G.A. Minutes 5-23-17

G.A. Minutes 5-23-17
We’re finally back at People’s Plaza and preparing to have our first recreational fire of the year. YAHOO!!!
Actually it looks like it could rain. The weather people have called for a 50% chance of scattered showers; the sky has been overcast much of the day. We don’t care. It’s been almost 7 months since we’ve been able to have a fire; we just can’t wait any longer.
We’ve all dressed warmly; the temperature is in the lows 50s with a moderate northwesterly wind. A fire is doable.
The city official arrives to help with the setup. He says, “I won’t be able to stay long. It’s too cold and I’m just not dressed for it”. The city man’s wardrobe consists mainly of clothes that are suitable for doing city official stuff. A rustic woodsman he is not.
The Fire Magician is back in action; he has a roaring fire going in no time. It smells, looks and feels great. We all pull our chairs close up and wait to see what will happen next.
A young Native man who has been showing up at our fires for many years quietly walks up. As usual, he’s soft spoken, polite and shy. He smudges himself, rolls a cigarette from the tobacco pouch then sits a little way off and listens to the conversation.
An Occupy asks, “Did you all see the picture that The Main Homeless Outreach Worker put up of the homeless camp that was destroyed? A homeless person made a small camp somewhere around here on a rocky looking hill. While the camper was gone, someone slashed his/her tent and stole all his/her belongings. The Main Outreach Worker managed to gather up another tent and some camping stuff so the camper could set up again. The same trashing of their camp happened the next day. That is so sick”.
The official man remarks, “I have some pretty good things that would be useful for homeless camping if someone would be willing to come to my house and get them”. An Occupier agrees to do so.
As the city official reaches across the table to pour some juice he notices the flyers we put out concerning the disappearance of The Woman Who Tells Good Stories. He comments, “I think there should a larger amount offered for information about her disappearance. Somebody knows something.”
An Occupier tells him, “Our friend, The Main CHUM Staff Person is planning a benefit chili feed event in order to raise more money for a reward. I think it will happen around the end of June”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you guys see that the Superior African Heritage Community has been given the Men As Peacemakers annual Peacemaker Award? Someone replies, “SAHC is one of the groups that are led by the Superior Organizer. It’s about time she was recognized for all the outstanding work that she does”.
It starts to sprinkle a bit; wearing a skeptical look on his face, the city man states, “I think I’m going to leave now”. An Occupier replies, “Don’t worry, if it starts coming down in sheets, we’ll pack up and leave too. We’re only half crazy”.
As the city official disappears down the street an Occupier exclaims, “Crap! I forgot to ask him for Skip Sandman’s phone number. Veterans for Peace wants to ask him if he’ll speak at their Memorial Day event. Now I’ll have to go all the way over to his house to ask him. What a first world problem”. We all laugh.
The Occupier who reports things gives us her weekly report, “The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is this upcoming Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House, as per usual. Tomorrow some members of the HPB of RC are going to the Citizens Review Board meeting, 5pm in Room 303 of City Hall. We’re going to review the new police policy called Interactions with Persons Experiencing Homelessness. The policy basically says that homelessness is not a crime and that cops must be respectful to homeless people and not tell them to ‘move along’ when they are in public spaces.
“The new DPD policy is better than a punch in the nose but it’s lacking a lot of very important points. I think they made it in hopes that it would derail the efforts of the HPB of RC to get an actual HPB of R Ordinance passed by the City Council. However, derailment is not gonna happen”.
An Occupier inquires, “Did anyone see Winona LaDuke being interviewed by Tavis Smiley on PBS last Friday? She really rocked it”. No one else saw the PBS show but everyone wishes they had. We think we’ll be able to view it online.
Someone comments, “That reminds me, it sounds like Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be doing something a little different for their taco sale in June. They’ve been asked to supply all the tacos for a big block party given by Neighborhood Youth Services on June 25th. I’ve been tasked with tracking down the main frybread maker to see if she’s down with the idea. So far, I haven’t been able to find her”.
We hear the big clock strike 9pm; the occasional sprinkles haven’t been bothering us. They’re certainly no match for the roaring fire. We’re trying to decide if we should let it burn out when couple of guys from Anonymous show up. We’re vaguely acquainted with these young dudes so think we should show them some hospitality. The sky appears to be clearing; the Fire Magician goes to the truck to get more wood.
