, a group of noisy, laughing young women arrive. We imagine they want to go home but they cheerfully take the women’s orders and give them a table. We’d say goodbye but the workers are busy.

This upcoming Saturday we’ll be attending a Soul Food Dinner at UWS-Superior.

If nothing interferes, we’ll be back here next Tuesday.

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G.A. Minutes 2-14-15

G.A. Minutes 2-14-15

There are only a few Occupiers tonight and we are meeting at the Occupier couple’s home. Their home is centrally located and it’s just too darn cold to go anywhere else. The temperature didn’t get above zero even during the day and the wind is strong.

Here we thought we were going to get by with a very mild winter. In the back of our minds we knew better. The real winter started today and threatens to continue for a while.

We have been unable to have an official meeting for several weeks. We’ve had obligations with our allies and there has been quite a lot of colds and flu going around. Several Occupiers are still under the weather. Anyway, it’s good to be able to get together this evening.

We start out by talking about the film Occupy Love which we watched as a group a few weeks ago. An Occupier has discovered the film is the last in a trilogy of films created by Velcrow Ripper, an artist who is active in the worldwide Occupy Movement. We decide to watch all three of his films and then decide if we should do a series of film showings with each film being screened on a separate date. The Occupier expects to receive the download of the first film by mid-week so we make plans to view it on Saturday February 21st.

Next we get a report about the NdN Taco Sale that some of us assisted Idle No More with about a week ago. It was a huge success. Everything was sold out well before the scheduled closing time. We had theorized that having the sale on the first Friday of the month instead of the last Friday would draw more customers. We were right about that.

The plan is to have a taco sale on the first Friday of every month. We will prepare at least twice as many taco ingredients and hope for as many customers again. If things go as anticipated we’ll be able to raise enough funds to get some INM projects off the ground.

Another Occupier tells us about the invitation we’ve received from Water Legacy. They’re having a fundraiser event at Trepanier Hall, February 22nd 11am-2pm.

Still another Occupier tells us about a comment she heard during last week’s Human Rights Commission meeting. She says one of the commissioners jokingly stated, “One of the problems with Occupy Wall Street is that they occupied a burning house”. She laughed and replied, “Yeah, most Occupiers have figured that out”.

Someone reminds us that we are going out to the Fond Du Lac Reservation area on this upcoming Tuesday in order to meet with an Elder. We’ll be leaving at 4pm.

Another item on the agenda is the fact that MN 350.org has approved the formation of a Twin Ports chapter. It’s going to be called Northwoods 350.

Local organizers put out initial feelers and there appears to be plenty of interest. We have all signed up as helpers. An Occupier comments, “Finally! We have been saying for over a year that local folks need to become aware of what the 1% has in store for us with the Alberta Clipper and Sandpiper pipelines’.

“I wrote an article about it over a year ago for our local alternative newspaper but received absolutely no response. Everyone was totally focused on the Keystone XL. Now it looks like that’s not gonna happen so you know they will try to quietly slip in the Clipper. The pipeline is already built so they can get Obama and whoever else’s approval on the sly, fill that snake with tar sands and destroy what’s left of our pristine wilderness and sacred Lake Superior. We have got to get the word out”.

We begin discussing the route the pipeline travels and where it crosses from Canada into the U.S. Because we are at the couple’s house, we have access to several computers. People begin looking.

At first we find the official map put out by Enbridge. Then we look at other maps of northern MN. We can’t find the names of any of the towns listed on the Enbridge map on any of the regular maps of MN.

By tracing and comparing we think the Clipper runs at least through Bemidji and Grand Rapids. We believe the Enbridge map deliberately lists just the pumping stations in order to reduce the amount of alarm that would be felt if people realized how close a potential tars sands spill will be to where they are living. Seeing as Enbridge has had over eight hundred spills in the last fifteen years or so, a spill is pretty much a given.

Eventually we notice it is well past the time for our meeting to be over. Computer work tends to mess with one’s sense of time.
We print a few things out and do a posting to the Northwoods 350 site.

