G.A. Minutes 5-14-13
We sure started things off with a bang this evening. We had just arrived, got the chairs and the burner out when a big fire truck pulls up, all its lights flashing and parks in the middle of the street in front of the Memorial. One guy gets out, he’s probably the head dude, and walks over to us. He says, “What’s going on? I got a call saying there was a bonfire in progress.” We laugh because we hadn’t even put the wood in the burner yet.
The fireman picks up our burner and turns it around a few times like he’s inspecting it and says, “Well seeing as this is a city park and…” An Occupier interrupts him saying, “Actually it’s not a city park and…” He gives her a look that says just hears me out then says, “In a city park a person can make a small safe fire in a personal receptacle designed for fires until 10pm. Your receptacle is just fine and I don’t see any problems here. Go ahead with what you were doing and have a good evening.”
While he was talking, 2 cops pulled up. They jump out of their car looking like they’re ready to spring into action. The fire guy says, “Nothing wrong here. Everything is in order.” He and his crew drive off. The cops look kinda disappointed but they drive off too.
We start up the fire and hope that’s the biggest drama we will encounter tonight. You never know. One of our City official friends arrives. Everyone is delighted to see him. We joke back and forth and then carry on a discussion about the state of the Duluth public school system. Our friend is an expert on matters concerning education. He tells us that the current graduation rate for white senior high school students is 75%, for black seniors it’s 39.5% and for native students 27%. We are shocked! We knew it wasn’t what it should be but we had no idea it was this bad.
He says, “Have you ever seen those statistics publicized anywhere?” We have not. Our friend has some good ideas about how to improve our schools. He thinks all teachers should be given more yearly training sessions, more collaborations between schools and businesses need to be developed, student to teacher ratios must be reduced, more elective course options are needed, all students should be required to enroll in and pass at least one honors level course and curriculum needs to be reviewed and improved to meet changing employment opportunities. We also talk about the harm created by out of school suspension and incorporation of the criminal justice system into the school system. It’s called The Pipeline to Prison.
We tell our friend we think he should run the Duluth school system and we will back him if he will give it a try. He laughs and says, “I don’t think publicly listing Occupy as one of my major supporters will help me much.” Then he is off to his next stop.
An Occupier who has been living out of town is trying to rent a place in the Twin Ports and he tells us about the trouble he’s been having. He has a guaranteed monthly income but his credit score is not very high so no one wants to rent to him. He says, “I don’t see why having a low credit score should mean you can’t have a place to live. Housing is a human right.”
In the middle of this discussion a person who can best be described as a wild woman bounces over. She’s talking very loud and fast, asks for a glass of water, drinks it down, asks for another, is making homophobic remarks and asking for meth and bath salts, starts throwing her water all over, sits down and begins to let loose with some very vulgar descriptions of something.
An Occupier says, “You’re being very vulgar and we don’t like that sort of thing. Could you please just sit and enjoy the fire with us?” She says, “Sorry” and bounces off down the almost empty street.
Someone asks if there has been any more news about the May 25th rally against Monsanto. The Occupiers who are working on this say major event announcements will be out very shortly. A discussion begins concerning GMOs and corporations that are trying to patent things that have been given to us by Mother Nature. We have a good few Occupiers who are of a scientific nature and they begin talking deep science. After we get past the topic of sustainable energy the rest of the Occupiers don’t really know what they’re talking about but it sounds real good.
As this is going on a young woman arrives, she is very drunk and apologizes for being so. We offer her a cup of strong coffee and a chair. She says,”Miigwetch. Miigwetch. I’m sorry for being so fu**ed up.” The conversation continues, it’s getting dark, the fire is dying. Some of the Occupiers say good night and the rest begin to pack up when we notice that the young woman is passed out cold.
We can’t wake her, we don’t know who she is, we can’t just leave her there and we’re not going to call 911. An Occupier offers to go down to the Casino and look for someone from the neighborhood who might know her. Then just in the nick of time, Wild Woman reappears. She’s a little calmer now and says she knows the passed out woman. She is able to shake her awake and the two of them walk off arm and arm.
From all directions, people are starting to appear. It looks like the street is coming alive. The weather is forecasting rain for Saturday. If it rains we’ll meet at the Occupy couple’s home. If not, we’ll be back to interact with our people of the hood.