Category Archives: General Assembly Minutes

Minutes from our General Assemblies

G.A. Minutes 2-16-16

G.A. Minutes 2-16-16
Something is going on downtown (aka lesser Duluth) tonight.  All the parking spaces are taken and there’s more traffic on Superior St. than is usual for a Tuesday evening during the winter season.
It’s got to be some kind of indoor event as there are not many pedestrians on the street.  The weather is not really cold but it’s not really warm either.  Temperatures are in the teens with no wind.
Who knows?  The big event could be something as simple as a gambling discount at the Fon-Duluth Casino (aka Fat Chance Casino). 
Whatever it is, the Occupy winter hangout at Coney Island is not a part of it.  The new regular hipster guy is at the counter; customers are in a few of the booths.  The best DJ at KUMD is on the radio.  Same ol’ same ol’.
We’ll be a small group again tonight.  About half of our regulars have other obligations.  As we are settling in, an old friend and sometime artist, sometime community activist walks through the door.  She’s been delivering Bernie Sanders signs around town and is stopping by for a visit.  This is good.
An Occupier is in the middle of a report concerning an email she’s received from the Duluth Human Rights Officer.  She says, “He told me that he was forwarding my meeting request to the new CJMM BOD co-chairpersons.  I think having new co-chairs will be beneficial to our small, safe and legal fires at the Memorial.  I think one of the co-chairs is a Caucasian woman who I don’t think I know.  The other is an African American man who I’ve interacted with occasionally.  I believe he works as a community organizer and is a native Duluthian from a working class background.  One would think he’d be empathetic towards the people of our neighborhood”.
Our visiting friend asks for an update on our CJMM recreational fire situation.  She was under the impression we allowed ourselves to be run off the site by the police and fire departments. We explain that we always stop having fires during winter months as our little fire doesn’t provide enough warmth to keep people comfortably sitting around it during the coldest season.
We get her up to speed re: the ongoing saga of our campaign for use of public space by poor and/or homeless people in the Central Hillside.
Our friend offers her opinions concerning the control freak attitude displayed by many cops, the lack of affordable housing and her worries about what Sherman Properties has planned for the low and moderate housing market in our city.
She’s tired as she’s had a long day distributing posters that show the time and place for the many local DFL caucus events taking place on March 1st.  She says goodnight and goes home to crash.  We resume our so called meeting.
An Occupier comments, “I’m not going to the caucuses or any of that stuff.  I received an email from Water Legacy asking me to go and vote for a resolution against Polymet.  I’m in total agreement with the resolution but that entire party platform stuff is a waste of time.  They fight tooth and nail over the party platform; when it’s finally finished they put it on a shelf and never refer to it again.  Why bother?
“I’m sure Bernie is the lesser of all the evils but I’m done with all that.  Even the rare genuine and well-meaning elected representatives don’t have the power to actually do anything beneficial for us or the rest of the world.  Our election system is a complete failure.  Why can’t people see that the same thing happens after every election?”
Another Occupier responds, “Yeah, it’s like when Charlie Brown tries to kick the football.  Lucy holds the ball, he runs up and whoosh!, she yanks the ball away.  Every damn time!  He never learns”.  We crack up; good analogy.
An Occupier passes around a postcard she received in the mail.  It’s a notification about the Clean Power Plan Listening Session being held at UMD, Tuesday, February 23rd 5:30p-8p.
Some Occupiers look at it and roll their eyes.  The presenting Occupier tells them, “Yeah, I know, these government and corporate types hold so called public meetings all the time. Regular people attend and speak very knowledgeably and passionately; the government corporate lapdogs then make the decision that most benefits the rich.
“I need to do a little research yet but I think I want to sign up to speak.  Also, I know they keep a count of how many regular people show up to these things.  According to some statistic, for each actual regular body that shows up it means so many other regular bodies actually care about the particular issue”.
Another Occupier agrees, “You kinda have a point there”.  We agree to discuss this issue again at our next meeting.
Changing the subject, an Occupier reports, “I just read that this past month of January was the warmest January ever recorded worldwide”.  We say, “Whoa!”
The Occupier continues, “Things are not looking real good.  I wonder if the world still has a chance.”
Another Occupier replies, “I think it’s kind of a tossup.  Either the world doesn’t have a chance and we just stop everything we’re doing.  We hang around, socialize and watch TV.  Follow sports teams, abuse various substances, gamble, play computer games….whatever…..because nothing matters anyway or maybe the world does have a chance and we just keep doing what we’re doing and working with all the other people who are doing what they’re doing.
“Every year more people change their minds, learn their history and get a clue.  Eventually we reach critical mass and things work out for the betterment of all living beings and the planet begins to heal.
“It could go either way, but personally, I think that keeping on doing what we’re doing will make things better for the coming generations no matter what happens in the end”.
We are about to get into a deep discussion when the hipster working the counter asks loudly, “What do you think about Bernie Sander’s idea of free college for everyone?  I think that if college were free then the government would have to pay for it and they would start paying the teachers and other staff much less.  That would make all the good professors go work in private colleges.  The people who couldn’t afford to pay tuition would be stuck with an inferior education in public colleges”.
An Occupier responds, “Nah man, we’d take the money to pay for college from the 1% and everybody would have good, free education”.
The last remaining customer calls out from his booth, “We don’t want the USA to be like Russia.  Russia just gave free education to its citizens in order to make them slaves of the state”.
We quietly say, “Oh, oh, never mind”.  None of us are crazy enough to get into a discussion about the imaginary democracy of the United States vs Russian bolshevism.
It’s a little past closing time anyway so we clear off our table in the back booth, grab our coats, leave a few bucks in the tip jar and say, “See you later”.
We’ll be back for more on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 2-13-16