These Anons tell us they are currently living in some type of halfway house after getting out of treatment. The big Native guy tells us some good stories that the elders told him when he was in Thunderbird House. The smaller white guy says, “I’ve been in Duluth for 4 years now. I’m from Georgia; when I arrived here people were nice to me and they tried to help me. That blew me away. I’m never going back down south; I’m gonna stay here forever”.
The conversation turns to the subject of what the hell is going on with supporters of He Who Shall Not Be Named. An Occupier tells us, “I read lately that many of the supporters were shocked to find out that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were one and the same. The supporters certainly don’t want anything that has Obama’s name on it but they really like being able to get health insurance because of the ACA”.
Our good friend, a local, well respected and somewhat famous musician rolls up. He was just cruising the street and saw our fire. He says, “I know where I’ll be spending my Tuesday nights now”. An Occupier responds, “I see your name is up in lights down at Zuccone”. The Somewhat Famous Musician humbly answers, “Yeah, it’s Bob Dylan’s birthday again. I always get that gig”.
The big clock strikes 10pm. The fire is burning down, we don’t have any more wood and most of us have stuff we have to do tomorrow. We pack up and make plans to meet up here again next Tuesday.
As the last of the equipment is being loaded into the vehicles one Occupier sighs, “I’d forgotten how incredibly wonderful it is to sit around the fire”.

G.A. Minutes 5-16-17

G.A. Minutes 5-16-17
It looks like we won’t be having a recreational fire at People’s Plaza tonight. The downpour and thunderstorms started late Sunday night and there hasn’t been much letup since then. The weather people say it’s gonna continue until next Monday. Just great…… We feel like a bunch of little kids who were hoping to go outside to play.
It’s not raining when the first Occupiers roll up to Duluth Coffee however, it looks like it could start again any minute. One of those big wooden outdoor seating booths is taking up the parking spaces in front of the entrance. A few people are sitting in it.
We wonder why anyone would want to sit outside right on Superior St. where they would be inhaling all the exhaust from the steady stream of cars. We quickly realize the source of attraction. One can smoke cigarettes while sitting in the outdoor booth. For those who smoke, drinking coffee along with smoking is pretty much mandatory.
After ordering various types of coffee drinks we find a vacant table. There are only a few customers; as more Occupiers arrive we push another table over. One of the Occupiers who is charged with bringing the fire supplies when we have a fire comments, “Man, I was really hoping to have the brakes on the truck fixed by now. I left it at the mechanic shop two weeks ago but they’re still not done fixing it. I’ll go over there tomorrow to see what the holdup is. Hauling fire supplies is much easier with the truck”.
An Occupier brings up the latest fiasco with that He Who Shall Not Be Named guy. This week he’s being criticized for leaking top secret information to the Russian Ambassador. The Occupier remarks, “HWSNBN is gonna be impeached sooner or later; then we’ll be stuck with Pence. Another Occupier adds, “Maybe that was the plan all along. Pence is every bit as insane as HWSNBN but in different ways. The 1% realized Pence would never get elected on his own, so came up with a plan to slide him in as VP. Pence will push the same agenda as HWSNBN but in a more organized way”.
Someone else informs us, “Yeah, Pence is definitely insane alright. Remember when he said that women who have been raped should not be allowed to have abortions because that would cause a lot more women to try and get raped?”
A woman sitting at another table is aghast. Apparently she has been listening to our conversation. She exclaims, “WTF!!! As a woman who in the past had the misfortune to find it necessary to have an abortion, I refuse to tolerate a statement as ignorant as that”. We agree with her.
Bringing up another topic an Occupier says, “I sure miss our friend the Native Grassroots Organizer. What some of his BOD members did to him was just horrific”. Another Occupier concurs, “It sure was. He worked his butt off, unpaid for six years and really helped a lot of people. As soon as he was awarded a fairly large grant some of his own people stabbed him in the back. You know, that’s part of the trouble with 501cs, NGOs and all that stuff. They give an organizer a bunch of money and then they put all these restrictions on them so as to prevent them from doing work that is actually effective.
“The Native Grassroots Organizer always took the high road. Whenever the NGO folks tried to get him to do something shady or highly impractical, he refused. That pissed off a lot of people in the money crowd. I think they had been gunning for him for a long time”.
Someone replies, “Well you know, some of his former BOD members tell a different story”. The previously speaking Occupier answers, “I don’t believe them. I’m guessing that when the Native Grassroots Organizer chastised them about their less than exemplary work they were offended and decided to take revenge. I’ve known the Grassroots dude for many years. I’ve always respected him for his integrity and his compassion and understanding for the least privileged ones.
