G.A. Minutes 3-26-13
A few of us are sitting around waiting for the rest of the Occupiers to arrive. An Occupier talks about a vision he’s been telling us about outside of our meetings. He has the idea of having a small coffee shop/meeting space/book store in Central Hillside or the West End. We could use it as our headquarters and allow other likeminded groups, neighbors and homeless folks a safe haven. It would be kind of like the neighborhood store the property owner of the Paul Robeson Ballroom and our former homeless camp had wanted us to create. The problem then was that the property owner wouldn’t provide us with the most basic necessities like electricity and running water. We tried improvising but were unable to turn the concept into a reality. Everyone wanted the storefront idea to materialize, so again, we start discussing the practicalities. First off, we need to check around and see what is available and what the rental price of empty storefront space is these days. We think rent is cheaper in West End but we have become comfortable in the Central Hillside. There is much to be investigated however, the rest of the Occupiers have arrived and the meeting begins.
An Occupier gives us a report about the first May Day event planning session. Many progressives are interested in participating. Another suggestion for a suitable space is the grounds of the Hillside Community Center. Some of the other Occupiers think this is a good idea as it is a large park and also close to the downtown area. One of the members of another group offered to request a permit from the City for use of this space. We don’t have a problem with him getting a permit; we just aren’t willing to request one in the name of Occupy. There’s the issue of having to request permission for use of a public space. Requesting permission from the government for use of public land seems ridiculous as public space is just what it says, space that can be used by the public. Also, we know the government response to an Occupy request for anything is to slap the cuffs on. We hope the choice of the place to hold the May Day event will be finalized at the next planning meeting. That meeting will be held on Friday, March 29th, 10am at the Central Labor Body.
An Occupier who wasn’t at the last meeting requests an update on the current status of PSOH. He is given an update (PSOH details can be found in the 3-23-13 minutes).
We go back to talking about our visions of the May Day event. Many people would like to see a parade that marches out of the park and down the hill or through the neighborhood. We discuss signs and banners and decide to make our Saturday G.A. a working one. We will meet at an Occupier couple’s home. They have a large space for making art. People begin conversing about musical instruments and songs that could be played. A few Occupiers disappear and return with instruments. They bring an accordion, a trumpet and a banjo and start jamming. I guess the meeting is over.
G.A. Minutes 3-23-13
All the chairs are in use but there’s still sitting room on the floor so it’s not quite a full house tonight (3 of a kind?). We have a few Occupiers who haven’t been with us in a while so will have to give them updates during the various discussions.
Everybody wants to know how plans for the May Day event are coming along. The Occupier tasked with heading up the event is not with us tonight so another Occupier attempts to give a report off the top of her head. Several music and dance people have agreed to participate and most people contacted have been very enthusiastic about the idea. A request has been made for use of the same canopy tent we used last year and some Occupiers have agreed to provide some food. We’ve studied the city ordinances for city parks and realize we will need to make a few accommodations to keep the DPD under control. Last year their behavior was way out of line. We hope to keep them in check this time. We won’t have amplified sound as it was their main reason for harassing us last time and there actually is a city ordinance that requires a permit for amplification. Of course, we won’t be getting a permit. We will also make sure not to tie anything to any structure in the park. At our previous May Day event the five-o had a great time cutting all our ropes. The city ordinance about tie downs relates to animals but we don’t intend on challenging the police this time as we are intent on providing a worker and pagan celebration. There are times when challenging the DPD is appropriate and times when it’s better to all get along. The next planning meeting is Friday, March 29th, 10am at the Central Labor Body.
Our newest Occupier asks if anyone is planning on attending the People’s Plaza rally about the USPS and the plan to halt Saturday mail delivery. A discussion ensues concerning the obvious plan by the 1% to destroy the USPS and force everyone to use the more expensive and inefficient corporate delivery companies. Congress has made a law requiring the USPS to have the funds to finance its pension plans for 75 years in advance. The corporate mail services don’t have this burden. Someone says, “You know, our entire economic system is based on the concept of debt”. Another responds, “During the beginning of civilization all the major religions forbid the affixing of interest to a debt. It was called usury and was a really big deal. Now we have the super wealthy making tons of money while not providing anything of benefit to society. The 1% won’t stop until they have sucked every drop of life out of the entire planet”. All the more reason to focus our lives on thwarting their plans.
