G.A. Minutes 9-23-14
Summer is back for at least the next week, or so the weather forecasters tell us. At this rate we’ll be able to collect on the days of summer that we were cheated out of in June. Sweet. We must be doing something right.
A couple of Occupiers have agreed to arrive a little early tonight. The president of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD has asked to meet with them before the regular meeting starts.
When they arrive, the president is nowhere to be seen. An Occupier says, “While I was driving over here I noticed that the streets are just teeming with people. I bet everyone is out enjoying this beautiful day”.
A few more Occupiers arrive and everyone begins setting things up. A regular woman from the street takes one of the Occupiers aside and asks, “Do you know where we might get a tent and a couple of sleeping bags?” The Occupier doesn’t have any secret information so can only suggest contacting the main outreach worker at CHUM or asking the people at Loaves N Fishes. The Occupier thinks to herself “Oh, she and her man must have lost their housing. That’s too bad. They don’t look like they’d be adept at camping and I know she has kids”.
The CJM BOD president still hasn’t arrived, people are beginning to be seated and the fire has been started. Oh well….. If he arrives later he’ll just have to join the circle.
An Occupier tells a story of how she has been having on online conversation with some regular people from West End. They are discussing the fact that they find used syringes with needles still in them all over their neighborhood. Most are frightened and asking what they should do.
The Occupier has been explaining to them how a Needle Exchange Program operates. The conversation has been going on for about a week and all the participants have been serious but pleasant. She goes on “Except today some guy from Park Point logs in and says to tell mayor Ness and all his socialist cronies (everyone cracks up when they hear this) to cut all the welfare payments they give these undesirable people from other cities, down to the bare bone. He says this will stop all the undesirables from coming to Duluth’.
“I just couldn’t help it”, the Occupier said. “So I wrote back to him and said: ‘I hate to have to be rude but you sound pretty undesirable yourself. We don’t need any haters in this conversation. We’re trying to solve real problems.” Everybody has to laugh. The Occupier continued, “As far as I know, the Park Point guy hasn’t returned to the conversation.”
People are about to comment on the story when our friend, the pretty street woman who tells really good stories arrives. We can tell immediately that she is not in a good mood. She’s also quite messed up on some type of substance. Alcohol is usually her drug of choice.
She appears to be very sad. We’ve known her long enough to know that she expresses any strong emotion by using anger. She begins her usual diatribe about how come blacks have a Memorial and Natives don’t have one…..blah,blah,blah. Then she says, “My grandmother died a few days ago. She was 97 years old”.
She goes on to tell us some things about her grandmother. We try to convey empathy to her. She is not having any of it and says, “I don’t cry. Oh no, I never cry,” She starts to sob but catches herself. She just sits, looking miserable. One Occupier says to another, “Sometimes when people are having their grief and their pain, there’s nothing you can do. They just have to be allowed to feel it”. That comment seems to calm the sad woman a little.
An Occupier explains to the others about the expected visit from the BOD president. He states, “I received a call from one of our Occupiers who told me the BOD president wanted to talk with me. I met with him at a coffee shop yesterday. It seems like the president is on the same page as we are but the rest of the BOD members are not.
“They want us to stop meeting at the Memorial and they want all the neighborhood people to leave also. They want no smoking, drugs, drinking, drug or sex trafficking and no whatever else you can think of.
“If we continue to meet here, they expect us to enforce these rules. They want the Memorial to be a quiet, empty place where they can bring the wealthy potential donors to their scholarship program. He told me he would meet me here before the meeting but he didn’t show up. He’s a pretty nice guy. I hope nothing bad happened that prevented him from being here”.
Another Occupier responds, “Well it’s a good thing the BOD has absolutely no legal jurisdiction over CJM. I say the hell with them. They’re just a bunch of country club wannabees. They think being a BOD member is some sort of status symbol. They have no clue about the lives of the guys up on the wall or of any of the people who live around here. I say we just ignore the BOD. If they have anything they want to discuss with us they can join us here at a meeting”.
Something the Occupier said has rubbed the woman of the good stories the wrong way. She jumps up saying, “I’m outta here! You guys have bad spirits”. She staggers off.
Suddenly all the street people in our chairs leave. Then all the people on the street disappear. We have witnessed this phenomena in the past. We have no idea what it means.
A conversation about the 1% begins. An Occupier comments, “I don’t understand why they are so blind. Why can’t they see they are destroying the lives on their own generations to come also? Why can’t they see that their own lives would be better if only they allowed the rest of humanity to just have basic needs met.
Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah and they wouldn’t have to hire university think tanks to research why the masses revolt”. We all laugh.
Our friend an occasional Occupier arrives. He’s come for some good coffee and a chat. He doesn’t usually have time to attend our meetings as he’s running his own cab company out of our neighborhood. He’s well acquainted with all the street folks. We catch up on his latest news, he makes an appointment to meet one of the Occupiers later and then he’s off again.
The Native man on crutches who has been showing up to the circle lately arrives. He brings his girlfriend and introduces her. She’s pleasant and friendly. He offers each member in our circle a pinch of tobacco. Some put the tobacco in the fire with a silent prayer, others roll a cigarette.
As usual, the man talks of good things. He tells us his father was a Lakota spiritual advisor and created a shelter for men who were batterers. He says the idea was when the men came home, acted violently with their wives and got thrown out of the house; they would not come back and try to kick in the door etc. They could go to the shelter. We think his father was a very smart man.
Two young boys who we recognize slightly arrive. They are holding the story telling street woman up by her arms. She appears unable to walk; her speech is incoherent. They sit her down in a chair and one of the boys makes a phone call. He tells the woman he has found a place for her to sleep for the night and attempts to get her to stand. It’s not working.
The man with the crutches says, “Leave her alone. Wait a while and then she’ll be ready to go”. It appears that everyone listens when the man with crutches tells them something. The boys leave. We continue to talk and then the man and his girlfriend also leave.
The fire is dying, the hour is very late. We know we can’t just pack up and leave while the story telling woman is passed out and alone. We are wondering what we should do. We know we can’t just take her to one of our houses for the night. She has a lot of paranoia so if she wakes up in a strange environment she will probably freak out, think she’s been kidnapped and try to kill anyone she sees.
The street is empty of people we know are her friends. We sit for a while and then the two boys return. One says to an Occupier, “Will you talk to her?”
The Occupier gives it a try. “Honey, we’re packing up now. We don’t want to just leave you here. You’ll probably end up in Detox. Please go with your nephews. They have a place where you can stay”. The woman agrees and the boys carry her off.
We quickly pack up. It’s probably after 10pm but the DPD don’t seem to pay much attention to us anymore.
On Saturday we’ll be going to a belated Fall Equinox celebration in the country. We intend to be back to CJM on Tuesday. Maybe it will still be summer.