G.A. Minutes 2-9-16

G.A. Minutes 2-9-16
The weather people told the truth this time.  It’s winter again; temperatures are a few degrees above zero.  The wind is variable but when it blows it’s enough to kill you. Hopefully, it won’t kill any of our homeless ones tonight.
There are few Occupiers this evening; two thirds of those who are present have colds. It will probably be a very short meeting.
There are absolutely no customers in Coney Island and only 1 staff person.  He tells us most of the food is gone too.  There’s coffee, herbal tea and polish sausage.  We’ll get beverages and wait until we get home to have our dinners.
The conversation starts with a discussion about White Earth people who have announced their candidacy for Tribal Chairperson.  It appears that 2 people who were/are close friends will be running against each other.  That’s about all we know and it’s probably not any of our business anyway.
An Occupier says, “Did you know that Red Lake is the only tribal reservation, in our area at least, that was able to keep all of their land owned in common?  They have no individual ownership”.  We think that is pretty cool.
Our friend, the City official, has given the Occupier couple tickets to the North Central Windows Program dinner on Thursday, February 11th, 6pm at the United Presbyterian Church in Superior WI.  The NC/WP is an art enrichment program serving survivors of domestic violence. 
An Occupier comments, “The tickets are somewhat expensive because it’s a fundraiser. The event would have been out of the reach of our personal budget so we really appreciate being given tickets.
“I know the Superior Organizer is quite active in NC/WP.  I also know that creating art is very therapeutic for most people.  I’m happy to do whatever I can for the project and am looking forward to attending the event”.
Another Occupier reminds us, “On Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14th at 1p-4p the Annual Overdose Vigil is going to be held at the Central Hillside Community Center.  It will be a potluck feast with a Native drum group and time for sharing stories and memories.
“Also, on Saturday the 13th the Red Shawls/Solidarity Shawls march will start from Trepanier Hall at 1pm”.  The march is in recognition of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
A young man who is talking to himself walks through the door, asks for the key to the bathroom, goes in, comes out, gives the key back and leaves.  All the while talking to himself.  The hipster staff guy doesn’t bat an eyelash, just smiles at the dude.  Sweet.
An Occupier comments, “I still haven’t received any answer from the Clayton Jackson McGhie BOD concerning my request to be invited to their meeting.  I guess that means they are deliberately ignoring me or that they don’t monitor their website well.  I’m going to the Human Rights Commission meeting tomorrow so can ask the Duluth Human Rights Officer what is up.  He’s a co-chair of the BOD.
I was cleaning off my desk yesterday and found copies of all that insulting stuff that the other CJMM BOD co-chair was writing to us last summer.  I didn’t remember that I had made a copy of that stuff.  I sure hope I’m not forced to show it to anyone outside of our group but I know we’re going to have to have our legal right to make our small, safe fires recognized.  There’s a moral issue too”.
We all agree, we certainly don’t wish to cause any BOD member harm or embarrassment but the homeless ones have so little time or place to feel safe or valued.
The homeless ones are the absolute lowest ones in this twisted society’s pecking order.  However, they aren’t any different from people who have homes; it’s just that their luck has been worse.
Some of the people with homes have their sense of morality all screwed up.  They think they’re supposed to scorn and shun the less fortunate ones.  WRONG.
Someone remarks, “In keeping with this subject…..  I’m tired and I have a headache. Can we just stop now and go home?”
Yes we can.  We clear off our table, gather our spare change for the jar and say goodnight to the surprised looking staff guy.
We’ve been his only customers all evening so he’ll be able to clean up quickly and go home too.  We’ll be back on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 2-6-16

G.A. Minutes 2-6-16
It’s winter coats without hats and gloves again as Occupiers roll up to Coney Island this evening.  The weather continues to be more like late March than early February.  The weather people say the normal below zero temperatures and snow storms are going to return starting tonight.  So far, it hasn’t happened.
The first Occupiers to arrive take the big back booth, as usual, and chat while waiting for others to arrive.  We don’t expect to have a full house tonight as some have gone to the Take Back the Park vigil and march at Leaf Erickson Park.
This vigil and march has been hurriedly arranged by area feminist groups and their supporters. It is in response to a wacko misogynist blogger who called for a worldwide event in which likeminded wackos were called upon to meet up at appointed times and places.  The misogynist blogger even provided code words (Do you know where the nearest pet shop is?) and responses (It’s right here.).
The blogger had the meeting place of Leaf Erickson Park in Duluth picked out for misogynists of the Great White North.  As the word got out across the country, counter protests were organized; the blogger began receiving death threats and such.  Apparently these threats scared him and he canceled the worldwide event. Just in case his cancelation is a deceptive technique, the Duluth counter protestors decided their event should still be held.
Of course, all the Occupiers are feminists but some of us feel these counter protests will provide more publicity to attention seeking wackos.  However, we definitely support a chance for area feminists to get together in support of protection and respect for women.
An Occupier comments, “I’m betting most misogynists have a basic fear of women.  Their threats and rantings are just a cover for their own perceived inadequacies”.
As we continue to wait, the Occupier from the East Coast entertains us with stories from her life.  She tells us about camping in a park where she was able to watch large herds of elk. These elk became very noisy at sunrise.  Their noise attracted a mountain lion and a pack of wolves.  She watched these predators as they caught their breakfast.
She tells about a recent experience in front of the CHUM homeless shelter.  She was walking up hill on an icy sidewalk when she slipped and fell.  When she hit the ground her glasses and one of her boots flew off.  She tried to get up but, because she couldn’t see well and was missing a boot, getting up wasn’t working too well.
Many people coming down the hill on their way to work just walked around her.  No one stopped to help.  Eventually, a worker from the CHUM center came out, helped her up, collected her missing items, brought her into the center and gave her a cup of coffee.
The eastern story teller laughs, “I guess all the working people thought I was homeless and drunk.  I think the CHUM worker thought the same thing.  I didn’t say much, just drank the coffee and thanked him”.
An Occupier states, “It shouldn’t have mattered if you were a homeless and drunk person. Those people passing by should have at least acknowledged you.  Most people are so cruel to less fortunate ones”.
Another adds, “At least they didn’t take you to Detox.  I’ve known some people who were locked up in Detox even though they weren’t under the influence of any substance”.
As the rest of the Occupiers appear, they find us in a conversation about the failures of various treatment programs.  We think most are too short and when treatment is over, the client is dumped back into the same situation he/she was in before they were put into treatment.
An Occupier says to another, “Did you go to the All Nations feast today?”  The questioned Occupier replies, “Yes, but I got there very late and all the food had been put away.  I went into the kitchen and the cooks gave me what they could find.
“I was late because it took me a really long time to wash all the dirty dishes from Friday’s NDN Taco Sale.  The taco sale went really well.  We sold over 100 tacos”.
An Occupier has been under the weather for a week or more.  She has heard about her Occupier brother’s arrest at the January Stop Enbridge rally but wants details.  The arrested Occupier tells the story.
His initial court date is in Superior WI, February 10th at 1:30pm.  Several Occupiers have previous experience with being arrested.  One explains, “The first court date is just the arraignment.  They ask you if you want to plead guilty or not guilty.  Seeing as the whole thing was completely bogus, they may just drop the charges”.
Another Occupier agrees, “I’ve had plenty of experience with that.  You expend all this energy and time to get to court and then find the charges have been dropped.  You were completely innocent all along but there’s no compensation for the trouble the false charges caused you”.
An Occupier asks, “So, do you want to hear what happened at my meeting with the new City Councilor?”  We do and the Occupier continues, “The Councilor suggested I ask to attend a CJMM BOD meeting.  The Councilor will accompany me and I should bring some articulate supporters.
“There’s a rumor going around that the City has given the BOD the authority to “manage” the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  We need to hear what the BOD has to say about that and if they tell us the rumor is true; we need to ask for proof.
“If they claim they are authorized to “manage” we’ll need to see what kind of a job they are doing. If they’re not doing well maybe the City needs to take the job away.  If we aren’t given an invitation to attend a meeting or if the BOD just doesn’t respond at all, that will show a lot.
“We know the real reason for the mess they have made relating to our small, safe and legal fires, has to do with the co-chairperson’s taking offense at something he imagined I had said about him.
“I used their required channel of communication last Thursday and requested an invitation to a meeting.  I haven’t had a response yet but will wait a while longer.  Personally, I see this as another way of calling attention to what the CJMM BOD is actually doing”.
Another Occupier remarks, “Well, I think that denying homeless and poor people the only chance they have to feel safe and relaxed by sitting around a small, safe and legal recreational fire is definitely incompetent management.  Especially when the safe relaxation takes place in the neighborhood where they live and in a space dedicated to oppressed and marginalized people”.
Some of the Occupiers go outside for a smoke break.  When they return they report that they were talking with the gray haired woman who has been a regular at our fires for years.
The gray haired woman told them she had just been confronted by the police.  She said, “I was in the Holiday Center.  I’ve been told in the past that the area is private property for customers only.  I’m 73 years old and have to walk 13 blocks each way in order to get to the Mission for my meals and then back to my apartment.  I usually get tired on the way back.  Sometimes I have to use a bathroom.  I always buy some kind of treat from one of their machines and then sit in one of their chairs to eat it.
“Tonight I used their bathroom, bought a treat and sat to eat, just like I always do.  The police told me that a security guard called them.  They were really polite and apologetic.  Why would a security guard call the police on me?  That really hurts my feelings”.
We know the gray haired woman to be always polite, well-spoken and friendly.  She’s also always clean and reasonably dressed.  Her biggest problem is a somewhat faulty memory.
The smoking Occupiers said to her, “What a jerk!  The security guard obviously has emotional and/or mental health problems.  Maybe he feels powerless in the rest of his life so his little piddley security position gives him the opportunity to abuse the general public.  What a loser”.
As the smokers were saying goodbye to the gray haired woman, a group of young men walked by.  They were carrying signs that said “Respect Women” “Women Are Our Mothers and Sisters” and stuff like that.  These men were walking in the direction of Leaf Erickson Park.
An Occupier complains that he is being charged a “courtesy fee” by his phone company when he uses his bank debit card to pay his monthly phone bill.  Another Occupier responds, “A courtesy fee?  That sounds like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel”.  We all laugh.
When we look at the clock we notice we’ve stayed at least an hour past regular closing time. One of the staff guys is rolling out the mop bucket.  The workers at Coney Island are really nice.  They’ve been playing good jazz on the radio too.
Time to call it a night.  We clear off our table, put our coats on and some bucks in the tip jar.  As we head out the door we see there’s a pretty steady snow falling.  Hmmm….. Will it be winter again when we return on Tuesday?

