G.A. Minutes 4-30-16

 

G.A. Minutes 4-23-16

G.A. Minutes 4-23-16
The weather people have been saying all day that it’s going to rain but they won’t say exactly when, sometime between afternoon and midnight is the best they can do.
At about 5:30 pm an Occupier takes a look at the latest weather map and tells us, “There’s a storm coming soon but it looks like it’s going to split in two just before it hits the lake.  There’s more big storms coming but it looks like they won’t be here until after midnight”.
We decide to chance it and have a fire.  The temperature is in the low 40s and a gusty east wind is blowing.  We know we’ll need to get a big fire going right away.
Several Occupiers head right down to People’s Plaza.  Among them is the Occupier who brings the food, sage and things like that.  She says, “The Occupier who brings all the stuff for the fire is right behind me.  We left at the same time”.
When we get to the space where we will build our fire, we find the Occupier from the east coast sitting on a bench talking with a young homeless man.  She has a blanket wrapped around her legs.  “Come and sit over here” she says, “all these bushes block the wind”.
We take her advice and huddle together, waiting for the fire stuff to arrive.   After making small talk with the homeless young man, we find that despite his youth, he has been homeless for a long time.
The Spin Collective is just finishing their practice.  Someone states, “They’re going to be performing here on Saturday, May 7th at 8:45 pm.  We’ll need to put out our fire before then so we don’t distract from their show”.
An Occupier intimates, “Remember that letter to the editor I sent to the Northland Reader at the end of March?  Well, it hasn’t been published yet so last night I contacted our friend, the reporter, to ask what was up.  He told me that my email with the letter had never been received.  He gave me a different email address and I sent it again.  He said he had actually been looking for my letter to come in so would try his best to have it published in next week’s issue.  I was beginning to think they were afraid of controversy.  I know some of the folks over there so didn’t think that could be true.  I hope everything works out”.
The fire stuff has still not arrived.  An Occupier calls the fire Occupier’s cell phone and reports, “He said he had run into a ‘situation’, will be here in about 5 minutes and will explain when he gets here”.
When he arrives, we all jump up and unload things in a flash.  He tells us that just as he was leaving he noticed 2 young boys breaking into the youth center.  He stopped to talk with them.  At least one of them appeared to be homeless and also looked as though he had been beat up.  He says, “I wanted to help them but I also knew I needed to get down here and start the fire.  I ended up giving them directions on how to get here and telling them to come down.  Be on the lookout for 2 African American boys around 10 years old”  
It’s a good thing there’s a lot of wood because we will need it tonight.  In just a few minutes the Fire Magician has the flames up and roaring.  We all crowd around, taking the chill off.  A big fire truck comes racing down the hill with all its sirens and lights blaring.  We look at each other quizzically; no worries, several squad cars and an ambulance follow close behind.  It looks like they have bigger fish to fry.
An Occupier calls out, “Hey, look who’s here!”  It’s Spiritual Man and our former camper who we’d nicknamed something like He Who Walks In A Coma.  We haven’t seen either of them in about 6 months and are quite happy they have arrived.
However, things are a bit different this time.  Coma Man is bright eyed coherent and alert.  Spiritual Man looks a little thinner and rather haggard.  We all shake hands with the former Coma Man.  To Spiritual Man we give hugs.
The man who appears thin and haggard tells us he felt the need to just get away for a while so spent the winter up in Red Lake.  Red Lake is known for wilderness and for elders who stick closely to their Anishinaabe traditions.  The spirit man is Sioux, not Anishinaabe, but was still able to find respite in Native tradition.
He tells us he was trying to recover from a broken heart again.  Broken hearts seem to be a pattern for him.  He tends to form relationships with women who require things he is unable to offer.  They don’t seem to be interested in the good qualities that he does have.  After a while the women become angry;  Spiritual Man feels rejected and goes off to lick his wounds.  And so it goes….
