G.A. Minutes 7-11-17
The weather people say it’s going to rain tonight; they don’t say exactly when though. It could happen in an hour or not until the middle of the night. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the sky. Right now it’s overcast, the temperature is in the mid-50s and a steady wind of moderate force is acting like it’s not really mid-July.
Some of the Anonymous folks are already out on the street corner as the first Occupiers arrive at People’s Plaza. The man from New Jersey, a few Anons, Socialist Action members and several other peeps begin their Cop Watch (another name to be decided upon) meeting as we set up the fire circle and food table. The Fire Magician gets the fire going right away. It will definitely be needed this evening.
The Cop Watch folks are talking about doing an action in coalition with Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-Prisoners Organizing. It is to be titled Millions for Prisoners Human Rights and will take place on the protest corner directly outside of the Plaza on Saturday, August 19th from 5p-6p. The Occupiers plan to participate in this rally.
There are many street folks here too. They generally show up later; tonight they’re making the scene early. It seems like everyone is hungry. The Occupiers have brought their usual pile of sandwiches, cookies, coffee and apple juice. The Native couple from the neighborhood donate a big pot of manoomin (wild rice) and New Jersey Man contributes a really good watermelon. Fortunately, he also contributes a cutting board and a big sharp knife.
An Occupier puts the cutting board on the floor and cuts it up to the best of her ability. Some of the pieces look pretty strange but at least she didn’t cut herself or anyone else. When she’s finished she wraps the knife in a towel and puts it under her chair. She learned her lesson last year after Coma Man got a hold of the wood chopping axe and started playing Ninja Warrior with it.
The Cop Watch meeting is finished and most of those in attendance need to leave. New Jersey Man joins the circle; all the chairs are full. Among those in the circle are the Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner, Mississippi Woman, the veteran young homeless man whose mother comes to the fire from time to time in search of him, a few young Native guys who have been attending regularly this year and a Duluth police officer.
The DPD officer wants to speak with the veteran young homeless man but he doesn’t want to speak with her. So the officer says, “O.K., you all have a good evening” and leaves. The veteran man tells us, “She arrested a friend of mine last week and now she wants me to give her some information. It ain’t gonna happen”.
A Native man who says he attended one of our fires last year comes up; he was attracted by the smell of the burning sage. He tells us he is a member of the Fond du Lac band and spent several years in prison where he found Jesus. We notice that he wears a small Christian fish symbol on a chain around his neck. He requests to be allowed to pray for our gathering in the Anishinaabe language. We accept his offer and give him a pinch of tobacco.
The Native Christian man steps toward the fire; Spiritual Man stands beside him. As he prays, an Occupier who has a vague familiarity with Anishinaabemowin notices that he asks the Creator for a blessing upon us but does not begin by calling in “the spirits” as is usually done. When he finishes he and Mississippi Woman go off away to have a conversation about their Christian beliefs.
An Occupier informs the city official, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition folks have asked me to take on the responsibility for getting everything together so some of them can come on your radio show. Are there any particular days or times when you would like them to do this?” The city man responds, “Most any day could work. We can record the interview and then I can play the recording on a Thursday at 6pm”. The Occupier answers, “O.K. good. It will probably take me about a month to get the people in order but I’m on it as of right now”.
The neighborhood couple has been out on the corner with the Anons. As they are leaving, they stop to pick up their now empty manoomin pot. They ask, “So when is the next Sobriety Feast?” An Occupier tells them, “Tomorrow night, 6pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I’ve made a big pot of homemade macaroni and cheese with turkey hot dogs in it. Everyone says, “Yum!”
The food has all disappeared; the Anons are still thumping on the corner and most of the street folks have gone off to their sleeping places. With full stomachs, they will hopefully sleep well.
The circle is considerably smaller; everyone pulls their chairs closer to the roaring fire. The Occupiers, Spiritual Man, New Jersey Man, one Anon and the 2 young Native regular dudes are the only folks remaining; then Chicago Man appears.
An Occupier exclaims to Chicago Man, “I’m so glad you showed up tonight! I have something for you”. She hands him a small sage bundle. Chicago Man is pleased and remarks, “Oh thank you! This is exactly what I need. It really helps me to keep my head together when I can smudge when I need to”. He tells us he’s just been hired as a clerk at one of the neighborhood big box stores. He also has a job interview at the casino tomorrow. Chicago Man confides, “I’m not too thrilled about these jobs because I do much better when I have a job where I don’t have to deal much with other people. I’m kind of an introvert so have to force myself to make nice with strangers. However, seeing as I’m still grieving the loss of my deceased partner, I find it helps to keep myself busy. Besides, I seriously want to get a place of my own. I’ll have to do whatever it takes to make that a reality”.
The wind is blowing strong now, it’s been dark for a while; the stars are not visible. Someone looks at their phone and reports, “It says here that it’s not going to rain until 2am”. No one is ready to leave yet; an Occupier goes to his truck to get more wood.
A discussion about spirituality, philosophy or something like that begins. At first the 2 young dudes are sitting next to each other and talking about girls but they soon join the main discussion. Among the topics analyzed are atheism, various spiritual practices not associated with any specific “god”, Christianity and Anishinaabe spirituality.
The Anon wants to know about Marxism. New Jersey Man opines, “I believe Marxism is considered to be a science”. He goes on to explain basic Marxist ideas. The conversation goes on until the wood runs out. It’s quite late but we’re sorry we have to leave. It would be great if we could continue with this good vibe next time.
We expect to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 7-11-17