G.A. Minutes 7-18-17
It rained all day today and into mid-afternoon. The weather people say that’s all we’re gonna get for now. When we arrive at People’s Plaza this evening, the sky is clear, the temperature is in the low 70s with no breeze to speak of.
Spiritual Man is already waiting for us; he jumps right in and starts setting up the chairs. The young Native guy who used to help at the Anishinaabe taco sales comes up the stairs. He tells us that he recently got a very good deal on a used van; it now has a flat tire but he doesn’t have the tools needed to fix it. He says, “Winona LaDuke gave me $40 yesterday and I need to get to St. Paul tonight”.
He asks the Occupier who has the truck to come with him about 6 blocks away where his van is sitting. The Occupier replies, “I have tools and I’ll help you but not until after the fire circle is done. Come back here once the sky is completely dark and we’ll go take a look at your vehicle”.
One of the young white guys who hang around with Anonymous sits down; he comments, “It sure is quiet”. An Occupier answers, “That’s because the Anons aren’t here yet. They generally make a lot of noise”. The young guy tells her, “I don’t think they’ll be showing up this time. The Anon who takes care of the sound equipment and signs is feeling a little sick”.
The Fire Magician lights a small fire to begin with; the air is still quite warm and very few people are in the circle. The group currently consists of some Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the friend of the Anons and a young street man who has been coming to our fire for the last couple of weeks.
An Occupier states, “The next Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is this Thursday at Dorothy Day House”. The city official adds, “I attended a big meeting today about the HPB of R up at the Central Hillside Community Center. There were a lot of people there; folks from the Coalition and many City departments, City Councilors and such.
“The bulk of the discussion was about funding sources. I’m afraid they weren’t too happy with me; I kept providing information about rent control, CDBG funds and other things that City Councilors and City department employees didn’t seem to be aware of. I was surprised by their lack of knowledge and their defensiveness”.
The Occupier remarks, “Oh that’s right; I knew about that meeting but forgot to go. It’s probably for the best because I’m like you; I bring up topics that the so called upper echelons of folks so called running the City would rather ignore.
“I sure wonder what’s going on with mayor, Emily Larson. She talks like she’s in support of homeless people and their equal rights but her behavior shows something different. I definitely know she doesn’t want the HPB of R to become a City ordinance. I suppose she’s a better deal than the previous mayor, Don Ness who showed himself to be racist and classist but still, I wish she’d back up her words with actions”.
The city man agrees, “As far as Duluth’s communities of color are concerned, Mayor Larsen receives the grade of an F”.
Another Occupier tells the city man, “I received the email you sent out about grants for people willing to tell their stories about living during the Viet Nam War era. I think that would be a good thing for Veterans for Peace to get involved in”.
The official man concurs, “I sent it to them too. Do you all know that SURJ is sponsoring a tour of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial area tomorrow at 5:30pm?”
The Occupier who reports stuff says, “If now is the time for reporting, I’d like to report that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will not be having an Anishinaabe Frybread Taco Sale in August. Their frybread maker is having knee surgery and they don’t have another experienced maker.
“I have a good recipe for frybread but it’s not the Anishinaabe kind. I know how to fry but I don’t know how to make the dough. It seems like people around here keep their recipes a closely guarded secret and just pass them down to their next generation”.
Spiritual Man remarks, “I know how to make frybread. I learned from my mother when I was a kid”. Another Occupier advises, “Why don’t you just go on the internet? I imagine that somebody sold their recipe during a moment of need”. The reporting Occupier opines, “Yeah, I guess I could do that but it seems unethical somehow”.
An older, white, Christian man who we have known since the very first days of Occupy at the Civic Center walks up. He is accompanied by a young woman. We’ve always found this man to be a little odd but very likeable. He hangs around with right wing evangelical Christians but is disappointed with how unchristian these folks are.
He’s a very talented photographer/videographer who used to be employed by a major local TV channel. We don’t know what happened but he hasn’t been employed by any local media company in many years. He moved to Orange County, California last year where he became homeless. Homelessness was a new experience for him; he learned a lot and then decided to move back to Duluth where people are more charitable.
We chat for a while but he has to go to purchase a top of the line camera from some guy. He’s planning on making a video about homelessness. We tell him we think that’s a good idea and wish him luck.
An Occupier informs us, “I have a young friend who recently told me about non-binary gender identity. I’m not sure I completely understood. Does one just decide to not be a specific gender or what? I mean, I have no problem with the idea but I’m not sure I fully understand the concept”.
The city man adds, “So what does cis gender mean?” Someone tells him, “Cis means heterosexual or straight, trans means changed gender or something like that”. The scientific Occupier explains, “In organic chemistry when carbon chains branch out in opposite directions originating from the same spot it’s called “cis”; when they branch out in opposite directions but originating from different spots it’s called “trans”.
An Occupier takes out his phone and states, “I know, I’ll just see what Siri (a computer program that tries to talk like an actual person) says”. Another Occupier jokes, “Siri?!? Don’t ask her; she doesn’t know anything”. The phoning Occupier asks Siri anyway and she gives him an answer that makes no sense at all. The joking Occupier exclaims, “See I knew she didn’t know anything. And besides, Siri, stop flirting with my husband, you B…… wait, is Bitch a non-binary word?” Siri replies in a patient, pleasant voice, “Now, now”. We all just crack up. Our questions remain unanswered.
An Occupier couple rides up on a motorcycle. The male remarks, “It’s summer and I finally got my bike up and running. Maybe I’ll take it when I go out to the Retreat at Mesabe Co-op Park this Friday and Saturday”.
The multi-racial couple, who were staying at CHUM and attending all our fires last year, appears. They have an apartment now; the female has been in counseling and drug treatment for an entire year. She tells us, “I feel like a completely different person. I’m so much happier and healthier”. She talks about things she’s learned and says she has been taking a drug called suboxone. She reports, “When one is trying to get off of heroin there’s methadone and suboxone. Suboxone works much better”.
The young street man adds, “Yeah, I don’t know why they even give methadone. A person is addicted to heroin so they give the person another drug that they become addicted to instead? That doesn’t even make sense”.
Coma Man seems to arrive out of nowhere. He just stands, smiling at us. He doesn’t seem to be particularly wasted. He says, “I have to leave but I’ll come back later”. Off he goes.
The woman who is in long term drug treatment asks the city man if he know anything about the City Diversion Program. She has several tickets from the police that were received many years ago. She’d like to clear them up. The city man knows about the program and tells her where to go to find out if she is eligible.
A group of 5 or 6 young guys, who are of varying ethnicities and sort of Anonymous groupies, climb up the ledge, go through the trees and come running across the Plaza and into the circle. Because there have been fewer people in the circle this evening, about half of the food is still on the table. The youngbloods devour everything in a matter of minutes. They take the tobacco pouch, begin rolling cigarettes and talking about girls. They’re nice kids; we like them and just sit and listen to them talk.
A group of young girls are walking down the sidewalk. The young guys know the girls and call out to them. To the delight of the boys, the girls come over. They chat a while and then the entire group goes off to wherever (climbing through the trees and jumping off the ledge of course).
It’s quite late; the stars are out and we’ve run out of wood. Taco Helping Man appears; he seems only slightly drunk. He has his girlfriend and a couple of other guys with him; they are really drunk. All the sober people quickly pack up and are ready to go.
The Occupiers will go home and rest up for tomorrow; except for the Occupier with the truck. He’s going a couple blocks up from the Mission feeding center to help Taco Helping Man change a tire. We hope the experience won’t take too long or end in some type of disaster.
Of course, we plan to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 7-18-17