G.A. Minutes 3-19-19
It appears that spring may be arriving early this year; the temperatures have been in the high 30s-low 40s for the last week or so. The snow is melting, even the gigantic piles of it are shrinking. Most people have shed their arctic gear and have switched to spring/autumn attire. It’s definitely abnormal weather for the month of March.
When the first Occupiers, activists, Water Protectors and Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island, someone remarks, “Wow! This weather just rocks; if it keeps on like this we may be able to start our fire circles at Peoples Plaza in a few weeks. An Occupier sort of agrees, “It sure does look like it, doesn’t it? However, many years of past experiences has taught me that March can look all sweet and mellow but just when you relax it allows a blizzard to pass by and dump 3 feet of sloppy wet snow on you. The weather in March is unpredictable; we should probably wait a bit longer to be sure that winter is finally over”. An activist, who has also been around the block a few times, adds, “That stuff about March going in and out like a lion and a lamb is a fallacy too. March will do whatever, wherever it wants; there’s just no telling”. An Anon/WP exclaims, “Yeah and now that we’ve entered the age of Climate Change, all sorts of ‘once in a lifetime’ shit is happening on a regular basis!”
A WP/Anon has brought her 3 very young daughters along this evening. When they’re not whining or fighting they’re wonderfully cute and charming. We know these kids already as they have hung out with us at many venues. We always try to limit the amount of swear words we use when the little girls are around but we aren’t very good at it. “Old habits die hard”? We know that fighting among siblings is mandatory in capitalist culture but swearing while fighting is still frowned upon. When one is poor, there is always a social worker or two lurking in the background, just waiting for an excuse to take one’s children away. Especially if one happens to be a Person of Color. We grownups need to get our shit (whoops) together.
An Occupier asks everyone, “Did anyone see the video of our Indigenous WP friend explaining about the Water Walk that they and a few of our other Indigenous WP friends will be starting in a few days?” Almost everyone responds, “Huh?” or “No I haven’t, what’s up with that? The Occupier opines, “I can’t remember everything but I think they are going to walk the southern shore of Lake Superior from Cloquet and the Fond du Lac Rez to somewhere in Michigan. It will probably take a long time.”
An activist wants to know, “So what exactly is a Water Walk?” A WP attempts to explain, “Well, you know that in Anishinaabe culture women are considered to be the caretakers and protectors of water. A Water Walk is an ancient Anishinaabe undertaking where a woman or many women of Anishinaabe heritage walk along the shore of one or more of the so-called Great Lakes while carrying a container of water and praying to the Creator for the health and protection of the water. The Walk is beneficial for the lake waters and for the persons doing the Walk too.
“I think this particular Walk coming up may have something to do with the fact that Josephine, the famous and deeply spiritual First Nations water walker, passed away very recently. I suppose you all know about how the colonizers tried to unleash genocide against all Indigenous people in the western hemisphere?” We do and the WP continues, “After they killed as many of us as they could, then tried to starve us to death on reservations then kidnapped our children and forced them into boarding schools where they were regularly beaten and raped and stripped of any knowledge of their culture and language and then forced to relocate into the colonizers cities, most of us had lost considerable knowledge of who we really were. In my opinion, it seems like First Nations people from so called Canada managed to hold on to a little more of the true ways than many of us in the so called USA.
Anyway Josephine, who was fairly advanced in age when she passed, was taught about water walking by the older women in her family. Over time and without deliberately seeking any attention for herself, Josephine helped the tradition of walking and praying for the water become a renewed tradition among Indigenous nations who live in areas that contain significant amounts of water”.
An Occupier adds, “I met Josephine a few years ago at an event at the FDL Rez. She struck me as a very wise and humble person. An Anon cries out, “Well damn! I mean heck, my main focus is on anarchy but any and every part that any person of honorable intention plays in the struggle is welcome in my world”.
An Occupier reports, “Our friend, a local freelance organizer, is attempting to organize an event for May Day (Wed. May 1st) at the newly officially named Gitchi-ode Akiing Park (Grand Heart Place). He wants us to bring our fire pit and stuff. Another Occupier responds, “Well ya sure, providing he gets this thing off the ground, we should certainly bring our fire and stuff”. The reporting Occupier answers, “Our friend has organized some very effective events over the years, it wouldn’t surprise me if this May Day thing is successful”.
One of the activists remarks, “So the City finally approved the name change of what was previously called Lake Place Park?” The Occupier tells her, “Yup, they did; it only took them 5 years”. We all say, “5 YEARS!?!?” The Occupier continues, “The Indigenous Commission made the official request to the City 5 years ago; after that, the Commissioners had to attend a bazillion meetings with rich people. They got asked some pretty stupid things too but managed to keep their composure throughout. Like at, I think it was a Chamber of Commerce meeting, some privileged white guy asked, ‘Well if you get a name change, will we still be able to go there?’ Somebody else asked, ‘Will you be able to protect us if we go there?’
“So anyway, there’s going to be a Gitchie-ode Akiing Naming Ceremony at the park tentatively set for Saturday, May 4th starting around noon. They want us to bring our fire”. We all say, “Cool”.
An Occupier, who has been absent for many months because of health issues, cruises in. We are overjoyed to see him. After all the usual hugs and pats on the back, the newly arrived Occupy interjects, “Do you all know about the big explosion and fire that happened a few days ago in a petrochemical plant outside of Houston, Texas?” We nod in the affirmative. “Well as usual, the major media is not telling the whole truth. That plant had many of the same chemicals in it that were present in the Husky explosion and fire last April in Superior, WI. During that whole time Husky Oil said there was no danger from any of the smoke and fumes coming from the refinery but they still evacuated thousands of people. In Texas, the Intercontinental Terminals Company is also saying there is no danger and they haven’t evacuated anyone. All the people who live in the highly populated area are just staying home, sucking poison into their lungs”. An Anon says sarcastically, “Oh sure, when a major corporation says that everything is o.k., we should certainly believe them”.
A WP reminds us, “There’s gonna be a dinner with the Valve Turners this upcoming Sunday at AICHO, 5pm”. An activist queries, “Valve Turners?” The WP laughs, “You know, those Catholic Workers who shut off one of the valves on Enbridge’s old Line 3 pipeline up around Grand Rapids”. The activist also laughs, “Oh yeah, that’s right; I do know that. I think it will be a pretty cool event; Catholic Workers are so inspiring”. Everyone plans to attend the dinner.
Someone wants to know, “So what’s up with the warming center these days?” The Occupier who is a member of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition informs, “It’s closed for the season now unless the temperatures” plunge into the deep freeze again”. We all shutter and say, “Eewwww!”
Suddenly, all the lights are flashing off and on. We stop talking and look up; it’s just a little before 8pm and the staff guys want to go home. No problem. The little girls are very tired and need to go to bed anyway. We do all the packing up, paying up and final goodbyes then head out the door AND we don’t need hats or gloves. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.