We are just finishing a round of smudging when our friends, the Catholic Worker couple come to join the circle.  They have brought us Kurdish cookies.  Most of us had attended the recent Kurdish Dinner fundraiser so have sampled these cookies.  We definitely would like to eat more.
We see 2 squad cars driving slowly past the Plaza.  We’re just not in the mood for cops tonight so are glad when they pass us by.
A man who the street folks call No Neck arrives.  He’s accompanied by a younger woman we have not met.  We’re never particularly happy to see No Neck as he drives us and most other people nuts.  It’s possible he is developmentally disabled, we’re not sure.  He talks none stop about nothing, generally repeating something like, “What it gonna be like” at least 100 times over.
Tonight, No Neck is actually talking about something, sort of.  He talks about how horrible and destructive white people are.  We think No Neck is probably a white person himself but he doesn’t seem to be aware of that.  Whatever…
The young woman who has accompanied Mr. Neck does not have a coat.  Spiritual Man gives her his coat; the East Coast Occupier thinks he now looks cold so gives him her blanket.  One of the Catholic Workers hands the eastern Occupier a big scarf.
The young chronically homeless man goes into his backpack and pulls out a well-worn but still pretty and obviously well-made quilt.  He engulfs himself in it.  Someone says, “Now that is a good blanket”.  He answers, “Yeah, my grandmother made it for me”.
No Neck is not getting the attention that he requires.  He, his friend and Not In A Coma Man leave.  Spirit Man gets his coat back; all the other things go back to their original owners.
Another big fire truck drives slowly past.  We think they are looking at us but it’s dark now so we can’t tell.  Squad cars are buzzing here and there.  There’s just a lot more activity around the Plaza than there was at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  It will take us a while to get used to it.
Everyone is quiet, just gazing into the fire when out of the blue Spiritual Man says, “Dying is easy; living is hard”.  We don’t know where that came from but we don’t disagree.
A friend from Veterans for Peace, who we teasingly call the Anarchist, rides up on his bike.  He has attended our fires off and on for years.
An Occupier, also riding his bike, arrives.  We haven’t seen him in a few weeks and want to hear about his adventures with Black Lives Matter and his court case from the November Stop the Enbridge Invasion.  He tells us that when he and our other organizer friend pled not guilty to the charge of not leaving the Enbridge office when ordered by the police to do so, the court changed the charge so as to ensure they were not able to have a jury trial.  They also raised the amount of the fine.
After our friends attempted to have their day in court, the judge found them guilty and gave them a fine of $380 each.
An Occupier asks, “Did you get my message about Idle No More wanting to give each of you $100 to help with the payment?”  The bike riding Occupier answers, “Yes, thanks very much.  That will help a lot.  We’re each trying to raise donations from whoever is able to help”.
A conversation about the Necessity Defense begins.  An Occupier tells about a recent case in London where the Necessity Defense was used concerning a blockade of a gun show.  All blockaders were found not guilty.  She adds, “It’s just a matter of time until the courts begin to recognize the legitimacy of the defense”.
A young boy of the neighborhood walks by.  Spiritual Man calls him over and introduces everyone.  We offer him a smudge, whatever else he would like from the table and a seat at the fire.  The boy appears to be quite impressed by the whole goings on.
We feel a few sprinkles.  An Occupier exclaims, “Don’t worry about it!  The real rain won’t come for hours”.  Well……maybe not.  The rain is coming down harder.  With little fanfare, everyone begins taking down the chairs and packing everything up.  A few vehicles are driven up on the Plaza and everything loaded on.  The fire is out too and it looks as though we’d never been here.
The rain is falling too fast for much chatter so we just say, “See you back here again on Tuesday”.
 

