G.A. Minutes 7-10-18
Peoples Plaza is completely empty when the first Occupiers drive their vehicles onto the sidewalk this evening. There isn’t even a young person in business type attire sitting on the east ledge and using the one open outlet to charge their phone. The trees in their big concrete planters still block our way onto the Plaza but the super hostile security guys are invisible too. They have big shades pulled down over all the walls of their possibly bulletproof enclosure; no one comes out to give us a dirty look and snarl, “Get those cars off the sidewalk!” Very weird…..
The only thing we can think of is that all this emptiness could be because of the weather. The last couple of days have been real scorchers with temperatures in the low 90s, clear skies and zero wind. Today was no exception and the sun is still shining brightly across the entire space. Maybe everyone is hiding from the heat? Oh well, we’ll just wait until some of the Anonymous crew show up; they always do a good job of quickly getting the circle set up.
As the Occupier who brings most of the food and the Occupier who brings most of the stuff for the fire and the fire circle lean against their vehicles and commence to waiting, they spot a brand new and very fancy looking porta-potty sitting on the sidewalk right in front of the Plaza. The Food Occupier goes over to check it out; she calls out, “You’ve got to be kidding me! There’s a padlock on the door! I guess they’re saying to all the regular people who walk by here, ‘This looks real nice doesn’t it? Well guess what, YOU can’t use it’. Nice, huh? That is so mean and stupid”.
After waiting about 15 minutes, the food bringing Occupier remarks, “Maybe the Anons have something else to do tonight. That happens every once in a while”. The Fire Magician groans, “I guess that means we’ll have to unload and set up all by ourselves”. The bringer of the food agrees, “Yeah, it looks like we will. We’ll just have to do everything real slow and take breaks when we need to. It may take a long time to get everything in place but as long as there’s nobody here yet, it won’t matter”.
They choose a space for the circle that is halfway between the east side (where the menacing security bozos last week apparently demanded that we congregate) and the spot 20 or so feet from the MN Power Building (where the goons, through a third party, demanded that we do not congregate). They don’t know where the bozos are but they do know that wherever the rent-a-cops have hidden, the wannabes will be spying on the circle. The point the first arriving Occupiers are trying to make is, yes, we will compromise on relatively petty things but we will not fall in line and take orders from The Man.
Just as the first Occupiers begin dragging chairs out of the big truck, another Occupier and The Gardener arrive. With four people to do the setup, things will be a lot easier; the task is accomplished within a reasonable amount of time. The Magician makes a small, symbolic fire to start with; the air is still quite warm. The longtime friends sit down, expecting to have a serious but pleasant discussion on any number of topics. The Gardener starts out, “The Occupier who is also a member of Veterans for Peace, needs a PA system for the rally when our Occupier/Water Protectors and the Native Water Protector have their next trial on Friday”. He nods to an Occupier, “Our friend from Honor the Earth told me that she is storing a PA at your house”. The Occupier replies, “Yeah, we still have it. It’s very old school but it works; it has to be plugged in but will be loud enough for people giving speeches in front of the courthouse to be heard. I’ll call the VP Occupier tomorrow and give it to him”.
A 30 something white appearing man, who may have visited our circle in the past, rides up on his bike. Most people who visit our fire circle for the first time or after not having visited for a long time are kinda shy; they act like they’re not sure if they are welcome. Not this guy; he is relaxed and comfortable from the start. He sits next to the Gardener and the two of them start up a conversation; an Occupier sits listening beside them, she makes an occasional comment. The Gardener praises the Occupy Movement both at its beginning and now. He opines, “You know, most people think that Occupy is long gone but it’s not. There are still Occupy groups all over the world; in the beginning, Occupy and the camps became sort of a fad. As is usual with any fad, it only lasted for a while. As is also usual for a fad, once it’s over many who participated laugh, make fun of it and pretend they never were real believers anyway.
“However, there were groups of Occupiers and/or anti-capitalists who were and still are very committed to making a change for the good in the world. They are still working; I mean, just look, the slogan of the 99% and the 1%, it’s pretty much ingrained in our and others cultures now.” The Occupier adds, “Ever since I was in my 20s (that was a long time ago) I knew something was seriously wrong in the world. The best way I knew to articulate it was to say, ‘Rich people have too much money’. When I heard the slogan of the 99% vs the 1% I was thrilled. I became a part of Occupy within a matter of weeks of the first Occupy camp being created in Duluth and am still ‘kickin’ it’ to this very day”.
The Food Occupier calls out, “The soup is hot now; I think this will be the last time we have soup for a while though. I’ll start thinking about making cold salads or something like that”. Almost everyone has at least one bowl of organic soup with pintos beans, lots of different vegetables and a very small amount of salt pork.
More people roll up including Chicago Man, the blond chronically homeless young man whose mother sometimes comes looking for him at our fire, the small quiet Native woman who has begun visiting the fire this year, the college student Occupier and the city official. Someone says to the chronically homeless man, “Hey, you cut off all your dreads!” He answers, “Yeah, they were getting just too out of hand”. An Occupier states, “Well, now you can start growing them back again” to which he responds, “Yep, that’s the plan”.
