G.A. Minutes 1-5-15

G.A. Minutes 1-5-15
It looks like we’ll be having a full house tonight.  Most of the Occupiers fill the back booth at Coney Island; others sit in chairs that spill into the walkway.  We think this won’t be a problem as this neighborhood café generally has few customers in the evenings.
An Occupier who has recently relocated from the east coast comments, “The winters in Duluth are similar to the winters back east.  Inconvenient but not particularly dangerous”.
We agree, we’ve been having unusually calm weather so far this winter but we expect our local climate will enter the danger zone before long.  The weather people are forecasting temperatures below zero by the weekend.
Every year some of our homeless ones freeze to death due to inadequate shelter.
An Occupier asks if anyone attended the mayor and city councilors’ inauguration event on Monday night.  If so, what did they think about it?
Another Occupier answers, “I did.  It was at the DECC and the place was really packed.  Our new mayor, Emily Larson, gave a speech where she emphasized her desire to serve our most marginalized citizens. 
The first Occupier replies, “I really hope she is for real.  Duluth residents who don’t have high incomes have been ignored for far too long”.
One of the Occupiers who lives nearby, in the Graysolon Plaza, reports, “Enbridge is moving into our building.  They’ve rented some offices and Sherman Properties, our management company is bending over backwards to accommodate them.  They’ve even removed some of our building security measures so Enbridge employees won’t be inconvenienced when entering the building”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve had to deal with Sherman Properties in the past.  They really suck.  I’m betting they are scheming to rid Graysolon Plaza of all the low income residents who were living in Graysolon when they bought the building.  Sherman is all about gentrification”.
The Occupier who lives in Graysolon continues, “Our resident union is really pissed.  We’re worried too.  The building contract with Section 8 low income guidelines will be in effect for 16 more years.  When that time is up, we’re certain Sherman will refuse to renew anything having to do with low incomes.  They’ll remodel a little and then rent to ‘more deserving tenants’.
Someone comments, “I’m betting Sherman will try to get rid of the low income tenants before the Section 8 contract is finished.  They pull a lot of really dirty tricks”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “Speaking of Enbridge, I was in touch with MN 350 yesterday.  They want to have a Stop the Enbridge Invasion march and rally in Superior, WI on Monday, January 25th at noon. There will be a planning session and feast at Peace Church on Sunday, January 24th, at 3pm.
 Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be doing a lot for this event so of course, they’ll need our help”.  Another Occupier interjects, “If it’s not snowing or raining, we could bring our puppet, Two Face”.
The first Occupier asks, “So do you want to join in and help with this event?  We all answer, “Hell yes!”
The Occupier who likes to read poetry reads us a poem.  The name of the poem is Kindness. It’s very good.
An Occupier tells us, “When I was in the 6th grade we had a social studies book that told us, as Americans, we could expect to go anywhere in the world and be treated with respect and deference.  This was because we were Americans”.
Another Occupier states, “Yeah, when I was in grade school we had a history book that referred to Native Americans as ‘savages’”.
Changing the subject again, someone reports to the Occupiers who weren’t at the last meeting, “Last Tuesday we were talking about all the events that will be happening during the MLK celebration, January 14th – January 18th.  We thought it would be a good idea to attend Jammin for MLK in a group like we did last year and then we could each attend the other events as we are able.  Does that sound o.k.?”
Everyone agrees it is o.k.  An Occupier adds, “I can’t wait for the march on January 18th.  I’m all over that!”
Somebody reminds us that we are needed to help out with the INM/NWA NDN Taco Sale on Friday.
The east coast Occupier says, “I’d really like to know what the plans are for the restarting of the recreational fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  Spring is not long off you know”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Well, I think we need to get as much publicity about the fire issue as we can out to the general citizenry. 
“I’ve contacted 2 City Councilors who haven’t done much but the newly elected City Councilor for this district is currently studying the bazillion pages of documentation that I gave her.  I have a meeting with her scheduled for February 1st.
“I think we need an article in the Reader.  I’ve emailed one writer who was recommended by our Catholic Worker friend.  That writer hasn’t responded yet”.
An Occupier opines, “At this point we don’t know for sure when we’ll be able to start up the fire again.  Climate change is messing with the seasons, so who knows?  In the past we’ve started sometime in April”.
The Occupier who brought up the subject says, “We need to make plans for what we’re gonna do once the fire is started. Are we going to just restart the fire after the Fire Department leaves?  Should we be sure to have someone filming the fire and police officers if they try to close us down?”
Another Occupier replies, “The police and fire departments may not shut us down during the first fire.  They may be too busy on that night or they may be taken by surprise and have to wait for orders from their masters.  However, you are right.  We should start making plans now.
“We have a lot of supporters.  The homeless ones will probably be too afraid to stick around when cops appear but we have a lot of support from people who have homes.  We should start talking with them about needing their attendance at the fires when we start again.  Maybe we can get reporters to attend also”.
The clock on the wall says 8pm.  The guy who works the counter is mopping the floor.  He says, “I’m going to lock the door and turn off the signs but you guys are welcome to stay as long as you need to”.
We are sort of on a roll so we continue talking.  An Occupier asks, “What if the CJMM BOD gets the City Council to pass a resolution which says fires at CJMM are illegal?”
The Occupier who is tasked with studying all the legal stuff replies, “In order to get the City Council to pass a resolution, one first has to be sponsored by a City Councilor.  Then one goes before the agenda setting meeting and presents their proposal.  The City Manager takes the proposal and turns it into legalese.  The legalese is then taken back to the City Council to look at then….blah,blah,blah”.
The Occupiers have pained expressions on their faces; they cover their ears.  Another Occupier states, “O.K., so we know a resolution won’t be passed before April”.
Somebody suggests, “Maybe we could write a letter to the editor”.  Another answers, “I wrote a letter to the editor a while back.  It took a month or more from the time they received my letter until the time they published it”.
The first Occupier responds, “Well then we’d better get writing soon.  If we send it in a week or so it will be mid-February before it’s published”.
Another Occupier remarks, “A letter in February is a good idea.  It could get the issue into people’s awareness so when shit hits the fan some will know about the issue already.  Also, the letter could get a response from someone.  Wouldn’t it be great is someone answered with an ‘I hate homeless people’ answer?  That would really get the ball rolling.”    
The first Occupier asks, “So can everybody have at least an outline of what they would say in a letter and bring it to our next meeting?”  We won’t all be able to do that but some of us are willing to give it a try.  
Two young boys are sleeping in one of the smaller booths.  We didn’t notice them coming in.  They have a family resemblance to the guy who works the counter.  We think maybe they are waiting for him to finish so he can take them home.
Time to leave.  We’ll be back at Coney Island on Saturday.  Hopefully we’ll have some drafts of the letter.