G.A. Minutes 4-19-16

G.A. Minutes 4-19-16
Yesterday the weather people said it was going to be cold but wouldn’t rain and today would be a little warmer but rainy.  So we decided we would meet tonight at Coney Island.
So of course, yesterday it rained and today had no rain but a strong, cold, east wind.  We probably could have made a fire at People’s Plaza this evening but we didn’t prepare for it and it is pretty darn cold.
It’s nice to have an accommodating place to go to when we can’t meet outdoors. The fact that it took us 3 years to find it really speaks to the fact that there is a serious lack of public space accessible to poor folks in this city.  More than likely, the problem exists across our entire country.
Anyway, Coney Island is completely empty when the first Occupiers arrive.  As usual, the regular hipster staff guy looks happy to see us.  A couple of us order sandwiches; others go for an endless cup of coffee which costs a little over a buck.
Our friend who does the Tuesday night radio show at KUMD is rocking it over the sound system.
As we’re getting seated in the back booth, someone mentions that two of our friends were interviewed today on the radio show of another one of our friends. They talked about the May Day of Remembrance and Round Dance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The Occupier tasked with communications passes around a copy of the latest emails between herself and one of our friends on the City Council.  The Councilor suggested that we notify the Duluth Fire Department about the starting of our fires at the People’s Plaza.  The Occupier tried to explain the problem we’ve been having with the Fire Marshal giving false information to other government agencies.
The Occupier complains, “I wish I could understand how the Fire Marshal’s mind works.  When I showed her in her own fire code book that the fire code exempts our type of fire from open burning regulations, she just gave me a blank look.  I wonder if she’s just used to giving orders and having them blindly followed.  I wonder if she thinks she’ll always be able to get away with giving false information.
“I’ve heard that the two candidates for the Fire Chief position are soon to be presented to the public.  I wonder how they’ll deal with the issue”.
Another Occupier comments, “I attended the NAACP meeting on Sunday.  They said the currently serving African American Deputy Fire Chief is well suited to the Fire Chief position; the problem is he doesn’t have the degree required in the job description”.
Another one of the Occupiers opines, “Well if the powers that be really wanted an African American Fire Chief, they would have found a way to send him to school or made some type of exception for him or whatever.  When the city rulers want something they just make it happen, regardless of the rules”.
An Occupier says, “Speaking of Chiefs, the two candidates for Duluth Police Chief have been chosen and will be presented for questioning by the public on Thursday, May 28th, 6:30pm at Lincoln Middle School”.
The Occupier tasked with communications responds, “Yeah, I heard that.  One candidate is a guy who has been a long term police chief in two other cities and the other candidate is Mike Tusken”.
“I’m thinking I should bring copies of the four complaints we filed against the DPD concerning our fires and copies of the responses we received from Deputy Chief Tusken.  My question will have to do with the potential opportunity that police people have to bully less powerful citizens.  If I do this I will have to be well prepared and I’ll need you guys to back me up”.
Another Occupier agrees, “I remember a couple of years ago when I was doing an email exchange with Deputy Tusken.  It was about our fire issue.  He tried to bully me also”.  
The tasked Occupier adds, “It just seems to me that somebody needs to show how his past behavior doesn’t match up with the image he’s trying to portray now”.
As we are starting a conversation about honey bees, neonicotinoids and mono cultures, the main organizer from Socialist Action arrives.  He says, “Hey guys, I just got done with a union meeting and I thought I’d stop by to see how you all were doing”.
We say, “Wonderful!”  The Socialist Action guy is very intelligent and personable. We’re all very pleased to see him.
Someone tells him, “We were just remembering how President Carter got on TV in the 70s and talked about the need to use less gasoline, be less dependent on oil, conserve the earth and stuff like that.  He even put solar panels on the White House.
“Then along came Reagan talking about a new day in ‘Merika.  He took the solar panels down”.
The Socialist man laughs and says, “Yeah, I remember that”.
We ask him, “So how’s your union stuff going?” and he answers, “Pretty good actually.  We just added two more clinics.  The main hospital has been organized for some time but now we’re trying to organize the outlying clinics.  Their wage structure is considerably less than the members of the union.
“Duluth is a pretty good place for unions.  We have a 1 to 3 ratio of union to non-union here.  That’s not enough but it’s a lot better than most of the country.  I mean, heck, I’m a janitor and I belong to a union.  How often do you come across that?
“I’ve just been given the task of writing our union newsletter.  I hope I can do a good job”.
An Occupier says, “Oh!…. Oh!…  Will you be interviewing your chickens?!?”
The Socialist man answers, “If I can figure a way to work it in, I will”.  The Socialist man is very humble.  He is a talented writer and has done some very impressive interviews and videos of his chickens.
He says to us, “Why did you all decide to have your fires at the People’s Plaza? If it’s a secret, I’ll understand”.
An Occupier replies, “Everybody thinks we make decisions according to some great mystery.  Actually most of our decisions are based on practicality.  When we started having fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial we had just lost our homeless camp and CJMM was a public space just across the street.  It was only after being there a while that we began to see the symbolism involved.
“When we decided it was counterproductive to keep skirmishing with the police at CJMM we knew we definitely wanted to stay in this neighborhood.  Most of us live in this neighborhood and there are homeless and/or poor people here who really need our fires.
“People’s Plaza is one of only two public spaces here.  Our indigenous allies are planning on making the other space ethnocentric to original peoples.  Once they get that together, we’ll hip them to the laws for having fires.
“Anyway, going to People’s Plaza was pretty much a no brainer.  The citizens of Duluth have an easement to the entire plaza.  Eventually we’ll have to defend our legal right to have a fire there too.  Hopefully, three years at CJMM will have taught us something”.
An Occupier points down the walkway and says, “Oh, look”.  The hipster guy has finished mopping the entire floor.  We were so absorbed in conversation we didn’t notice.
We quickly gather up our things, bus the table and collect tip money.  As we are leaving a man in a wheel chair and the woman accompanying him knock on the door.  Even though he has already closed, the hipster guy agrees to cook for them.  They look pretty hungry.
As we shoot out the door (figuratively) and go our separate ways, an Occupier calls out, “So shall we meet at the plaza on Saturday?”  We say, “Sounds like a plan”.     
 