All Occupiers without vehicles are mandated to accept rides with those who have driven. No one complains. This is the time of year that homeless folks are found frozen to death.

We will be doing actions during our next few meeting times and are not sure when we’ll be able to have an official meeting again. Probably not until February 24th or 28th. Stay warm.

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G.A. Minutes 1-27-15

G.A. Minutes 1-27-15

We’re back at the Amazing Grace Café again. We’ve been off gallivanting for almost three weeks. It feels good to be back.

The café is almost empty; it’s also quiet. We probably won’t have to compete with other conversations in order to hear each other.

An Occupier discovers he still has a bit of cash left a few days before the end of the month. He offers to treat everyone to soup and/or a sandwich. Most take him up on the offer. The Occupiers are in the habit of sharing with each other and with people outside the group as much as possible. We like to practice what we preach.

Someone asks how the flyer for the February 6th Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NdN Taco Sale is coming along. The Occupier charged with making the first draft says he was hoping to be finished before tonight’s meeting so he could pass it to the Occupier in charge of making the final template. Unfortunately he’s not quite finished so will get it to her by tomorrow.

We briefly go over the information that we think should be on the flyer. The taco sale will be held at the Duluth Indian Center and we joke about how things will go. The Dululth Indian Center doesn’t have the proper electrical wiring to support a refrigerator or a stove so the cooking and storing will need to be improvised.

We’re glad we don’t have to figure all that out. The Native members of INM/NWA are pros at this so we’re not worried, just curious as to how it will be done.

Another Occupier reminds us that we still haven’t done anything about getting the film Occupy Love. The Occupier tasked with getting the download says, “Crap! I completely forgot about that. I’ll do it right away”.

The first Occupier responds, “Do you think you might be able to get it downloaded and ready to go by this Saturday? If you could, then we could view it at my house for our next meeting”.

The tasked Occupier answers, “Oh sure, that shouldn’t be a problem”.

An additional Occupier reports that Howling For Wolves will be sponsoring a Wolf Day At The Capital on Thursday February 5th. HFW will have a bus leaving from Duluth going to St. Paul at 7am on that day. She adds, “I can’t remember where the bus is leaving from but if you go on the HFW Facebook page you will find all the information”. A few Occupiers are interested in possibly going on the bus.

She also reports, “I was talking with a couple of HFW’s people last Saturday at the Native Round Dance we attended at UMD. They were agreeing that NWA and HFW should find more ways of working together. I sent them a copy of the NWA wolf/mining timeline”.
The same Occupier also mentions that she sent a copy of the timeline to a well-known local activist who specializes in pushing the Democratic Party toward radical action. The activist was quite intrigued by the timeline saying she had always suspected the connection but until now was unable to prove it.

The Occupier continues, “The activist says she would like to work with us more often. I invited her to the taco sale and to the next INM/NWA meeting. I know we don’t have any interest in working with the Democratic Party but perhaps the activist will eventually realize the so called two party system is really a one party system that is not going to change. She’s pretty smart so may figure it out’.

“The activist was also intrigued with the information we were able to find out about Senator Amy Klobuchar and the strings she pulled with the Department of the Interior in order to get the wolves removed from the Endangered Species List. She had a gut feeling that Klobuchar was up to something but was unable to find the details”.

The Occupier who created the timeline states, “The information wasn’t really that hard to find but some people are just not hard wired for doing research”.

Another Occupier attended the NAACP held last Sunday and tells us, “There were about 30 people in attendance, more black people than white people. It looks like the old president is going to be able to keep his position for a while longer. He found some obscure rule and used it to disqualify the person who the majority of members elected as the new president. It appeared to me that the bulk of the people at the meeting were supporters of the new president and that they weren’t planning on going away anytime soon’.

