G.A. Minutes 6-25-16

G.A. Minutes 6-25-16

We’re kinda bummed out as we arrive at Coney Island this evening.  A big thunder and lightning storm has just passed over our city.  Everything is soaking wet and the weather people say it’s possible that more rain is on the way.  It’s been 2 weeks since we’ve been able make a fire at People’s Plaza; we were really looking forward to doing it tonight.

Our group will be small again this evening.  Some Occupiers have gone up to the Hibbing MN area for the 87th Annual Midsummer Festival at Mesabe Co-op Park.

As we walk through the door we are just about blown back out again by the really, really loud music the hipsters have playing over the radio.  We don’t say anything about it but one of the guys quickly runs to the back and turns the sound down. The Occupiers don’t care much for classic heavy metal but will tolerate it if it’s in the background.

The place is empty as we order food and settle in.  Not for long though, a mid sized group of very large men, who appear to be sports fans, walk in.  They take up the entire counter space; ordering lots of food.  The hipsters begin scurrying around.  We figure this means we’ll be waiting for our food for a while.  No problem, we we’re not in a hurry.

An Occupier reports, “So there will be the monthly NDN Taco Sale again next Friday, June 1st but it will be a little different.  Some of the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance people will be out of town.  All Nations is going to be doing a sale of their own.  They will still need our help; we’ll just be working with All Nations folks instead of INM/NWA. Some of the Occupiers will be able to help.

Another Occupier says, “I finally received a copy of the so called letter concerning recreational fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  I received it in an email from one of our friends on the City Council.  The Councilor was concerned that there was no language guaranteeing public access to CJMM.

“Actually, it’s not a letter.  It’s an 18 page document called Agreement Between the City of Duluth and Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Inc.  Basically it preserves the City’s ownership of CJMM but passes the management of the site over to the CJMM BOD.

“Along with official management status, the BOD is going to get a lot more responsibilities.  Among their responsibilities will be hosting an annual spring cleanup, planting and maintaining the garden year around and keeping the site clean on a day to day basis.  All expenses incurred from these responsibilities are to be paid for by the CJMM BOD”.

Another Occupier comments, “Maybe they’d like to hire me to keep things clean. After all, I kept it clean for 3 years.  I even went down there on days we weren’t going to have a fire and cleaned as necessary.  Several neighborhood women did regular cleaning too.  It will be interesting to see members of the BOD down there with brooms, scrub brushes and pails of water”.  We all laugh.

The first Occupier continues, “The document also states that the City and the CJMM BOD will write a specific Rules and Regulations policy for the Memorial. Oh boy, I can just imagine the totally ridiculous and impractical rules the BOD will come up with.  Any rules have to be approved by the City but that doesn’t give me any confidence that their rules will end up making any sense.

“This agreement document that I just showed you still has to be approved by the City Council.  I promised our council friend that I would attend their next meeting, this upcoming Monday and sign up to speak on the issue of the public’s right to use of public space”.

Another Occupier reminds us, “Next Tuesday, June 28th, 6pm at Community Action Duluth, the Local Solutions to Poverty group will be holding their next event.  The mayor and all the newly elected City Councilors will be there and we need to be there too”.

Another Occupier questions, “Refresh my memory, what is the event about and why do we need to be there?”

The reminding Occupier replies, “Remember right before the November City elections when LSP held an event at the Damiano and all the candidates showed up?  The candidates were mandated to each answer the same series of questions about low income housing, racial equity, poverty wages and stuff like that?  Well Tuesday evening all the candidates who were elected will return.  LSP will hold their feet to the fire (probably way too gently) and find out what each official has done so far to keep their promise”.

We need to be there so they can see we are watching.  Although none of us are interested in running for government office or any of the stuff, decisions and actions made by the City government affect us and all the folks who live in our neighborhood.  We need to have their backs”.

Someone remarks, “I went to that racial equity meeting last Tuesday.  I was the only Occupier there.  What’s up with that?”  We all laugh sheepishly.  She continues, “Well, you didn’t miss much.  There were 27 people there, only 5 of them were POC.  There were mainly NGO types who receive salaries to help improve or pretend to help improve the lives of POC.

“They kicked around ideas about what they could do to get racial equity for POC. I suggested they get out to street level and see what’s going on.  I also suggested they ask POC what they should do’

“A lot of people started asking me questions.  Somebody said, “So you’re a real grassroots community organizer” and I responded, ‘Actually, I wouldn’t call it organizing, I just sorta hang out with people”.

An Occupier asks, “Hey, did you see that the RNC is gonna allow guns at their convention?  They have all these other rules like, no tennis or beach balls, no sleeping bags, backpacks or all sorts of other things but guns are o.k.”  We shake our heads.

Another Occupier exclaims, “The FDL Veterans Powwow is coming up on Saturday July 9th, can we go?  Please, please, please?”  Most of us just love the Veterans Pow Wow.  We’re gonna try and make it happen.

The café is empty now and the hipsters are starting to clean.  It won’t hurt to leave a little early.  We do our usual cleanup routine, say pleasant good byes to the staff and tell them we’ll see them again sooner or later.

If it doesn’t rain next Saturday, we’ll have a fire at People’s Plaza.  Everybody, cross your fingers, say a prayer, put down your tobacco or whatever it is that floats your boat in hopes we can have a fire on Saturday.

 

