G.A. Minutes 10-17-15
It’s mid-October and we still have green leaves on some of the trees. We wish we still had the type of weather that’s supposed to go along with green leaves. No such luck, the temperature is in the low 40s without any breeze.
Tonight, as we roll up on the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, we start the fire first; then we set up chairs and snacks. We are a group consisting of 3 Occupiers and 1 gray haired woman.
The gray haired woman is 76 years old but she can carry 4 metal folding chairs at once and set them up without help. Way cool.
Several young Native people walk up. They are family members of the woman who tells good stories. She still has not been found. It’s been 2 months since she’s been in contact with anyone. Not being in contact with her family is very unlike the story telling woman.
The young people take seats and chat for a while. One of the young men tells us he “fell off the wagon again today”. An Occupier advises him to just get up and start over again. The young man replies, “Yeah, that’s what my counselor keeps telling me”.
An Occupier reports, “Next Tuesday is the Solutions to Poverty Forum at the Dom. I don’t have much faith in our current government system but I think it will be interesting to hear what the City Council and the mayoral candidates have to say. Do you want to go?” We decide yes, we want to go.
Another Occupier asks, “Do you want to hear the most recent news about the DPD, DFD and our fire?” Everyone wants to hear so she continues, “I received an email from Chief Ramsay a few days ago. He says he’s going to confer with City staff this week and will contact me next week so we can meet. I talked with Rep. Eric Simonson last Saturday. He asked me to try and set up a meeting with him and the DFD fire marshal. I called him to get his times of availability but he hasn’t responded yet. I also got an email response from another City Councilor who supports us. He wants a meeting too. I hope you guys realize, I’m not going to all these meeting by myself. At least 1 of you is coming along.” An Occupier volunteers to attend meetings as necessary.
As we are talking and warming, different types of sirens are going off almost constantly throughout the neighborhood. Several squads with lights flashing are zooming around.
Someone comments, “I see where the governor of Hawaii has declared a state of emergency related to homelessness”. Someone else replies, “We have a homeless state of emergency here too”.
The circle is filling up now. The man who is always laughing arrives accompanied by the very large Native young man and several of his friends.
One of the friends asks the question, “I don’t understand; why don’t they want you to have this fire? One Occupier explains, “It’s really only a very few people in power in this city. I guess they think we’re not high class enough to be seen in public like this”.
Another person in the circle responds, “The cops are like that too. They don’t know what the laws are; they just make things up and try to bully you”.
The infamous street woman and the tall street woman with the teardrop tattoo beside her eye join in. The infamous woman looks rough. She says her stomach ulcer is acting up. She went to the hospital but was told because she drinks and takes drugs; the hospital wasn’t going to help her.
Then, as per usual, with the exception of the Occupiers, everyone stands up, says goodnight and leaves.
The flames burn high and hot as the neighborhood retired man enters the circle. He wants to talk about the Democratic Presidential Debate that was on TV a few days ago. Unfortunately none of us watched it.
Someone comments, “I read today that Bernie Sanders has come out against the occupation of Palestine. I think it said he was critical of the Israeli government”. Someone else jokingly responds, “Gee, Bernie Sanders must really hate himself”. We laugh.
One Occupier says, “I’d pay more attention to him if he hadn’t joined the Democratic Party. Time will tell but I think there’s something fishy about the whole thing. I’m just gonna do what I always do, vote for Jill Stein”.
The Spiritual Man arrives in the circle so quietly; we don’t notice him at first. He talks about his closest brother who died of a heroin overdose about 8 months ago.
A skateboarder, with purple lighted back wheels, comes squealing around the west corner of CJM. His wheels hug the wall past the side ledge and the back ledge, where he ducks under the tree. He hits the bump (this is where most fail) at the top of the ramp going out on to the street.
We all hold our breath while he skates around the Memorial and when he hits the bump, nails it and gracefully cruises out to the street, we erupt in a big cheer! The skater waves and rolls on down the road.
A squad car driving at normal speed cruises by as the CHUM employment counselor appears. The CHUM counselor is on his way home to his family but stops by to watch the coals die.
With the fire going out, the Occupiers notice how cold it actually is outside. We think how in the world are these folks gonna manage to stay out and socialize on a Saturday night? For some of them, their choices are very limited.
An Occupier gives her extra pair of gloves to one of the street women. We say goodnight and that we’ll return on next Saturday.