G.A. Minutes 6-3-14

G.A. Minutes 6-3-14
It’s summer time now. Finally. The official beginning of summer won’t be for another 2 ½ weeks but tonight it is definitely summer.
We are all in shirt sleeves as we arrive at CJM. The Memorial is full of street folks and quite a few little children are also running around and having fun. There’s a festive feeling in the air. At first we think this is due to the beautiful weather but then we remember, it’s the beginning of the month. This means that people who receive small government checks have just been paid. They’ll be buying alcohol and/or drugs. Everyone appears very happy now. We know from experience things will go downhill as the night goes on.
We set up and prepare the fire but we don’t light it right away. It’s still pretty warm outside so we’ll wait awhile.
An Occupier asks about the latest news from the Northwoods Wolf Alliance. Another Occupier says, “Well you know the NWA founder has moved on to other things so they have to regroup. They’re having another Indian Taco Sale on June 27th”. The Occupier also reports some NWA members have brought up the subject of getting a Stop The Wolf Hunt referendum on the MN ballot. The majority of MN voters do not support a wolf hunt. There is some discussion about the process and feasibility of doing this. An Occupier comments, “I wonder if that would fit into Anishinaabe principles? You know the members of NWA need to consult with their Anishinaabe elders before beginning major project.
Someone reports that several of our Native friends took a trip to Rosebud Lakota Reservation last week. They went to observe a Lakota school that uses the Walden method to teach Lakota language and culture as well subjects commonly taught in the U.S. public schools. Our friends were very impressed and excited. They are planning on opening an Ojibwe school in Duluth. The Lakota teachers told them they were specifically teaching their grandchildren because theirs is the generation that will fight the final battles for the air, earth and water.
The subject of defending our Mother Earth segues into discussion of the Polymet mine. Some of the people at the Memorial are getting really loud. A young woman is getting up in the faces of many of the African American men and yelling at them, using racist terms. The men try to ignore her. She doesn’t stop so some of the men begin yelling back at her. Somebody says something and she goes stomping off in embarrassment. The men laugh at her. The whole interchange was earsplitting but we have absolutely no idea what it was about.
An Occupier asks how things are going with our good friend who is running on the Green Party ticket for the 8th CD seat against Nolan. Another says our friend was able to get enough signatures from residents of the 8th CD to allow him to have his name on the November ballot. The next meeting of our friend’s campaign organizers will be in the Lincoln Park pavilion this Thursday at 6:30pm.
Someone mentions the City of Superior is planning to hire a consultant to create a wage and benefit recommendation in regard to all City employees. This consultant will cost $30,000. “Oh great,” says an Occupier, “Instead of using that money to pay the workers, they’ll hire someone to make a plan for them to pay the workers less”. We shake our heads in disgust.
Somebody also mentions that last weekend at the state DFL convention they voted to table any resolution on the PolyMet mine. An Occupier says, “Cowards”.
We begin a conversation about Guantanamo but the voices of the street people are so loud that we can’t hear each other. Mothers and children are at our table pouring glasses of apple juice. The littlest ones are crying. The original loud woman is back and still loud, a group behind the wall appears to be selling something, 4 or 5 older men are walking around as if they were zombies and there’s lots of laughter coming from the back ledge. A man we have been acquainted for several years comes over to visit. He always has a great sense of humor and he gets us laughing too.
Just then, a woman who has been to our fire a few times stumbles over and plunks herself down. A couple of Occupiers look at each other and mouth “Oh no”. All visits we have had from this woman in the past have been disastrous. Her speech is unintelligible and she also has a zombie like quality about her. Everyone seems to know and watch out for her. No one wants to talk with her so she’s stuck with us. Or is it the other way around? She seems to be enjoying the warmth of the fire, then opens her big purse and begins throwing things into the flames. It’s mostly paper but we have to watch her closely as there’s no telling what she’ll do next. She takes out a bottle of alcohol, gulps some down and quick as a flash throws the rest of the bottle in the fire. Yikes! An Occupier runs to get the grabber thing, but too late……. We hear ssssssssssss….BOOM! Fortunately that’s all that happened. No damage, no one hurt. Then after 2 or 3 tries, she stands up and leaves. Many of the people in the space also leave.
Huh? An Occupier says, “Everyone is probably hurrying to get to CHUM before curfew”. Another Occupier says, “Well how can they do that? They’re all so messed up they won’t be let in”. The 1st Occupier answers, “Oh they’ll be let in. There’s only 1 staff member on the night shift and people get a break at the 1st of the month”. The 2nd Occupier says, “Oh great, a person must feel real safe sleeping at the CHUM under those conditions”. The 1st Occupier nods knowingly and says, “Yeah”.
One more Occupier says, “Why do they live that way? Why don’t they take personal responsibility and straighten up? “Another says, “Well what if you came from a horrible family, were abused and ignored? What if you were an orphan? What if you had little education, no family, no prospects, no options and no hope? If somebody offered you a little substance to change your perspective for a bit, what would you do?” The 1st Occupier is silent.
We decide to pack up early as all the ruckus can be draining. As we are doing so, a large older man we haven’t met before comes off the back ledge and walks over to us. In the earlier ruckus he had been attempting to calm people down. He says, “I’d like to apologize for everyone’s behavior here tonight”. We smile and say, “Oh man, we’ve been coming here for years. It’s really no big deal”. The man shakes everyone’s hands and goes back to the ledge. When we return on Saturday, we expect it will be quieter.