G.A. Minutes 11-19-16
We’re not sure what we will find this evening as we roll up on People’s Plaza. Duluth had a minor blizzard yesterday. We’ve heard that areas north of us experienced several feet of snow and power outages. Our city had strong winds and sleet turning to snow but only an inch or two of accumulation.
The giant spruce monument to Christmas shopping has all its lights turned on. Apparently the City had its big Christmas parade last night in spite of the storm. The Plaza appears to have been quickly shoveled out. All the snow is piled up on the benches. Obviously, the workers weren’t thinking about homeless people needing a place to sit.
So it’s no longer autumn; winter has arrived. The stars are not visible, temperatures are in the low 20s and a gentle cold wind blows across scattered patches of ice.
This beginning of the new season causes us to ask the Fire Magician to give us a fire immediately. He obliges and we have roaring flames in no time. Everyone crowds around the blaze until the chill leaves us. We then scurry around setting up the rest of the stuff.
The chairs were left outside an Occupier’s house after the last meeting. They are now packed in snow so we hold them alongside the fire to melt it off. We find this chore to be funny so laugh while we do it.
At this point in time, all of the Occupiers have homes; none of us are homeless. Having a fire outside in the cold is kind of an amusement. We can all go home to our warm beds when we’re done.
When one is homeless and unable to stay at CHUM, winter weather is neither funny nor any kind of game. One must attempt to find an unobserved spot out of the wind, preferably containing some type of heat source. One must perform this search every single evening; if one is lucky they will be able to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep before the cold wakes them up or some type of security personnel shoos them away. Every winter some of our city’s homeless people freeze to death.
The Anonymous kids are not here tonight. They weren’t out yesterday during the blizzard either. It’s good to know they have some sense.
Once everyone is settled in the circle, an Occupier comments, “I’m sorry I didn’t write any minutes from last Saturday’s meeting. This past week was just so full of things we needed to do that I didn’t find the time to do them”.
Another Occupier agrees, “It was a pleasant but busy week. I thought the Support Standing Rock all day event at the Army Corp of Engineers building was wonderful. I’m glad we were asked by All Nations to bring our fire and keep it burning all day. Everyone really appreciated it; we met some great people and had interesting conversations.
“On Thursday, Dr. Mamoud El Kanti kicked some serious butt when he spoke at the First Lutheran Church. He did not mince words when he told about true African history, the false concept of 4 races and white supremacy. I think his facts were news to many of the white churchgoers but it seemed they were able to handle it”.
The first Occupier adds, “I attended the Homeless Bill of Rights meeting last Sunday. There’s another one tomorrow 5:30pm at Dorothy Day. The latest news is that the Homeless Bill Ordinance has the language all set by the City Attorney except for the 24/7 hour access to hygiene facilities. Apparently, one cannot guarantee a right to a person unless one has the capacity to grant that right upon passage of the law guaranteeing it. We haven’t made a complete plan as to how the City will guarantee 24/7 access so we have to do that first.
“I’m now on the Bathroom Committee. We were supposed to have our first meeting last night but the weather made it impossible. I think the solution to the plan lies with homeless people. I’ll try to go hang out at CHUM and at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial a couple of times. I’m sure to find many people that I know. I’ll ask where they think Porta Pottys should be placed. Or maybe they would like to have some already existing City facilities left open 24/7. I’ll see what I can find out.
“When we take the other proposed rights to the City Council we will also ask for a resolution stating that a plan for the hygiene facilities be finalized by a certain date. We’re definitely not going to let the right to use of a bathroom fall by the wayside. All the homeless folks tell us that is what they most need”.
Another Occupier states, “Before I forget, let me remind everyone that IWW and other allies are having another fundraising event for Standing Rock tomorrow. This time it’s called Chili Not Pipelines. It’s happening at the Central Hillside Community Center from 2pm-8pm”. We all plan to attend.
Somebody says sadly, “Well it looks like Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States. That is so insane”. Another replies, “Yeah, unless he flips out and resigns before the inauguration. If he does that, we’ll get that sicko Pence instead. Wonderful. Either way, we’re screwed”.
An Occupier answers, “We’d have been screwed by Clinton too. I know that no matter what happens, I’m not gonna stop fighting and praying for the survival of the planet and for equality and equity for all”. Everyone agrees, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We’ll watch each other’s backs and make the necessary adjustments to the latest Fearless Leaders.
More Occupiers appear. They bring homemade peanut butter cookies which we gobble up quickly.
The streets have been extremely quiet all evening. Finally 2 middle aged guys come wandering over. They are astounded that we are having a fire circle out in the open in the middle of central downtown. They’re also surprised that we invite them to join us. It’s cold though so they scoot up right next to the fire with us.
It seems the men had just met each other for the first time and were walking and talking together. The younger guy tells us about a girl who he met recently at CHUM. She seems to like him and they’ve been spending time together. They found a used but nice sounding guitar in a second hand shop. Neither one of them had the money to buy it but he played a few songs on it. She was impressed. Now he’s trying to figure out how he can get a guitar so he can play for her all the time.
The older guy tells us his wife is currently in the process of dying in the hospital. She is the mother of his 2 children. He and an Occupier express empathy related to being single parents. It appears the older guy is attempting to suppress a lot of anger. He remarks, “So where are you guys gonna be at 4am while I’m out here freezing in the street?” We reply sheepishly, “At home sleeping”. The man catches himself saying, “Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate being able to sit at this fire right now”. He wants to know why we are here and we explain about Occupy and…..blah, blah, blah.
The young guy reports, “I think I’d better go find somewhere to sleep now”. The other guy tells us, “I think I’ll go back to the hospital to be with my wife. She kinda hates me so that’s a problem. I’m a drug addict so that’s a problem too”. Both men wander off into the night.
The big clock strikes 9pm. We don’t think we’ll be getting any more visitors so decide to call it a night. As soon as the fire is put out it becomes really flippin’ cold. We have to keep moving.
As we are about to go our separate ways, an Occupier asks, “Maybe we should just meet once a week during winter?” Another answers, “Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea. Let’s talk about it when we meet at Coney Island next Tuesday”.
Sounds like a plan.