G.A. Minutes 4-16-16

G.A. Minutes 4-16-16
We are at the People’s Power Plaza (aka MN Power Plaza) tonight.  We’re planning on starting up our first recreational fire of the year.
The fire dance troupe, Spin Collective, appears to be practicing their routines in the part of the plaza where we have planned to set up our fire.
An Occupier goes over to check with them to see if they are going to be performing in the space tonight.  They say no, they are just having practice and expect to finish within the next half hour.  They assure the Occupier that setting up our fire will not be an intrusion.
One of the dancers asks, “Are you the people who have those fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial?”  The Occupier answers yes; the dancer responds, “You guys rock!”
It’s been almost 6 months since the weather has been warm enough for our little fire to keep folks warm enough after the sun goes down.  We hope we’ve remembered to bring everything.  It’s whole grain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, organic cookies and apple juice, Occupy “stay awake forever” coffee and a big jug of ice water tonight.
We wonder what will be different here at People’s Plaza.  The space is much larger and there’s a lot more vehicle traffic than there was at CJMM.  We set up as close to the sidewalk as possible.  We want people to notice we are here so they can join us if they wish.
As usual, the Occupier tasked with making the fire, works his magic and the flames shoot up right away.
It looks like we’re getting noticed already.  A squad car drives up and then another.  They glance over at us, then drive away.  Either they’re too busy right now or they’re not concerned about us.  We have no particular interest in interacting with the police but we will if we have to.  
The Occupier who is also a Catholic Worker has been gone for over a week. She’s been down in the Twin Cities participating in an action with Black Lives Matter.  We’re all very interested in hearing all about her experience.
She begins, “There were quite a few people involved in the training.  I spent a lot of my time talking and learning from 2 African American young men.  I found them to be extremely kind and considerate.
“The plan was to blockade a road outside of a big sports facility.  The particular road didn’t really go anywhere so the blockade was mainly symbolic.  Some kind of sports event was going on at the facility so lots of people were entering.
“The plan was also for only the white activists to get arrested.  The main slogan was ‘white silence equals violence’.  Part of the idea was symbolic but it also made sense.  Black people generally are treated with a lot less respect and care than white people when they get arrested.  Most white people can also better afford an arrest on their record as they are profiled less frequently by cops so have ‘cleaner’ records.
“So some of the white activists chained themselves to each other, then we blocked the road.  I was surprised by the number of white sports fans who said, ‘Get a job, cut your hair’ and other creative stuff like that.  Some white people were supportive of what we were doing.
“After a while the police arrested us, they put us on a bus where we sat for about 2 hours.  They then gave us each a citation for misdemeanor something or other and let us go”.
The storytelling Occupier says to another, “I have to go back down there on Tuesday the 26th to go to court.  Would you be willing to take over the duties I’m supposed to do on that day?”  The other Occupier responds, “Certainly”.
Our first visitor is a young traveling man.  He’s clean and well-dressed so probably not homeless.  He introduces himself and tells us he’s just returned from New Zealand.  He and another Occupier converse about Zealand and the Occupier asks if he was “woofing”.  He says yes, he was and another Occupier says “What is woofing?”
The first Occupier explains, “Woofing is when you travel from organic farm to organic farm.  You are given a place to stay and food in exchange for some work in the fields”.
The traveling dude gets a phone call and has to leave.  We tell him we plan to be at People’s Plaza most Tuesdays and Saturdays until next winter.
As the sun is going down, a heavy set young man who we recognize from our past fires arrives.  He appears to be “3 sheets to the wind” and tells us he’s been sleeping every night for a while now on a bench at the Plaza.
He reports, “Nobody can see me so I usually can sleep there all night.  Last night I was harassed by some ‘cowboys’. 
We give him food, coffee and a couple of cigarettes.  He says, “Miigwitch” chats with us a while and goes off to sleep on his bench.
The Occupier who is always making plans announces, “I’m going to pledge $3 a month to Honor the Earth in the name of Occupy Duluth if that’s o.k. with everyone.  They say if all their supporters would pledge $3 a month, they could stop spending time chasing after large grants and focus only on protecting Mother Earth”.  We say, “O.K., good idea”.
The Occupier continues, “Our friends the Native homeless shelter worker and the Native spiritual worker are sponsoring the May Day of Remembrance and Round Dance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, May 1st in front of Amazing Grace Café.  We’ll meet and have ceremony then march to the Lake and put flowers for all the women who were dumped in the Lake.
“Also, March Against Monsanto is coming up in May and the organic farmers have a Farmers Market here in the Plaza every Tuesday from 11am-1pm.  The market takes up the whole plaza but I’m pretty sure they’ll be done and cleaned up by the time we get here at 6pm”.
A hipster looking young Native woman in a sparkly black dress arrives and asks if she may stand by the fire.  We welcome her; she says she’s been to our fires at CJMM in the past.  She says she was homeless at the time and the fact that she was welcomed at our fire and given food meant a great deal to her. 
She is accompanied by a somewhat older Native man.  It appears that the two of them have recently met.  The man asks to smudge, does so, then takes tobacco and asks for a blessing for the fire and all those present.  He says he’s on his way to South Dakota.  He’ll probably spend the night at the young woman’s home and get back on the road in the morning. 
We give him a few bucks from the Occupy “Treasury” to help him on his way. The Occupy Treasury is usually carried in the pocket of one of the Occupiers and consists of whatever donations have been left on our table at our past fires. Tonight it consists of almost $13.
The big clock up the street chimes 9 o’clock.  We begin packing up.  The new fire pit and bucket have worked well and it seems we remembered to bring everything necessary.
And so another year of recreational fires begins.  We’ll be back at People’s Power Plaza on Tuesday.  You could join us if you like.     
 