“I wished he would have stayed here and fought for his reputation and his work but I can understand why he didn’t. I talk with him occasionally; he says he has a bad taste in his mouth for Duluth right now. I mean, he did such good work for so little personal reward for so long he just couldn’t start from scratch all over again. He’s down south hanging in a good music scene right now. I’m sure he’ll come back here again; I just don’t know when”.
The city official arrives. He tells us, “I can’t stay this evening; I’m on my way to a School Board meeting. I just wanted you guys to look at this letter that I’ll be presenting. It’s about the meeting the other week where the school board chairperson referred to all the people of color who were present as ‘you people’ and said that all we do is complain. We were very offended by the chairperson’s ignorance and we don’t want to just let it slide”.
An Occupier says to him, “I attended the Indigenous Commission meeting last night. Someone reported the school board incident to the Commissioners. They were very upset and don’t want to let it slide either. Some of them would like to appear on your radio show and participate in a discussion”. The city man states, “That is a good idea”.
A young man who appears to be a clean, neatly dressed hippie has been sitting in an easy chair since before we came in. He’s been sitting with his eyes closed and his hands raised in a praying position, occasionally he claps loudly. Now he suddenly jumps up and runs out the door. Stuff like this makes us feel as though we are in our own element.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “Things got a little wild at the Human Rights Commission meeting last Wednesday. I was there with another person from the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance Coalition. We were expected to report on the latest developments with the HPB of RO. We asked the commission to send a letter of support for the bill to the DNT and to the mayor. They voted yes, they would do that.
“The City Attorney was also at the meeting. He was there in order to advise the commission on changes to their by-laws. Once the Commissioners voted to send the letters, the City Attorney just freaked out. He said the commission should definitely not send the letters. If they did, they would be insulting the mayor and jeopardizing all future meetings with City departments.
“Everyone was really confused by his response and very few people agreed with him. I commented something like ‘If one spends all their time smoozing with the big guys, one will find their proposition very watered down and much different from what they originally asked for’. I was very impressed by how several people told the City Attorney in a very polite way to shut up, mind his own business and remember the reason he was asked to be present at the meeting. I wish I had those skills.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. He just kept on yapping over and over about the same thing. I had to leave early so didn’t see how things ended. I’ll be interested to talk with my fellow Coalition members at the next meeting on Thursday”.
A street guy comes in and goes over to a table where a few middle aged women are sitting. With much animation, he appears to be telling them a story. A barista comes running out from the back of the café. She says, “I’ve told you before, you cannot come in here and harass our customers”. The street dude apologizes and leaves. One of the Occupiers who lives up the street says, “I recognize him. He’s one of the regular spare change hustlers on Superior St. I think he’s addicted to meth”.
The reporting Occupier continues, “The documentary The Secret To Being Black In Duluth is going to be shown again on June 11th. The original plan is to show it at Adeline Wright’s hair solon but her place only holds about forty people. There will probably be at least a hundred folks who want to see it”.
We’re surprised when the hip hop music that has been playing quietly in the background becomes really loud. It almost blasts us out of our seats. We look around and see we are the only customers left. We check the time; it says 6:52pm. We guess this is how they let customers know they are closing. They could have just told us.
We pack up, leave tips and head out. When we get outside we see it’s been raining. An Occupier asks, “Has anyone ever gone to the Coney Island up on W 1st St?” Some have been there. She says, “If it’s raining again next Tuesday, maybe we could go up there for our meeting. We’d be able to get food”. Another Occupier offers to go and check out the scene beforehand.
So…… We hope to be having a fire at People’s Plaza next Tuesday. If not, we’ll be at Coney Island on W 1st St or back at Duluth Coffee. Hope for a nice sunny day.

G.A. Minutes 5-9-17

G.A. Minutes 5-9-17
For the first time in 5 or 6 days there is no east wind. It doesn’t just look like spring; it feels like it too. The sun’s been shining all day and temperatures were in the upper 50s. Dandelions are popping up, leaves are coming out on the bushes and birds are starting their pre-nesting behavior. We sure hope spring stays around this time. We’ve waited soooo long.
There are quite a few customers this evening when we roll into Coney Island. The non-hipster is very busy so we just head to the back booth. We’ll wait to place our order when things slow down for him a bit.