“I’d never seen the old president in action but I noticed he seemed to use Robert’s Rules when it was to his advantage to do so and to ignore them when it was to his advantage to not use them. An example is that apparently at the last meeting the members had voted to have an outside audit of the books. It was apparent the old president didn’t want this to happen. He said that an inside audit of the books every year was mandated by the national organization so he wanted to pass a resolution for an inside audit. At the end of his speech he quietly added, ‘If we do an inside audit we won’t need to pay to also do an outside audit’. The members caught on and would have none of it. The old president had to amend his resolution and call for an outside audit if the members felt it was really necessary.

“Many African American young people were in attendance and they said several times that it was of utmost importance that the needs of African American youth be addressed. I agree with them and hope they can hang in there and keep pushing.

“Another cool thing that happened was when the new treasurer, who is also a member of the Clayton Jackson McGhie BOD, was telling everyone about the CJM annual fundraiser at the Northland Country Club.

“People were discussing who was going to sit at the NAACP table at the event. The new treasurer said, ‘Please keep in mind that this is our only fundraiser. People sitting at the tables will be expected to donate at least $100 from their personal funds’.

“A middle aged black man said, ‘Hey, wait a minute. The men up on that wall sure didn’t have $100 to donate. CJM is for everybody!’

“The new treasurer quickly backtracked saying, ‘Oh yes, everyone is welcome…..blah,blah,blah’.

“I couldn’t help but smile and nod my head in agreement. I didn’t say anything during the whole meeting though. I just observed. I knew my place”.

We all get a kick out of the Occupier’s last story.

We notice the staff is quietly closing up shop so we pack up too. We say goodnight to the very pleasant workers and head out into temps in the high 20s with not much wind. Sweet.

So the plan is that if we are able to get the download we will meet next Saturday at the Occupier couple’s house and screen the film. If not, we’ll be back at the Grace.

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Saturday 24 January 2015……GA will attend Round Dance at UMD, ride with us leaving at 5pm, or come to Ward Wells Field House at or after 5pm. thx, richard

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G.A. Minutes 1-13-15

G.A. Minutes 1-13-15

Tonight is the first time the Occupiers have held an official meeting in this New Year 2015.

The last several weeks have been so busy we haven’t had the time to meet. We’ve attended the Public Utilities Commission hearing on the Sandpiper pipeline, the annual Marxmas Party of Socialist Action and an Ethiopian dinner at Jefferson People’s House.

We think all the events were good uses of our time. The Marxmas Party was tons of fun.

This evening we’ve decided to try something different. We’re at a new little café called Toasty’s up in the neighborhood of what was the old Chester Creek Café.

Toasty’s has opened quite recently. It’s completely empty when we arrive. The lighting is bright but not offensive. The place is small with little wooden tables and plastic chairs; one gets the feeling that everything is yellow even though it’s not.

The café specializes in a wide menu of organic, free range etc. types of grilled cheese sandwiches and various drinks. Several of us place food orders.

As we are getting seated someone says, “So what do you think is really going on with oil prices crashing?”

Nobody has a firm idea.

Someone else answers, “Well a lot of oil has been pumped over the last year or so. It’s possible there’s just too much on the market right now”.

Another speculates, “The recent budget bill passed by Congress has a provision that states something like if the fracking and tar sands industries crash the American taxpayer will be mandated to bail out the big banks and investors again.

Still another responds, “Yeah, I’ve read predictions by several non-mainstream economists saying we can expect another 2008 type economic crash starting at the beginning of 2015.”

The original questioner remarks, “Oh great, just what the common person needs, more insecurity and suffering than they’ve already had. I hope it brings even more people out into the streets”.

An Occupier changes the subject saying “Does anybody know how the hastily arranged anti-Keystone rally went today?”

No one knows so he continues, “I was talking to our friend who organized today’s rally. He told me that he’s been asked to form a Duluth chapter of 350.org. He asked what I thought about it and I said I’d ask everyone at tonight’s meeting”.

Another Occupier responds, “I think it would be a good idea. As far as I can tell, 350 has been the main group taking on Enbridge. I’ve been saying for over a year that we need to get busy here in Duluth and educate the general public on what the Enbridge Alberta Clipper is all about”.