G.A. Minutes 4-12-16

 

G.A. Minutes 4-5-16

G.A. Minutes 4-5-16
It seems like just about everybody in the City of Duluth is more than ready to welcome the beginning of spring.  So what happens today?…….. We get a snow storm
Lots of big snowflakes were coming down all afternoon.  They completely covered the roads and the ground.  Now, at 6pm the snow has stopped and we can see it’s a very wet snow and will probably be gone by tomorrow.  Still,……this is not funny.
The Occupiers who live close to Coney Island will be the only folks to gather tonight.  Most others don’t care to step out into the big mess presently covering the roadways.
The streets are empty, the same with the café’.  An Occupier suggests, “If it’s only gonna be the 3 of us, maybe we could quickly dispense with our business and then go over to my place and goof off.  We say, “Good idea”.
An Occupier reports that she attended the Donald Trump rally in Superior WI yesterday.  She tells us, “I got there about a half hour late.  My intention was to join all the anti-Trump protestors and just kick it with them. 
“The parking lot was very far away from the airport hangar that contained the rally.  I had to walk a long way to get to it.  As I was walking I noticed many young working class appearing people who seemed to be leaving.  I also noticed several long tables along the path that held free Trump yard signs and other Trump paraphernalia.  Very few of those leaving were carrying any of the free Trump stuff with them.
When I got to the airport hangar there was a group of about 50 or so people hanging around outside the hangar doors.  Apparently there was a big group of people inside the hangar watching and listening to Mr. Trump speak.  I guess they had some type of ticket which allowed them to go inside.
“On the opposite side of the hanger grounds was a group of around 25 protestors with signs.  Of course, I went over and hung out with them.  I knew a couple of the protestors but most were much younger than me. 
“Everyone was real friendly and open.  They told me I’d missed all the excitement but that there wasn’t much excitement to be had anyway.  When everyone first arrived, the people wanting to see Trump said stuff like, ‘Get a job and get off welfare’.  The protestors answered with, ‘No racism, no hate’ and stuff like that.
“Everyone outside could hear Trumps speech because loudspeakers were set up.  As far as I could tell, he wasn’t saying much of anything.  Just stuff like, ‘We’re gonna build a wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it’ and ‘We have to keep Muslims from coming into our country’.  Every time he said something like that, the crowd inside would cheer.
“The whole thing was kinda dumb and boring but the supposed Trump supporters were quite tame and it was good to get outdoors for a while”.
Another Occupier passes around a copy of an email she recently received from one of our allies on the City Council.  The email asks if we have decided on a place to hold our fires once the weather is ready.  It advices us to dialogue with the police department and other agencies to ensure that our fire will be approved.
Someone states, “I’m not so sure that we want to contact any of the government agencies before we do our first fire.  We know that no matter how well our fires conform to all the rules and regulations, all the department heads will tell us no, we can’t do it.
“They go into absolute hysterics whenever they hear the word Occupy.  They also don’t like the idea of poor and/or homeless people congregating together while not under the supervision of their government minders.  They don’t like poor folks of all nationalities getting together either.
“It would be different if all we had to do was notify the cops and fire people on the street.  For the most part, they support our fire.  If we notify the big bosses, the National Guard will be waiting for us when we show up at the agreed upon place”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think you’re right.  I think we should give our City Council allies a heads up before we start because maybe they would like to join us”.
Someone else comments, “I’ll make sure to let our allies know right at the last minute.  We know that Tusken and friends are gonna mess with us sooner or later.  I’m hoping it will be later, that way we can have a few nice fire circles before the harassment begins”.
An Occupier exclaims, “The folks in Clover Valley are having their Spring Equinox celebration on Saturday.  Wanna go?”
We say, “Yes!  Let’s notify the others and caravan out there”.
Sounds like a plan.  We’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.
 

