G.A. Minutes 10-1-19
On the first day of October, Mother Earth and all of her helpers have joined together to let us know that there’s no turning back; autumn is definitely upon us. This evening the sky is overcast and the temperature is somewhere in the low 50s. Very strong gusts of wind blow from the east, making the air feel about 20 degrees colder.
When the first Occupiers arrive they find Peoples Plaza completely empty of humans or any other animals. The Fire Magician exclaims, “Where is everybody? I thought the Water Protectors and the Anonymous crew were joining peeps from Socialist Action for a demonstration against ICE and the fact that the US Border Patrol and all its minions are putting captured immigrant children in cages”.
The Food Preparing Occupier responds, “I think that demo started a couple of hours ago; all the rush hour traffic is gone now so I’m betting they’re in one of the vicinity’s restaurants keeping warm and waiting for us to show up. I think we should just sit in our vehicles until a few others roll up. It’s kinda cold and we’re just too damn old to haul all the stuff by ourselves” So that’s what they do.
Within a very short time they see their friend, formerly known as Chicago Man, walking across the street. A few weeks ago, Chicago Man said to the Occupier who records the meeting minutes, “Ya know, I don’t like being identified by that name; it doesn’t really doesn’t describe who I am”. The Recorder agreed saying, “I’ve been thinking that same thing; you were given that name years ago when we had first met you. What if we were to call you Blue?” The renamed man smiles, “That will work”.
So anyway, Blue reports that the Anons, W.P.s and others are across the street at a relatively new brew house. As soon as those in the brew house realize the first Occupiers are outside, they pack up and quickly begin carrying firewood, chairs, food and everything else onto the center of the Plaza. Everyone works as fast as they can in order to stay warm. Soon others appear; among them are another Occupier, the tattooed street guy and sometime Anon and his girlfriend, the guy from Loaves N Fishes and his girlfriend, a young Life House client, Menagerie Woman and a pleasant hippie couple who we are meeting for the first time.
The Fire Magician gets the fire pit and the small charcoal grill going while everyone else sets up the chairs (close to the fire tonight) and puts all the food out on the table. The charcoal grill will heat up the homemade tomato, rice and vegetable soup that is a favorite with our regular fire circle attendees. The fire roars up; everyone sits down around it. This is probably the coldest evening we’ve experienced so far this year.
Menagerie Woman tells us she’s just started a new job; she’s working in housekeeping and laundry for one of the big hotels in Canal Park. The woman with a house full of animals reports, “All my co-workers are really nice and very patient with me. It’s so much better than my old job working at Mini-Mart. When I worked there, most of my co-workers were mean to me and each other; they gossiped behind each other’s backs. Someone started spreading the rumor that I was developmentally disabled. Of course, being D.D. is totally cool but they were saying it as an insult even though I don’t have that condition. The other day at my new job a guest left me a $10 tip! I was thrilled; I’ve never received a tip in my whole life.
Many of the people in the circle participated in the Gitchie Gumi No Line 3 event which took place last Saturday in Gitchie Ode’ Akiing Park. The event took place on the last day of National and International Climate Strike Week. The impetus for Climate Strike Week in North America came from middle and high school students who began leaving their classes every Friday to get out and protest to raise awareness about the severe climate crisis happening across our entire planet. The young people are understandably angry because most adults are not taking the fact that our Mother Earth is dying seriously. The young ones realize that most of the current adults in the world will be dead before the worst effects of climate change reign down. Not so, with the young people and their children. The students would like to kick the adults in the butt to make them wake up and help save our planet for the next 7 generations. The adults who are already “woke” welcome the actions of these wonderful kids; we’ve been having a hard time getting the sleeping adults to wake up too.
A W.P. comments, “Did the Climate Strike event in Duluth rock or what?!?” Everyone agrees, it certainly did rock. The W.P. continues, “I think the organizers expected about a 750 or so attendees but it turned out to be around 1,500. It was so refreshing to see all those NGOs and other organizations working together, co-operating to make everything run smoothly. He nods toward the Fire Magician and his partner, “It was way cool that you all were asked to be the keepers of the Spiritual Fire”. The Fire Magician agrees, “Yes it was. We were at the fire all day and early evening; we didn’t get to cruise around or go on the march but we had many visitors including folks from all over the country. I hear that over 7.5 million people all over the world participated in The Strike”.
An Occupier adds, “Well, that’s what it’s gonna take; almost a billion people all over the world making a really big stink about the man made destruction of the planet and the people of the world’s right to live. It’s not gonna be easy and we’re all gonna have to unite in order to save ourselves and each other. Serious discussions will be needed but petty arguing and big egos are out of the question. There’s gonna be infiltrator people sent in by the extractive industries and their minions who will attempt to pit us against each other. If we fall for it our cause will be lost. We will need to stay focused on what’s really important. ‘The times they are a-changing’”.
An Anon observes, “It looks like we’re not gonna have any cops again tonight. If we don’t, it will make an entire month since they last visited us”. The young woman who is connected with Life House cries out, “What!?! The cops come and bother this fire?” An Occupier answers, “Yup, we’ve been doing this for 7 years and every couple of those years we get hassled by the cops. It’s always because some rich person with a lot of so called power doesn’t want to see homeless, street or other regular people openly congregating in a public space. The thing is though, what we’re doing is perfectly legal but some people think that folks who don’t have their own back yards should just crawl under a bush and die. We’re always quite civil with the cops but we don’t back down because we’re not doing anything wrong or illegal. This past year and a half or so the cop callers have been the trump head, bozo security guards from the MN Power office building over there. Most of the City department heads and government officials are afraid of MN Power so they order the cops and fire department to run us off. They come and tell us all kinds of ridiculous and untrue things, then the fire department sprays out our fire.