As we’re settling in, an Occupier comments, “Man, the Local Solutions to Poverty Accountability Session last Friday was depressing. Our state senator Erik Simonson and our state representatives from the local districts were supposed to report to us about all the wonderful things they’ve been doing to push forward on a progressive agenda. They all had the same thing to say. They told us that both houses of the legislature are under the control of the Republicans this session and these jerks (they didn’t say jerks; that’s my word) aren’t compromising on anything. It’s gonna be all our state congress people can do to just hold onto the small gains that have been made in the past”.
We’re about to start a conversation about the situation when the non-hipster comes over to take our order. He says, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Tonight my boss says I have to close at 6:30pm. Also, Coney Island will be closing for good on Sunday. The building has been sold and Coney Island will be no more”.
We say “WTF?!? How can that be? Coney Island has operated in this spot for 96 years; it’s an historical landmark! The non-hipster replies, “Yeah, I know but my boss sold the building already so there’s nothing anyone can do”.
A few of the Occupiers had seen something about the sale in the DNT yesterday; for others this is the first they’ve heard about it. We’re all pretty much speechless for a few minutes. Someone says, “The City, the Downtown Council and the other rich developer types have been talking for many years about gentrifying so called Lesser Duluth. Of course, they never bother to consult with any of the people who actually live here. None of the folks who live in the Central Hillside are rich so their needs don’t matter”.
Another Occupier adds, “I know but I’ve never been able to figure out what they intend to do with all the homeless people. There are several hundred homeless folks who attempt to survive in this neighborhood. All the feeding stations and other services needed by them are located right here too. I’m sure the 1% has no intention of providing everyone with homes.
“I don’t think they’ll be able to get away with killing them all or locking them up in a big concentration camp. There are too many regular people in Duluth who would not turn their backs if stuff like that happened. At least I’d like to think they wouldn’t:.
The first Occupier replies, “Well, with the “Trumpopath” in office who knows what they’ll try? I think we may be on uncharted territory now; uncharted in our lifetimes at least”.
Changing the subject a bit, an Occupier suggests, “I’ve been thinking that it might be time to start up our recreational fire at People’s Plaza again. This new development makes it pretty clear that it is time. Whadaya say we have our first fire of the year next Tuesday?” We all agree, it’s time to start our fire.
The city official tells us, “I received a phone call from the MN Federal Reserve recently. Apparently, the FR president will be coming to Duluth and he’d like to be interviewed on my radio show this week. I said that it would be fine with me. I have no idea why he wants to be on my show although I’m told I have a very large listening audience”.
We all come up with ridiculously pointed questions that we would like him to ask the FR president. The official man laughs and says, “You know I can’t ask him that. I have to be polite and impartial. By the way, I interviewed one of the leaders of the Feminist Justice League and the Superior Organizer yesterday. That interview will be aired in 2 weeks”.
When the non-hipster stops by to refill our coffee cups an Occupier says to him, “You know you will be eligible for unemployment compensation once this place closes. Apply right away in order to get your full benefits”.
The non-hipster responds, “Oh no, I won’t do that. I’ll just look for another job. The Occupier opines, “Yahbut, you can collect while you’re looking”. The staff guy looks like we have just suggested something very immoral and exclaims, “I would NEVER do that. I have NEVER applied for unemployment”.
As he leaves, we just shake our heads. Some of the young ones have been so misguided. They don’t even know that they have rights. They seem to think there is some kind of shame in not behaving like a 100% slave.
We still have things to talk about so we think we should make a move to next door at Duluth Coffee. They usually stay open until 7pm. As we’re getting ready to go someone spies an ad for our good friend Skip Sandman on the entire back page of the Zenith News.
An Occupier states, “Oh, I guess he’s going to run for the 8th CD again. I talked with him about a month ago. He said he was thinking about doing it because Nolan was making noises about running for governor this time. However, I received an email about a week ago that was introducing me to some guy who was the DFL choice for governor. So I wonder what’s up with all that. I guess I’d better call Skip”.
As we look closer at the Zenith ad we realize that it says, “We want to vote for you Skip”. It’s just encouraging Skip to run. The ad then goes on to talk about a mistake made in US Supreme Court records in 1886. This mistake led up to the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision in 2010.
The ad then talks about Neil Gorsuch, the Trumpopath’s choice for our newest Supreme Court Justice. It says we should be glad that Gorsuch is a Catholic because that means he will vote to repeal Citizen’s United. Huh? We think that Gorsuch’s lifetime judicial decisions suggest that repealing Citizen’s United will not be in the cards.