G.A. Minutes 6-14-16

G.A. Minutes 6-14-16
So we’re back to not so good weather again.  Grey skies, blustery east wind and temperatures in the 40s.  Rain has been threatening all day but so far, hasn’t materialized.
We decided to not take a chance so that means we’re back at Coney Island again.  Oh well….. Things could be a lot worse; at least we’re not in jail.
Our friend at KUMD is kicking it with his weekly Tuesday night radio show, as usual.  We’re surprised to see 3 of the regular hipsters working the counter.  There are several booths worth of customers but the workload doesn’t appear to be overwhelming.
We notice that one of the guys is off in a corner making a huge ice cream sundae.  When he carries it back to the kitchen, we assume he made it for himself.  Guess he’s not working after all.
Only 2 Occupiers have put in an appearance so far.  Folks may be getting spoiled as the fires at the Plaza are more entertaining. They may have decided not to venture out on such a dreary evening.
The first Occupiers order food and plunk down in the back booth to wait and see if others will arrive.  One Occupier has a new cell phone, the first one she’s ever had.  The other Occupier is trying to show her how to use some of the features; at one point he gets stumped.
The Occupier with the new phone says, “Ask one of the hipster guys.  They know all about this stuff.  They ask; the hipster knows the answer and explains.  It has something to do with the number of pixels.
Another Occupier walks in; this means a meeting may commence.  An Occupier comments, “I was trying to listen to the City Council meeting on the radio last night but there were so many distractions I didn’t get to hear much.  Anybody know what happened?”
Another Occupier replies, “I think they gave the go ahead for the rehab of the Gardner for low income housing.  However, I hear that once they finish it, all that will happen is that they will close the Seaway and move all the people from there over to the Gardner.  We won’t be getting any new low income housing from the deal.”
An Occupier adds, “I think they may rehab the Seaway next.  That would mean more low income housing but some poor people will still get screwed.  The Seaway didn’t have all the public housing requirements that the rest of low income housing does.  There are some poor people who won’t be eligible for the units anymore. That is so lame.  I’m not completely sure of all my facts but I think that’s how things are gonna go.     
“I know some people with serious brain malfunctions, felonies and stuff like that are hard to house but they’re still human beings and have to live somewhere.  We need more places like San Marcos”.
An Occupier asks, “So what does our schedule look like for the near future?”  The Occupier who remembers all that stuff answers, “This Friday, June 17th is the Annual Day of Remembrance for the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial; things will start at noon. 
“This upcoming Saturday, June 18th, we’re going to the Juneteenth Celebration in Superior.  It will be at Kelly Park, 711 Grand Ave. from 2pm-7pm and all are welcome.
“Next Tuesday, June 21st there’s going to be a meeting between Mayor Emily, City Councilor Gary Anderson and the folks who belong to the organization called The Table.  The discussion will be about how we are going to make racial equity actually happen in Duluth.  I don’t think anything too earth shattering will go on but I think we need to make an appearance just to show we are watching.  You never know, there may be some actual POC in attendance”.  We share a good natured laugh.
Another Occupier remarks, “There’s the CHUM Rhubarb Fest coming up on Saturday, June 25th at the First Lutheran Church on the 1100 block of London Rd from 9am-4pm.  We could go there and if the weather gives us a break, we could still have a fire at People’s Plaza in the evening.
“Then Local Solutions to Poverty is sponsoring an Accountability Forum on Tuesday, June 28th, 6pm at Community Action Duluth. Remember when they had that forum right before the last City elections where almost all the candidates showed up?  The candidates were each asked about many racial and economic issues and if they would support certain proposals to help remedy these situations.  Almost every one of the candidates said yes, they would support the proposals.  Well, the Accountability Session is to see what each of the candidates who were elected has done so far related to their promises.  It might be an interesting event”.
The Occupier who remembers stuff says, “Oh, I almost forgot a couple of things.  Did you hear that the US Forest Service has expressed strong concern about the proposed Twin Metals underground sulfide mine near the boundary Waters?  The USFS is concerned that the mine may pollute the BWCA”.
An Occupier exclaims, “Well duh, do ya think?”
The remembering Occupier continues, “So there’s going to be a public hearing here in Duluth on July 13th to listen to public comment.  I’m sure Twin Metals personnel will be there sprouting their ying yang but it sounds like the rest of us may actually be heard too”.
“We’re going to need more fire wood soon.  We’re getting pretty low.  It will be a week or two before we order another load.  The Occupier who has a truck will go pick it up but then we’ll need everyone to help unload and stack it”.
An Occupier makes a suggestion, “It’s after 7pm; it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to show.  Want to go over to my house, finish listening to the KUMD show and goof around for a while?” We think that sounds like a plan.
So we bus our table and put tips in the jar.  The hipsters tell us, “We miss seeing you guys” and we respond, “We’ll be back the next time it’s meeting night and the weather’s too bad to have a fire”.
It looks like we’ll be busy for the next week.  We plan to be back at People’s Plaza on Saturday, June 25th.

