G.A. Minutes 5-2-17
After almost a week of cold, windy and rainy weather the sky has begun to clear today. Temperatures have been in the 50s; the weather people say it’s going to be like this or better for at least the next week. We sure hope so. Mother Earth and Father Sky have teased us long enough; we beg for mercy.
An Occupier couple is the first to arrive at Coney Island this evening. As they pull into their favorite parking spot the Man Who Is Always Laughing walks over. They haven’t seen him since the sad encounter last fall. He looks a lot rougher than they’re used to seeing him but it appears that at least he’s laughing again. The Laughing Man asks for a ride up the hill. No problem, the female decides to go into the café and hold down the back booth while the male gives Laughing Man a ride.
The place is completely empty; the non-hipster is working again. He’s says business has been unusually slow all day. As soon as the Occupier settles in the back booth, the non-hipster staff guy bolts out the front door and around the corner. It’s probably been a long time since he’s been able to take a smoke break.
Occupiers begin rolling in. Someone comments, “I hear there were about 700 people at the Climate March on Saturday. I thought there would be more but it was still a good turnout and a good day. Some of the signs were very clever”.
An Occupier replies, “We had to cut out early in order get to the premier of the movie at the Zuccone. Another Occupier asks, “What movie was that?” The first Occupier answers, “It’s called The Secret To Being Black In Duluth. It was created by Classy Dudley, a young local African American woman, UMD graduate and activist. It’s a documentary about what it’s like to be a black person living in Duluth. It featured candid interviews with many black folks who live here. I’d say that the premier showing was quite a success; the Zuccone was packed to the gills with a very diverse crowd. When it was over the audience gave it a standing ovation”.
The city official was also at the movie premier. He asks, “So what did you think of the film?” An Occupier responds, “There were a few small technical glitches that could easily be fixed but it was actually very good. It contained a lot of revealing information and will make a very good educational tool, especially for white folks”.
The city man adds, “There’s going to be a talk back about the film in the evening on Thursday May 11th at the public library. I hope you’ll attend and express your opinion”.
Another Occupier changes the subject saying, “Man, weather-wise, yesterday was sure a miserable day wasn’t it?” An Occupier agrees, “It sure was. I thought I was gonna freeze my ass off”. Someone else chimes in, “Yeah, the Democratic Socialists picnic was canceled; I hear they went to a bar or something. I just slept in and then went down to the march for Missing, Murdered and Trafficked Indigenous Women”.
An Occupier opines, “That turned out pretty well don’t you think? It was cold and windy but the rain stopped just as the event began and didn’t start up again until it was over. The turnout was small because of the weather but there sure were a lot of media in attendance. Having some of the Anons show up added a nice touch. We were on the front page of the DNT and someone made a Facebook video of the rally that had over three thousand views as of yesterday evening”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I was holding the big sign with the picture of the Woman Who Told Good Stories and the wind was just about knocking me over. I was wanting to take a break and go inside to Amazing Grace to get warm when one of the speakers said, ‘Yeah, it is cold but trafficked women are forced to stand out in weather like this all night long, night after night.’ After he said that I didn’t feel so cold”.
Somebody adds, “When we put the flowers in the harbor I could feel there were spirits around us. I hope we were able to comfort them”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior remarks, “I’ve been reading that many state legislatures are trying to pass more laws to make protesting even more difficult than it already is. It most definitely is a person’s constitutional right to protest. I hope we still have some judges who see it that way. I suppose the corrupt law makers are trying to stop us because they’re afraid of us”.
The city official and one of the Occupiers attended a Duluth School Board meeting last week. The city man reports, “The discussion was about the disparities in high school graduation rates between white students and students of color. Once it was pretty much over, the chairperson of the board said to the people of color who were in attendance, ‘Whenever you people come here, all you do is complain’. I was about to respond when the former co-chair of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial stepped up. He really let the school board man have it. He was vicious. An Occupier states, “Yeah, the former CJMM co-chair can be useful from time to time”.
An Occupier tells a story about his mother. She is in the hospital recovering from a serious injury and expects to be released soon. The Occupier explains, “My mom lives in a rural area about 60 miles from here. She’s going to be expected to come to Duluth every few weeks to be examined by her doctors. I checked into what kind of transportation is available to her from the government or medical system. I found out there is none. There used to be some but not anymore. My mom is just on Medicare and a small pension. She can’t drive herself or afford to pay for gas; she can’t afford to take a long distance bus either. So how do they expect her to be at her appointments?”
Another Occupier mentions, “The spouses and families from rural areas need to be able to stay somewhere in Duluth when they need to be with their loved ones in the hospital. The hospitals used to offer free lodging to these family members but I’m told they don’t do that anymore. I wonder what the families without sufficient funds are supposed to do.”
An Occupier who doesn’t usually speak much says, “I see the MN legislature is still fighting about the budget. MN has a 1.5 billion dollar surplus this year and Dayton wants to use it to pay for all the much needed infrastructure repair projects that have been requested throughout the state. The Republicans want to spend only 600 million of the surplus on rural projects but nothing for the cities. I don’t know what they plan to do with the rest of the money. Another Occupier sighs, “Probably give tax breaks to rich people”.
The official man tells us, “If they don’t pass a budget that helps everyone, our City won’t be able to make the changes to the city steam plant so they can switch from steam to hot water heating. The steam system is really falling apart besides; hot water is more environmentally friendly”. Several of the Occupiers live in residences heated by the steam plant.
Somebody comments, “Did anyone see where St Olaf College students boycotted classes yesterday because of unsolved racial incidents which have been going on since last November? St Olaf is an institution of primarily white students. Many of them marched in solidarity with the students of color. I think they were able to shut the place down”.
An Occupier exclaims, “That is so cool! My daughter graduated from St Olaf; she’s a so called person of color. She’s smart and multi-talented but we were poor so didn’t know how we were going to get her through college. St Olaf gave her a full scholarship. I’ll have to call her tonight. I bet she’s very proud of all those “Oles”.
The Occupier who always reports stuff reports, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is not going to have an Anishinaabe Taco Sale this month. The frybread maker has to perform with the Duluth/Superior Symphony and several of the other food makers will also be out of town.
This upcoming Friday, a Local Solutions To Poverty Candidate Accountability Session will be held at AICHO at 5:30pm. I think they’re going to feed people too.”
Throughout the evening the café’ has been quiet. Very few customers have come in; none of the street people have come to use the bathroom. We’re still yakking away when the non-hipster reminds us that he needs to close. Whoops, our bad. It’s well past closing time.
It looks like the upcoming week may be less eventful than it’s been in a while. Maybe we’ll get a chance to get outside and enjoy some spring weather. We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 5-2-17