We know the guy who composed and paid for the ad. He’s an 80 something guy who seems to be well meaning. He also seems to live on another planet.
After rolling our eyes in unison, we pack up, put extra farewell tips in the jar and go next door. Duluth Coffee is still open and they have only 1 customer. We push some tables together, get coffees and start yakking again. One of our friends from Anonymous joins us.
An Occupier says, “So I see that He Who Shall Remain Unnamed fired Comey, the head of the FBI today. I’m betting it was because Comey was very revealing about having a current open investigation into whatever contacts were made with the Russians during HWSRU’s campaign”.
One of the baristas comes over to our table with a plate of gourmet blueberry muffins. She tells us, “These muffins haven’t been sold and we’re closing soon so they’ll just be thrown in the garbage. Would you like to eat them?” We sure would! We give 1 to the guy we don’t know who’s sitting by himself at a table and we chow down the rest.
Continuing our conversation, someone comments, “You know, I just don’t get it. Every 2 years or so our citizens go to the voting booths and elect some legislators. Then they find out that whoever is elected just rolls over for the 1% and doesn’t do things to help the people. They get really pissed, say ‘just wait til next time’ and then they go to the voting booth and do the same shit all over again. What is up with that? Don’t they have any memory?”
Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah and look at all the stuff that happened during World War II and the McCarthy era. It was not that long ago but most of the regular citizens don’t seem to have a clue that it’s starting to happen again”.
An Occupier adds, “Maybe the 1% has put something in the water? But wait, that can’t be true. We all drink water and we have memories”. Another Occupier replies, “ I know, they put something in the beer. We all drink little or no beer. Most other people drink lots of beer”. We all laugh. Humor is necessary when attempting to keep one’s sanity.
A barista reminds us that they are closing now. We start to clean up our tables like we always did at Coney Island. The barista assures us that we needn’t do that. Things are different over here.
We’re still in conversation as we go out the door. The sky is still very light and it’s not too cold if one is wearing a jacket. We hang on the sidewalk to talk a little longer.
The city man directs our attention to the big building across the street and says, “That building is up for sale or has already been sold too. All the businesses will have to vacate; even my favorite restaurant the China Inn. I hear they’re going to tear the building down and turn it into a hotel. An Occupier sighs and responds, “Oh, just what we need; another one of those”.
An Occupier asks the Occupier who always reports things, “So what’s going on the rest of this week? The reporting Occupier replies, “Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of the Human Rights Commission in City Hall at 5:30pm. The monthly Sobriety Feast is tomorrow too at the Central Hillside Community Center at 6pm. I usually go to the HRC meeting and cut out a little early so I can participate in the Feast.
“On Thursday I’m going to a panel discussion about that documentary The Secret To Being Black In Duluth that we saw a few weeks ago. It’s happening at the Public Library at 6pm. The weekly meeting of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition will also be happening on Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. Unfortunately, I can’t be 2 places at once.
We notice that we’re kind of blocking the sidewalk for passersby so we all say goodbye with plans to meet at People’s Plaza for our first recreational fire of the year, next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-2-17

G.A. Minutes 5-2-17
After almost a week of cold, windy and rainy weather the sky has begun to clear today. Temperatures have been in the 50s; the weather people say it’s going to be like this or better for at least the next week. We sure hope so. Mother Earth and Father Sky have teased us long enough; we beg for mercy.
An Occupier couple is the first to arrive at Coney Island this evening. As they pull into their favorite parking spot the Man Who Is Always Laughing walks over. They haven’t seen him since the sad encounter last fall. He looks a lot rougher than they’re used to seeing him but it appears that at least he’s laughing again. The Laughing Man asks for a ride up the hill. No problem, the female decides to go into the café and hold down the back booth while the male gives Laughing Man a ride.
The place is completely empty; the non-hipster is working again. He’s says business has been unusually slow all day. As soon as the Occupier settles in the back booth, the non-hipster staff guy bolts out the front door and around the corner. It’s probably been a long time since he’s been able to take a smoke break.
Occupiers begin rolling in. Someone comments, “I hear there were about 700 people at the Climate March on Saturday. I thought there would be more but it was still a good turnout and a good day. Some of the signs were very clever”.
