G.A. Minutes 6-24-14
It appears that summer is over. We had a couple of really nice days a few weeks ago and yesterday it was really hot for a couple of hours. That’s been about it. Mostly it’s been raining with temps in the 50s. There’s a fine mist in the air and a strong east wind when we arrive at the CJM Memorial. It feels very cold and the place is empty.
We know how to remedy that. We have the fire roaring in record time, coffee and homemade lemonade put out; we all snuggle up close to the warmth.
An Occupier questions whether we should hold all our outdoor weather meetings at CJM. She says, “Here there are so many disruptions, it might be a good idea to hold some meetings in a different, calmer space”. Another Occupier says, “Actually, according to some of my readings, this issue is a major debate among Occupy groups all across the nation. Some say the most important thing to do right now is to discuss political issues, theory and strategy. Others believe it’s more important to meet and work amongst ‘the people’. Personally I think we should do both. Our friend up the street has just opened a new neighborhood music club. He has a back room that could be used to meet in. We should go and talk with him”. The 1st Occupier agrees and just as they begin to discuss the particulars, the 1st “distraction” appears.
A middle aged, rather attractive, well dressed blonde woman comes walking down the street and heads toward us. She is not wearing a coat; only a short sleeved shirt. She is yelling loudly as she tells us all how much she loves us and gives hugs all around. Her behavior is manic; she bounces from chair to chair as she yells and goes from one story, midstream, into another. We ask her to try and calm down. She stops, says, “I don’t even know why I do this!” and bursts into tears. She then starts up again, yelling and running around.
A small man wearing a leather jacket with Native designs arrives and asks for a cup of coffee. He sits down and joins us in our attempt to calm the woman. An Occupier asks, in an aside to him, “What is she on anyway?” He says, “Oh that’s psychic pain you’re seeing. She’s probably been drinking but mostly she has a bad spirit. There’s not much you can do for her right now”.
The woman suddenly jumps up and runs into the middle of the street. She continues with the yelling and hopping around. There are many cars in the street. Some have to swerve to avoid hitting her. Many are beeping their horns.
An Occupier remarks, “We have to call for help. We can’t just leave her like this.” A quick consensus of all present, says yes to calling for help. The Occupier takes a cell phone off to the empty back ledge and calls the Chief of the Bike Patrol. She gets an answering machine. She calls the main homeless outreach worker and gets an answering machine again. She leaves a message and calls the number she has for generic homeless outreach and a man answers. He says, “Oh, I know who she is. The only thing you can do with her when she gets like this is to call 911”. The man agrees to call 911 for her. The Occupier returns to the group and says, “They’re on their way”.
The infamous street woman, who we know well, arrives with 2 other women. The crazy acting woman comes to the sidewalk and she and one of the other women begin a round of “bitch this and bitch that”. We call to the infamous woman and ask her to please give us a break as the crazy woman is “toast”. Her friend immediately ceases the insults. The wild acting woman runs to a cab that is sitting on the corner, jumps in and the cab drives off.
Just as she leaves, the main homeless outreach worker pulls up. The Occupier explains what has been going on and gives the outreach worker the number of the cab. The outreach worker calls the cab company and explains the situation. It’s now up to the cab company and the 911 people to deal with the problem.
“Oh I know the crazy woman well,” says the worker. “When she gets like this all you can do is call 911. They’ll take her to Detox and when she wakes up in the morning she’ll be talking normal again”. She then tells her usual story about the refusal of social workers and the police to notify her when there are problems with her clients. She says, “So many issues could be taken care of at the very beginning if they would just contact outreach”. The Occupiers says, “Sounds like it may be a problem of them not wanting anyone else to get credit or operate in their territory”. The worker says, “You know, you may be right”.
While they have been talking, the infamous woman and several others have been waiting, appearing to want to talk to the main worker. The Occupier walks back to the fire and the others go up to the workers’ car.
When they are finished, the outreach worker drives off to the next crisis and the infamous woman walks over, makes a point of looking the Occupiers in the eye and says, “Thank you.” This is surprising, as that same woman had verbally attacked us many times last year. Someone says, “She told me she was trying to quit drinking and is looking for treatment”.
A large Native man comes to the fire, smudges himself and sits down. He tells us he is a Lakota sun dancer and that our fire and burning sage remind him of home. He graces us with a song. While the large man is singing, the small leather jacketed man begins flirting with one of the female Occupiers. The singing man addresses the small man saying, “I’m going to stop now. You were using vulgar language and disrespecting the song”. The small man says, “Don’t accuse me of being disrespectful”. They begin arguing. The Lakota man says,”You were disrespecting our grandmothers and our traditions”. The man with the leather jacket responds, “You’re right, I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize”. The Lakota man continues to lecture the other man and an Occupier says, “He apologized to you. A lot of men are not able to do that”. The Lakota states, “I agree. I’m sorry to be arrogant and to have a bad attitude”. Both men shake hands several times and depart, each going his separate way.
The Occupiers are alone at the fire; everything is quiet. One of the group returns and says, “Did you see the new sign on the fence? It says there is to be no drinking, smoking or fighting here. I’m sure it’s the work of the CJM Memorial BOD member who doesn’t like us. I guess she thinks all it takes is a sign to change people’s behavior”. We all laugh.
A late Occupier arrives and we say, “You missed a lot of drama”. He begins a discourse about the minimum wage issue and tells us Wisconsin has just passed a minimum wage of $10.10/hr. He says, “That’s just enough for a person to lose their food stamps, subsidized health care and any other benefits but not enough to support a family. One needs a minimum wage of at least $15 to survive”.
A neighborhood woman who is a personal friend of several Occupiers drives up. This is the 1st Occupy meeting she has attended. She brings a load of wood, a freezbie and her dog. The dog does tricks with the freezbie.
Suddenly many street people arrive at the fire. There are too many to count. All our chairs are full and many are standing. The coffee has all been drunk and the lemonade is on its way out too. People are socializing in small groups. The vibe is friendly. The Lakota man returns. Unasked, an Occupier gives him her seat. He sits close to the flames and sings a few songs. His voice is strong and deep. All are quiet. We share the time in unity and meditation.
When he finishes, an Occupier says, “Crap. Look at the time”. We quickly pack up. The street people help us. Someone asks when we will return and we tell them it we’ll be back on Saturday.