The first Occupier adds, “Yeah, if the Keystone XL is denied and it looks like it might be, they will certainly try to sneak the Clipper on us with as little fanfare as possible’.

“If the Clipper is allowed to proceed it will be as bad, if not worse, than the Keystone. Our sacred Lake Superior, a major remaining supplier of fresh water will be destroyed’.

“I think a lot of local people who are strict environmentalists and some of the Fond du Lac Band people would get on board with a Duluth 350.org chapter. Getting the word out is essential. I’m going to tell him we think he should go for it, o.k.?”

We all say, “O.K.”.

An Occupier asks, “Have you noticed the latest developments within our local NAACP?” Some of us have not so she explains, “Well you know a new president was chosen a few weeks ago and the former president challenged that election. Last Saturday the former president called and held another election. I’m told not all of the NAACP members were invited. At that election the former president was reelected’.

“The new president is refusing to accept the second election. She states she is the official president and will be calling NAACP meetings. Basically, it looks like the younger more progressive members are challenging the older establishment members for the direction of NAACP. One result of this split is that I have absolutely no idea what will be going on for Martin Luther King Day next Monday the 19th.”

Another Occupier says, “I may be old but I’m going to throw my support to the young folks. I think it may be a good idea for us to sit this MLK day out. We should probably just wait for the dust to settle before we publicly come out in support of the new progressives”.

“The African Americans need to get their own house in order before we put our two cents in. I’ll try and contact our friend the government official and see what he suggests”.

Everyone thinks this is a good plan.

One more Occupier reminds us that the next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting we be held on this upcoming Friday at 1pm.

She also reminds us that we have been invited to spend another evening with an elder at the Cloquet Community Club on Tuesday, January 20th.

As we have been talking, a few people have come in and ordered things. They all took seats at the other end of the room, leaving us undisturbed. In fact, we’ve been so undisturbed we’ve almost forgotten we were in new surroundings.

Now we notice that the workers appear to be closing up. As we get ready to leave, an Occupier asks, “So what do you think of this place? Should we come back?”

Another Occupier replies, “This place is o.k. but I feel more comfortable at the Amazing Grace.” Everyone else thinks so too.

We’ll meet next Saturday at the Amazing Grace.

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G.A. Minutes 12-30-14

G.A. Minutes 12-30-14

Quite a few Occupiers are present for tonight’s meeting at the Amazing Grace. This is surprising as it’s the coldest night we’ve had so far this winter. Temperatures were barely above zero during the day and this evening at 6pm it’s a little below zero with wind chill of -20 or so.

Most have arrived so bundled up that only their eyes are visible. We take up the biggest table and add some extra chairs.

One Occupier, who we haven’t seen in a while, has just come from a meeting with the president of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board of Directors. He and the president are personal friends.

We question the Occupier to see if there have been any new developments. He says, “No, I don’t think so. The president personally appears to support what you are doing at CJM but the BOD does not. I guess he thinks he has to go along with what the BOD says even if he doesn’t agree with their assessment. He’s actually a really nice guy, you know”.

We agree that the president is a nice person but we say our position hasn’t changed either. We know we are within our legal right to be at CJM and we believe we are doing good work there. Once spring comes around again, we plan on going back.

An Occupier says, “Maybe we should have a press conference or something and get this issue out in the open”.

Another Occupier responds, “No, if we make a big public deal out of this we will give the CJM BOD more power than they’re actually entitled to have. Also, the general public is not very supportive of homeless people or homeless outreach. We could end up shooting ourselves in the foot”.

The first Occupier replies, “Yeah, I guess that’s true.

The Occupier who has been working on a MN mining permit/delisting of MN wolves from the Endangered Species List timeline for the Northwoods Wolf Alliance has a first draft ready. He passes it around and asks for additions, corrections, comments etc.

