G.A. Minutes 2-16-16

G.A. Minutes 2-16-16
Something is going on downtown (aka lesser Duluth) tonight.  All the parking spaces are taken and there’s more traffic on Superior St. than is usual for a Tuesday evening during the winter season.
It’s got to be some kind of indoor event as there are not many pedestrians on the street.  The weather is not really cold but it’s not really warm either.  Temperatures are in the teens with no wind.
Who knows?  The big event could be something as simple as a gambling discount at the Fon-Duluth Casino (aka Fat Chance Casino). 
Whatever it is, the Occupy winter hangout at Coney Island is not a part of it.  The new regular hipster guy is at the counter; customers are in a few of the booths.  The best DJ at KUMD is on the radio.  Same ol’ same ol’.
We’ll be a small group again tonight.  About half of our regulars have other obligations.  As we are settling in, an old friend and sometime artist, sometime community activist walks through the door.  She’s been delivering Bernie Sanders signs around town and is stopping by for a visit.  This is good.
An Occupier is in the middle of a report concerning an email she’s received from the Duluth Human Rights Officer.  She says, “He told me that he was forwarding my meeting request to the new CJMM BOD co-chairpersons.  I think having new co-chairs will be beneficial to our small, safe and legal fires at the Memorial.  I think one of the co-chairs is a Caucasian woman who I don’t think I know.  The other is an African American man who I’ve interacted with occasionally.  I believe he works as a community organizer and is a native Duluthian from a working class background.  One would think he’d be empathetic towards the people of our neighborhood”.
Our visiting friend asks for an update on our CJMM recreational fire situation.  She was under the impression we allowed ourselves to be run off the site by the police and fire departments. We explain that we always stop having fires during winter months as our little fire doesn’t provide enough warmth to keep people comfortably sitting around it during the coldest season.
We get her up to speed re: the ongoing saga of our campaign for use of public space by poor and/or homeless people in the Central Hillside.
Our friend offers her opinions concerning the control freak attitude displayed by many cops, the lack of affordable housing and her worries about what Sherman Properties has planned for the low and moderate housing market in our city.
She’s tired as she’s had a long day distributing posters that show the time and place for the many local DFL caucus events taking place on March 1st.  She says goodnight and goes home to crash.  We resume our so called meeting.
An Occupier comments, “I’m not going to the caucuses or any of that stuff.  I received an email from Water Legacy asking me to go and vote for a resolution against Polymet.  I’m in total agreement with the resolution but that entire party platform stuff is a waste of time.  They fight tooth and nail over the party platform; when it’s finally finished they put it on a shelf and never refer to it again.  Why bother?
“I’m sure Bernie is the lesser of all the evils but I’m done with all that.  Even the rare genuine and well-meaning elected representatives don’t have the power to actually do anything beneficial for us or the rest of the world.  Our election system is a complete failure.  Why can’t people see that the same thing happens after every election?”
Another Occupier responds, “Yeah, it’s like when Charlie Brown tries to kick the football.  Lucy holds the ball, he runs up and whoosh!, she yanks the ball away.  Every damn time!  He never learns”.  We crack up; good analogy.
An Occupier passes around a postcard she received in the mail.  It’s a notification about the Clean Power Plan Listening Session being held at UMD, Tuesday, February 23rd 5:30p-8p.
Some Occupiers look at it and roll their eyes.  The presenting Occupier tells them, “Yeah, I know, these government and corporate types hold so called public meetings all the time. Regular people attend and speak very knowledgeably and passionately; the government corporate lapdogs then make the decision that most benefits the rich.
“I need to do a little research yet but I think I want to sign up to speak.  Also, I know they keep a count of how many regular people show up to these things.  According to some statistic, for each actual regular body that shows up it means so many other regular bodies actually care about the particular issue”.
Another Occupier agrees, “You kinda have a point there”.  We agree to discuss this issue again at our next meeting.
Changing the subject, an Occupier reports, “I just read that this past month of January was the warmest January ever recorded worldwide”.  We say, “Whoa!”
The Occupier continues, “Things are not looking real good.  I wonder if the world still has a chance.”
Another Occupier replies, “I think it’s kind of a tossup.  Either the world doesn’t have a chance and we just stop everything we’re doing.  We hang around, socialize and watch TV.  Follow sports teams, abuse various substances, gamble, play computer games….whatever…..because nothing matters anyway or maybe the world does have a chance and we just keep doing what we’re doing and working with all the other people who are doing what they’re doing.
“Every year more people change their minds, learn their history and get a clue.  Eventually we reach critical mass and things work out for the betterment of all living beings and the planet begins to heal.
“It could go either way, but personally, I think that keeping on doing what we’re doing will make things better for the coming generations no matter what happens in the end”.
We are about to get into a deep discussion when the hipster working the counter asks loudly, “What do you think about Bernie Sander’s idea of free college for everyone?  I think that if college were free then the government would have to pay for it and they would start paying the teachers and other staff much less.  That would make all the good professors go work in private colleges.  The people who couldn’t afford to pay tuition would be stuck with an inferior education in public colleges”.
An Occupier responds, “Nah man, we’d take the money to pay for college from the 1% and everybody would have good, free education”.
The last remaining customer calls out from his booth, “We don’t want the USA to be like Russia.  Russia just gave free education to its citizens in order to make them slaves of the state”.
We quietly say, “Oh, oh, never mind”.  None of us are crazy enough to get into a discussion about the imaginary democracy of the United States vs Russian bolshevism.
It’s a little past closing time anyway so we clear off our table in the back booth, grab our coats, leave a few bucks in the tip jar and say, “See you later”.
We’ll be back for more on Saturday.

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