G.A. Minutes 4-2-16

G.A. Minutes 4-2-16
A fairly long line of customers are entering the front door of Coney Island as the first Occupiers arrive.  One Occupier gently pushes through the crowd, hurrying to the back booth.  She slides in, waiting for the rest of the group to join her. 
We prefer the large booth in the back of cafe’ as it accommodates us well when everyone is present.  It also allows us a good view of our surroundings.
The newest hipster is minding the shop all by himself again.  We’ll wait to order our food until he’s finishes serving the new arrivals in the front booths.  He looks a bit overwhelmed by such a large group but seems to be holding his own.
When we get settled an Occupier says, “I’m sorry I didn’t post any minutes from last Tuesday’s meeting.  As we were leaving last Tuesday, I said I was gonna swing by the ER and get some cough syrup to take care of my lingering cough.  I went there but had to wait over 4 hours to be seen.
“That was at the good hospital.  I guess there are a lot of people catching this cold and cough that’s going around.  I can’t imagine what it was like at the not very good hospital.  Anyway, by the time I was finished there, I was just too tired to do anything except take my medicine and go to bed”.
The big news tonight is centered on our fellow Occupier and 2 other friends who had their trial yesterday re: refusing to leave the Enbridge office during the Stop the Enbridge Invasion march and rally last November.
Some of the Occupiers attended the trial while others stayed behind and worked the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco Sale.
One of the taco workers says, “So tell us all about it”.  Another Occupier replies, “Well you know they were found guilty of trespassing but at least they got a chance to present the “Necessity Defense” and have witnesses testify and all that.  Use of the “Necessity Defense” is just beginning to be used in courts of law. 
“I’m sure it will be used more and more as climate change and the destruction of Mother Earth gets worse and worse.  I mean, what else can we do?  Their stupid little property rights rationalizations pale in comparison with the rights of the earth, water, air and lives of all sentient beings.
“So the judge found all 3 of our friends guilty and gave them each a $300 fine.  It’s a good thing some of us stayed behind to help with the taco sale.  Our friends may have to ask for help from our allies in order to pay fines of that size”.
Our friend, the city official arrives.  “Hey, guess what”, he says, “Did you hear that Donald Trump is coming to Superior WI. on Monday?” 
We all just crack up.  This is the most ridiculously funny thing we have heard in weeks.
Our official friend tells us, “No, no, I think this is real”.  An Occupier pulls out his cell phone and begins talking to the pleasant young woman who lives inside of the phone.  They converse intensely and then the Occupier shows everyone his phone screen.  The screen shows a current newspaper article which states Donald Trump will be in Superior on Monday.
Someone says, “WTF?”  Someone else answers, “I guess the talking heads that pay attention to that stuff have decided that if Trump can’t win the WI primary, he won’t get the Republican nomination, therefore, Donald is schmoozing in WI”.
An Occupier remarks, “I think I’m going to be sick”.
Another Occupier interjects, “Here’s a funny story.  Yesterday, our friend, the director of All Nations was walking up the hill to help with the taco sale.  Acting Police Chief Tuskan pulls up and offers him a ride.  The Director answers, “Are you trying to get me shot?  I can’t be seen riding around with a cop”.
An Occupier reports that she attended the Transgender Day of Visibility rally yesterday.  She explains, “It was really nice, about 50 people showed up.  The sun was shining and I was surprised by the large amount of beeps and signs of support from the driving people.
“The Mayor and the extra tall City Councilor showed up too.  The Mayor was relaxed and friendly and the City Councilor was enjoying himself so much I thought maybe it was his birthday”.  
Somehow the conversation transforms into one about racism.  Our official friend bemoans the lack of people of color working in Duluth city administration.  He informs us that there are also no POC heading up any of the many NGOs in the Twin Ports area.
We have many reasons to love living in Duluth but on a daily basis we observe the lack of concern and respect given to our city’s poor or POC.
Our friend also comments on the excitement he feels about the newly elected School Board. He says, “I’m so happy that the board refused to sell the former Central High School that sits on top of the hill overlooking the lake.  They appear to be thinking in the long term instead or the “take the money and run” attitude of previous boards.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a board like we have now”.
The Occupier sitting on the outer edge of the booth states, “Hey, there are customers standing at the counter but I don’t see our hipster buddy anywhere”.
A regular customer sitting at the counter answers, “He’s gone to the bathroom”.  The bathroom is outside of the café’ and down the hall. We wait a little while longer and see that even more customers have arrived.
An Occupier goes to look for the hipster.  A few Occupiers take the opportunity to go out for a smoke break.  They assure the customers that the hipster will be right with them.
They smoke outside while noticing the hip guy still hasn’t returned.  An Occupier says, “I wonder if we should go in and offer coffee to the waiting customers.  Maybe we could take their orders too”.
Another adds, “It wouldn’t be very hard.  I’ve done stuff like that many times”.  Still another cautions, “Yabut, what if the dude comes back and thinks we’re trying to take over?  What if he doesn’t realize we’re just helping?”
As we are contemplating our next move, the dude returns.  He takes everyone’s’ orders and gets everything rolling in no time.  Problem solved.
We sit around for a while longer, just laughing and making jokes.  We wonder if anyone is planning a Dump Trump action.  Then out comes the mop bucket….Time to leave.
We plan to return on Tuesday, maybe we’ll have adventure stories to share.
It’s still too cold but the return of recreational fires is now within sight.

