G.A. Minutes 10-29-13
We notice a few small snowflakes falling as we arrive at the Memorial this evening. Hmmm……. We’re not ready for winter yet. All the important political actions we’ve been doing since Spring have kept us so busy that we haven’t given much thought to where we are going to meet once it becomes too cold to meet here. Hmmm……
Our former camper, the grey haired woman, is waiting for us. We’re always glad to see her. She is invariably pleasant and cheerful; tonight she seems more clear headed than usual. Her memory is sharper too. She’s telling the same stories she’s told in the past; we haven’t seen her in a while so enjoy hearing them again.
For the first time the Occupier charged with starting up the fire is unable to get it going. Oh well….. He tears it down, adds more kindling and tries again. This time the fire roars. We move our chairs up close to it, rub our hands and grin conspiratorially.
Many street folks are attracted to the flames. Most nights folks come around for cigarettes and refreshments. Tonight it’s the warmth of the big fire.
Three young, well dressed women arrive. We generally don’t get visitors who look this spiffy. When they begin to talk we realize one of the women is probably a young man. We have met her several times and each time she has been so immaculately groomed we only become aware of her transgendered status when she speaks. Whatever.
The grey haired woman says she thinks it’s really terrible the way people are being treated at CHUM. The CHUM workers are arbitrarily throwing people out. Many times their reason for doing so is unclear. This unfair treatment of CHUM residents is especially cruel seeing as the workers know the people have nowhere else to go and the weather is turning cold.
Ms. Transgendered tells us many people are moving into the Lincoln Park/West End area of town. A few of the Occupiers mention that this is what they are afraid of. They know several big developers and city officials have their sights set on gentrifying our Hillside neighborhood. They wish to move all the poor people of the Hillside to the West End in order to accomplish their development goals.
They don’t seem to think poor people should enjoy a view of the lake. We don’t want this gentrification to happen. There are many unique aspects to the Central Hillside. We want to keep them. The poor and working class residents of the Hillside are an integral part of what makes our neighborhood unequaled. Many people visit and move to our city because we still have unique qualities. If the rich turn Duluth into another corporate tourist trap, it would be a major tragedy.
An Occupier asks if anyone has seen the 350.org posting for an anti-Enbridge pipeline organizer to be stationed in Duluth. She is very encouraged by this as she believes it means 350.org is interested in fighting the proposed local pipelines. The Occupiers have also been interested in this battle but as they are few have only been able to do minor education about the issue.
350.org is a national organization with a staff and a network of contacts. Another Occupier expresses an interest in applying for the organizer position. The first Occupier promises to send him the information a.s.a.p.
The talk returns to the question of the possible gentrification of our neighborhood. The grey haired woman wonders if the property owner of our homeless camp is planning on saving our neighborhood. He does own many strategically placed properties in the hood. The Occupiers know him fairly well and state they believe he is just waiting for the right price to be offered. They believe his only real interest is in money. One Occupier mentions his ownership of several businesses catering to the sex trade. She suggests a more sinister motivation.
Occupiers bring up the subject of where they will meet during Winter. One Occupier offers his home. A few begin a discussion about building a portable teepee like structure. They talk about what materials could be used. At this point it is only a fantasy. If they had begun working on the idea last Winter it would have been possible. It’s a little too late now.
There are several more items of business to be discussed but the many street people around the fire are engaged in conversation and appear to be genuinely enjoying themselves. Business can wait. We sit back, giving the neighbors the reins.
Eventually the wood runs out.
It’s later than we usually stay and we need go home, crash and live to fight another day. One man doesn’t want us to leave. He lives alone and doesn’t get a chance for meaningful conversation often. We know he will be able to sleep all day tomorrow. We don’t have that luxury. We invite him to join us when we return one week from today. Next Tuesday.