An Occupier reports our most loved and respected County Commissioner and homeless advocate has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We are shocked and extremely saddened to hear this. Everyone wants to know what to do and the Occupier directs them to a special website where they can offer their thoughts.
The Occupier tasked with working on the movies gives the latest report. The discount offered by the corporation that owns “Milk” is $25. That means the fee would be $125 which is still way out of our price range. It also turns out that “Paris Is Burning” is owned by a corporation even bigger that the one that owns “Milk” so we won’t even bother to find out what their fee would be. When it comes to finding a good LGBT flick, we’re back to square one again. The newest Occupier has some contacts he can ask for advice so will see if they can help. The tasked Occupier says if the LGBT thing doesn’t work out soon we may have to go back to regular revolutionary movies. Someone suggests we find a way to view possible films together and an Occupy couple offer their home for this purpose as soon as we can get things together.
An Occupier states she has finally been contacted by an Occupier from the Twin Cities. The T.C. Occupier has asked if one of us would like to become an admin of their website and use this as a way to open a line of communication. Everybody thinks this is an excellent idea. Another Occupier volunteers to take this job.
A few Occupiers tell about the last PSOH meeting. The initial plans were made re: housing is a human right. The first step will be to introduce a series of resolutions before the City Council. One of our government allies is on board with the plan. The resolutions were decided upon and people took on tasks related to creating the specific wording of each resolution. The next meeting will be Wednesday April 10th in Peter’s office.
We’ve covered a lot of territory this evening and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ll be back here next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 3-19-13
Just a few of us tonight and we find it necessary to face up to a terrible reality……….. SPRING IS NEVER GOING TO ARRIVE! There was another March blizzard yesterday and everything is covered in white with a coating of ice again. Bummer.
Beginning conversation is about May Day. A small meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning at a union leader’s office. People intend to kick around a few ideas about what they would like the May Day event to look like. We know there is a conflict between Occupy and some union leaders when it comes to mining issues. This conflict is not going to be resolved anytime soon. We hope everyone will concentrate on the issues we do agree on. The Occupiers will continue to reach out to the groups they agreed to contact and hope to have another larger planning meeting in a week or so. Among things that need to be decided are whether to hold the event at People’s Power Plaza or Portland Square. Someone suggests that seeing as May Day will be on a Wednesday this year, there will be more people in the Plaza and downtown areas. Other more neighborhood centered events could be held on weekends at Portland Square.
Speaking of other events, an Occupier states he would like to bring back the Really Really Free Market event. It could be held at a different Hillside or West End park throughout the non-winter months. It could be combined with other activities such as music, potluck, art creation and speaking. Everyone thinks this is a great idea. An Occupier comments she believes there are a lot of people in the Hillside and West End who want to see the Really Really Free Market start up again but no one is willing to take the lead in making it happen.
A few of the Occupiers who are here tonight are some of those who have been out of town for many months. We give them an update on what we have been doing since they left. This update centers on our experiences at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. We had an interesting and fun time there and are looking forward to going back. After hearing our adventures, the returning Occupiers are excited too.
An Occupier says she thinks it would be a good idea to develop a broad plan as to what we would like to accomplish when performing various actions. Everyone has suggestions. One person wants to address the “food desert” issue in the Central Hillside. Another is interested in housing and homeless issues and still another is interested in addressing the unspoken but rather obvious plan of rich developers to turn the Central Hillside downtown area into a stereotypical tourist trap with a “yuppified” Central Hillside neighborhood. The homes of Central Hillside have views of the lake and some rich folks don’t think poor people deserve a good view. The plan seems to be to force current Hillside residents to move to West End. Someone reminds us that West End is now called Lincoln Park. We laugh because we know the name Lincoln Park was made up by Chamber of Commerce types years ago in hopes that this would encourage “a better class of people” to move there. So far it doesn’t seem to have worked very well. We’ll stick with West End. West End has its good points, also has a view of the lake once you get up the hill a bit, but the view is marred by large amounts of freeway, railroad tracks and coal piles. Besides, it already has enough poor people and doesn’t need all the feeding centers and homeless shelters moving in. The original speaker requests us to each show up to the next meeting with our own version of a one year plan of action and accomplishment.