G.A. Minutes 3-26-16

G.A. Minutes 3-26-16
So here we are again; at Coney Island that is.  A light rain tickles our faces; the temperature is in the 30s and there is no breeze to speak of.  If the weather continues on like this, April showers will bring May flowers and our days at Coney Island will be numbered.
We are few in number again tonight.  Many are fighting off colds and /or taking care of other responsibilities.
The Occupier who spent half a day at the Public Library shows the results of her research to an Occupier who was absent from our last meeting.  After reading through the research the absent Occupier states, “This is good news.  I think we should go ahead and plan on using that spot for our fires”.
The Occupier who volunteered previously to write a letter to the editor of the Northland Reader has finished her first draft.  She passes it around and all present think it is satisfactory.
She says, “Good, I’ll try and show it to the others before our next meeting.  If everyone approves, I’ll send it in.  We need as much good publicity as we can get”.
An Occupier comments, “I guess it’s time to actually get new equipment for our fire pit.  It might not be much longer before we can get actual fires going again.  I haven’t received any responses to the various posts that I put around asking if anyone had an old barbeque grill bottom they didn’t want anymore.  I guess we’ll have to buy a new one”.
Another Occupier suggests, “If we stay focused we could finish up all our business here and get to the big hardware store before it closes”.  We say, “Good idea”.
Over the past week or so, the Occupiers have been having informal discussions as to whether we should make a big deal about announcing our first official recreational fire of the year. Some want to pass out flyers, get media attention and notify absolutely everyone we can think of.  They say, “We really need to have a lot of our supporters present when we start the first fire.  That would prove to the general public that we have a lot of support”.
Others want to just set up the first fire like it was just another normal evening.  We could tell our close friends and then just do everything like we’ve always done.  The word that our fires are back will filter through the neighborhood soon enough.  They say,” We’d kinda like to have a few nice relaxed fires before the police get a clue and start showing up”.
No decision has been reached yet as to how we will do things.  No worries, it will all get figured out.  Fortunately, there is little drama or infighting among the people of Occupy Duluth.
A few of the Occupiers were able to attend the funeral for Antwan, the 9 year old grandson of the Superior Organizer.  The deeply loved grandson passed on due to medical problems.  We were all very saddened by this turn of events.
An Occupier reminds us, “The NDN Taco Sale is this upcoming Friday and of course, our help will be needed”.  Another Occupier responds, “I don’t think I will be able to help out with deliveries this time.  I think I should go to the Fossil Fuels Day Brunch, March and Rally”.
The first Occupier agrees, “Oh right, our friends and our fellow Occupier are going on trial on Friday too, aren’t they?  The Fossils Fuels will go on from 10am til 2pm or later and the NDN Taco Sale will start at 9pm and go til about 3pm.  I hope we have enough Occupiers who can go to at least one of the events”.
An Occupier asks, “Have any of you ever been to the May Day Parade in the Twin Cities?”
Most shake their heads no; one Occupier exclaims, “OMG YES!  The May Day Parade was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life!”
She then goes on to tell about all the music, art, dancers, gigantic puppets, right on political themes, major amounts of various types of hippies and other great stuff that make up the parade.
Someone suggests, “Maybe we should think about going down for the parade this year.  May 1st is on a Sunday this year.  I think they usually do the parade on Saturday or Sunday”.
So our basic business is finished and we start thinking about going off to purchase a small fire pit.
An unassuming 30 something man walks over to our booth.  He says, “Is this an Occupy meeting?”  We say yes; he introduces himself and tells us he has come into town with a family member.  The family member is interviewing for a job at one of the local colleges.
The man has been reading the Occupy minutes on our website and thought he might like to meet us.  The Occupier tasked with writing the minutes looks around the group and announces, “See, I told you that there are people who read the minutes”.  Everyone laughs.
The 30 something man seems to have had experience with homeless outreach so we began a discussion about the subject.  An Occupier reports that a local coalition of NGOs have just completed a “little home”.  An Occupant for the home and a piece of land to put the home on has already been chosen.  Plans for an additional 3 little homes are in the works.
An Occupier says, “You know, this isn’t the first time this little home idea has been tried.  A few years ago, CHUM and others started making plans to do it.  The former City administration informed them if they tried to do such a project, the City would sue them.
“Maybe this new City administration will have more compassion for our non-wealthy citizens”.
Our visiting friend appears to have an educational background in psychology and/or sociology. He teaches us a new phrase, “fundamental attribution bias”.  We think that means something like trying to figure out or explain the actions of another while having only one’s own life experiences and prejudices to use when making the analysis.  Something like that.
We’re having a great time talking with the visiting man when an Occupier looks up at the clock and says, “Yikes!  Look at the time!  If we’re gonna go get a fire pit we’d better hurry”.
We start quickly gathering our stuff etc.  The man tells us that if his family member is hired for the college job, he’ll be returning to Duluth sometime in May.
An Occupier responds, “That would be great!  Just keep reading the minutes, then you’ll know where to find us”.
We all rush out the door.  All the Occupiers want to help choose the next fire pit and we don’t how late the big hardware store stays open.
We plan to be back at Coney Island on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-22-16