G.A. Minutes 6-11-16

G.A. Minutes 6-11-16
Weather wise it looks like we’ll be experiencing an excellent evening at People’s Plaza.  Temperatures are in the high 70s, the sky is partly cloudy and a very slight and variable east wind keeps things from overheating.  Perfection.
No one comes out of the MN Power building to yell at us or even look at us when we roll up and unload.  It’s hard to imagine anyone being in a bad mood on a night like this.
We get things set up and the first person to stop by is the gray haired woman.  We’re glad she’s finally managed to find us. She’s pretty happy about it too.
She’s carrying a couple of big bags and tells us she’s made a good haul at the free store again.  She takes everything out to show us.  It’s mostly very good winter clothing and Christmas decorations.  We think her home must be packed wall to wall with all the stuff she collects; she also gives a lot away to street folks in need.  Over the years, she’s given the Occupy women some really nice things too.  They wear her gifts all the time.
A high school student comes over; he tells us he was attracted by the smell of the burning sage.  Two of his friends who are riding bikes quickly follow.  We offer them food from the table; they’re shy at first but once they start eating we can tell they’re all very hungry.
They talk amongst themselves.  It seems they are trying to figure out where each one is going to sleep tonight.  It sounds like they mostly do couch surfing.
One of the boys says to the bike less one, “We need to find a bike for you.  There’s one down the street that has just been sitting there for a long time”.
An Occupier asks, “Have you guys ever heard of the Bike Cave?”  They respond, “Yes, we have but we don’t know where it is”.  The Occupier gives the directions and explains a little bit about Loaves N Fishes and about how the Bike Cave operates. The boys exclaim, “Wow!  We should go over there right now and check it out”.  They thank us for the food and head on out to see what they can see.
The woman with the animal menagerie arrives.  Tonight she is accompanied by her ex-husband, her 14 year old daughter and 2 German Shepard dogs.  She’s also brought lots of hot dogs and all the fixins.
She tells us a little more about her life, “My mon is from Thailand. My dad was working for the Peace Corps and my mom was working in a bar.  My dad had a motorcycle and my mom thought he was kinda cute.  They got together but once they came back to the States she found out he wasn’t very nice.
“She left him and moved to South Carolina.  I went with her but I became very depressed and tried to commit suicide.  I got sent back here to my dad.  When he picked me up at the airport, the first thing he did was to show me the hospital bill from my suicide attempt. 
“My dad belongs to a really strict religion and he said, ‘You’ve cost me a lot of money and you don’t behave.  I don’t want to deal with anyone who won’t behave.  From now on, you’re on your own’.  I was 16 years old then and I was homeless.
“I am bi-polar and have a personality disorder.  Behaving and doing what people tell me to do is just not in the cards.
“In my 20s I was pregnant 5 times but I miscarried all of them.  My daughter here was number six.  I had a very difficult pregnancy and an emergency C-section but she was born alive”.
An Occupier comments, “Well then, you are certainly a miracle child”.  The daughter replies, “Oh, I’m no miracle”.  We can see she has an ornery attitude, just like her mother.
The sun is now behind the buildings so we start up the fire.  We’ll make a small one because the weather is warm and also so we can get some quick coals for cooking the hot dogs.
An Occupier rides up on his bike.  He and another Occupier attended a Listening Session with the new mayor and our Central Hillside City Councilor.  They report on their experience.
One Occupier explains, “The main thing I wanted to talk about was more low income housing.  The City Councilor said that getting the general public to support low income housing is difficult.  Most say they are in favor of it but they don’t want it in their neighborhood.  The councilor said we need to get lots of homeless people to come to the Council meetings and speak about the huge need for more low income housing”
The other Occupier adds, “The mayor said she is in favor of low income housing but she wants mixed income housing scattered around the city.  I think their hearts are in the right place but they don’t understand the realities of homelessness.
“Many homeless people try to appear invisible.  They would be too afraid to speak to the City Council.  They’re afraid they would be arrested or something.  They don’t have nice clothes, hairdos or stuff like that and think they would be insulted and looked down upon.  Seeing as being insulted and looked down upon is part of their daily experience, who can blame them.
“Mixed income housing would be difficult.  Many people who have normal incomes will not move into a mixed income building.  They are resentful of poor people who receive government services. Also, poor people need basic services like feeding centers, food banks, ER visits, social worker services and stuff like that.  All those things are located in the Central Hillside or West End.  If poor people are living in buildings scattered about town, those services will be more difficult to access than they already are.
“People with normal incomes would be really pissed if feeding centers or ambulances and first responders became a part of their neighborhood or of the building they lived in.  Maybe it could be done but it would be very difficult”.
The first Occupier states, “Well, we’ll just have to keep working on the mayor and Councilors.  I think Lee Stuart, the director of CHUM could give us good advice on how to go about it”.
A friend who teaches beadwork at Life House joins us.  She’s brought her 2 young children along.  Soon another well respected woman in the native community arrives with her 3 children.  The kids all start running around the big Plaza, having a very good time.
The well-respected woman states, “Wow, this is really nice.  We love to do this in the country but I never knew one could do it in the city.  This is a really good thing you are that doing”.
Our friend, the city official sits down.  He has a copy of the Duluth News Tribune.  The front page story is about a lawsuit filed against UMD by the former director of the UMD GLBT Services. It says she was forced to resign because she publically supported the UMD female lesbian sports coaches who were fired from their jobs.
We discuss the many instances of homophobia we know of at UMD.  Changing the subject, an Occupier says to the official, “I just finished reading the dissertation from a previous UMD director of Black Student Services.  What a trip!  It doesn’t seem like much has changed since it was written in about 1984.
“Regarding what the director said about black students not being as well prepared for taking college courses as white students are, it seems like the root solution is that our country needs to stop funding our schools through property taxes.  If all schools were equally funded, everyone would get a good education or everyone would get a bad education”.  The city official agrees.
Spiritual man checks in.  He smudges and comments, “What a beautiful night”.  An Occupier asks him, “Hey, would you have any interest in working on the construction crew for the rebuilding of Superior St.?”
He says he definitely would be interested.  The Occupier points to the city official and says, “He’s the one who knows all about it”. The official responds, “It’s going to be a 3 year project and will start next year from the West End and go all the way through downtown and out east.
“A lot of taxpayer money will be spent.  Seeing as there have been so many projects supported by taxpayer money in which no people of color have been hired, we’re demanding that the new mayor order that 50% of the Superior St. construction jobs go to POC.  I think we stand a good chance of that happening with this new mayor”.
Spiritual Man and the city official exchange contact information for future reference.
A middle aged man who we have not met yet comes over.  He asks what is going on and when we inform him we are cooking, eating and discussing things, he sits down.
He wants to talk about the upcoming presidential election.  The discussion starts out the usual way things generally go in the straight world these days.  The man thinks Hillary will be an acceptable president.  The Occupiers think she sucks and they explain why.  The man says that Trump would be worse.  The Occupiers think he sucks too.
The gray haired woman asks, “Well isn’t it time for a woman president?”  An Occupier rejoins, “Jill Stein is a woman”.  The Occupiers plan to wait to see what Bernie is gonna do, vote for Jill no matter what or not vote at all.
Spiritual Man sighs, “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, nothing ever changes.  No matter who gets elected, we never get good jobs, education, housing, healthcare or anything; nothing ever changes”.  No one disagrees with him.
The 14 year old daughter says she needs to go to the bathroom. This could be a problem as there are no accessible bathrooms in the area.
Spiritual Man tells her, “Well you can’t go to Luce’ because they have a band playing so they won’t let anyone in unless they pay a cover charge.  Maybe they’ll let you in at the Holiday Center.  I’ll walk down there with you so you won’t have to walk on the street alone”.  Off they go.
It’s almost 10 pm: an Occupier suggests, “We should probably start packing up”.  Another Occupier reminds him, “We need to wait for Spirit Man and the daughter to return”.
We all continue chatting until they return.  Spiritual Man says, “No luck.  Everything was locked up”  The 14 year old is looking rather desperate when the gray haired woman offers, “Maybe I could take you across the street to the new microbrew bar.  I’ll say I’m your grandmother and you look all helpless and innocent, o.k.?” Off they go.
They return shortly.  The daughter is smiling and the gray haired woman remarks, “Mission accomplished”.
A bunch of skate boarders roll up and start practicing beginners tricks around the Plaza.  It’s time for us to go.
The problem is, the weather is so wonderful that no one wants to leave.  The most practical Occupiers begin packing up and everyone else joins in.
If the weather allows it, we’ll be back here again on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-7-16

