G.A. Minutes 6-4-13

G.A. Minutes 6-4-13
It’s very cloudy and looks like it might rain. We’re going to take a chance that it won’t. Last Saturday we met indoors as we thought it would rain. It never did. We like being outdoors at the Memorial so we’ll risk getting wet.

Just as we’re setting up the chairs and preparing the fire we receive a visit from one of the members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial board of directors. This is his first time meeting any of the Occupiers so we all introduce ourselves. He says, “I can’t stay tonight but I just wanted to thank you for all you do and to say keep up the good work.”

One of our regular street friends stops by for a minute. She’s carrying lots of bags and is on her way down the street. One of the Occupiers has a small bundle of sage, he offers it to her and she lights it up and smudges as all and we smudge her. The wonderful fragrance wafts throughout the neighborhood.

Another Occupier arrives; one of our friends from the City arrives with him. They remind us the anniversary of CJM ceremony will be held June 14th at noon. The featured speaker will be a big surprise to many people. He tells us who it will be and we are sworn to secrecy. The Juneteenth celebration will be the next day at the Hillside Community Center. The Occupiers plan to show up and inquire as to how they can be of assistance.

Our City friend mentions the subject of possible funding for the renovation of the old Kozy apartment building. The building is directly across the street from the Memorial. Our previous homeless camp was pitched behind this building. Many of us have been contacted recently by another City official asking for our opinions on how we would like to see the old Kozy renovated. Most of us support the idea of housing for poor and/or homeless people.

Our friend explains the ins and outs of obtaining TIF funding for housing development. We express our usual concerns about developers gentrifying the Central Hillside and forcing all the poor and homeless out of the area. He tells us renovating the old Kozy and turning it into low and moderate income housing using TIF funds would be a sure fire way of keeping regular people living in the Central Hillside. He elaborates on some of the ideas he and others have for the project and we like what we hear.

The old Kozy housed many “difficult to house” people until it burned in a fire several years ago. Since then it has been standing empty. We all hope the project will work out and that some of the people burned out of their homes will be able to live there again.

Our friend tells us One Roof Housing is having a free meal catered by Duluth Grill and they are also giving away many plants that people can plant in their gardens. We are surprised we hadn’t heard about this event. He says” Oh, I guess it wasn’t very well publicized. Maybe that’s why there are so few people in attendance.” He and an Occupier decide to leave to get some of the food and plants. We jokingly say, “If they have any to go plates, bring us some”.

A boy on a bike rides up and asks for water. We give him some and begin to chat. He tells us he is homeless and that he sleeps on the front porch of one of his relatives. He says, “You guys are the ones who had that camp in the back of the Kozy last year. Hey, you really helped a lot of people”. We tell him about the free meal and he hops on his bike and takes off to get fed.

An Occupier reminds everyone about the Truth To Tell educational event to be held at UMD June 12th at 6pm. It will be a live broadcast of a panel discussion concerning the proposed PolyMet mine. One of our friends is a main organizer and would like our support. Besides, we are sure to learn things we need to know.
The Occupier begins to talk about the Penokee Hills situation when our City friend and the Occupier pull up.

They are bringing us plates of food from the free meal! Someone says, ”Oh man, you rock!” We are all hungry and very grateful. We chow down immediately. There is a lull in the conversation while we “occupy” some really good food. When we come up for air the Penokee discussion resumes. The older man from the neighborhood sits down to listen. A woman we don’t know walks over and says, “Are you folks Occupy Duluth”? When we say yes, she says, “But I thought Occupy was a bunch of kids”. She then begins to talk about the Book of Revelations and the 2nd coming of Christ. She gives everyone religious pamphlets.

We listen politely and accept her pamphlets but the older man will have none of it. He says, “Why are you telling us this b.s.”? She says goodnight and leaves. After she is gone the older man throws his pamphlet in the fire. He always gets upset when someone talks about spiritual things.

Anyway, back to the Penokee situation. The Penokee Hills is near the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin. It is a very pristine area with many clean rivers and streams. A mining company is attempting to build a mountaintop removal iron ore mine there. The Bad River Band with assistance from various other Native bands is fighting this proposed mine. They are battling to save the land, water and environment from pollution and destruction.

The Bad River Band holds treaty rights to the area of the proposed mine. The current governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker is completely in the pocket of the corporations and is trying very hard to ignore treaty rights and to push the mine through any way he can. This coming weekend, June 8th and 9th, the mining company (G-Tech) is planning on making some exploratory drills in the area.

Bad River is asking for help from all supporters. They need as many allies as possible to join them in protesting this drilling. We would like to go there so discuss logistics. When will we need to leave and how many people can fit in the Occupy couple’s vehicle? Will another Occupier be willing to drive his vehicle if we can get gas money for him? The older man says, “I won’t be able to go along but I’d like to contribute to the gas money.” He gives us a generous contribution. That pretty much settles it. We should be able to go.

Rain drops are becoming noticeable. We pack up and head for home. If we go to Bad River there will be no G.A. on Saturday.

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