Suddenly everybody freezes, all senses are on alert. The college Occupier says, “I think I just felt a cool breeze”. Everyone else agrees, “Yeah, me too”. The occasional, easterly breeze is very subtle but it cools the air considerably. There’s no need to put on sweaters or long sleeved shirts; we just put a few more logs on the fire, creating mid-sized flames. Far out.
When everyone settles down, two separate conversations develop. One side of the fire circle is sort of talking about politics. Not voting and candidates and stuff like that but about all the serious wrongs that are being done to groups of people all over the world and about the ways in which the 1% go about taking charge of all this. The confident man with the bike confides, “I think about this sorta stuff all the time; then I get depressed and can’t do anything at all. People tell me that I should take anti-depressants but I’m really scared about Big Pharma and all that. I don’t want to turn into a zombie for The Man.” An Occupier tells him, “I take an anti-depressant and it’s really helped me live my life. I was really anxious all the time and worried what people thought about me. My medicine helps me to relax, be myself and articulate my ideas. I think it would be great if I could find natural remedies that work as well but until then, I find the anti-depressant to be a lot better than always being gloomy and angry”.
The other conversation is about nature and how everything is connected and all that. One of the Occupiers, who is a scientist, explains about a lot of cool stuff that the living things on our planet do. Of course, that includes sex so the discussion turns to the difference about sex with love and sex without love, then about different sexual relationships like same sex, opposite sex, group sex and what have you. When it moves on to foot fetishes, an Occupier calls out to everyone, “So what been happening or will be happening this next week?”
The reporting Occupier kicks into gear, “Well, the first two ordinances for the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights passed at City Council last night. That’s just the beginning and there’s a lot more work to be done but after almost five years of working we have our second victory”. Another Occupier adds, “I sure hope our current City administration is a lot more amicable towards our homeless folks than the last administration was”. We all say, “For real”.
The reporting Occupier continues, “There’s another pre-trial hearing for our Water Protector/Occupiers and the Native Water Protector this upcoming Friday 10am at the St. Louis County Court House; there will be a rally for them in front of the courthouse at noon. Also, we need to decide if we’re gonna meet here again next Tuesday or if we’re gonna go over to Superior in support of their Stand Against Husky rally in front of the courthouse and then to their City Council meeting. I think we need to support our comrades when we can”. Another Occupier postulates, “I’m all for fighting against Husky and totally support our comrades but we have to wait a really long time each year to be able to have these fires. I think we should take advantage of this precious time and just do other stuff on non-fire days. The reporting Occupier agrees, “When you put it that way, I think you’re right; we should make fires while we can”.
Chicago Man reports that he lives in Men’s Transitional Housing; an Occupier responds, “Do tell, I didn’t know there was such a thing as Men’s Transitional.” Chicago Man explains, “Well, I have my own room but I have to share a kitchen and a bathroom with one other man. I have to pay rent of about $250 a month so I always have to have a job but it’s clean and warm and it will do nicely for now.”
Chicago Man also inquires, “Can anyone think of anything good or beneficial that He Who Shall Not Be Named has done?” Everyone thinks for a few minutes; somebody says, “Nope”. Everyone else agrees; that’s the end of that conversation.
A young, very slender, dark-haired couple join the circle. They’re not hungry but take coffee and juice. After just listening for a while, the male of the couple tells us that he is a recovering heroin addict. He says he takes Suboxone and feels healthy; he’s been able to refrain from doing heroin for a year now. We all congratulate him and offer words of encouragement. Everyone has stories about loved ones and the scourge of heroin.
Menagerie Woman rides in on her bike; she’s just finished working for twelve and a half hours and her feet are killing her. She gets juice, sits down and makes a phone call. Within minutes, Bush Man rides in on his bike. They exchange a few shy kisses; Menagerie Woman states, “Actually it’s my bike but I’m letting him use it”. They sit for a while but then have to leave in order to catch the bus; they’re going to her house until morning.
An Occupier remembers, “Hey, did anybody hear that Bernie Sanders is coming to Duluth on Friday the 13th?” Most people reply, “Oh, come on.” One Occupier says, “Oh no, I heard that too, he’s coming with Keith Ellison and they’re going to speak at Denfeld Auditorium. Doors will open at 3:45pm”. Everyone says, “Whoa!” An Occupier quires, “I wonder if the fact that we made such a big presence against HWSNBN made them realize that Duluth is not HWSNBN country”.
All the visitors have gone; there are only Occupiers and the Gardener in the circle. The street is very quiet; it’s devoid of cars and pedestrians. We’ve seen only a few squad cars; they were all just going on with their business. An Occupier comments, “Did you notice that we haven’t heard any sirens at all this evening?”. He’s right.
As we are all packing up, the Gardener tells the Occupier who makes much of the food, “I thought it odd that Chicago Man called you Grandma.” The Occupier explains, “Oh, he’s been doing that for a while now. I think because I feed people and try to be nice, I remind him of his grandma. He means it in a good way”.
It’s been decided, we’ll be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday. All are welcome you know.