G.A. Minutes 1-23-16

G.A. Minutes 1-23-16
We’re happy to see that the lights are on at Coney Island as we begin arriving this evening.  Last Tuesday we found everything dark and a sign on the door apologizing for needing to close early.  We figured the afternoon guy just didn’t show up for his shift again.  The day guy gets really pissed when that happens.  Can’t blame him for that.
Everyone is wearing winter coats tonight but minus the hats and gloves.  There’s been a reprieve from the dead of winter; it looks like temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s for the next week or so.  We expect to go back into the deep freeze again in February but with climate change becoming more noticeable every year, we can’t be sure.
As we wait for more Occupiers to arrive, the Occupier recently arrived from the east coast tells us stories about her many years spent in homeless outreach.  She’s led a very interesting life.
As the conversation morphs into the topic of homelessness in Duluth, we tell her about the CHUM main homeless shelter.  She is shocked at hearing the many rules homeless people must follow in order to be allowed a space at CHUM. 
“So if it was winter and for some reason or other I was unable to make it to the shelter until after 4pm then I would not be allowed in?  I’d have to fend for myself in the cold?” she asks.
“Well yeah, you would if you hadn’t stayed at CHUM the night before.  If you had stayed the night before then you would have until 9pm to get back in,” we answer.
“CHUM is pretty big on the ‘homeless ones taking their own personal responsibility’ idea.  It’s pretty much a one size fits all situation.  Of course, that works out better for some folks than for others”.
The east coast Occupier is shocked.  The rules at homeless shelters back east are not as strict.  Another Occupier explains, “Yeah, that ‘MN Nice’ that you hear about is real. It can really bite you in the ass”.
The Occupier who has written the letter to the Duluth News Tribune arrives.  We pass around copies of the letter.  Everyone thinks it’s very good.  We’re not surprised as he’s an excellent writer.  He agrees to make one minor technical change and then send it in right away.  He figures it will take the DNT a month or so to actually print it.
Another Occupier has agreed to write a letter to the Reader.  She passes around a copy of a rough draft.  She tells us, “right now I’m just working with word count and a general tone.  The actual letter might not turn out like this.  Considering all the things we have going on, it’s going to take me a while longer but I’ll get on it as fast as I can”.
An Occupier tells a funny but sad story.  He’s been aware of a homeless person sleeping in the basement of his apartment building as of late.  The Occupier is busy working and raising three children so hasn’t had time to interact with the basement sleeper.  He had planned on just letting the guy go on about his business.
However, the basement contains storage units belonging to each of the apartment building residents.  This morning the Occupier noticed all the storage units had been ransacked.  The homeless guy was the culprit. 
The Occupier comments, “I felt really bad but my storage has a lot of my life memories in it.  I kind of know this guy though so I know he’s not gonna leave my stuff alone just because I ask him to.  I had to call the police to get him to stop”.
It turns out basement sleepers’ name is Bernie Sanders.  The Occupier has to call the police and tell them Bernie Sanders has been sleeping in his basement and the Occupier wants him to leave.
When the cops arrive they think they’re “being had”.  Everything turns out o.k. in the end though.  Bernie Sanders has a particular classification that will get him immediate help for his homeless situation.  The Occupier agrees to assist the cops in making sure the guy gets housed ASAP.
We make a few lame jokes about why Bernie Sanders may have come to town a little early.  These jokes do not deserve to be repeated.
The next 2 days will be taken up with Stop the Enbridge Invasion events.  We will all be going to the traditional Anishinaabe drum ceremony and feast tomorrow, 5pm at Peace Church.  After the feast we will participate in direct action training in preparation for the rally and march on Monday, January 25th starting at noon in front of the Douglas County Court House in Superior WI.
An Occupier states, “I was at a small meeting in Superior last week.  One of our friends was saying Enbridge recently held a meeting for the general public of Superior. About 150 people showed up and almost every one of them was opposed to the Enbridge pipelines.  Of course, there was no mention of this fact in the media”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you hear that our friend, the Native spiritual advisor, is going to run for County Commissioner of District 3?”  Someone replies, “Oh good. Most of the County Commissioners are serious rednecks and they have a lot of power.  It would be such a relief to have another person of good character in one of those seats”.
“I have some bad news”, an Occupier tells us, “I have it on good authority that a particular Deputy Police Chief will soon be offered the temporary position of interim police chief as soon as Chief Ramsey leaves”.
Everyone groans.  Somebody responds, “Oh no!  That will be terrible!  He will be completely opposite from Chief Ramsey.  He does a good job of speaking on camera and in public but behind closed doors he tries to intimidate regular folks.  He’s a bully”.
Another adds, “You can forget about cops being required to treat poor and/or homeless with any kind of respect.  I know they don’t actually do it much now but they’ll be much worse under that particular Deputy Chief.  We need to find out what we can do to bring this fact to light.  I’m sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way”.
An Occupier states, “Sorry to change the subject but remember the Duluth 7 go back to court on Thursday, January 28th.  There will be a support rally at noon in front of the St. Louis County Court House.  Those folks were brave to offer themselves up for arrest at our last Stop the Enbridge Invasion.  We need to be there to back them up as they decide to plead guilty or not guilty”.
Several hours have passed and our attention is beginning to wander.  As we speak, a major winter storm is descending upon the east coast.  The Occupier from the east comments that the past 3 or more winters in New England have produced more snow than ever before.  She asks if Duluth is having normal winter weather this year.
We tell her that we don’t actually know what is normal anymore.  The conversation moves on to indigenous prophecies around the world, sustainable agriculture, eating food native to ones’ locale and climate change refugees.
An Occupier exclaims, “Well, you know the good old slogan of ‘Merika……  ‘We don’t HAVE refugees, we MAKE them’”.
There’s a different guy at the counter tonight.  It’s 8pm but he doesn’t lock the door or anything.  Maybe he doesn’t know he’s supposed to close?
We talk a while longer then decide to call it a night.  We’ll be hooking up for the next 2 days and then, providing that the staff shows up, back here again on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-12-16