Everyone is impressed with the timeline. It has a good look to it and is easy to read and understand. Many are amazed at the obviousness of the correlation between delisting of wolves and applications for mining permits.

The Occupier who hasn’t been around in a while asks for an explanation about what we are up to. He knows we are allied with NWA and Idle No More but is unaware as to the reasoning for creating this timeline.

We explain that during an NWA meeting a while back someone mentioned the theory that the wolves (called Maii’gan in Anishinaabemowin) are being used as a smoke screen issue in order to secure endangered species habitat for mining company projects.

Many people said they had heard that theory in passing but were unaware of any serious discussion of the issue. We all looked around a bit but didn’t come across any person or group who was doing that work. We decided to do it ourselves.

An Occupier offered to do the research and create a timeline to start the undertaking. He states, “I’m going to present this timeline at the next NWA meeting but I wanted to show it to you guys first to see what you thought. If NWA is satisfied with the timeline, the next plan is to get the information out to as many wolf advocate groups, educators, legislators and others who are interested.

We think that what this wolf delisting is really about should become general knowledge. The argument that wolves are evil killing machines and a danger to mankind vs the wolves are deeply spiritual animals very necessary to the balance of nature is a false flag.

The fact of the matter is that mining corporations want endangered species land for (mostly) sulphide mining projects. We go on talking about how indigenous people all over the world are on the front lines, defending their lands and our Mother Earth. We know we have much to learn from them.

An Occupier asks, “Well what about nation sovereignty? Why don’t they just use that?”

Another Occupier answers, “They do but they are just ignored. The highest courts always rule that sovereignty trumps everything else but the majority of world governments just ignore those rulings and keep on taking over Native lands or paying off corrupt tribal governments.’

“That’s why so many are making blockades, going on fasts, having protests, long marches, water ceremonies and all that stuff’.

“Part of our job is to get the rest of the people to see that Native folks are not ignorant troublemakers but the first and strongest line of defense in the battle for the survival of the planet.”

One Occupier asks to be able to read something to us. He reads a statement from an Occupy Wall Street group about not hating white people, cops, rich people, soldiers etc., but about hating the systems that empower them to do abominable things.

When he is finished, we notice some of the people at surrounding tables looking at us with puzzlement and/or curiosity.

A man comes over and asks us what group we are from. We tell him we are Occupy Duluth. He gives us a friendly look that seems to say, “Oh that explains it”.

Another man gets up on the stage, goes to the piano and plays a bluesy honkytonk piece. He’s pretty good and we all clap when he’s done.

We’re about to start another topic of conversation when we notice the lead server turning off the outdoor signs and cleaning off the counters. Previous experience tells us the staff would like to go home.

As we all pile on layers of clothing someone says, “Hey, did you know that on this upcoming Saturday the Jefferson People’s House is having a vegan Ethiopian dinner? Do you want to go?”

Most of us were unaware of the dinner but we all want to go. It looks like that’s where we’ll be on Saturday. Actually, it’s a good thing we’re closing tonight’s meeting early because most of us will be running around all day tomorrow helping our friends setup for the Indigenous Commission’s New Year’s Eve dinner at the Washington Center.

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G.A. Minutes 12-27-14

G.A. Minutes 12-27-14

There are hardly any Occupiers tonight at the Amazing Grace Café. Some have sent messages saying they won’t be attending the meeting. The few who are in attendance commiserate concerning the exhaustion they feel from holiday obligations.

Oh well…. It’s almost over, then we’ll just try to survive the winter while dreaming of spring. Most of us are not fans of winter outdoor activities. We endure the frigid months in order to experience proximity to nature the rest of the year.

An Occupier has brought copies of the Indigenous Environmental Network grant application for those who were not present at Northwoods Wolf Alliance/Idle No More meeting last week. NWA has asked all involved to fill out their version of what they think should be written on the application.

The Occupier comments, “I’m not so sure that applying for grants is actually worth all the trouble required. I mean, we’re going to do what we’re going to do whether we get a grant or not. Sometimes the amount of work required just to get a grant takes away from the time that can be spent on making the proposed event actually happen”.

