G.A. Minutes 5-8-18
We’re back at Coney Island again; we’re kinda bummed out about it too. We were so psyched up about starting our recreational fires at Peoples Plaza tonight and for the rest of the non-winter months but all the weather forecasts said it was definitely going to rain. It’s been darkly cloudy with a strong east wind all day however, it has not rained. Now we’re wondering if we made the wrong decision. Oh well…..it is what it is.
The Occupiers come straggling in a few at a time; one of the Anonymous crew puts himself into the mix. As we arrange the tables and order food we do a brief overview of last week’s May Day events. The Anons did a little marching then hooked up with some Occupiers and lots of other folks at the Memorial for Murdered, Missing and Trafficked Indigenous Women that was held in Canal Park. That event was well attended with many indigenous songs and drumming; some good speeches too. A woman from Makwa (bear) Camp who is originally First Nation from Canada gave an impassioned speech about her attempts to get the so called authorities to protect her sisters from the Man Camps that have sprung up all over her province and throughout First Nations territories in Canada.
A Man Camp is a temporary area where lodging is provided for all the workers who arrive to work in an area where fossil fuel extraction is happening. The mostly male workers are paid high wages; nearly all have little to spend their earnings on in the remote and predominately First Nations land. Unscrupulous persons see an opportunity to exploit this situation so bring in alcohol, drugs and sex trafficking. Kidnapping, rape and murder are common however, all of this stuff is uncommon to the First Nations folks who have just been living, practicing their indigenous ways of hunting, fishing and such. Once the corporations are finished extracting the fossil fuels, they and all the workers leave and the people of the land are left to deal with polluted soil, water and the aftermath of the Man Camps. We have Man Camps in the USA too wherever fossil fuels are being extracted.
The so called authorities barely gave the Makwa/First Nations woman or any others attempting to protect MM+TIW the time of day. Many of us were quite moved by the woman’s story. It’s hard to believe that there are places where governments give their indigenous people a worse time than they do in ‘Merica but I guess there are.
After hearing the music and speeches and going in mass over to the canal to place flowers in the water to honor the MM+TIW, some of the Occupiers went up to the Central Hillside Community Center to participate in the Democratic Socialists of America’s May Day Picnic. We arrived late of course, so most of the food and people were gone but we hung around for awhile. We ate the last of the food while sitting with Skip Sandman, his wife and one of Skip’s lead campaign organizers. The discussion revolved around the question of, why did Leah Phifer, possibly the leading Democratic candidate for the MN 8th CD seat currently held by Rick Nolan, withdraw from the race a few weeks ago.
The lead organizer told us (and he would know) that Ms. Phifer did not have a “Plan B”. He said that she and her campaign team thoroughly expected to get the endorsement from the MN Democratic Party so when the party deadlocked at their convention, she and her team didn’t feel confident continuing their campaign. The Occupiers don’t really have much interest in the inner workings of the the 2 parties in 1 party system but we enjoy the company of those at the table, so we sit and listen. Before Skip’s campaign, the lead organizer was a mainstay in our local Democratic party. A few months ago, when he told us that he had finally given up on the Democrats we congratulated him then pretended to bow down saying, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
Anyway, since May Day one of the Occupiers has attended the now bi-weekly (every other week) Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting and one of the Occupier couples has begun attending the weekly Language Table lesson in the basement of the Gimaajii Native American housing complex. The Occupier who is a member of the HPB of R Coalition tells us, “One of the leading members of the coalition attended a meeting recently with the City Attorney, the Human Rights Officer, the City Councilor who is tasked with pushing the HPB of R forward and the attorney from the City Attorney’s office who is tasked with researching the city codes in order to find places where the 11 proposed rights can reasonably be attached. The HPB of R coalition member reported he was quite pleased with the attitudes expressed at the meeting, especially those expressed by the attorney who is tasked with researching the codes. The rest of us at the HPB of R Coalition meeting expressed doubts about the attitude of the City Attorney. Someone said, ‘The City Attorney has been publicly expressing his opposition to the HPB of R since day one; we need to watch him very carefully and definitely not trust him’. The lead HPB of R Coalition member stated that he would schedule another meeting with the C.A,’s office asap. Hopefully, a few more of us will be able to attend”.
The Occupier couple report they are quite pleased with the Ojibwe language classes they’ve started attending at Gimaajii. The class is being taught by Anishinaabe elder, educator and healer, Rickey Defoe. The female of the couple opines, “The Ojibwe language is kinda difficult to learn but the way Rickey teaches it, it seems easy. He gets everyone chatting and laughing and trying to speak the language no matter what their level of experience”. Language Table is held every Monday evening from 5p-7p.
An Occupier inquires of the Anon, “So how are things going with your job, school and everything? The Anon replies, “I quit the job and ever since then I’ve been doing really well in school. That job was more trouble than it was worth; everything is looking looking pretty good on the college front though. I should end up with good grades then have the summer off. When I start again in the fall I’ll be in good standing and eligible for the full amount of financial aid . Also, at the last meeting of the Anonymous crew, we decided we might want to stay out of the public light for a while and build up our chops by helping out other good groups”.
The smokers go out for a smoke and discover that……It’s Raining!! Yay!! It’s the really good kind of rain too; soft and steady, soaking deep into the ground and giving all the wonderful growing things a reason to live. We feel vindicated by the rain because we actually wouldn’t have been able to have a successful fire this evening. On top of all this, the brain injured and/or developmentally disabled dude who lives in the Wet House and sometimes attends our fires, comes bumbling up. He asks, “Does anybody have some spare change or a cigarette?” It seems like he doesn’t realize he has met us many times in the past. We give him a dollar and a cigarette then put out our smokes, wish him good evening and head back in. No one is particularly interested in listening to one of the dude’s long and somewhat boring stories.
When we return to the tables, an Occupier says to the Occupier who likes to report things, “I bet you know some of what will be going on for the rest of this week”. She does and reports, “Well, tomorrow there;s going to be a rally about the Husky Oil Refinery explosion and fire on April 26th in Superior WI. It will happen in front of the Douglas County Court House at 5:30p”. Another Occupier adds, “Man that refinery emergency was some serious shit! It was some sort of miracle that lots of people weren’t killed; there’s no telling what the health effects will be on all the Superior folks who were forced to breathe in that toxic thick smoke for hours. Many activists are saying the Husky Refinery is the head of the black snake and that we should chop it off”. We all think that would be a good idea.
An Occupier states, “So what else do you have?” and the reporting Occupier continues, “ Tomorrow, the Human Rights Commission meets at 5:30p, City Hall Rm 303 and the Sobriety Feast starts at 6p in the Central Hillside Community Center. Natives Against Heroin will be doing another neighborhood cleanup on Saturday, May 12th. Peeps will be meeting up at the CHCC at 2p. On Monday, May 14th, the Earned Safe and Sick Time Ordinance will be voted on by the City Council. I’ll be going to the Language Table but it gets over at 7p so I’ll shoot up to City Hall to be a supporter. I think I won’t need to stay long because there will probably be so many supporters already there that there won’t be room for me to even fit into the Council Chambers. On Tuesday, May 15th, we should be holding our first fire circle at Peoples Plaza. Everyone should pray, cross their fingers, sacrifice a burnt offering or whatever they do in attempt to control the universe, in order to insure that we have good weather and everything else we need in order to hold a marvelous recreational fire next Tuesday. We all solemnly swear to do as she asks.
Although Coney Island has extended their open hours recently, we still absent mindedly yak on past closing time. We are incorrigible. The staff guys are quietly standing behind the counter holding their coats; we hurriedly gather up our stuff and head out into the gentle and peaceful spring rain.