G.A. Minutes 1-12-16
We are now beginning the dead of winter.  As far as we know this happens every year.  Even though we all have warm homes this year, we still complain.  Our homeless ones don’t have time to complain; they’re busy doing whatever it takes to survive.
Every year some of our homeless ones don’t make it; they’re found frozen to death somewhere.  The homeless outreach people bust their butts trying to find all the homeless ones.  They never completely succeed. 
Some of our citizens, who have the means to provide buildings with homes for everyone, hear about the frozen ones.  They click their tongues, “Tsk, tsk.  So sad, so sad”.  Most don’t do anything else though.   They just wait until next year then make their noises again.  Christmas is over you know.
The first Occupiers arriving at Coney Island are bundled up from head to toe.  They disrobe, order food and slide into the big back booth to wait and see if anyone else will arrive. 
The Occupier who is recently arrived from the east coast has been a Catholic Worker for much of her life.  While waiting for others to arrive, she tells those present a little about what C.W. is about.
She says, “Basically C.W. is about following the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It’s not about following all the rules and customs of the Catholic Church but about following Jesus.  You know, like not going after material things but ‘doing unto others as you would have them do unto you’, ‘love your neighbor like you love yourself’, stuff like that.  Lately there’s also been a lot of emphasis on supporting sex trafficked people”.
When she has finished talking, another Occupier comments, “I think this is really good music the staff is playing over the sound system.  They’re playing KUMD.  The DJ who does the Tuesday night show on KUMD lives in our artist co-op”.  Everyone agrees the music rocks.
Several more Occupiers and our friend, the City official arrive.  They’re bundled up too.
After everyone is settled, an Occupier reports, “I’ve received an email response from the writer who writes articles for the Reader.  If you remember, he was recommended to us as someone who might be willing to do a story about our fire at Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  He said that he was pretty sure the editor of the Reader would not accept an article about this topic.  He suggested we try submitting a letter to the editor in the Inbox column.  Apparently the Inbox is more accommodating concerning subject matter”.
She turns to the Occupier who is tasked with writing and says, “If you write the letter to the Duluth News Tribune, I’ll take a shot at writing to the Reader”.  The Occupy writer agrees.
An Occupier exclaims, “It really chaps my hide that our government and our so called leaders don’t follow the laws they expect us to follow.  They just do whatever they want and then act horrified when a citizen steps up and points out what they’re doing”.
Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, the cops and the fire department do that too.  It’s like they’re just another gang.  I can’t tell who the leaders are and who the criminals are”.
An Occupier finds it necessary to apply for a few government benefits to get through a time of severe poverty.  This Occupier talks about the serious difficulty getting a social service worker to even answer the phone.  Everyone has a similar story to tell.  We take turns.  Someone states, “It’s like the main thing they’re concerned about is that someone may get a few extra bucks they’re not technically or legally entitled to”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, and in the meantime really needy people become homeless or die because they can’t get access to their life saving medications”. 
Someone mentions the fact that our good MN state senator is not going to seek reelection for the next term.  Two well-known local politicians have applied to run for the senator’s position.
An Occupier sighs, “I’m not sure which one of these candidates I should vote for”.  The City official suggests, “Just take a close look at which one has done the most for the poor and other marginalized people in our city.  If you look closely you will find the answer is quite obvious”.
The newly arrived Occupier observes, “Before I arrived here I had always thought Duluth was a very progressive city.  Now when I look at the statistics and watch people’s daily lives, I see it’s not very progressive at all”.
The City official concurs, “Yes, you are correct.  Did you know that the unemployment number for Duluth’s white population is 3 to 4% while the number of our black citizens who are unemployed is 22%?
On another topic, he continues, “By the way, I want you folks to know that a coalition is being formed with the objective of holding the new mayor and city council accountable to their campaign promises.  Meaning the promises they made about truly paying attention to the needs of our city’s most marginalized citizens”.
The hipster guy, who appears to be staffing the place by himself, begins clearing off the salt and pepper shakers from all the booths.  Then he starts mopping the floor.
An Occupier looks at the clock, “Oh crap!” She says, “I hadn’t noticed how much time had gone by.  Just let me hip you to a few things before we go.  The Superior Organizer is holding a pre-meeting concerning the next Stop the Enbridge Invasion action.  It will be on this upcoming Saturday in Superior from 3p-5p.  I’m gonna go, anybody who wants to ride with me just say so.
“When that meeting is done, I will pick up everyone who needs a ride and we can shoot over to Peace Church for the Jamin With MLK event.  I want to get there as close to 6pm as possible because I’m going to be good and hungry.
“Also, the Superior Organizer will be holding the first Community Forum on Racism and Cultural Understanding on February 2nd 12p-2p at the Superior Public Library”.
Our friend, the City official inserts, “WPR will be recording some Town Halls on the same subject.  I don’t know the times or dates yet though”.
Now it’s really time to let the accommodating staff person go home.  We’ll be at Peace Church on Saturday then back here at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-9-16