G.A. Minutes 6-7-16
We were beginning to think it would rain forever.  We have been unable to make a fire at People’s Plaza for the past 2 weeks; the rain has been nearly constant. We can’t afford a portable teepee and haven’t been able to come up with any other type of moveable shelter that will accommodate a small fire so we just meet at Coney Island when the weather is bad.
The weather is fine this evening; the temperature is in the 60s with partly cloudy skies and a medium strength breeze.  It’s not perfect but it’s definitely good enough.
When we drive our couple of vehicles on to the Plaza a grumpy looking man stomps out from the MN Power building and says, “You can’t park here!”  An Occupier sticks her head out of her car window and responds pleasantly, “Don’t worry, we’re just going to unload our stuff and then we’ll get our vehicles out of here right away.  Some of our stuff is just too heavy to carry from the street”.
The man gives her an angry look and stomps back into the building.  We have not come across this man in the past.  We guess he must be the night watchman or a member of the cleaning crew.  The first couple of times that we held fire circles in the Plaza we noticed a different man come out of the building look at us briefly and go back into the building.  He was not the same man who “greeted” us tonight.
More Occupiers arrive and we set up the circle, snack table and such.  A friendly middle aged woman comes up.  She asks us if we have seen her son.  The description she gives leads us to believe her son maybe be the veteran homeless man who has been one of our regulars since we began our fires this year.  We assure her that if he turns up tonight we will let him know she is looking for him.
The short but very large woman who lives with an animal menagerie rides up on her bike.  She’s just come from her bi-weekly plasma donation so has been able to purchase a big Subway sandwich.  She stops in to eat it, chat for a bit and go off to a regular Tuesday discount movie night.
The Native man who spent 27 years in the Army drops in.  He’s waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up but wanted to let us know that he thinks our fires are really cool.  He apologizes for being drunk when we first met him about a month ago.  We hadn’t realized at the time that he was drunk but we did find it amusing that he couldn’t stop giggling. 
He asks, “So what’s new and exciting in the political world these days?”  We tell him that some national organizers are planning on shutting down the DFL convention in Philadelphia this July.  A few Occupiers are considering making the trip.
It takes the sun until 7pm to go behind the buildings.  When it does, we start up the fire.
The former meth head guy who lives at the San Marcos takes a seat.  He has attended our fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in the past.  He can be annoying as he has a tendency to dominate the conversation.  We tolerate him as best we can.  He smells the burning sage and comments, “When I used to have bad headaches, my mother would burn sage in my room”.
An Occupier reports, “Remember when I said I didn’t believe the City Attorney had actually written a letter about fires at CJMM?  Well, I received an email from one of our friends on the City Council.  It said that the Councilor had seen a copy of the letter about 2 months ago.  Maybe the CJMM BOD president will let me see a copy too”.
Changing the subject, the Occupier also reports, “Mayor Emily and City Councilor Em Westerlund are holding a Listening Session tomorrow at the Central Hillside Community Center, 5:30pm.  I usually go to the Human Rights Commission meetings every second Wednesday but I’m going to go to the CHCC meeting instead.  After all, they’ll be talking about our hood”.  Other Occupiers express interest in attending too .
An Occupier observes a small group of young men who appear to be college students pass by on the sidewalk in front of the People’s Plaza.  As they reach the far west end of the Plaza, one of the men runs up the front of a small parked car, stands on the roof, yells,” Yahoo!”, jumps high into the air and lands square on his hind end on the roof , jumps up and runs down the back of the car.  The group continues walking down the street.
The observing Occupier exclaims, “WTF?”  The others in the circle look quizzically at her and she explains what she just saw.  Many of the Occupiers go down to the street to see what’s going on.
An Occupier couple arrives.  One of them has just returned from the DFL Convention in St. Paul.  He was disappointed with the experience.  He tells us, “I went as a delegate for Bernie Sanders.  I and the other Bernie delegates were not made to feel very welcome.  They didn’t inform us as to what the voting rules were and then they disqualified our votes because we didn’t follow the rules”.
The Occupiers who went to the street return.  They inform us that the group of young men continued down the street jumping on other cars, just having a grand old time.
Someone called the police; when the cops came driving up, the group quickly split up and disappeared.  The cops asked the Occupiers what was going on; the Occupiers reported what they saw.  We say, “If they’re busy chasing college kids maybe they’ll leave the neighbors alone for a while”.
A neighborhood woman who has attended our fires for many years sits down. She states, “I just found out you guys have moved over here”.
A girl wearing Goth clothes and makeup comes over.  We haven’t met her before.  She says she’s waiting for a bus and we invite her to sit, take snacks and stay with us until her bus arrives.
A squad car pulls up at the edge of the Plaza; a female cop gets out and requests to speak with the Occupier who originally witnessed the car damaging fiasco.
The requested Occupier goes to talk with the cop and when she returns she is laughing.  She blurts out, “OMG, I know that woman!  I used to run with her when I was out and about playing drums with local bands about 10 or 12 years ago. She’s a pretty good song writer and guitarist.  She was always a very matter of fact person but I never dreamed she would become a cop.  She just finished being a new trainee.  I guess she musta really needed a decent paying job.
“Anyway, she was asking about our fire and told me that the guy, who growled at us when we were unloading, called the cops and complained about the fire.  I explained what was up and she said ‘Yeah, I’ve noticed your fire over the last few months.  If the guy calls back I’ll tell him that your fire is legal’.  
A man we don’t know but have seen before joins the circle.  He tells us he is a mycologist, apparently that means he studies mushrooms.  This gets the man from San Marcos excited and he starts rambling about psilocybin.  The mycologist guy isn’t making a lot of sense but does seem to know stuff about mushrooms.  He has a lot of physical ticks similar to those seen in people who are under long term treatment for schizophrenia.  Whatever.
An Occupier asks, “Does anyone know how the East Coast Occupier is doing?” Another Occupier replies, “I left a message on her phone yesterday.  She may be in the hospital right now but I’m sure she’ll call me back as soon as she can.  I let her know we are all thinking about her”.
It’s coming up on 9pm and we are thinking about packing up when Spiritual Man and one of his friends arrive.  We decide to wait a while.  Spiritual Man tells us he’s been working in Cloquet and will start another job tomorrow doing rehab work at Glensheen Mansion. He’s happy to be working again.
Both men smudge themselves and get snacks.  They especially appreciate the dark chocolate squares with blueberries inside of them.
We get a visit from one of our good friends from Socialist Action.  She has a night off from working the night shift at the women’s shelter and can stop in for a minute.  She likes the chocolate squares too.
A couple with a very cute little daughter stops over to see if anyone has a spare cigarette.  Spirit Man rolls them a few from the tobacco pouch.
It’s almost 10 o’clock now and we have things to do tomorrow.  There are still quite a few folks at the fire so packing up is done in no time at all.
We exchange hugs and goodbyes.  The weather people say it’s not going to rain much for the rest of the week so we fully expect to be back here on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 5-31-16

