G.A. Minutes 7-1-14

G.A. Minutes 7-1-14

It’s one of those “it might rain and it might not” evenings. It’s been like that all day with various shades of white or grey clouds passing over. It didn’t actually rain all day so we’re gonna bet it won’t rain tonight either.

The Memorial is empty, the street is empty too as we set up our things. Seeing as it’s the 1st of the month we’d half way expected the place to be packed full with street dealers and customers. Seeing as the place is empty we think the people who get small government checks probably got paid yesterday and are off trying to enjoy a few days of relative comfort before returning to the street. An Occupier says, “Some people rent a motel room for a few days and take showers, sleep in an actual bed and just lay around for a few days. After that their money’s gone until the next month.

By now we’ve learned you never know what’s going to happen around here. We’ll just have to wait and see how the evening unfolds.

Someone says, “Hey, did you notice the no drinking, smoking etc. sign is gone from the fence?”

Another responds, “Maybe the members of the CJM BOD actually listened to what I said to them when I went to their meeting last week. However, the sign wasn’t put up there very securely so maybe somebody from the neighborhood just pulled it down”. The Occupier goes on to tell the story of his visit to a CJM BOD meeting. He told them the sign they had posted on the fence was offensive to street people. He also told them a sad story about the time he tried to find housing for a very pregnant homeless woman. Everything was full and he watched her walk off into the night; probably to sleep in a doorway or a bush. When he finished his story a BOD member asked primly, “Have you ever heard of the CHUM?”

We all groan. We know the woman who the story was about so we know she worked as a maid in one of the big hotels and didn’t get off work until 6:30 pm. The CHUM requires everyone who sleeps there to be in the facility by 6pm on the 1st night they stay there. They make no exceptions, even for extremely pregnant women. A sizeable portion of our city’s homeless population is not allowed to stay at CHUM for a variety of reasons. Many Duluth citizens believe all any homeless person has to do is show up at CHUM and they will be welcomed with open arms. Everyone who has any clue at all what the life of the homeless is like knows this is far from the truth.

The street is still empty. The only passersby are musicians who are going up the street to an open mic at our friend’s recently opened club. We know most of these musicians and wave and exchange pleasantries. We lounge about, enjoying the warm weather and watching the clouds. Every once in a while we feel a raindrop or 2.

An occasional Occupier comes walking up. We haven’t seen her in months. She sits down and says, “So what’s the topic of discussion tonight?”

Someone comments, “The building kitty corner from here is for sale”.

She answers, “No kidding? Tell me more”. She’s blind so we describe the large, 3 story brick building to her. She’s also a founding member of CJM and has many connections with organizers and politicians in the city. She writes down the phone number from the For Sale sign and tells us, “I wonder if it would make a good multicultural center? I’m going to call and see what they have to say. Seeing as it’s in this neighborhood, I doubt they are asking a lot of money for it”.

Another Occupier remarks, “Yeah, especially seeing as how beat up the old Kozy is now. It looks really bad and it doesn’t seem Ringsred is going to do anything about it. If we could get African Americans and Natives to work together, we could tell the City that the casino was going to buy it, they would quickly sell it to the African Americans to prevent the casino from getting it. Then both groups could split the building and have a multicultural center”. Everyone laughs and then discusses the difficulties black and Native street folk sometimes have getting along with each other.

Someone says, “It’s so sad. If the 2 groups would work together, they would be so powerful”.

Another friend, former camper and neighborhood cab driver stops by. He grabs some lemonade and tells us about the actions he and others are planning re: Neonicotinoid poisoning of the world’s bee population. Then he has to go back to work.

A couple of women come over to get watermelon and a smudge. Another woman sits for a bit and tells us she is waiting for her mother to come out of the casino. She can’t go in to look for her because she had herself banned from the place. A serious gambling addiction forced her to apply for self-banishment. Now she has money to pay bills and buy the things she needs. However, Mom still likes to play the slot machines.

The topic of possible indoor meetings at our friends’ newly opened club is broached. An Occupier says, “Yeah, I’m gonna go talk with him but I want to wait until the World Cup is finished. It will be hard to talk with him when everyone’s eyes are glued to the TV set”. People talk a little about sports in general but mostly about the horrible mess the capitalist system has made of what were basically games that were fun to play and interesting to watch.

A middle aged man appears; he asks for watermelon and sits down with us. He says, “This is really good. He eats piece after piece, then starts in on the humus and crackers. Because there have been so few people out tonight, our snacks have barely been touched. We are happy to see someone making use of the food. As he eats he tells us, “You know you can’t fight City Hall. Nothing is gonna change”. We beg to differ and tell him about our battle to have our fire at CJM. He says, “You mean the mayor let you have this?” We say, “No, he didn’t let us have this. He found he really didn’t have much choice or maybe he didn’t want the headache of trying to enforce a law that didn’t exist”. As he leaves he tells us his name. An Occupier says, “He’s a member of a big African American church family in this town”.

As it’s getting dark and we are packing up, a young woman who it appears has been “working the street” for the last few hours and not having much luck, comes over saying, “I am so hungry. Do you have anything left?” We give her everything she can carry. She’s very grateful.

No rainfall tonight. We’ll be back to try our luck again on Saturday.