G.A. Minutes 1-9-16
There are only 3 Occupiers present for tonight’s meeting and they are all absolutely insane. The reason we know this is because the temperature at 6pm is 4 degrees with a strong, biting east wind.
No one in their right mind would be out on a night like this.  Unless, of course, one is homeless and banned from the CHUM and other shelters.  We’ve been told CHUM will not start admitting everyone, regardless of their standing among the homeless ranks, until temperatures reach 20 below.
We hurry to the back booth, removing our coats quickly so as to get the chill off of us.  There’s a different hipster guy working the counter tonight.  He’s pleasant and brings us hot coffee right away.
An Occupier comments, “We rocked the Idle No More/Northwoods NDN Taco Sale yesterday, didn’t we?  There’s discussion going around about possibly having 2 sales a month.  One would be for INM/NWA and the other for All Nations.  People really like NDN tacos so they work well for fundraising”.
A man who we don’t know is sitting at a table in an electric wheel chair.  He rolls over to us and strikes up a conversation.  He says he’s lived in Duluth since 1990.  He says the biggest difference he finds in Duluth, as opposed to other places he’s lived, is the strength of the women.  “Man, if you do something to piss a woman off in this town, she’ll just haul off and punch you so hard you’ll be knocked out”.
The female Occupier present tonight decides to just let that one slide.  She thinks it’s not worth the effort it would take to make an objection.
One of the Occupiers explains to the guy that we’re having an Occupy meeting.  The guy tells us if we’re about making the world a better place we could get better bus service from Superior to Duluth.  We know that the bus between the 2 cities is very poor.
The guy continues, “I’ve gone to talk with the head of the bus company in Superior several times.  The head guy showed me all sorts of charts, pictures and plans he’d drawn up and presented to various government departments heads and to the Superior City Council.  These things were really good ideas for improving bus service but apparently the City of Superior refuses to put any money into improving public transit”.
We chat a bit more with the guy in the wheelchair.  Then it’s 6:45pm and he has to go and catch the last bus to Superior.
So now it’s down to business, more or less.  An Occupier asks, “So did anybody come up with a draft of a letter to the editor?” No one has.  One Occupy offers to take on the task.  We’re delighted as this Occupier is a skilled writer.
An Occupier states, “A letter in the Duluth Tribune and/or the Reader will be a good first step in exposing the abuse and lack of fairness commonly practiced by many of our so called City officials”.
Another Occupier replies, “It looks like this kind of behavior from government officials is the new normal across the country.  When regular citizens point out illegal and abusive goings on, the officials just ignore them and keep on doing what they’re doing”.
The minister from the storefront church down the street from the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial walks in.  His entrance proves that he’s crazy too.  We wave and he waves back.
An Occupier says, “I suppose you’ve heard Roger Reinhart isn’t going to run for reelection as state senator for our district 7 and that Sharla Gardner and Erik Simonson have both filed to run for the seat? 
“Well, this could be interesting.  We know Sharla has always been supportive of our fires.  I wonder if there will be an opportunity for any of us to attend a question and answer session with both candidates.  I’d like to hear Erik explain why after being shown all the laws which support the legality of our fire, he still told us we weren’t allowed to have it.  I wonder what Sharla would say in response?”
Another Occupier postulates, “I’d like to know why Erik did what he did too.  Looking back, when we met with him in mid-November, I suppose he already knew he was going run for the senate seat and didn’t want to ruffle the feathers of any wealthy campaign donors”.
Somebody asks, “So what’s going on with the mayor of Superior these days”.  Someone else answers, “Did any of you listen to that radio interview with Mayor Hagen and the guy who’s the head of our area Islamic Center?”  No one has.  She continues, “Well it was boring and I had to suffer through a whole hour in order to hear everything.  Mayor Hagen seems to have all the basic Republican lame ass ideas about never sincerely admitting to a wrong.  He says he will never resign as that would mean showing weakness.  He says that although he knows he suffers from depression, he’ll never go into any kind treatment as that is for movie stars and others willing to admit defeat.  He had no clue as to the deeper issues surrounding his Facebook faux pas.
“The Islamic guy was smarter but he just kept saying that Islam is a religion of peace.  If he would have elaborated a little, it could have been interesting.  Anyway, our friend the effective Superior organizer is trying to set up some town hall forums in order for Superiorites to discuss racial issues.  I’m going to try to go to the forums; I think all of us who are able should attend. However, we will need to stay far away from any limelight as if people see we’re from out of town that could open up our friend to charges of outside agitation”.
An Occupier inquires, “I’m going to apply to be on the board to interview candidates for our new chief of police position.  Do you guys want to do that too?”  The others groan and shake their heads no.
Another asks, “Has anything new happened today with those right wing dudes who have taken over a nature center in Oregon?  Someone explains, “Well they’ve been crying a lot, they’ve run out of ‘snacks’ and one of their guys stole all their money and went on a drinking binge.
Someone else comments, “What a bunch of whack jobs!  That white privilege stuff is coming out of their ears. They think all of nature and the animals and such can just go to hell. Apparently the earth was created for ranchers and hunters”.
An Occupier jokes, “Yeah, I guess that stuff is written in the Bible or the Constitution or something”.
On that note, we put on our coats and stuff and dash out into the freezing cold.  We’ll be back here on Tuesday.   

