General Assembly Minutes November 5, 2011

Occupy Duluth General Assembly

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Location: DAD/MOM, 2pm

Facilitators: Lara, Tyler

Stack: Tyler

Notes: Diane

Lara reviewed hand signals. Please keep direct responses to a minimum. We do progressive stack, in order to hear from everyone.

Eviction Next Week:  There was a newscast on Channel 6 Friday night: David Montgomery, Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Duluth announced that they will have a plan next week for moving us.

Discussion: Joel confirmed that no direct orders have been given to police to evict us. Joel has talked to other people in the city, and it was as much news to them as us. He has been given assurances that police will take no action this weekend.  Joel is meeting Monday at 2:30pm with the police chief for Duluth.

Moving us or removing us? We don’t know. None of us saw the newscast. Neither the mayor nor any city representative came to Occupy Duluth before this newscast to share their concerns or discuss this in any way.

Occupy Other Spaces

Scot:  He met today with a representative of Wells Fargo who is on a committee with the mayor to address foreclosed homes. This is one idea for us to consider for the winter: doing community work to build sweat equity – working towards ownership in the house.

Concern was raised about working with Wells Fargo. Allen mentioned that other occupations are working on this idea, and it would be worth exploring. Christine asked if it would be homes with people in them? Empty homes?  We don’t know, but it might be both types of homes: empty homes and ones with people about to be evicted.

Christine asked about the record of Wells Fargo regarding evictions. Donna replied that there were  211 foreclosures last year, from all banks, not just Wells Fargo.  Access to information on foreclosures is easy, Donna reported. Lutheran Social Services is another portal to work on this issue. Donna and Vern and Jesse are key contacts for houses empty due to evictions.

Chad: holding this place (MOM/DAD) is symbolic.  He suggests that we have a call tree, so that we can quickly get enough bodies here for them to be able to do anything.

Tyler proposed that we colonize Cravaackistan; moving over to the other side of the plaza; federal property. We have not been formally asked to stay off that area. Joel:  On the Federal property, the police will move us if they are asked by the Feds.

Jennifer: clarified that our current property is owned by the city, and the property on the other side of the flagpole is federal property.

Tyler: proposed that we address the issues the city has about our safety and the safety of the park. We have experienced winter and arctic campers to advise us so we can stay safe in the winter and we have at least one Master Gardener, and other experienced horticulturists who can advise and repair any damage done to the grass and flowers.

Chad: Advertise that we are doing a teach-in on winter camping, and a potluck, and bring people here. If we do, we want to advertise that we are using food grown locally.

Ryan: so far we have only heard from an appointed official, not an elected official. We should ask our elected officials individually where they stand on the eviction of Occupy Duluth.

Tyler spoke to Don Ness: Ness said that Montgomery has a job to do, if he feels eviction is necessary, that is his job.

David Montgomery is Duluth’s highest paid city official, and reports to mayor Don Ness.

Ed Barkos suggested organizing with other union groups, whether it be AFSCME, etc. If you want to get people here, put out a call to the unions in the call tree. Ed Barkos, dbarkos@aol.com  President of local 2750, AFSCME.

Ken: action he is taking on Tuesday noon, Canal Park. Offering to give carriage rides around this circle.

The Occupy Duluth contact list was sent around for people to sign up, if they haven’t already.

Liability: Gauthier, our state rep, was concerned about snow plowing.

Snow Concern: There was a concern expressed that snow plowed up on the tents would cause problems. Blake and Jennifer spoke to the woman from the city who came to discuss it. She said if we just move out tents 5 ft in from the street there would be no problem. She thanked us for how well we were treating the gardens.

Phil: staying here symbolically is a clear part of supporting Occupy Wall Street

Jennifer: agrees with Phil. This space acts as a third space: someplace you stop by in between home and work. We here have a policy that one person wears an armband, to greet people and check on the space. We need this space. We can expand this space. It is a hub.

Eric: come January, it is going to get difficult for us to gather here.

Ryan: that’s why we do this in winter. We will get on national news if we can be here in January.

After considerable additional discussion, two proposals were agreed to by the General Assembly

1. Make some type of presence here, at MOM/DAD.  Winterize it.

2. Look into other options to occupy, including foreclosed homes, tax forfeited properties, and empty city properties downtown.  Report back to the General Assembly.

 

City Council Presentation on Monday: We want to have a good showing at the city council meeting on Monday. You can have two minutes if you arrive at the beginning of the meeting. It starts at 7pm and it is in city hall 3rd floor

 

Drafting the response: It was agreed to meet on Sunday at 5pm to work on the response to the city, to be presented at City Hall on Monday.  We will meet again at 5-6 pm on Monday to finalize it, over dinner.

At 6pm Monday there will be a rally, with as many people as we can get, and the statement will be presented to the City Council at their 7pm meeting.

 

Issues to cover in the response (among others):

  • If they want to remove us because of safety issues, they should address the homeless of Duluth, who are also much more at risk of hypothermia than we are.
  • We have experts on winter camping to advise us.
  • We have experts on horticulture to advise us on repairing any damage done to lawns and flower gardens because of the foot traffic.
  • The snow is not an issue. The tents can be moved back 5 feet from the curb, allowing plenty of space for snow.
  • We want to know exactly which of our elected officials supports Occupy Duluth, and which do not

 

Jennifer: we want to stay here. I want our communications to be peaceful, positive and constructive.

Here are some of our Occupy Duluth supporters who can assist us to address the concerns raised by David Montgomery:

Richard Harbaugh, 830-0109, arctic survival skills

Ken Lindberg: 218-269-3251, winter camping advice

Jesse: Master Gardener

Diane: former president, Minnesota State Horticultural Society

 

Someone could set up an office at UMD to draw in more students

Allen: we need more bodies, more donations. Fuel. We will bring propane into the mix. Need cash too.  We will use the forum on the website to list offers of assistance, as well as needs.