Another Occupier says, “I know what you mean. I think grants are just another way rich people try to make sure that nothing that will make real change actually happens. I notice they rarely fund any ongoing expenses of an organization. They only want new projects. If the project is successful and begins to look like it will make a difference, the grant money then dries up and the project is stopped because its success was tied to the grant money. Another group has to be formed and another grant applied for. Seems like a racket to me”.

The first Occupier responds, “Yeah, but the indigenous members of NWA want to apply for the grant so we’ll need to provide assistance. Maybe they will see the futility of grant writing as time goes by or maybe we’ll be in for a shock and things will work out fine. I’ll think we should just go with the flow on this”.

The centerpiece of the project that is planned, grant or no grant, is the MN proposed mining projects/delisting of MN wolves from the Endangered Species List timeline. The Occupier who is doing a large part of the preparation for the timeline reports, “I’ve completed the first draft. I envision it looking like this”.

He draws a rough sketch and another Occupier exclaims, “That’s exactly how I envisioned it would look. This is gonna be good!”

We discuss printing in terms of types of paper, sizes, use of color, placement of text etc. The excited Occupier says, “As soon as the final version is approved by the entire NWA group, I will hook you and the NWA member who is living outside the Duluth area and will be doing the printing. The two of you can make the final decisions about these things”.

An Occupier states, “I wonder what we will do about a copyright or whatever it’s called. In previous conversations we had thought it would become the property of NWA with permission for others to use it for purposes related to saving our planet”.

The Occupier creating the timeline explains, “With the prevalence of the Internet, copy rights are pretty much a thing of the past. An author can write a request at the bottom of the work that anyone using the work should please attribute the work to NWA or whatever but the person using the work can pretty much do what they want. The authors’ only recourse is to file a lawsuit. I don’t have any interest in doing anything like that”.

The first Occupier replies, “Oh. I guess I’m still thinking in old school terms”.

Another Occupier says, “Man, up in Canada there are places that were wolf habitats but now the wolves are completely gone. I think it’s because of the pollution of mining and tar sands projects. The wolves just can’t live there anymore. Also, the earth destroying companies demand the right to shoot any wolf that even comes near their site. They also demand the government send people to shoot any wolves that can be found and the government actually sends in wolf killers”.

One more Occupier says, “I don’t think Canada has the same type of environmental laws that we have. I’m not sure it makes any difference though. The corporations pretty much do what they want in the US too.’

“I don’t hear much about anyone except First Nations people fighting for Mother Earth. One can’t really be sure what’s going on. We don’t get much from Canadian media. There may be all sorts of Canadian people going to jail”. A discussion about going to jail in defense of our Mother ensues.

An Occupier comments, “I was just reading some serious advice about going to jail. It said anyone who is mandated to take lifesaving medications on a regular schedule should not go try to go to jail as they will not be given their medications for at least several days”.

Someone says, “It’s later than we think. We need to review the events coming up in the next few weeks.

“The Public Utilities Commission will be holding a public hearing on the proposed Sandpiper pipeline on Tuesday, January 6th 2pm , Room 200 of the downtown Holiday Inn.

“Those things go on forever and they’re very tiring. If we go, I propose we do it in lieu of the G.A. that evening.

“On Saturday January 10th, Socialist Action is holding their annual ‘Marximus’ party at 5pm in Superior, WI. I attended a few years ago and it was quite fun. Our area’s official socialists are a really good bunch of people.

“The next NWA/INM meeting will be January 16th, 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center. Also, on Tuesday, January 20th our friend and fellow NWA/INM member will be feasting another Anishinaabe elder. The event will be at the Cloquet Community Center at 5pm”.

We all agree that we would like to attend all of these events.

The one thing we really don’t want to do is to go out into the frigid night air. However, being the hearty revolutionaries that we are, we do it anyway.

There won’t be any live music next Tuesday so we’ll meet here at “The Grace” again.

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