G.A. Minutes 1-5-15

G.A. Minutes 1-5-15
It looks like we’ll be having a full house tonight.  Most of the Occupiers fill the back booth at Coney Island; others sit in chairs that spill into the walkway.  We think this won’t be a problem as this neighborhood café generally has few customers in the evenings.
An Occupier who has recently relocated from the east coast comments, “The winters in Duluth are similar to the winters back east.  Inconvenient but not particularly dangerous”.
We agree, we’ve been having unusually calm weather so far this winter but we expect our local climate will enter the danger zone before long.  The weather people are forecasting temperatures below zero by the weekend.
Every year some of our homeless ones freeze to death due to inadequate shelter.
An Occupier asks if anyone attended the mayor and city councilors’ inauguration event on Monday night.  If so, what did they think about it?
Another Occupier answers, “I did.  It was at the DECC and the place was really packed.  Our new mayor, Emily Larson, gave a speech where she emphasized her desire to serve our most marginalized citizens. 
The first Occupier replies, “I really hope she is for real.  Duluth residents who don’t have high incomes have been ignored for far too long”.
One of the Occupiers who lives nearby, in the Graysolon Plaza, reports, “Enbridge is moving into our building.  They’ve rented some offices and Sherman Properties, our management company is bending over backwards to accommodate them.  They’ve even removed some of our building security measures so Enbridge employees won’t be inconvenienced when entering the building”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve had to deal with Sherman Properties in the past.  They really suck.  I’m betting they are scheming to rid Graysolon Plaza of all the low income residents who were living in Graysolon when they bought the building.  Sherman is all about gentrification”.
The Occupier who lives in Graysolon continues, “Our resident union is really pissed.  We’re worried too.  The building contract with Section 8 low income guidelines will be in effect for 16 more years.  When that time is up, we’re certain Sherman will refuse to renew anything having to do with low incomes.  They’ll remodel a little and then rent to ‘more deserving tenants’.
Someone comments, “I’m betting Sherman will try to get rid of the low income tenants before the Section 8 contract is finished.  They pull a lot of really dirty tricks”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “Speaking of Enbridge, I was in touch with MN 350 yesterday.  They want to have a Stop the Enbridge Invasion march and rally in Superior, WI on Monday, January 25th at noon. There will be a planning session and feast at Peace Church on Sunday, January 24th, at 3pm.
 Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be doing a lot for this event so of course, they’ll need our help”.  Another Occupier interjects, “If it’s not snowing or raining, we could bring our puppet, Two Face”.
The first Occupier asks, “So do you want to join in and help with this event?  We all answer, “Hell yes!”
The Occupier who likes to read poetry reads us a poem.  The name of the poem is Kindness. It’s very good.
An Occupier tells us, “When I was in the 6th grade we had a social studies book that told us, as Americans, we could expect to go anywhere in the world and be treated with respect and deference.  This was because we were Americans”.
Another Occupier states, “Yeah, when I was in grade school we had a history book that referred to Native Americans as ‘savages’”.
Changing the subject again, someone reports to the Occupiers who weren’t at the last meeting, “Last Tuesday we were talking about all the events that will be happening during the MLK celebration, January 14th – January 18th.  We thought it would be a good idea to attend Jammin for MLK in a group like we did last year and then we could each attend the other events as we are able.  Does that sound o.k.?”
Everyone agrees it is o.k.  An Occupier adds, “I can’t wait for the march on January 18th.  I’m all over that!”
Somebody reminds us that we are needed to help out with the INM/NWA NDN Taco Sale on Friday.
The east coast Occupier says, “I’d really like to know what the plans are for the restarting of the recreational fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  Spring is not long off you know”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Well, I think we need to get as much publicity about the fire issue as we can out to the general citizenry. 
“I’ve contacted 2 City Councilors who haven’t done much but the newly elected City Councilor for this district is currently studying the bazillion pages of documentation that I gave her.  I have a meeting with her scheduled for February 1st.
“I think we need an article in the Reader.  I’ve emailed one writer who was recommended by our Catholic Worker friend.  That writer hasn’t responded yet”.
An Occupier opines, “At this point we don’t know for sure when we’ll be able to start up the fire again.  Climate change is messing with the seasons, so who knows?  In the past we’ve started sometime in April”.
The Occupier who brought up the subject says, “We need to make plans for what we’re gonna do once the fire is started. Are we going to just restart the fire after the Fire Department leaves?  Should we be sure to have someone filming the fire and police officers if they try to close us down?”
Another Occupier replies, “The police and fire departments may not shut us down during the first fire.  They may be too busy on that night or they may be taken by surprise and have to wait for orders from their masters.  However, you are right.  We should start making plans now.
“We have a lot of supporters.  The homeless ones will probably be too afraid to stick around when cops appear but we have a lot of support from people who have homes.  We should start talking with them about needing their attendance at the fires when we start again.  Maybe we can get reporters to attend also”.
The clock on the wall says 8pm.  The guy who works the counter is mopping the floor.  He says, “I’m going to lock the door and turn off the signs but you guys are welcome to stay as long as you need to”.
We are sort of on a roll so we continue talking.  An Occupier asks, “What if the CJMM BOD gets the City Council to pass a resolution which says fires at CJMM are illegal?”
The Occupier who is tasked with studying all the legal stuff replies, “In order to get the City Council to pass a resolution, one first has to be sponsored by a City Councilor.  Then one goes before the agenda setting meeting and presents their proposal.  The City Manager takes the proposal and turns it into legalese.  The legalese is then taken back to the City Council to look at then….blah,blah,blah”.
The Occupiers have pained expressions on their faces; they cover their ears.  Another Occupier states, “O.K., so we know a resolution won’t be passed before April”.
Somebody suggests, “Maybe we could write a letter to the editor”.  Another answers, “I wrote a letter to the editor a while back.  It took a month or more from the time they received my letter until the time they published it”.
The first Occupier responds, “Well then we’d better get writing soon.  If we send it in a week or so it will be mid-February before it’s published”.
Another Occupier remarks, “A letter in February is a good idea.  It could get the issue into people’s awareness so when shit hits the fan some will know about the issue already.  Also, the letter could get a response from someone.  Wouldn’t it be great is someone answered with an ‘I hate homeless people’ answer?  That would really get the ball rolling.”    
The first Occupier asks, “So can everybody have at least an outline of what they would say in a letter and bring it to our next meeting?”  We won’t all be able to do that but some of us are willing to give it a try.  
Two young boys are sleeping in one of the smaller booths.  We didn’t notice them coming in.  They have a family resemblance to the guy who works the counter.  We think maybe they are waiting for him to finish so he can take them home.
Time to leave.  We’ll be back at Coney Island on Saturday.  Hopefully we’ll have some drafts of the letter.

