G.A Minutes 11-11-14

G.A Minutes 11-11-14
We find the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial completely covered with 3 inches of snow upon our arrival tonight. There’s a cold wind and temperatures are in the low 20s.
Almost all the Occupiers are present. Word has gotten around that this will probably be our last meeting at CJM until spring. That fact is enough to get everyone bundled up and out in the frigid air this evening.
As we’re setting up an African American gay man who had been a regular visitor to our fire for years calls out to us. We haven’t seen him since last spring so are pleasantly surprised see him now. We all give him a hug and say, “Man, where you been?” He tells us he was sentenced to four months in the Work Farm and was just released today.
He’s taking a couple of street men to a new homeless camp. He asks them to wait a bit so he can chat with us. He’s sounds more confident than he has in the past and has plans to apply to college. The main homeless outreach worker is going to help him. We are pleased to hear this.
After the newly confident man leaves, an Occupier reports there are two interesting events happening tomorrow. One is the second meeting of the group connected to the Council For Black Minnesotans. It will take place on the third floor of City Hall at 7pm.
The other is a film sponsored by Water Legacy. It’s going to be at the Red Herring, also at 7pm.
Another Occupier reports the Jefferson People’s House has declined our request to hold our meetings in their space during the winter months. They don’t have the staff to manage after hour events on a regular basis. Oh, oh…… It looks like we’re going to be homeless again. Fortunately our homelessness is theoretical rather than factual. That is a big difference.
Someone else tells us there will two events next week which we may want to attend. Next Tuesday, November 18th we are invited out to the FDL Community Center to listen to the wisdom of an elder. On Saturday November 22nd the Voices For Racial Justice will be showing a documentary film about African Americans and Native American working together for racial justice. A large part of this documentary was filmed in Duluth. Both of these events fall on our regular meeting days but we agree they are important enough to attend them in lieu of our meetings.
An additional Occupier comments one of our friends is showing a movie “Breaking the Spell” on Wednesday, December 3rd 6:30pm at the Jefferson People’s House. The movie will be followed by a discussion about whether property damage is violence.
An Occupier attended a wolf rally last Saturday as a representative for Northwoods Wolf Alliance. The rally was held at People’s Plaza/Ma’iigan Corner and was sponsored by Howling For Wolves. The Occupier had a lengthy conversation with the local leader of HFW and will be able to report back to NWA that things look promising re: NWA and HFW being able to work together when appropriate.
As we have been talking a few regular street friends have given us a hurried greeting as they scurried on to whatever shelter they had managed to find for the night. The streets are empty; no one has stopped.
The spiritual street man arrives. He has no boots, just a pair of sandals with socks. He’s on his way to somewhere else but stops by to chat.
A conversation about carbon pollution begins. An Occupier says she has read recently that the U.S. doesn’t report its carbon discharge from war and other military activities when reporting its annual carbon footprint to the UN. Another Occupier says, “That’s probably why scientists are reporting that climate change is happening at a much faster rate than was initially expected”
The discourse turns to the topic of violence. One of the Occupiers states, “Of course there are moral issues but violence in demonstrations and things like that is highly impractical. The 1% owns the bombs, guns, cops and all that stuff. One is certain to get their head beaten in when they use violence. Besides, if one gets their head beaten in when using violence the general public will have no sympathy for them. When one gets their head beaten in while remaining non-violent they are likely to receive support from outside observers”.
Another Occupier asks, “Is property damage violence?” The first Occupier responds, “When the damage is to the 1%, no. When its property of poor people, yes”. We all laugh.
A friend of the Occupier couple arrives. He lives in the artist co-op where the couple also lives and this is his first time at one of our meetings.
An Occupier who has recently received a housing voucher tells his story, “It’s not what it’s cracked up to be. You have to find your own housing. You have to go to each property management company in person, fill out an application and pay a background check fee in order to be considered for an apartment. When you don’t have a car getting to all the places takes a long time. When you have physical disabilities it’s even more difficult. You can easily spend $100 or more just paying background check fees. You also have to pay for the cleaning deposit. With all the added expenses you’re lucky if you have enough money left over to pay the rent”.
An Occupier remarks, “I’m pleased to announce that by sitting here in this weather we have proven we are crazier than anybody else in the neighborhood”. This fact comes as no surprise to any of us.
Somebody else says, “If almost all regular people have to have a job in order to survive, how come everyone can’t have a job? How come people are supposed to fit the job instead of jobs fitting the people? How come people with felonies, even for simple stupid stuff, can’t have jobs?”
The friend from the artist co-op comments, “I’ve noticed one of the only jobs that people with felonies can be successful at is that of an artist. I have some friends who have drug felonies who have become quite successful with their art”.
The conversation turns to religion, various names for God and real requirements for pleasing “God” vs petty imaginary requirements based on fear, atheism and other higher power related things too numerous to mention.
Now it’s late and some of have cold feet and hands. We all have runny noses. We pack up and head out.
On Saturday we’ll meet at the Occupier couples’ apartment and try to figure out where to go from here. If anyone reading this has a suggestion for a public place located in the downtown Central Hillside area that would allow us to meet without a meeting fee please contact us. Any suggestions will be truly appreciated.

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