G.A. Minutes 9-2-14
It’s been a pleasant day with temps in the 70s and a moderate breeze. We’re expecting the same for this evening however the sky is covered with angry black clouds as we arrive at the CJM Memorial.
We stand watching overhead to decide if we should set up or run for cover. The clouds are moving really fast and off in the distance we can see they are being followed by blue sky and sunshine.
An Occupier says, “You know, it’s moving so fast I think everything is going to pass right over us. We should just set up”. So that’s what we do.
As we are setting up another Occupier comments, “I just saw the infamous street woman up the hill as I was driving down. She looked like she had been drinking”. “Oh crap!” says one other Occupier. The infamous woman had been talking about wanting to get into treatment last spring and into the summer but was unable to find an opening. After that we didn’t see her at all for over a month and had hoped she had gone off for long term alcohol abuse care. The first Occupier responds, “At least she appeared to be happy instead of angry like she usually gets when she’s drunk”.
Over the years we have developed affection and concern for some of the regular street folks.
Many regulars are here tonight. They begin arriving as they see us enter the space. Among them are the developmentally disabled man, the older Ho Chunk man, the mature, very pretty Native woman who tells great stories, the young Native guy who thinks he’s a gangster, the angry, aggressive but strangely religious African American man, the heavy set woman of mixed ethnicity and the kind hearted middle aged African American man who watches out for everyone on the street.
The Native man on crutches who we met a few weeks ago is also waiting and tonight he has brought a friend.
As the Occupiers are bustling about the man on crutches begins to start the fire. The Occupier who is a fire making wizard is the person who always makes the fire so another Occupier signals to him with her eyes. He whispers, “Just wait a while. It looks like he’s going to be able to get it started”. It does take a while but the man on crutches finally gets a fire going.
An Occupier has brought a large amount of hot dogs, buns, ketchup and mustard. We put a grill across the fire and he begins to cook them. Everyone around the fire has one and quickly word spreads up and down the street. Soon there are at least 30 people standing around looking hopeful. The Occupier says, “Anyone who wants a hotdog come and get 1. We have enough”. We do, many people have a 2nd helping.
When the food is gone, many of the folks wander back down the street or to the back ledge. All the chairs around the fire are full; people sit and chat about many things. The heavy set woman talks about her permanently injured foot, the angry man tells about a talk he had with some potential developers concerning planned renovation of the Old Kozy and the man on crutches, his friend and some of the Occupiers talk about planning for the 7th generation and the meaning of life.
When there is a lull in the conversation, an Occupier reports that her computer has eaten the minutes from the last meeting. She says, “I can see the file sitting there but the program won’t let me open it. It says it’s corrupted. I even talked with our friend the major computer expert but he couldn’t open it either. I must have saved it wrong. Sorry”. Nobody particularly cares. We don’t know if anybody ever even reads the minutes.
Another Occupier says, “Our friend from Water Legacy asks if we will help him petition again. This time it will be on Saturday at Bayfront during the Bridge Fest.” Everyone agrees we should help him again. We talk about the pleasant time we had helping him last Saturday at Pride Fest.
Still another Occupier tells about her trip with a member of Idle No More to an all-day meeting with some Anishinaabe elders on the FDL rez. At the last INM meeting the people discussed some problems they had been having with getting their projects off the ground. They decided it was advisable to confer with the elders about what they should do. The Occupier and an INM member from Duluth drove out to the FDL rez, met up with some INM members who live out there and they all spent a day listening to the wisdom of Mary and Leonard Moose, 2 elders in their 80s. The Occupier says, “It was a very enlightening experience. I couldn’t possibly explain everything tonight but I’ll tell you about it when we have more time”.
Someone mentions a book, “Capital” by Thomas Piketty that seems to be all the rage right now. Several Occupiers are currently reading it and finding it to be rather dry. A discussion begins about the stupidity of the whole concept of money and the incredulousness of an entire world that follows the dictates of a system of exchange of goods and services that isn’t real.
The fire is winding down and the sky has been dark for a while. We are thinking of calling it a night when our friend the grey haired woman appears. We are always pleased to see her so decide to stay a while longer.
She is happy to find us here as she can never remember what the days are that we meet here. If she did remember, it wouldn’t matter as she can never remember what day it is anyway.
She tells us she’s been hanging out at CJM every night and making new friends. She says she’s still trying to find out where she fits in. We know she has lived in Duluth for at least 4 years but has always continued to believe she just arrived about 6 months ago.
She says, “It’s really rowdy and there are lots of fights except on the nights that you guys are here”. We have been told this by others too.
The grey haired woman spent most of her life living in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of the Occupiers also lived in the same area for many years. Each time they meet they spend time reminiscing about their time there.
The grey haired woman suggests an Occupy Exchange be created. Various Occupy groups could then exchange locations from time to time. The Occupiers think this is a marvelous idea. They fantasize on the concept for a bit.
Now it’s really time to go. It seems the street folks sitting around the fire wish we would stay longer however; we all have things we have to do tomorrow.
We invite everyone to attend the Bridge Fest. on Saturday and tell them we will be back at CJM next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 9-2-14