G.A. Minutes 12-29-15

G.A. Minutes 12-29-15
The first couple of Occupiers roll up to Coney Island and casually stroll in.  They are greeted by the staff and the few single male regular customers who are usually present in the early evenings.  The Occupiers have been meeting at the café for only a month or so but they’re being treated like regulars already.  They have no problem with that.
While waiting for the others to arrive, the first Occupiers order food, go to the big back booth and carry on a conversation about the racism directed towards area Native Americans that they so frequently observed during their childhood years.
These days the racism is generally more hidden and some non-Natives have respect, even admiration for Indigenous people and their culture.  However, one need merely scratch the surface and there it is, in many subtle and not so subtle ways. 
An Occupier comments, “Just look at the way the fossil fuel and mining industries pretend to be working with the various Native reservations.  The other Occupier replies, “Don’t get me started.  Here comes our friend, the City Official”.
Our friend sits down.  He’s brought flyers which list all the events that will be happening around Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Duluth.  The events include: a Mayor’s MLK Reception on Thursday 1/14, a talent show at Denfield H.S.on Friday 1/15, the Jammin’ with MLK event at Peace Church on Saturday 1/16, an evening worship service at St. Mark’s AME Church on Sunday 1/17 and a Free Community Breakfast, March&Rally and Movie Night all on Monday 1/18.
An Occupier makes a suggestion, “Last year we went as a group to the Jammin’ with MLK event.  I think we should do that again this year.  Everyone will want to go to other MLK events as possible but I think we should all plan on attending the Saturday event together”.
More Occupiers arrive.  One of them states, “I don’t think we’ll be seeing our Catholic Worker friends tonight.  I suppose you’ve heard they were among the participants in an action against the airplane and other weapons of war manufacturer, Grumman-Northrup somewhere around Omaha?  One of our C.W. friends is in jail right now.  She was arrested along with 4 others”.
Another answers, “Bummer.  I knew they were leaving town a few days ago and that’s why they weren’t at our Christmas Night party.  I’m sure the action was planned well in advance and our friend had committed to getting arrested beforehand.  C.A. is an effective organization.  They will have bail money set up, attorneys ready to go and a whole support system for those in jail. We’ll just have to call and see if there’s any way we can help”.
Another Occupier reports he was at the Boycott Bruce Hagen rally in Superior WI yesterday. The rally was organized by our friend, a very effective and intelligent organizer, who lives in Superior.  After the rally, the group was invited inside the Court House to table and get petition signatures.  Everyone was surprised at the amount of Superiorites who were in support of demanding the mayor’s resignation and also in support of anti-racist and anti-Islamophobic principles.  The Boycott Bruce Hagen folks plan to be back at the Court House tomorrow from 10a-4p.
Our City official friend tells us, “Mayor Hagen is backpedaling like crazy.  He originally took off for a month’s vacation but has agreed to return on Saturday for a dinner at the Islamic Center of the Twin Ports.  This dinner will be attended by City Council members and 200-300 members of our area’s Muslims.
“WPR also agreed to sponsor and record 10 town hall meetings . This whole mess he created has gone national”.
Another Occupier confesses, “I opened a can of worms yesterday when I made that aggressive post on Facebook telling the mayor the next time he has too much to drink he should refrain from posting anything on social media.  I only meant to make the Superior organizer laugh.  I forgot it would go out to who knows where.  A hater answered saying he had proof Obama is a Muslim.  I just left the whole thing alone.  Another of our organizer friends responded and seemed to settle the hater guy down”.
Someone responds, “I think I saw that post.  Did it begin with ‘Dear Mayor Hagen, Bite me?” The confessing Occupier rolls her eyes; everybody laughs.
An Occupier says, “Did you all see the post from a hater in the Twin Cities?  He went on the Black Lives Matter page and posted some really racists things.  His comments went out on the internet, his employer, ADM, saw his comments and fired him on the spot.  I wonder if that’s another case of a moron getting drunk and going on social media.”
One of the Occupiers has brought a sack of fresh mandarin oranges and put them in the center of the table.  He says, “Help yourselves.  They are magical health oranges.  They even ward off evil spirits”.
 He then says to our City official friend, “Speaking of warding off evil spirits, what day of Kwanza is this?”  Our friend answers, “It’s the 4th day.  This day is about celebrating black business and entrepreneurship”.
A Coney Island staff member is mopping the floor.  We are the only customers now.  We think the mopping guy is someone different from the guy who works the counter.  It turns out it’s the same guy, he’s just taken off his cap and glasses.  We laugh and banter back and forth with him about all the disguises he uses throughout his work shift.
An Occupier lives in a building owned and managed by Sherman Properties.  He tells us about the disrespect and condescension with which they treat the tenants of their low income rental properties.  Several Occupiers have had dealings with Sherman.  They are in agreement.
Another Occupier adds, “George Sherman is a billionaire.  The City has given him at least 10 million dollars in TIF funds.  TIF funds are credits that allow some business owners to be relieved of paying taxes.  In return, the TIF recipients are supposed to develop new businesses or refurbish existing ones”.
Somebody remarks, “So if old George doesn’t have to pay his taxes then that means we living hand to mouth taxpayers have to pay his share too.  Wonderful”.
The staff guy comes over and says in a panicked voice, “Did any of you notice someone come in while I was in the back room?”  We were so busy talking that we didn’t notice anyone.  The guy continues, “Somebody walked in here and stole all the money from my tip jar.  I’m gonna call my boss.  We have cameras so maybe we have a picture of the thief”.  We say words of empathy to the burglarized guy.
One Occupier whispers to another, “They should show us the camera tapes.  We probably know who the thief was from sitting with so many neighborhood folks at our Clayton Jackson McGhie fires”.
The Occupier who originally made the suggestion says, “I’m thinking we could all go to Jammin with MLK on Saturday, January 16th, 6pm at Peace Church?”  Everybody thinks that is a good idea.
An Occupier reminds us, “On Saturday we’re going to the Socialist Action Marxmas party”.
Our City friend says, “Socialists!?!  I don’t know if I can handle that!”  He rolls his eyes and continues, “Even though I’m probably one myself”.
Another Occupier states, “A lot of people are socialists and don’t even realize it”.  The first Occupier exclaims, “Even Jesus was a socialist!”  The second Occupier clasps her hands to her chest and cries out, “Even Jesus?”  She falls over.
We’re starting to get goofy now.  It must be time to go home.  As we get ready to leave, we gather up enough money to replace the few stolen bucks and a little more and put in the staff guy’s tip jar.
We’ll be at the Marxmas party on Saturday and back here at Coney Island next Tuesday.    