G.A. Minutes 5-31-16
It’s still raining or at least it has been for most of the last week.  It rained off and on all day today too.  It’s not raining right now as we arrive at Coney Island but it’s cold and overcast and could start up again any time.
All the leaves and early flowers are out now.  The sun was out yesterday.  Everything was warm and beautiful; even the lilacs are starting to bloom.  The weather people say we can expect one more day of rain and then we’ll start to experience the type of climate conditions that we spend about 8 months a year waiting for….. Maybe.
The old regular hipster, who hasn’t been around for at least 5 months, is working the counter tonight.  He was always our favorite, remembers us and switches the radio to our friend’s weekly KUMD show right away.  Sweet.
As we’re settling into the back booth, an Occupier asks of another, “So where’s your “old man”?  The questioned Occupier responds, “As we were leaving our building we saw one of the bigger kids at the Neighborhood Youth Center beating up a smaller kid.  It looked pretty bad so we stopped and he went over to break it up.
“When he came back he was pretty upset.  He told me that the bully kid called the kid who he was beating up over and asked if what my “old man” was accusing the bully of was true.  The kid who was getting beaten and was obviously afraid of the bully stated that the beating had never happened.
“A few of the NYS workers came out and my husband told them what was going on. About that time I got out of the car and started over there myself but my husband was coming back saying, ‘They’re trying to tell me I’m crazy’.  I reminded him that I had witnessed the very same thing that he did.  He was still pretty upset so I suggested that he go run an errand he still needed to do and then join us.  We both agreed that we need to pay more attention to what goes on with the neighborhood kids”.
More Occupiers roll up; one of them asks, “So what’s going on with Juneteenth this year?  Are the NAACP and the African American Men’s Group going to do the usual thing at the Hillside Community Center?”
An Occupier answers, “I’m not sure but we had talked about going over to Superior to join the Superior Organizer and company for their Juneteenth celebration on Saturday June 18th 2pm-7pm.  I know one of the main people in the NAACP is listed as one of the speakers so that tells me Duluth won’t be doing anything on the same day”.
Another Occupier comments, “Oh that reminds me, we’re going to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Cleanup Day on Saturday.  Maybe we should bring some coffee or juice or something”.
An Occupier says, “So do you wanna hear about the weird things that have been going on in my life lately?”  We say sure and she continues, “Remember when the City Attorney told me that he was going to be circulating a letter stating there were to be no fires of any type at CJMM?  Well, I’d been waiting to hear that the letter had been sent out for about 2 months.
A couple of weeks ago I emailed him asking if the letter had been sent out.  If he had sent it would he please advise me as to where I could view a copy?  He responded almost immediately saying he’d sent it out a long time ago and was surprised I hadn’t seen it. He didn’t include a copy so I emailed him back asking to see a copy.  After about a week he emailed back saying he would give one to me but didn’t include it in his email.  I think I’m being given the run around.  These political types are so tiresome”.
Another Occupier opines, “They do that shit on purpose hoping that we’ll just go away”.
The first Occupier adds, “Another thing that happened lately is that last week, as usual, I attended the monthly Citizens Review Board meeting”.  She turns to one of the Occupiers and remarks, “Remember we were going to tag team the subject of the DPD complaint process?  Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t show up because that’s not how things went. 
“First, some people from PAVSA made a presentation about a 3 year program they have going to test the backlog of rape kits that the DPD has been keeping.  Their presentation was reasonable but they kept using the phrase ‘rape victim’ instead of ‘rape survivor’. That was kinda bugging me and I was going to comment on it when the time for public questions came up but it never did.  I guess the CRB president forgot.  Whatever.
“Then this really strange guy made a presentation or something.  He started out sounding reasonable but very soon started sounding paranoid and delusional.  He told us about how he was estranged from a very wealthy family in Edina.  He lives in a van because CHUM, Loaves N Fishes, the DPD, Oneida Realty and a whole bunch more people and organizations are involved in a big plot to destroy him.
“Also, he owns several valuable Picassos that he tried to sell on E Bay but the DPD ordered E Bay to not sell them and he has personal knowledge about the real deal behind the JFK assassination.  He went on and on so long that I started falling asleep.
“Pretty soon it was almost an hour over the normal meeting time.  The CRB president, like he always does, asked me if I had anything to say and I said no not tonight.  As I was leaving, Lt. Marquardt (apparently she’s a Deputy Chief now) was giving the guy her business card and making an appointment to meet with him.  I don’t think she realized what she was getting into”.
Another Occupier asks, “Can you give me a description of the guy?”  She gives a description and he continues, “Oh, I know that guy.  He came to my church several times.  He’s going to press charges against me or sue me or something because I asked him to stop talking.  He’s annoying because he can’t seem to talk about anything except himself”.
An Occupier tells us about an interesting conversation he had recently with some other activists.  They discussed the subject of a national guaranteed income.  We think that would be a good start for combating homelessness, crime, poverty and mindless wage slavery.
Someone postulates, “What do you think it would be like if Trump actually became president?”  We all groan and someone else replies, “Some people think his being the president would bring the revolution about sooner”.
A few of the Occupiers go out for a smoke break.  As they are smoking, they encounter the grey haired woman.  She says, “So when are you gonna start up the fires again?” We explain that we have been having fires at People’s Plaza for more than a month now. We point out the Plaza to her as it can be seen from where we are standing.  We know that several people have told her this already but she just can’t remember.  We hope she will walk by on one of the evenings we are having a fire and she will remember and join us again.
More Occupiers arrive.  We squeeze tightly into the booth.  If anyone else shows up, some will have to stand.
An Occupier reminds us about an event taking place at Mesaba Co-op Park on June 25th.  The park is near Hibbing and was originally founded by Finnish communists in the 30s.  He tells us he always has a good time up there and encourages us to attend.
Another reminds us that the Respect Your Mother Earth Festival will be held this year on July 23rd and 24th.  We have attended in years past and certainly expect to do so again this year.
An Occupier reports that our organizer friend who has moved to Hawaii has been coming out in support of Hilary.  We say, “What?!?”  Another Occupier comments, “I’m gonna have to contact him and say, ‘I’ve heard you done lost your mind’.  Others gasp and say, “Oh no, don’t say that.  She responds, “Don’t worry, I’ve been teasing him for years”.
The place has had few customers besides us all evening.  It’s empty now and we notice the hipster appears to be straightening up.  Someone remarks, “I think he’s ready to close”.
The hipster guy says, “Sorry but my co-worker went home ill a long time ago and I’m really tired”.  An Occupier replies, “Yeah, we’re kinda dense but if you just roll out that mop bucket we will get a clue.
We perform our usual cleanup and tip routine and head on out.  We’ll be at the CJMM cleanup on Saturday but we really, really hope the weather will allow us to start up our fire at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-24-16