An Occupier replies, “We had to cut out early in order to get to the premier of the movie at the Zuccone. Another Occupier asks, “What movie was that?” The first Occupier answers, “It’s called The Secret To Being Black In Duluth. It was created by Classy Dudley, a young local African American woman, UMD graduate and activist. It’s a documentary about what it’s like to be a black person living in Duluth. It featured candid interviews with many black folks who live here. I’d say that the premier showing was quite a success; the Zuccone was packed to the gills with a very diverse crowd. When it was over the audience gave it a standing ovation”.
The city official was also at the movie premier. He asks, “So what did you think of the film?” An Occupier responds, “There were a few small technical glitches that could easily be fixed but it was actually very good. It contained a lot of revealing information and will make a very good educational tool, especially for white folks”.
The city man adds, “There’s going to be a talk back about the film in the evening on Thursday May 11th at the public library. I hope you’ll attend and express your opinion”.
Another Occupier changes the subject saying, “Man, weather-wise, yesterday was sure a miserable day wasn’t it?” An Occupier agrees, “It sure was. I thought I was gonna freeze my ass off”. Someone else chimes in, “Yeah, the Democratic Socialists picnic was canceled; I hear they went to a bar or something. I just slept in and then went down to the march for Missing, Murdered and Trafficked Indigenous Women”.
An Occupier opines, “That turned out pretty well don’t you think? It was cold and windy but the rain stopped just as the event began and didn’t start up again until it was over. The turnout was small because of the weather but there sure were a lot of media in attendance. Having some of the Anons show up added a nice touch. We were on the front page of the DNT and someone made a Facebook video of the rally that had over three thousand views as of yesterday evening”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I was holding the big sign with the picture of the Woman Who Told Good Stories and the wind was just about knocking me over. I was wanting to take a break and go inside to Amazing Grace to get warm when one of the speakers said, ‘Yeah, it is cold but trafficked women are forced to stand out in weather like this all night long, night after night.’ After he said that I didn’t feel so cold”.
Somebody adds, “When we put the flowers in the harbor I could feel there were spirits around us. I hope we were able to comfort them”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior remarks, “I’ve been reading that many state legislatures are trying to pass more laws to make protesting even more difficult than it already is. It most definitely is a person’s constitutional right to protest. I hope we still have some judges who see it that way. I suppose the corrupt law makers are trying to stop us because they’re afraid of us”.
The city official and one of the Occupiers attended a Duluth School Board meeting last week. The city man reports, “The discussion was about the disparities in high school graduation rates between white students and students of color. Once it was pretty much over, the chairperson of the board said to the people of color who were in attendance, ‘Whenever you people come here, all you do is complain’. I was about to respond when the former co-chair of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial stepped up. He really let the school board man have it. He was vicious. An Occupier states, “Yeah, the former CJMM co-chair can be useful from time to time”.
An Occupier tells a story about his mother. She is in the hospital recovering from a serious injury and expects to be released soon. The Occupier explains, “My mom lives in a rural area about 60 miles from here. She’s going to be expected to come to Duluth every few weeks to be examined by her doctors. I checked into what kind of transportation is available to her from the government or medical system. I found out there is none. There used to be some but not anymore. My mom is just on Medicare and a small pension. She can’t drive herself or afford to pay for gas; she can’t afford to take a long distance bus either. So how do they expect her to be at her appointments?”
Another Occupier mentions, “The spouses and families from rural areas need to be able to stay somewhere in Duluth when they need to be with their loved ones in the hospital. The hospitals used to offer free lodging to these family members but I’m told they don’t do that anymore. I wonder what the families without sufficient funds are supposed to do.”
An Occupier who doesn’t usually speak much says, “I see the MN legislature is still fighting about the budget. MN has a 1.5 billion dollar surplus this year and Dayton wants to use it to pay for all the much needed infrastructure repair projects that have been requested throughout the state. The Republicans want to spend only 600 million of the surplus on rural projects but nothing for the cities. I don’t know what they plan to do with the rest of the money. Another Occupier sighs, “Probably give tax breaks to rich people”.
The official man tells us, “If they don’t pass a budget that helps everyone, our City won’t be able to make the changes to the city steam plant so they can switch from steam to hot water heating. The steam system is really falling apart besides; hot water is more environmentally friendly”. Several of the Occupiers live in residences heated by the steam plant.
Somebody comments, “Did anyone see where St Olaf College students boycotted classes yesterday because of unsolved racial incidents which have been going on since last November? St Olaf is an institution of primarily white students. Many of them marched in solidarity with the students of color. I think they were able to shut the place down”.
