G.A. Minutes 6-9-15
The weather is excellent (low 80s, clear skies and little wind) when we arrive at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening.
A few of the regular street folks are basking in the sun on the back ledge. The young man, who is generally in charge of throwing chunks of old white bread to the seagulls, is doing just that.
Once the bread is gone, the folks on the ledge wave and nod our way then wander off up the hill.
We slowly set everything up. It’s much too warm for a fire so we just set the fire pit up and plan to light the fire later.
The space is empty except for the Occupiers. A group of just blossoming adolescents accompanied by a few adults come walking down the hill and in to the Memorial.
We think they may be from the church youth group program that has been bringing small town kids into Duluth each summer for some years. The kids get the chance to see life in the “big city” and are then expected to help out in various City community projects.
We ask the adults if they are part of that church program. They answer that yes they are. They appear surprised we know of their program.
The young people with their clean clothes and freshly scrubbed pink faces noticeably stand out in this neighborhood.
Besides, we met people from this project at CJM last year. We are in the loop.
The kids are wide eyed as they look at the sculptures and read the writings on the wall. The adults…..not so much. The adults appear unhappy and attempt to hurry the kids along. They tell us they are from Avon, MN.
When they leave, the space is empty again. A few walk through on their way to somewhere else.
Another youth church group arrives. They all look about the same as the last group but the adults are more relaxed. They say they are from Grand Forks MN.
It looks like we’ll be having visits from these church folks for most of the summer. At least when we hold meetings on Tuesdays.
We’re alone again and then the minister who has the storefront church down the street joins us. This is a first. He doesn’t say much but gets juice and a sandwich. He sits for a while, leaves and comes back with a large half-filled box of frosted commercial bakery sweet rolls for our table.
If any of the street folks ever show up, they’re really gonna love them.
The main CHUM employment counselor appears. We ask him, “So where is everybody?” He answers, “I was hoping you were gonna tell me”.
We find it strange that, given the absolutely gorgeous weather after a week of fog, cold and rain, the street is not hopping with cavorting people. Apparently we are out of the loop on this one.
We light a small fire and someone starts a conversation concerning the fact that Barry Saunders has announced his candidacy for U.S. president.
This topic barely gets a yawn out of anyone. Although most of us do vote, we know the 2 party=1 party system is a waste of our time. Everything will need to be completely restructured before we have any chance at peace and justice.
An Occupier reminds us that this upcoming Friday, June 12th will be the yearly anniversary of the opening of the CJM Memorial. The NAACP and friends will be having a ceremony at noon.
She also comments the Superior African Heritage Community is sponsoring its 1st annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday June 20th from 1pm-7pm in Kelly Park, across the bridge in Superior WI.
The Occupier says, “I think we should attend. Several people we work with will be among the organizers and it’s important they have a successful event”.
Only one of the Occupiers, who attended last Saturday’s Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul, is present at tonight’s meeting. He tells us, “There were so many people that I can only tell you about my own section. The march was successful and even received some press coverage”. We hope that this is just the beginning of a serious battle on the part of our side.
A couple of young African American guys are pushing a baby in a stroller. They are watching us from across the street; they decide to come over.
One of the young men is the father of the approximately 2 year old boy child. The child is immediately friendly and talkative. The young men are nervous at first but quickly relax.
Tonight our table contains coffee, apple juice, PB+J sandwiches and animal crackers. Everything is organic. We think the child will be in for a real treat however, he prefers a frosted sweet roll. His Dad hands one to him.
After we assure the very thin young men they would be helping us by eating our food, they chow down. They appear to be quite hungry.
Over the past hour or so, several men, each traveling in a different direction, have been passing by on the sidewalk. They are each carrying on an animated conversation, presumably with themselves. We imagine these men have passed by on other nights but because of all the usual activity around the circle, we had failed to notice them.
One of the men comes to sit in the circle. This spooks the young men with the child. They shake our hands and say goodbye.
We can’t really make out what the guy’s continuous speech is about, but as long as he doesn’t get threatening or violent we might as well just let him roll.
The next guest at the circle is one of Duluth’s premier elder musicians. He is a friend of one of the Occupiers. He glances towards the talking man and gives a questioning look to the Occupier. The Occupier says, “I have no idea”. They laugh without malice.
The musician is trying to find a person skilled in hand drumming and percussion. The Occupier who is also a drummer explains, “I don’t play much anymore; I’m just too old and beat up”. She gives him the contact information for someone she thinks will work real well with him and he goes off to find that person.
Then out of the blue, the Spiritual Man appears. This is a pleasant surprise. An Occupier yells, “He lives! He lives!” Another says, “I put out tobacco for you, man”.
The Spiritual Man looks like hell but he is alive. We know he was in a coma and on life support for 4 days. He tells us that during that time he was talking with his mother. His mother passed from this world many years ago.
A group of regular Native street young men arrive. They are all friends of the Spiritual Man and there is more conversation able his latest ordeal. The man’s phone rings and he limps off to another destination.
The Occupiers are almost alone again. Remaining in the circle are 3 middle aged men, the first talking man and now there are 2 more.
Each man is talking rapidly to himself. An Occupier whispers, “Is this the Incoherent Olympics?” Several of the older Occupiers have had previous experience working in various mental hospitals. They quietly comment on the similarity between what is going on right now and what it looked like in the patient lobbies of the mental hospitals.
Another Occupier points to the sky. A big black cloud is rapidly rolling towards CJM. We feel the first drops of rain.
Everyone jumps up, begins packing up and putting out the fire. The 3 men all feel the raindrops and appear to be somewhat aware of their surroundings. We say, “A big storm is coming, better find shelter”. The men run off.
We know it will be only a brief shower but find it a perfect excuse to call it a night.
The weather is supposed to be good for a while. We plan to be back on Saturday.
G.A. Minutes 6-9-15