G.A. Minutes 3-22-16
It’s winter again, just without the snow.  The wind is strong and bitterly cold.  The few people out on the street are almost running to get to their destinations.
We do the same and dash through the Coney Island front door.  The place is full of customers but most appear to be leaving.  They’re piling on the same type of layers they wore in January.
The East Coast Occupier is already in the back booth.  The few arriving Occupiers are very glad to see her as she hasn’t been able to join us in over a week. 
After exchanging greetings, an Occupier states, “I think it’s just going to be us tonight. Everyone else has other obligations.  That’s o.k. though because it will make it easier to catch you up on what’s been going on.  Did you get a chance to look through that package with all the relevant laws, complaints to the DPD and responses from the police lieutenant and Acting Police Chief?”
The Eastern Occupier replies, “Yeah I did.  It was kind of a good read; it sounded like a soap opera”.
The first Occupier laughs and says, “That’s definitely what it feels like.  All those supposedly grown people in government offices passing the buck back and forth while refusing to tell the truth or even give a straight answer”.
Another Occupier remarks, “There have been a few new developments since we gave you all that paperwork.  The Occupier who wrote the letter to the DNT received an email response the other day.  The email said the DNT would not publish the letter because it stated our recreational fire was legal.  The DNT went on to list all the usual suspects in the government with whom they conferred.  They said the ultimate authority on the subject is the Duluth Fire Marshall.  The Duluth Fire Marshall says our fire is illegal so they won’t publish the letter.
“Ain’t that a bitch?  I don’t understand the Fire Marshall.  The MN Fire Code she refers to states plain as day that our recreational fire is an exception to the open burning rules and therefore does not require a permit.
“I’m pretty sure she knows how to read.  Anyone with an eighth grade reading level can read the code and realize what it says.  She can’t be stupid either or she couldn’t have reached such a high position.  The only thing left is that she is deliberately lying.  Does she think her lies will never see the light of day?”
Another Occupier adds, “When we had that meeting with the Fire Marshall and the Deputy Fire Chief we showed them all the relevant fire codes.  We even read them out loud.  The Fire Marshall didn’t say one thing, just sat there holding her fire code book.
“I wonder what the Fire Marshall will have to say if she’s subpoenaed and put on the witness stand.”
An Occupier exclaims, “Oh, now I get it!  The Fire Marshall is the only woman in this gang of evildoers.  Of course, just do it the ‘Merikan way, leave the woman holding the bag!”  We all laugh.
The Occupier doing research and communications announces, “I spent many hours, yesterday, at the Public Library.  Wanna see what I found?”
We say yes and the Occupier continues, “These are copies of an article from the DNT about 5 years ago.  It tells about the legal status of our preferred next spot to start our fires”.
There are big grins all around.  An Occupier opines, “I think you may have found something. It’s pretty cut and dried, isn’t it?  I think we could just go ahead and get prepared for using the space mentioned in the article”.
The Eastern Occupier comments, “I’m still not all that familiar with Duluth.  I don’t know where the place you are talking about is”.
Another tells her, “Oh, it not far, it’s still in the hood.  Maybe we should walk over there now”.
An Occupier sighs and says, “Ah man, it’s too cold out.  Seeing as there are so few of us, I bet we could all fit my car.  Let’s drive over there”.
So that’s what we do………………….we’ll be back at Coney Island on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 3-19-16