Ken Lindberg: 218-269-3251, winter camping advice and horse and buggy transportation.

Cole: do research with other occupy groups. Thank you to those who stay here every night.

Bodies in Camp

Jesse: having been in close quarters we are very confident. We know we can make it work through the winter. We need people here if we are going to do this. How do we get people dedicated to stay here? We have had lots of conversation about cooking and winterizing every night. Next week they are proposing to get us out of here. What is important is getting people here.

Scot: Stay here for a night or two every once in a while

If someone decides to stay, is there a guesthouse?  There are tents with space in them, and we have extra blankets and sleeping bags, if you don’t have your own.  If you want to be sure there is space for you, call Jennifer at 952-237-1705.

Right now is a great time to be camping. The nights are beautiful, and in a winterized tent, very warm.

 

Calendar: We have a white board in camp so people can sign up for shifts. This is important so we know who will be here.  It needs to be online too. It can also be

used for commitment for a tent.  This would helps with meals, too, if people could sign up for sleeping here. But don’t worry about signing up if you can’t do it in advance. Just come.

Ryan will make sure the sign up gets up on the website, www.occupyduluth.org

Jennifer: wants to have a huge amount of people here on Sunday night, potluck, dinner, and discussion.

Jesse: It will be really powerful to have an active group of people here when people come to work on Monday. If anyone can stop by before work, have breakfast here, and be here any time from 7:30 to 8:30, it would be great.

Eric: can get people to donate wall tents.  Add Wall Tents to our wish list.

We have offer from Valerie and Josh Acquard for overnight shelter if needed when it gets cold. 218-703-3308.

Malory also offered her home.

Allen: legal team needed. Who is ready to go to jail? Who is going to represent us?

Allen offered to lead the legal committee.  From experience shared by those present, there does not appear to be any additional charges for being “dead weight” when arrested.

Bridget:  We need a teach-in  on legal issues we might be facing.

WORKING GROUPS

Winterization/City Planning:  Ryan is ‘go to’ person for winterization. He is also the go to person for City Planning, which has been rolled into Winterization for now.

Ken: proposes a clean up the garden in the spring committee.  City planning committee would do this. Allen: We have $400 in the bank. Proposed to use $200 of this to buy propane fuel. Passed.

Law team: Allen Richardson, 218- 428-0290  richa514 “at” d.umn.edu

Media and Communications: Phil.  We have WiFi for now in camp.

We were contacted by Occupy New York City to make a statement on our behalf. After the GA, we will prepare a statement to send to them. The best place to see Occupy New York read the statement is Global Revolution Livestream, www.livestream.com/globalrevolution  at 6pm our time.

Occupy Port Wing, Wisconsin: Occupy Together has updates. If you are planning things, please post at Occupy Together. At http://www.facebook.com/OccupyTogether

Police Liaison: Joel. He would like 1-2 campers to join him in a meeting on Monday with Duluth’s Chief of Police . Joel will contact people directly for this.

Direct Action Working Group: Donna: Question: Is the direct action working group meeting? Would like to have more people on it. Direct action committee will meet after the GA.

Allan: Nathan Ness is suggesting action on Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. Ryan: We want to support local businesses.

MaryAnn: propose that we have another speakout assembly that addresses actions we can take to go out into other areas of the community, where we can reach out to these other members of the 99%. She would like to see more soapboxing, to hear more other voices.  Direct Action/Community Outreach working groups.

Cole: The Occupy Your Mind event has now been moved to the 9th of December.

Summary of Activities and Times

Saturday 6pm: livestream of New York reading support for Occupy Duluth

 

Sunday: 5pm: discuss statement to City Council

Sunday Night: get as many people sleeping over as possible.

 

Monday morning: have as many people here to greet workers as possible. Come for breakfast.

Monday : Joel and a couple of occupiers meeting with Police Chief

Monday 5pm: finalize City Council statement over dinner

Monday 6pm: Rally for Occupy Duluth

Monday 7pm: City Council meeting

 

Tuesday: Ken Lindberg: 218-269-3251,  is taking action on Tuesday noon, at Canal Park. Also offering to give carriage rides around our encampment.

Tuesday: Election Day. If you are not registered, you can have someone to vouch for you so you can vote.

 

Thursday, November 10.  Next General Assembly. We may pass a hat for donations.

All Week: Let your elected officials know of your support for Occupy Duluth, as well as unelected officials.

David Montgomery
Chief Administrative Officer
dmontgomery@duluthmn.gov
402 City Hall, 411 West First St.
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 730-5370
Fax: (218) 730-5904

 

Come to DAD/MOM as much as possible.  Stay overnight if possible. Come for breakfast to greet workers if possible.

Check the calendar at www.occupyduluth.org for the latest information.

About Diane Emerson

Full time volunteer since Dec 2006. Born in Superior, moved to MN, worked 17 years with HB Fuller Company, got my MBA, and in 1996 walked away from the 6 figure income and all the other perks because I could no longer force my soul to squish inside the corporate box, and I could no longer justify working for a specialty chemical company who sold adhesives to cigarette manufacturers and the military. I traveled, moved to New Zealand, and was an independent business consultant for 10 years, helping entrepreneurs. Now I live a nomadic life of service to the poor. I am volunteering with Loaves and Fishes homeless shelter until Thanksgiving. I am giving free classes in Nonviolent communication and EFT (tapping) every Monday night to the public. Plus I am promoting a Time Bank for Duluth, and community orchards - especially hazelnut trees so people who live in cities can feed themselves more easily. I have kept a blog of my volunteer work and travel: www.diane-emerson.blogspot.com
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