G.A. Minutes 5-24-16
When it comes to the weather in Duluth, things are getting curioser and curioser almost every day.
It rained heavily all Monday evening, night and into the early morning.  Today the sky was perfectly clear, the sun shined brightly and temperatures were in the high 70s.  About 5 minutes before most of us were leaving various places and cruising over to People’s Plaza, a thick fog rolled in.  Temperatures dropped at least 20 degrees and a strong east wind kicked up.
Fortunately, Occupiers are veteran recreational fire attendees so we always come prepared for changes.  We put on our spare socks, pants and jackets. We’d expected to have a small courtesy fire but we always bring plenty of wood so we’re good to go in that department too.
The Fire Magician gets a big fire roaring and we sit around and watch people who are wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts scurry along the street.
An Occupier spots a small knife and a pack of cigarettes sitting on one of the benches.  He puts them in his pocket.  It’s never a good idea to leave a knife lying around any area frequented by substance abusing folks.  The place is quite a mess tonight.  The Occupier who likes to clean things begins doing so.
A pretty young Native woman walks up.  She says, “I think I’ve been to your fires before when they were up at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  I can tell that it’s safe here, can I sit down?”
We welcome her and she tells us her story, “I live in Cass Lake.  I have schizo affect disorder and have to come down here twice a year to see my psychiatrist. There is medicine that I could take to help me cope but I can’t take it because I always overdose and end up in ICU on a breathing machine.
“I was institutionalized when I was 16 and when I turned 18 I was sent to prison for 7 years.  When I was there I got my GED and I read a lot of books on psychology.  I have a pretty good understanding of the mental illness I have.  I also have a pretty good understanding of what other people are about.  I’ve only been out for a couple of years.
“I’m required to have meetings with my psychiatrist for 2 weeks so I have to stay at CHUM while I’m here.  I don’t like staying at CHUM because the staff and the other residents ask me all kinds of personal questions.  I don’t like talking to people very much.  It makes me afraid and I don’t understand what it is that they want from me but I know they always want something.
“When I leave CHUM I just walk the streets of downtown.  I’m afraid someone is following me.  I understand that probably no one is following me but I still think they are.  Sometimes I go up on 1st St. and hang around and drink with the people there. 
“I don’t like doing that either because men always put their arms around me, touch me and tell me they want to take care of me.  Most of these men are crazier than I am.  The women who were in prison with me know how I am and they leave me alone.  The other women call me a bitch and a whore and they always want to fight”.
We have just been listening.  An Occupier comments, “It could be because you’re a new woman on the scene; the men want to see if they can run their game on you.  The women are jealous of the attention you’re getting”.
The young woman replies, “Where ever I go, men want to get close to me and talk to me.  A guy at the casino told me it’s because so many of the Native women around here sell themselves.  Well, I don’t want to do that.  I don’t want to have sex with anyone.  I just want to be left alone.  I wish I was invisible.
“My family in Cass Lake don’t really care much about me.  When I’m home I like to sit and drink with the old men.  I feel safe with them but my mother yells at me and tells me I’m supposed to do something with my life.
“When I saw my psychiatrist today, I asked him to commit me to the psych ward where I could be safe.  He said no, he wouldn’t do that.  He said I know what’s going on and I need to learn how to function in society”.
About the time the young Native woman arrived, a young Native man also joined us.  He’s been to our past fires many times.  He usually just sits quietly and gazes into the flames.  The young woman greeted him with “Boozhoo”.  He smiled shyly and took a seat on the opposite side of the circle.
After she finishes telling her story, she says to the young man, “You’ve been so polite and haven’t tried to hit on me.  Would you like a drink of vodka?”  He shyly declines then quietly leaves.
The pretty woman turns to the Occupiers and explains, “The reason I told you all this personal stuff is because I can tell that you don’t want anything from me.  I know you all just sit and listen to people.  Thank you for the therapy session”. She goes off to look for a few of the more amiable street women.
We think she told quite a story.  We also think that it’s sad she should be mandated to come all the way down to Duluth but that she is given no secure place to stay.  We think that the situation is out of the control of her psychiatrist or that he doesn’t realize the serious stress involved in staying at CHUM or hanging on the street.
The young chronically homeless man arrives.  He’s dressed for the current weather and informs us that the benches at the Plaza are no longer safe to sleep on at night.  He says the police come by every night around 11pm and roust whomever they find.  He tells us of the place close by the Plaza where he sleeps these days.  The cops haven’t figured that one out yet.
The Occupier who lives in Superior checks in.  He states, “As usual, I’m a little behind.  What’s going on that I don’t know about?”  An Occupier answers, “Well, were planning to attend the Juneteenth Celebration in Superior on Saturday June 18th 2pm-7pm.  I’ll make a big salad. 
“The next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco Sale will be Friday June 3rd 11am-2pm.  We’re going to be short a few of the regular helpers so will need to find some others who will help.  Also, the March Against Monsanto scheduled for this upcoming Saturday has been cancelled.  I don’t know the whole story; I was just told it was due to circumstances beyond their control.
“Anyway, it’s supposed to be raining like crazy on Saturday.  We’re thinking we won’t have a meeting at all that day.  Most of us have so many things we have to catch up on”.
The cleaning Occupier is finished now.  Our area of People’s Plaza is immaculate. 
The city official stops by.  He’s going off to a Puerto Rican dinner again.  He shows us a picture of the cleaning job that has been done behind CJMM and reports, “It’s not finished yet but at least it’s being done.  Maybe my making some noise about it helped get things moving”.
We go on to discuss the situation with the DTA buses and Michigan St. being closed.  The official comments, “MN Power waited until the new Depot bus terminal was finished and then they said they needed to close down the street. They could have closed it while the terminal was being built.  Apparently, they don’t care about the needs of regular people”.
We also talk about the fact that the City Council agreed to table the discussion about new low income housing.  Someone observes, “They sure don’t table any discussion about giving loans or tax breaks to millionaires who want to build more unnecessary high end housing”.
The woman who lives with an animal menagerie rides up on her bike.  She’s all dressed up and wears a flower in her hair.  She tells us, “I was supposed to go on a date but the guy never showed up”.
The quiet Native man returns.  He’s gone home and changed into warmer clothing.  He smudges, gets a little food and quietly disappears.
A tall, slender African American walks by.  He looks around and asks, “Did any of you see a small knife lying around here somewhere?”  An Occupier takes the knife and cigarettes out of his pocket and gives them to the man.  The tall man is very happy and exclaims, “Wonderful!  That knife was given to me by a close friend.  It means a lot to me.  I can’t believe I left it just sitting here.  And you have my cigarettes too.  You guys really rock!”
Another tall slender African American man comes up the stairs with the question “Do you folks have any food left?”  An Occupier responds, “We’re just about to leave so you’d be helping us out by taking everything that’s left”.  No problem, the dude puts most of the remaining cookies and sandwiches in his backpack, says thanks and goes on his way.
So according to the weather people, there’s at least a 70% chance of rain for next Saturday.  We’ll take the night off and catch up on mandatory paperwork. We plan to be back here next Tuesday because it can’t rain forever……Right?