An Occupier exclaims, “That is so cool! My daughter graduated from St Olaf; she’s a so called person of color. She’s smart and multi-talented but we were poor so didn’t know how we were going to get her through college. St Olaf gave her a full scholarship. I’ll have to call her tonight. I bet she’s very proud of all those “Oles”.
The Occupier who always reports stuff reports, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is not going to have an Anishinaabe Taco Sale this month. The frybread maker has to perform with the Duluth/Superior Symphony and several of the other food makers will be out of town.
This upcoming Friday, a Local Solutions To Poverty Candidate Accountability Session will be held at AICHO at 5:30pm. I think they’re going to feed people too.”
Throughout the evening the café’ has been quiet. Very few customers have come in; none of the street people have come to use the bathroom. We’re still yakking away when the non-hipster reminds us that he needs to close. Whoops, our bad. It’s well past closing time.
It looks like the upcoming week may be less eventful than it’s been in a while. Maybe we’ll get a chance to get outside and enjoy some spring weather. We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-25-17

G.A. Minutes 4-25-17
We’re finally back at Coney Island again this evening. Two weeks ago we arrived to find the place closed; last week we needed to attend a special meeting of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition. We’re looking forward to having a relatively normal gathering tonight. Of course, our definition of normal is rather broad.
The weather people are warning of a big rain storm expected to descend on Duluth sometime between now and the middle of the night. Spring is so close to busting out full force; maybe a good storm will be just the thing to bring it on. Unless it turns into a big flood. Who knows? No matter how hard the so called “current administration” tries to hide the facts, facts are still facts. There are no “alternative facts”.
The tall non-hipster is working the counter tonight. This is a surprise as we thought he had quit or been fired or something. He appears to be his usual scatter-brained self. We think he’s not really cut out for this type of job but…..whatever. We’ll try to help him as best we can.
As we settle into the back booth we realize that one of us is having a birthday right now. One of the Occupiers runs next door to the coffee shop and purchases an assortment of little dark chocolate pieces. Each piece contains cacao from a different cacao producing country. The birthday person makes us promise not to tell anyone else who he/she is. The birthday person probably wants to ensure that we don’t all start singing.
More Occupiers arrive; they try to order food but notice the non-hipster is nowhere to be found. Fortunately all the other customers are neighborhood regulars so everything should be o.k. until he returns.
The Occupier who is in charge of reporting things, reports, “There are a shit ton of things happening in the next week or so. The usual Citizen’s Review Board meeting tomorrow and the H.P.B. of R meeting on Thursday. Saturday will be the big national Climate March. Our march in Duluth will start from the Rose Garden and march to Lake Place Plaza. It’s being sponsored by the Sierra Club so it’ll probably be pretty tame with a lot of people marching. I want to bring all of our big animal puppets that we made a few years ago; they really deserve an outing.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to though. We finally were able to send our big truck into the shop for a new brake line today. If we can get it back before Saturday then we can all carry the bear, eagle, wolf, fox and turtle. Also, I’m gonna be so glad to get the truck up and running again. It will make holding our recreational fires at People’s Plaza so much easier.
“On Saturday evening the Echos of Peace Choir will be having a big concert, 7:30pm up at Mitchell Auditorium. Several of our Occupiers aren’t here tonight because they’re at the choir rehearsal.
On Sunday, Duluth for Clean Water is holding some type of candidate forum, 12:30pm at the Zuccone. I imagine they’ll be asking the candidates questions about clean water”.
“Monday is May Day and the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists are having a big picnic at Lincoln Park from 4pm-8pm. We promised them that we’d bring our fire pit and firewood. At 5pm Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be starting the Annual Mayday Rally For Missing, Murdered And Trafficked Indigenous Women in front of the Dewitt Seitz building in Canal Park. Also, the Anons will be holding an IWW May Day Rally in People’s Plaza beginning at 2pm.
“I know I’m going to be running back and forth all day. I’m guessing we should each go wherever we want to on May Day and we can compare notes next Tuesday when we meet again”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks if we’ve seen the news story about the Superior City Councilor who was recently arrested on serious domestic abuse charges. We have seen the story. The city official comments, “I’m told the Councilor is very good friends with the new Mayor of Superior. The new mayor has asked the Councilor to resign. I imagine he will. The Councilor is only twenty six years old so he has plenty of time to get help, get himself together, make amends to those he has harmed and reclaim his life. Abuse of women and children should never be taken lightly”. We all nod in agreement.
