G.A. Minutes 11-1-14

G.A. Minutes 11-1-14
It seems to be getting colder every evening we meet at the CJM Memorial. Oh well….. Tonight we’re supposed to turn the clocks back an hour. Next time will be colder than it is now. We’ll try to stick it out as long as humanly possible; we’ll have to go indoors during the bitter cold winter months.
We don’t necessarily want to go indoors but realize we are fortunate to be able to do so. Many are forced to live outdoors year around. Every winter some of these folks are found frozen to death. This makes no sense in a country where many others own more than one home.
We’re just setting up the fire pit when we hear a loud call from across the street. It comes from one of our regular “problem children”, a young homeless man who is addicted to alcohol. We’ve never seen him completely sober but he’s quite funny and charming when he’s just slightly drunk. When he’s extremely drunk he becomes hostile and belligerent. There’s something we like about him even if we don’t know what it is.
Tonight he’s just beginning to get drunk. He comes over, sits down and begins a friendly banter with one of the female Occupiers. She laughs and joins in. The young man counts his change, determines he has enough to buy more alcohol and wanders off, promising to return.
It’s the first of the month so we had expected a pretty rowdy evening with the neighborhood “open drug market” in full swing. We’re surprised to find the streets empty and everything very quiet. We have only two street folks at our fire.
An Occupier who has spent much of his life in homelessness explains, “Many have bought a motel room for a few nights and seeing as it’s so cold, the dealers are probably making deliveries”. After several years, most Occupiers are still learning the ropes concerning homelessness.
An Occupier announces our friend who is running for the 8th CD will be holding a post-election get together at the Red Herring next Tuesday evening. She suggests we hold our regular Tuesday meeting at CJM and then go over to the event. Everyone thinks this is a good idea.
Another Occupier says there are going to be some follow up events re: the Council of Black Minnesotans. He doesn’t have all the details yet but one event will be another meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, November 12th at 7pm. The other event will be Friday and Saturday November 21st and 22nd at a TBA venue and will include people from throughout MN.
One more Occupier reports she has finally visited the Jefferson People’s House and asked the guy working on the day she visited about the possibility of holding our meetings in their space during the winter months. She was told that even though JPH has started closing at 5pm they are open to allowing groups the use of their space in the evenings. She was asked to email the JPH group with her request. She sent an email a couple of days ago and is waiting for an answer.
An occasional Occupier who lives in WI asks how things are going with our friend and his campaign for 8th CD. Another responds, “It appears that he has quite a lot of support. Voters will now have to decide whether they will fall for that old lesser of two evils game that says if you vote for the Green Party you are really giving your vote to the Republicans. I think if one doesn’t vote their conscience we will never have a chance to rid ourselves of the two party system”. Everyone agrees.
A regular street person says, “I can’t vote. I’m a felon so I can’t vote. We ask him if he has been out of prison for very long and if he is “off paper”. He says he is and an Occupier says, “Well then you can vote. You just have to apply to get your voting rights back”. The man responds, “Really? I don’t think my vote counts for much”. Another Occupier answers, “But you’re still a citizen and a person and you have rights. I think everyone should be allowed to vote. I think people who are still in prison should be allowed to vote”. The man responds, “If people in prison could vote I think there would be a lot less people in prison”. We all laugh.
As if on cue, a city fire truck in full regalia drives slowly by. As it departs it gives a couple of loud beeps. We all wave, unsure if those beeps were meant for us.
Our conversation continues and covers several topics: the new continuous war currently featuring ISIL, the question of what exactly is the American Dream, strange movies about women trying to look like Barbie that we have seen and hitchhiking stories including an explanation from the older Occupiers about what hitchhiking was like in the 60s.
We notice a DPD squad sitting across the street appearing to be watching us. He drives slowly down the hill, turns around and drives slowly back up the hill. Apparently wanting us to see he is watching.
The Native spiritual man who has joined us frequently over the last few months arrives. We pass the smudge dish around and he talks about raising children and of the importance of gently leading them in the right way. He is pleased with the way his oldest children have grown.
Another friend we have known for many years arrives. She is dressed up in her own way and has come to meet one of our Occupiers. They are planning on going off to a punk show.
The said Occupier hasn’t arrived yet. We say, “She’s probably stuck on Facebook and can’t get off”. We laugh as we know it’s probably true. We also know that many of us have the same problem. We try to justify this by commenting on how it is a convenient tool for local organizing. Also, if one has good FB friends one can learn a lot from very good articles. Blah,blah,blah…….
The Occupier arrives and we chat a bit. The two of them go off to the show.
A man we have seen before comes up to the fire. We have to grab him to keep him from falling in. He’s very drunk. We get him settled and he talks incoherently. He then begins to speak about vulgar topics.
The spiritual man gently explains the fire circle is a place of respect and the Memorial is sacred location. One should refrain from speaking disrespectfully. The drunken man accepts this correction and staggers off. We hope he doesn’t fall and crack his head open.
Our group now consists of the spiritual man and the Occupiers. We have a serious conversation about the difficulties of living and the importance of staying on a good path.
The young man who was with us at the beginning of our meeting returns. He appears to be more drunk but still in a good mood and says, “Hey, you forgot about me!” An Occupier jokingly responds, “No, you forgot about us!” The spiritual man and the young man are friends. We all laugh and joke a bit and the young man wanders off again.
It’s later than we normally stay, the fire is dying and we have run out of wood for the night. We’re going to have to pack up whether we want to or not. Once the fire dies we will quickly become cold. The Occupiers and the spiritual man exchange hugs.
As we are leaving one Occupier says to another, “I have some of our friend’s campaign signs in my vehicle. Should I put one in the memorial garden?” The other Occupier says, “Most definitely”. He puts the sign up and says, “I don’t know if many people will be able to see it from the street”. The other Occupier responds, “That’s o.k. This sign is for the people walking by”. We hope it will still be there when we return on Tuesday.

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