People are getting tired and hungry. We quickly go over developments concerning the next film we will show. Nothing much has changed but people have a few more ideas for places to look. One of the returning Occupiers offers to help the Occupier tasked with finding a film.
Now it’s time to go home, eat something, get a little sleep and hopefully have beautiful dreams about the coming of Spring. Apparently, that’s where Spring resides…….. in our dreams.
G.A. Minutes 3-16-13
There are quite a few people here again tonight. An occasional Occupier has brought the DVD of a Howard Zinn documentary. He would like us to see it and suggests we take care of business quickly so we’ll have time for watching. Everyone agrees to try and stick to a time schedule.
The Occupier tasked with finding a movie reports she has spoken with the producers of Milk again. They say if we were to show the movie in a classroom they would charge us the reduced fee of $150. We all agree this is still way beyond our means. The Occupier states she doubts this motion picture company will ever agree to a fee that we would consider reasonable but she will contact them once again and ask what their cheapest rate would be. We do the usual complaining about corporations, capitalism and the damage they cause. Everyone is somewhat disappointed as we want to show a film that highlights GLBT issues and we aren’t having much luck. We question whether we should go back to showing Occupy movies. There are many good ones available and they generally don’t charge a fee. The Occupiers review the list of the other GLBT options we have found. An Occupier who wasn’t present at the last discussion about films says he believes Paris Is Burning would be a good choice. Another Occupier agrees to watch it and report back.
Several people report on the last PSOH meeting. The latest foreclosure case will have to be aborted as the homeowner has decided to make major changes in his personal life so will no longer be able to continue the action. PSOH will evaluate their candidates and start planning their next action. They now have more time to concentrate on the City Council resolution and the plan to push the city into opening abandoned homes to homeless people. Everyone is happy to hear this as we think this line of action is most productive.
We go over the list of groups to be invited to the May Day event. There is some discussion, as a few Occupiers were not present for the writing of the original list. Other groups are added. People offer to make the contacts and then, somehow, a conversation concerning the term “people of color” develops. Some say although the term seems to be the current p.c. word, it’s still a very strange one. The entire topic is very confusing, we’ll be glad when all people will just be considered people. We’re working on it.
That said, we take a break and when we return we will settle down to listen to Howard Zinn. There will be time for more discussion next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 3-12-13
We’re back at 3803 Grand Ave. We were forced to cancel our two previous meetings as both last Saturday and last Tuesday were visited by some pretty strong blizzards. As meeting time approached on each evening, it was snowing and blowing heavy enough to cause white out driving conditions. Hopefully these storms will signal the last of winter as everyone is filled with anticipation of spring.
It’s standing room only tonight. A group of our Occupiers who had left town to see what was going on in the rest of the country are with us this evening. They have returned from their adventures and may be back to stay. Everybody is delighted to see them. It’s time for lots of welcoming and hugging.
A discussion related to where we have been and where we are going breaks out. Some say Occupy was too lacking in structure and serious revolution will only succeed under conditions of strict organization, attention to image and accurate methods for evaluation of results. Others support development of alternative living systems such as community gardens and meeting spaces and sustainable energy systems. A few more say both approaches are needed. There is a difference of opinion but the conversation is friendly, respectful and inclusive.
Someone asks, “What do we see as some of the mistakes we have made and what can we learn from these mistakes?” There is general agreement that challenging the police and other authorities just for the sake of challenging them is counterproductive. We’ve learned a more sensible method is to understand the actual laws we challenging and we’ve learned that defiance should have a goal and a purpose.
The discourse evolves onto a discussion about the needs of Nature versus the needs of Labor. An Occupier talks about the actions of some union members in relation to local mining issues. He gives an example of a union leader who is only concerned with good jobs for his members and unconcerned with mining’s effect on the environment. Another Occupier states,” Being able to show that leader good jobs producing sustainable alternatives would be a solution to this problem.” Another Occupier says, “First we seize the means of production, then we turn it into something better.”