G.A. Minutes 5-21-16

G.A. Minutes 5-17-16

G.A. Minutes 5-14-16

G.A. Minutes 5-14-16
We’re back at People’s Plaza this evening.  It has rained for most of the week; the weather has been cold with temperatures in the 30s and 40s.  It wouldn’t be too bad if an easterly breeze wasn’t blowing.  Unfortunately, it’s been huffing and puffing for many days.
Tonight the wind is variable and gusty; when it stops, the air is rather pleasant. When it picks up again, it offers quite a chill.
We’ve decided to have a fire no matter what.  We know a lot of people on the street are in need of one and so are we.
As the first Occupiers are setting things up, our friend the city official arrives.  He says, “I’m on my way to dinner with a friend but wanted to touch base with you all”.
We talk about a few recent developments.  Our friend made a public announcement about the sorry condition of the area behind the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  He opined that perhaps a bit of racism was involved as other City sites were not left in such a disgusting state.   Our friend is one of the originators of CJMM so his concerns about the site carry some weight in this city.
In response to his announcement, some of the Occupiers suggested he hold a press conference.  The Superior Organizer offered to sponsor a community cleanup day. 
Several months ago the new Duluth Police Chief had promised the city official that he, the chief, would take care of the situation.  At the beginning of the discussion, an Occupier asked if the chief had gone back on his word.
Soon many others entered the discourse.  Another CJMM originator advised that much of the garbage behind the Memorial was hazardous waste from the owners of the pawn shop.  The needles and bottles were the responsibility of the Casino owners.  Another organizer reminded everyone that homeless people are using the area for a bathroom simply because, once the feeding stations are closed, many homeless folks have nowhere to relieve themselves.
As if out of nowhere, the new police chief chimed in.  He assured the city official that he was earnestly working on getting the owners of the pawn shop to clean up their mess.  Apparently, these owners are being resistant.  The Casino management doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to do their part either.
As things stand now, it looks like we will have a cleanup early next month.  If the wheels of the City move as slow as they usually do, the condition behind CJMM won’t have changed.
As sad as the situation is, we have to admit that considering we’ve only had our new mayor a little over 4 months, the wheels appear to at least be thinking about moving.  That’s more than ever happened during the last 10 or more years since the city official began asking for attention to the problem.
On a different topic, we discuss the recent article in the Zenith City News.  It was about the issue of racism at UMD.  Almost all people of color studying or working at UMD attempt to call attention to the problem.  Most white people in the city don’t want to hear about it.  It’s one of those “elephant on the couch” things.
The flames shoot up from the fire pit.  An Occupier comments, “I wonder if the cops will come and bust us because the fire is higher than 3 feet”.  Another Occupier answers, “The Fire Code says the fire apparatus can’t be higher than 3 feet and then the flames can’t be higher than 3 feet on top of that.  Our fire pit is about 2 feet high and the flames will settle down as soon as all the wood catches.  The cops will have to think of something else”.
Our first visitor is a street man who we think we haven’t met in the past.  He tells us he has just shaved off his long, full beard.  He says we would recognize him if he still had the beard.
The man states, “I just finished spending the winter living and working at Loaves N Fishes.  I stopped drinking then but now I’m drinking again.  I used to live at CHUM and take a bus over to Superior and hold a sign in the Super One parking lot that said, Homeless Vet Needs Work.  I made a lot of money that way”.  An Occupier laughs and replies, “I’m one of the people who gave you money”.
The currently homeless man continues, “Most of my life I was a working man supporting a family.  Then my wife died and I started drinking.  I signed my house over to my oldest son, he started using meth, lost the house and I ended up on the street sucking on a bottle”.
The man we call He Who Walks in a Coma comes stumbling up the stairs.  He’s in a coma again tonight.  He falls into a chair and mumbles something about appreciating the fire.  We don’t often see him when he’s sober but when we do, he seems like a very nice guy.
As the homeless vet and Coma Man leave to “go see a man about whatever”, the Occupier who lives in Superior appears.
This Occupier has been applying for jobs recently.  He speaks about his distaste for the amount of personal information potential employers require before an applicant can even get an interview.  He explains, “Today I even had to take an IQ test.  This is just to work in a liquor store.  I passed with flying colors so tomorrow I go to an interview.  What a bunch of crap!”
A group of high school friends joins us.  Among them is the girl who lives in a foster home.  We met her at our last fire.  Tonight she exclaims, “It’s only 18 more days until I graduate from high school!  In the fall I’m going to Fond du Lac College to study for becoming a cop.  The only problem is I’m going to have to stop smoking marijuana”.
She talks about having nowhere to go except to walk the downtown streets with her friends when she was allowed out from her foster home.  She tells us she feels scared much of the time as older street men frequently try to hit on her and touch her and such.  Her friends pressure her to try all kinds of unknown drugs and alcohol.  She is taking several anti- anxiety medications and the unknown drugs and alcohol mess with the effectiveness of her prescription drugs.
We encourage her to maintain her strength of character and to resist peer pressure.  An Occupier opines, “Don’t you think it’s ridiculous that marijuana, the only thing that is actually good for you, is the one that The Man tests for?  Having pot in your system can cost you a job, an education and a place to live.  All that other stuff that is really bad for you will be out of your system in a day or two so won’t show up on the test”.
The young girl laughs.  Despite her youth, we can see that she actually “gets it”. We doubt she will really grow up to be a cop.
Another of the girls tells us she wants to know the origins of her maternal grandfather.  She explains that all she knows is that he was a “full blood” of one of the area’s Anishinaabe bands.  She tells us her grandfather is dead and her grandmother refuses to give any information about the grandfather’s heritage. She asks us what she should do.
We let her know that in the “olden days” most people who were Native tried to hide or deny the fact.  Being Native was considered by many to be something to be ashamed of.
We doubt she has any money or is willing to do any serious research.   Off the top of our heads, the only thing we can think is that she could do a computer word search using her grandfather’s legal name and the date of his death.
The foster girl’s friends are ready to leave.  The girl whispers, “I’d really like to stay here by the fire but I guess I have to go with them.  I’ll try to return”.
The former Loaves N Fishes man and Coma Man return.  They bring a man from the Skinner who was a frequent visitor to our CJMM fires and a young homeless man invited by the East Coast Occupier a few fires ago.
We know the Skinner man to be troubled by serious mental health conditions. Tonight he is happy and quite articulate.  He comments, “I’m from North Minneapolis and everybody down there asks me when I’m going to come back.  I like living here in Duluth.  There are a lot of things to complain about but I’d rather live here.  The rich people do a good job of making sure we get fed but there are so many homeless people because there are not enough houses for people to live in”.
An older man we don’t know rides up on a nice bike.  He’s wearing expensive sports clothes.  At first we don’t realize he’s coming to join the fire.  After we talk with him a while we realize he hangs with all the other local alcoholics.
He says he works a good job everyday but when he’s not working he just drinks. He talks about several ex-wives and 4 children for whom he still pays child support.  He says, “I have 3 children who live in Connecticut.  The other one decided to move here so she can berate me about what a shitty father I have been”.
All the men decide to take a walk.  They say they are going to go for a “bump”. After they are gone, we notice the big bottle that Coma Man was hiding inside his jacket is sitting on the floor beside a chair.  An Occupier picks it up and reports, “Wow, it’s just about full.  I wonder what the guys will do when they realize they.ve forgotten the bottle?  I’ll just tuck it back here behind the City garbage can.  If they don’t return before we leave, maybe they’ll find it here”.
The foster child returns with one of her friends.  The big clock has already struck 9pm but the wind is cold, the girls seem a bit lonely and they have to wait another half an hour for their bus to arrive.  We stay and chat with them until the bus comes.
Once they are gone we put out the fire and quickly pack up.  Quickly is an understatement; once the fire is out it is seriously cold.
As long as the weather holds up, we plan to return here on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-10-16