G.A. Minutes 12-22-15

G.A. Minutes 12-22-15
The first Occupiers have managed to arrive at Coney Island still intact this evening.  It rained a bit earlier in the day.  Now all those innocent looking patches of snow are covered in thin sheets of ice.  Just the kind of thing that causes pain in the young folks and broken bones in the not so young.
It looks like we’re going to have a crowd again tonight.  Of Occupiers that is.  As people continue arriving, the guy behind the counter advises us he will need to close by 8pm. Apparently, somebody didn’t show up for their shift so the poor guy has been working for a really long time.  He’s tired.  No problem, we’ve all been there and done that so we can certainly empathize.
An Occupier tells a story about how she received a clothing voucher from the Salvation Army but when she went to use it, every item she found was too high priced to qualify.  She ended up just returning the voucher.
Another Occupier comments on how she feels conflicted about the Salvation Army, especially at this time of year when they have bell ringers asking for donations.  She knows many people who have been helped by S.A. but she also knows S.A. is very vocal about not helping people who are other than straight heterosexuals.  This year the Occupier has decided to refrain from giving to the donation kettles.
An Occupier reports, to everyone who wasn’t at the last meeting, that an initial meeting is scheduled with Em Westerlund, the new District 3 City Councilor, for February 1st at noon.  The Occupier reports that her first impression of Ms. Westerlund was good.  She remarks, “Em says she’s finding it really strange how people in government relate to her now that she’s a Councilor.  Apparently, everyone bends over backwards to please her, acting as if she were some type of royalty.  I just hope Ms. Westerlund keeps that outlook and doesn’t let the preferential treatment go to her head”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve known so many people who were good organizers but who changed once they were given a position in an NGO.  After a while they started thinking everything was about them and their position.  Many a good person has fallen after being given too much power and praise”.
Someone says, “At our last meeting we were talking about how we were concerned that Deputy Chief Tuscan will be given the position of Chief of Police now that Chief Ramsey is leaving.  Our City official friend suggested we apply to be on one of the hiring panels.  I asked the Duluth Human Rights Officer how we would go about doing that.  He said we should email Duluth Human Resources at and the mayor .  We should request to be appointed and provide a short resume stating why we are qualified.  I think every one of us should apply so maybe they’ll have to appoint a few of us.
“Two of our community organizer friends were on the hiring panel for the recently hired new police officers.  We could ask them what we should expect to find on a hiring panel”.
One Occupier has done some research about the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD. She gives us a list of the membership and some additional information.  She confirms that the time and place of the BOD meetings is secret information and attendance is by invitation only. 
Another Occupier suggests we could ask for a meeting with the CJMM BOD and bring a couple of the homeless people who regularly attend our fires along with us.  The BOD members would then have to look into the faces and eyes of the homeless folks when they explain why they don’t want “their kind” at the Memorial.
Somebody answers, “We could try it but I don’t think the BOD would be willing and I’m not sure which homeless people would be willing to accompany us.  I think many of the BOD members really believe Occupy is violent and very dangerous.  I don’t know why they believe that but I’m betting they watch Fox News”.  Everyone laughs.
An Occupier remarks, “So we’ve received all the responses from the DPD to the 4 complaints we filed against them.  The responses were signed by Deputy Chief Tuscan and they were really stupid.  He misquoted the main Fire Code and then included a copy of that strange letter from the Deputy Fire Chief.  The responses basically said “you can’t have a fire because we don’t want you to have one’.
“I spoke with the president of the Citizens Review Board and told him we feel these responses are completely unacceptable.  Apparently, we’re not the first complainants to say this.  The president said he would open negotiations between us, the CRB and the DPD.  In sort of an aside, he said we should contact the City Council because they are the people who supervise the fire department”.
Another comments, “People worked really hard to establish a CRB, we eventually got one but it has no teeth.  The CRB just has to sit and listen to whatever the DPD says.  I hope it’s time now to up the ante and fight for a CRB that has some power”.  Everyone agrees.
Someone says, “Well, there’s still that attorney from the Twin Cities”.  The Occupier who has recently arrived from the east coast responds, “I know of that attorney; he helped us when the government was trying to close down our homeless camp”.
Another of the Occupiers asks, “Hey, have you all heard what the mayor of Superior WI said yesterday?”  We have.  The Occupier continues, “Saying Obama is a Muslim and that he’s destroyed our country by using less of our military than is needed was weird but I guess the mayor does have freedom of speech”.
Another Occupier replies, “Yeah, but too bad he uses his freedom of speech to show everyone what a complete idiot he is”.  We all laugh some more.
The recently arrived Occupier states, “Back to the homeless issue, I’m amazed at how judgmental and punishment oriented many people are when it comes to homeless or poor people.  I remember making a comment in a church setting once.  I said, ‘Well if the only thing you can do for a homeless person is to give them a dollar, then just give them that dollar and leave the rest to God’.  Most of the church people freaked out, saying I was a horrible enabler”.
Somebody else inserts, “For real, I was at a homeless advocate meeting a while back.  There were many social work students in attendance.  One of them was bitching about homeless people drinking and drugging.  She said if they were gonna do that, they didn’t deserve any help at all.  I responded, ‘Over my years associating with homeless folks I’ve found that many of them have experienced the most horrific childhoods’.  The meetings moderator cleared his throat and said, ‘Well, now on a more pleasant note blah,blah,blah’.  It was like they all wanted to say they worked with homeless peeps but they didn’t really want to know homeless peeps as human beings at all”.   Everyone nods in agreement.
Another tells us, “I had a dream last night.  I was homeless and living at CHUM.  I was just hanging around with nothing to do.  There weren’t any books or classes to take, no work to do. I was about to run away but I woke up instead.  If it was reality instead of a dream, where would I have run away to?  I imagine I would have to start drinking or doing heroin or something.  How else would I relieve the boredom?”
We hear the guy behind the counter say to his co-worker, “My god!  I’ve been here since noon!”  We look at the clock and realize that’s his way of telling us it’s time to go.
We all plan to go to the Occupier couple’s home for dinner on Christmas Night.  The Occupier who will cook most of the dinner says, “We’re supposed to have a meeting the day after Christmas but I’m gonna need to sleep in and just rest.  How about we just meet back here again next Tuesday?  We say, “Sounds like a plan”.