G.A. Minutes 8-12-14
It’s been hot with no wind all day. As we arrive at CJM the temperature is still around 85 degrees. We expect to be somewhat uncomfortable during the first hour or so of our meeting but we’re in luck.
The days are getting shorter and the sun lower so a large part of the Memorial space is shaded and there is a gentle breeze blowing throughout. Sweet. The place is empty except for one woman sitting in the shade on the back ledge.
As soon as the chairs are set up she comes over to join us. She says, “Boy is it ever hot! I’m completely exhausted and all I’ve been doing today is trying to cope with the heat”.
She’s carrying a big paper bag which she tells us contains food. “Can I trade some of my food for a cigarette?” she asks.
We give her a smoke and explain that she can just have it; we don’t need to take her food.
The woman makes small talk as she smokes and then she leaves. After she is gone we notice she left her paper bag sitting under the table.
The street is fairly empty. The people who do walk by are traveling solo or in pairs. Most are trying to figure out where their friends have gone.
A street man who has visited with us in the past comes over to say hello. He too asks for a cigarette.
An Occupier remarks, “We have a pack of community cigarettes tonight. A friend left them in my car and said to just go ahead and give them away”.
The man responds, “Does that mean I can have more than one?”
The Occupier replies, “Take as many as you like”.
The man scoops up five or six and says, “This is great! I’m going to go up the hill and give a cigarette to each one of the brothers”. Off he goes.
An old man who we see almost every time we meet at CJM comes to talk to us. He is the minister of the storefront church a few doors down. He tells us he has some baked goods and asks if we will take them. We tell him of course we will. He leaves and returns with a tray of assorted muffins which we put out on the table.
The minister then says, “I really appreciate you folks being here and appreciate the things you do”. We thank him.
After he leaves an Occupier confides, “What a surprise! All this time I thought he didn’t care much for us”.
One Occupier reports that our friend, the main organizer for Water Legacy, is asking if we will help them with petitioning at the annual Pride Fest on Saturday, August 30th. Most of the Occupiers want to do this.
The same Occupier also reminds us that Loaves N Fishes will be having their 25th Annual Block Party on Saturday, August 23rd from 3pm-7pm. She suggests, “We could all meet up there and ride back up the hill for our G.A.”. Everyone thinks this is a good idea.
We are also reminded that the next Idle No More meeting will be this upcoming Friday at 1pm. We’ll be meeting at the new office which two of our Native organizer friends have just opened at 320 E 2nd St.
A woman from the street who we have known for years comes to sit with us. She begins with her usual rant about the unfairness of the black people having the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial when there is not a memorial in the city for Native people.
However, tonight she is less angry, more accepting. She says, “Maybe it’s because white people are afraid of us. We’re a very strong people you know”. Then she tells us a story.
She begins, “When I was a little girl living on the rez, there was one crow that could talk the same way that people talk, the same way we are talking now. There was only this one crow that could do that.
“One day me and my sisters were playing and we started throwing rocks and sticks at that crow. When we got bored of doing that we went and swung on the swings that we had.
“While I was swinging that crow flew down and bit me on my face. I was bleeding and crying and when I got home the grownups got a gun to go shoot the crow.
“Me and my sisters were crying and saying to don’t shoot the crow because it was our fault for throwing rocks at it. But they shot the crow anyway. That was the only crow that could talk like people do”.
As she is finishing her story a man calls to her from across the street. As she leaves, she says, “When I come back I’ll tell you another story”.
Our friend the city official comes walking up the street. One of the Occupiers has edited some documents for our friend and the two of them discuss a new project. When he leaves he says, “Thank you for being here”.
We feel a few raindrops and as we look at the sky, we see a big black cloud coming over. We sit and let the light rain fall on us. When the rain stops we see a big double rainbow over the back of CJM. Lovely.
Folks are stopping by now. They’re getting lemonade and coffee and going about their business. We decide it has cooled off enough to light the fire.
A man with a prosthetic leg sits down. We offer him a beverage and some baked goods. He eats heartily and says, “This is the first thing I’ve had to eat all day”. When he gets up to leave we give him more baked goods to take with him.
As he walks off, the second wave of rain showers down on us. It’s not enough to put the fire out. When it stops, the hungry man returns and we gladly supply him with more food.
Another street friend, the grey haired woman appears. We’re glad she still remembers where to find us. We haven’t seen her in several months so have things to catch up on.
As we are chatting with her a third batch of rain clouds cross over us. These clouds carry more rain than the previous two. One Occupier says to another, “So are you timing them?”
“Yup” says the other Occupier, “They’re coming about every fifteen minutes”.
Now we’re all fairly wet. An Occupier says, “I think by now we’ve proven to the neighborhood we’re just as crazy as they are”.
As we begin packing up someone notices the big paper bag that had been left under the table. She opens it and finds a large container of fresh fried rice and egg rolls.
We offer it to our friend the grey haired woman and she is delighted. It means she won’t have to go and stand in line at the feeding center tomorrow.
We’re just about packed up when the fourth band of showers passes over. It’s fairly strong but still not enough to put out the fire. We have to do that ourselves.
We say our rather wet goodbyes and plan to be back here on Saturday.