“Last May Day the cops gave one of us an actual citation for having this fire. Our cited one plead not guilty, the D.A. demanded they take a plea deal and when they refused, he pressed criminal charges. We thought we were gonna be able to take our fire issue to court but at the next hearing the D.A. dismissed the charges. I guess someone must have actually read the laws and the fire codes. About a week after the charges were dropped, the cops stopped bothering us”. The Cited One remarks, “It is possible to fight City Hall but it’s one hell of a lot of work”.
The female of the hippie couple opines, “Do you think the NGOs will be successful in stopping climate change?” A W.P./Anon replies, “Well, the big NGOs have their place but the only way we will save humankind is if the majority of the people on the planet realize the urgency of the situation and demand that the so called leaders do their part. I say ‘do their part’ because we can’t just rely on leaders; they can’t be completely trusted anyway. It’s gonna take many, many people making saving Mother Earth, the water and the air the primary focus of their lives. I know that some scientists have a lot of good ideas; I think the people who have the most knowledge though are the decolonized Indigenous people of the world. I guess I should say the very lightly colonized folks, because people who have had no contact with colonizers or their governmental and economic systems are extremely rare.
“Anyway, the lightly colonized Indigenous peeps have spent a bazillion generations living close to Mother Earth. They understand the way She works and the best ways to heal Her. So of course, very few colonized people (aka the majority of the people on the planet) ever listen to the Indigenous ones, I guess they figure that anyone without an Iphone or a Wall Street stock portfolio is a complete ignoramus”. An Occupier exclaims, “Yeah, and it’s the colonized humans who are the real ignorant ones!’ The W.P./Anon continues, “For real. Some colonized folks are beginning to realize this; some scientists too”. The young woman associated with Life House adds, “I hope everyone gets their shit together real soon. There’s not much time left and that is very scary”.
Someone in a light blue hoodie has been been sitting in the dark and the cold under a tree on the east ledge of the Plaza for over an hour. Despite what the employees of MN Power believe, Peoples Plaza is meant to be for everybody so we never bother folks who choose not to join our fire circle. Now the blue hooded one slowly and shyly comes over, standing just outside of our chairs. An Occupier turns her head and immediately recognizes the dude. He’s one of the street guys who attended our fires back in the day when they were held at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. He’s an African American gay man who used to sing and dance a lot when he was drunk; he was usually singing and dancing.
We never could figure out why he preferred to live on the street as he had family that cared about him and he was given a tremendous amount of shit re: being gay, by many other street people. He ended up doing a short stint in prison because a cop arrested him as he was defending himself from a physical attack. When the cop rolled up all he saw was the hooded guy hitting another man with a bottle; the cop didn’t see the previous 24 hours or so when the other guy was putting serious abuse on the hooded guy. Anyway, that was some years back; the hooded dude has been out of prison for a few years now. As far as we know, he’s been able to stop drinking, he’s rarely on the street anymore and is usually painfully shy. We welcome him and give him a bowl of soup; he gratefully accepts it, then stands beside the charcoal grill for a bit before fading into the shadows again.
Although the wind has been gusting all evening, suddenly a humongous gust of wind rolls over us. The flames of the fire shoot way up and everything goes flying; we all scurry around grabbing cups, plates, clothes and everything else that weighs less than a couple of pounds.
The Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors had a baby shower for the Anon/W.P. couple who will be having a baby in a few weeks. Folks of all genders and non-genders were invited. We had a good time, played pin the sperm on the egg and ate lots of good food. The couple were given a shit ton of diapers and some other stuff too. Most of the folks who help to make the fire circle are low-income; we’re happy when we have our basic needs met.
The Anon/W.P. who is one of the lead organizers of the fry bread making class happening at the Central Hillside Community Center this upcoming Saturday at 2 pm reports, “My mom was gonna teach the class but she’s been having health issues so the main CHUM staff guy, who is also organizing this class, is looking for another teacher. He knows lots peeps in the Indigenous community so I’m sure we’re gonna be o.k”. Many of us are interested in learning how to make fry bread; all of us are interested in eating it.
The hippie couple attended the Rainbow Festival in the Chequamegon Forest this summer; one of the Occupiers was there too. The female hippie comments, “The forest and the land were so incredibly beautiful and I really liked the way the people were living. When you all talk about wanting a different type of society to live in, I think I would want one that worked like the way the Rainbow People live. You know, everyone sharing and helping each other”. An Occupier replies, “Yeah, I would like something like that too. Did you find many deer ticks on you when you were there?” The woman says, “No, I don’t think we had any but I heard that a lot of people did and that they came down with Lyme Disease too”. The Occupier confides, “It’s true, I was one of them. I got Lyme Disease and had to take a course of the most horrible antibiotics; they made my entire digestive system miserable and all I could eat was kefir and yogurt for a long time. I’m better now at least”. A W.P. adds, “We’re gonna see a lot more insects, snakes and other stuff we’re not used to seeing up here as everything moves north with the advancing of climate change”.
It’s getting late and has been dark for hours; many of those in the circle have gone off to their sleeping places. The basic fire making crew sit and chat for a while longer. An Occupier has been putting a big pile of big logs on the fire all evening; the fire has been large and putting out a lot of much needed warmth. As this same Occupier comes back from the wood pile with another arm load, someone cautions, “Wholly shit man! If you put those on the fire we’ll be sitting here til midnight. We have things to do tomorrow”. We all laugh then sit and watch the flames die down and turn into coals.
Time to pack up; we plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.