The smokers go out for a break and when they return an Occupier is explaining his desire to organize a Worker’s College. Everyone who is willing can teach the skills they possess. The returning Occupiers agree to teach classes about the things they have learned from their travels.
Next comes the subject of May Day. It is agreed the group would like to organize a community event. We would like to hold it in a city park and to invite as many groups as possible. It is agreed May Day represents the struggle of the workers of the world. It also represents the renewal of Spring and lost pagan traditions. We hope we can invite groups that celebrate either of these representations. A lengthy list of possible people and groups is made and each Occupier is tasked with making a certain number of contacts.
Someone checks the time and we realize we’ve been talking much longer than we thought. We exchange more hugs. Filled with new energy, we head out with plans to meet again on Saturday.
G.A. Minutes 3-2-13
A majority of the regulars are here tonight. As we start our meeting we notice the sky still has light. A very good sign, winter is saying good bye.
An occasional Occupier had contacted some of us over the last few days saying he hoped to be at the meeting tonight. At the last minute he was required to be somewhere else so asked us to relay his thoughts. He would like to create a coalition to make a big May Day celebration at the People’s Power Plaza. An Occupier who is at our meeting says, “That’s just what I wanted to talk about tonight. I have that same vision”. We all think a May Day event would be a great idea however, most of us have our fingers in so many pies we don’t have the time to organize it. The attending Occupier agrees to contact the occasional Occupier and together they may be able to get things going. Everyone else is willing to offer backup.
We discuss what the event could look like. May Day has both political and pagan significance. One of the lead Occupiers has many connections to the art and spiritual communities while the other is connected to the unions and socialists. This could work out nicely. We make a list off the top of our heads of the cooking and camping type equipment we still have, discuss various methods of constructing a shelter if it should rain and talk about gigantic puppets and other entertainment. An Occupier explains what she has learned over the last year about city laws and ordinances. She says most of the things the police have told us are lies however; a lot of the requirements for events in public events are at the discretion of the officers. We know that means if something is done by Occupy that means it’s illegal. If it’s done by another group………… not so much. So we figure if the event is not billed as sponsored by Occupy, more leeway will be given. Someone asks if the Citizen’s Review Board has begun operating yet. We don’t believe so but hope it begins soon as these types of public space issues need to be addressed.
The Occupier working on the next movie showing reports she has been told the film “The Main” is being shown somewhere in the Twin Ports area this weekend. Others say they have heard this same thing so that strikes another potential movie off our list. The good news is that she has been contacted by the owners of “Milk”. The person she spoke with said if “Milk” is shown in any type of theater they would have to ask for a $250 fee. If we wanted to do the film showing in a less commercial setting the fee would be much less. An Occupier says, “How about a college lecture hall?” Several of the Occupiers are college students and belong to the small Occupy group at one of the area colleges. The movie Occupier agrees to contact the movie owners and report the response at our next meeting.
An Occupier reports on an event held recently at UMD. It was sponsored by MPIRG and concerned the monopoly enjoyed on campus by Twin Cities Bank. Students are encouraged in many ways to bank at TCF. They have TCF access in their student IDs and are offered other perks and gifts. TCF is a major bank with all the usual major bank issues. An Occupier remembers stories told by former students concerning TCF’s predatory practices on naïve young scholars. Occupy had a discussion last summer in relation to this issue. We’re glad someone else decided to take this on.
Another Occupier reminds us April 12th is Steal From Your Job Day. We all laugh, someone says, “Your job is certainly stealing from you so what’s the problem stealing with from them?” People begin to tell various stories about employers setting up long term employees, firing them for absent mindedly bringing home a pen or other insignificant item. This accusation of theft is used as an easy means of getting rid of higher paid employees while also denying these employees their pensions and other long worked for benefits. We have all experienced abuse from past or present employers.
The sky is now dark. Only 8 more days until daylight savings time. Soon it will still be light when we close our gathering. See you Tuesday.