G.A. Minutes 5-10-16
We’re at Coney Island tonight.  The weather forecast said rain for the next 3 days.  It did rain all day but it’s not raining now.
As the first couple of Occupiers walk through the door, one of them comments, “Actually it looks like it would be a really good night for a fire.  There are neighborhood people the on the street; with the overcast sky and temps in the low 40s I’m sure some folks would have really appreciated a hot cup of good coffee and a seat at the fire.  Too bad we didn’t know the rain would stop during the evening”.
The other Occupier looks at his phone and responds, “Well according to the latest weather map, it’s raining right now”.  They laugh.
The regular Tuesday night hipster staff guy is happy to see the Occupiers.  He says, “Wow, it’s great to see you guys again.  You haven’t been here in a while”.  An Occupier explains, “Now that spring is finally here, we hold recreational fires over at People’s Plaza on Tuesday and Saturday nights unless it’s raining.  We’ll do that until winter comes around again.  If ever you’re not working maybe you could stop by.  You’d definitely be welcome”.
As the first Occupiers are settling in, one of them calls around to see who else is planning on showing up.  He says, “It doesn’t sound like anyone else is going to make it tonight.  However, I missed the last meeting so maybe we could get something to eat and you could tell me how it went”.
The other Occupier agrees and begins, “We didn’t have a fire last Saturday either.  The National Fire Service or someone like that put out an emergency fire alert because of the forest fires burning up on the Range.  There was an air quality alert and a request that included Duluth, asking that no one have any type of outdoor fire.  I find it hard to believe that our little fire, at the entirely brick made People’s Plaza, would have been any danger but if the fire department happened to drive by, we didn’t want to appear to be a bunch of idiots.
“It turned out we couldn’t have had a fire anyway.  The Spin Collective was already there.  They were having a final dress rehearsal and needed to take up most of the space.  Their music was pumping real loud too.
“Homegrown was in full swing and the street was full of decked out concert goers.  Of course, the local street folks were all out of sight. Most don’t like to be around straight people very much. 
“We had the food table up so some of the concert goers came over to see what we were doing.  People started arriving very early to be part of the audience.  Just as it was getting dark, the Occupier with the really long hair took the sage bundle around and smudged everyone.  There were almost 100 people in the audience and he was well received.  Spin Collective rocked out.  With the exception of a few very minor mishaps, they were flawless.
“We managed to have some conversation before the performance started.  I took a few notes; let me see what I can find.  She rummages around a bit and continues, “I had to report that the East Coast Occupier has had to return to her home base.  She has a few medical issues to take care of and wants to go back to the doctor who has taken care of her for years.  Once she’s healthy again, she promised to return to Duluth”.  The listening Occupier states, “Bummer.  I sure hope she does come back.  She’s a great person; in the short time I’ve known her she taught me a lot”.
The reporting Occupier agrees and continues, “We talked about the fact that the mayor appointed Mike Tusken as the new Police Chief. We weren’t surprised but we were disappointed.  He doesn’t appear to be a person who is truthful. 
“I don’t know our mayor, Emily, very well.  She seems to have her heart in the right place but I don’t know how she thinks.  Maybe she realized it would be best to hire the other guy as he wasn’t part of the local good ole’ boy network.  Maybe she didn’t have the courage to choose the other candidate; all the people who actually run this city would have been really pissed.
“By the way, I received another letter from Tusken the other day. This one says he is very sorry that I felt the previous letter was inappropriate.  He says no citizen should have to put up with that but there’s nothing he can do about it because the person who wrote the letter doesn’t work for the DPD anymore”.
The listening Occupier shakes his head and says, “WTF?”
The reporting Occupier responds, “I know.  I wonder if he has someone else writing letters that have his signature on them.  I know he’s not the brightest bulb on the tree but there’s no way he’s gonna try to tell me he doesn’t work there anymore.  The next time I talk with him I’m gonna ask him if someone else writes his letters.
“However, another part of me says, ‘Why bother?’  I get really tired of all this fake friendliness bs.  That’s how the control freak types operate though; they smile to your face then whack you in the back of your head”.
The listener agrees, “I think it’s called Minnesota Nice”.
The reporter goes on, “We also talked about a newly released movie called Cowspiracy.  It’s about the meat industry and how the raising of animals to be sold as meat is responsible for 51% of the climate change/air and water pollution in the world.
“It talked about grass fed and free range meat too.  That type of meat is not as bad but it still requires an enormous amount of land for living.    The amount of land needed to grow all the food that gets fed to animals raised for meat is enormous too.
“At least a billion people in the world are starving to death because of all the resources used to feed meat eating humans.  That sucks.
“The movie said many of the so called environmentalist groups refuse to discuss the topic.  The groups are afraid their supporters will be offended and will refuse to donate more money to the groups.
“I actually knew all this but I had pushed it to the back of my mind.  I already pay attention to what kind of meat I eat; I am gonna try to pay more attention to the amount I eat also.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop eating meat entirely but I’m gonna try my best to eat very little”.
The listening Occupier answers, “Getting the world’s meat eaters to become vegetarians will be very difficult.  It wouldn’t hurt me to eat less meat though”.
The reporting Occupier comments, “We also got into a conversation about our marvelous ‘injustice’ system.  We talked about plea bargaining.  Like if a cop accuses an innocent regular person of something and then the district attorney tells the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge.  The person is innocent but is still expected to accept blame.  If the accused insists on pleading not guilty, the court imposes the most serious charge it can think of.  If possible, it tries to eliminate a jury trial.  If the innocent person is found guilty anyway, the court imposes the strictest penalty allowable”.
The listener adds, “That’s where we get the cliché ‘You get the most justice you can pay for’.  People without a lot of money don’t get any justice.
“Have you heard that the annual Housing Summit is going to be at Coppertop Church on Thursday, May 26th 10am-3:30pm?”
The reporter responds, “No, I hadn’t heard that.  I went to one of those in the past.  It consisted mostly of NGO peeps talking about funding sources.  This year I think I’ll just let them do their thing.  If anything earth shattering happens I’ll hear about it later.
“So anyway, most of last Saturday evening was taken up by the fire spinning performance.  The weather was so nice that after it finished and all the people started leaving, I just sat there for a while.  I love being outdoors when the weather’s nice.  I hope climate change leaves us some nice weather for a few more years at least”.
Around 7:30pm an Occupier says, “It sure looks like no one else is going to show up.  Maybe we should call it a night.  If the weather people are correct, it’s not gonna rain on Saturday so we could have a fire at the Plaza”.
The other Occupier agrees and off they go…..  see you Saturday?