As we are talking, a street woman walks in and gets the key to the bathroom. We wave and smile at her but she is too under the influence of some substance or other to know who we are. Too bad, we know her to be a person who seems to lead two lives. We see her all dressed up and coherent at area Native events. Other times we see her in dirty clothes out in the street scrapping with the other street women who like to fight.
Throughout the evening the non-hipster has been vanishing and appearing again. We wish he would tell us when he’s going to leave so we know it’s our turn to keep an eye on things. Suddenly he runs out the back entrance like his pants are on fire.
The place is empty now until a young street man comes in. He walks up to the counter, looks all around and starts leaning over toward the cash register. An Occupier calls out, “The staff guy will be back in a minute”. The young dude backs away from the cash register, looks around, takes a big cookie and puts it in his pocket.
One Occupier says to us, “I think I’d better go look for the non-hipster”. He’s gone for a little while and then comes back with the staff guy. With the staff guy back behind the counter, the street dude leaves.
As the Occupier sits back down he tells us, “He was in the bathroom”. We say, “Oh no!” The non-hipster probably has that intestinal bug that some folks were gifted with when the flu bug was in town. We all know how awful it is to have to go to work when one is sick.
We start a conversation about what a bummer it is to have to fight to keep the small gains the people have already fought for over the last fifty or sixty years. An Occupier remarks, “Maybe the “current administration” will actually be good for regular people. It’s causing a lot more folks to get up, get out and resist the b.s.”
Another Occupier adds, “One good thing is that we’ve seen Nazis before. Before World War II most people had no concept of what Nazis would do. Now we know. We can organize and stop them in their tracks”.
The official man says, “Speaking of Nazis, did you know that the Owls Club up on E 2nd St used to be the headquarters for the local KKK?” Some of us knew that; some did not. An Occupier replies, “I think it’s still some kind of members only club. I remember when we had our old homeless camp we used to hear them having parties at night. I don’t know anybody who goes there. Maybe we could ask local musicians if they’ve ever been hired to play at the club. If white supremist crap still goes on there it should be exposed”.
Somehow the conversation morphs into a discussion about the Duluth school system and its budget. We know that the school district is seriously in the red and that Duluth students are not getting the education they deserve.
We know that dividing the high schools into two schools, one school in the low income area of the city (Denfield) and the other in the higher income area (East) was a very bad idea.
An Occupier opines, “Having open enrollment is really stupid too. If any student can go to any school he/she chooses as long as they have the means to get there, then only the students who are too poor to go anywhere else end up going to Denfield”.
The city man replies, “Because of open enrollment, East H.S. has almost three times as many students as Denfield. East also receives the lion’s share of the funding. Denfield gets the school to prison pipeline”.
As usual we have stayed past the official closing time. The non-hipster is still in the midst of his cleaning routine but we think we’d better go anyway. He needs to be able to stop pretending he’s not ill.
As we step outside we notice the air is thick with moisture. It won’t be long now….
We plan to be really busy over the next week and expect to meet back here at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-11-17

G.A. Minutes 4-11-17
Without a doubt, the beginning of spring has arrived. Robins are yakking it up like crazy; all the snow has melted and daytime temperatures stay in the 40s and 50s. Our sanity has also returned (more or less).
So we’re back at Coney Island again after a two week absence. When the first Occupiers to arrive go to the front door, they find a sign on it that says, “Closed for kitchen remodeling. See you on Thursday”.
An Occupier peers through the window and sees all the kitchen equipment sitting in the isle. She remarks, “Hmmm… I’m not sure what to do. Another Occupier suggests, “Well, we could just go next door to Duluth Coffee. They stay open until 7pm; I’ve been there before and the staff didn’t appear to be too snobby. We won’t be able to get any food but they have gourmet coffee. It’s better than if we just sit on the cold cement ledge outside the Casino parking lot”. Another Occupier arrives and agrees with the plan. We put a sign on the Coney Island door informing the others as to what’s up.
The actual sitting space in Duluth Coffee is quite small. There are six little tables with benches and/or chairs; most of which have customers in them. We find one table that will seat four if we sit real close together. The décor is rather trendy; our street friends would not be comfortable here. But……whatever. We order cups of really good coffee like the kind we serve at our recreational fires. They have brownies too so we get some. They are “to die for”. We cut them in little pieces and each take just one. Even though they have no extra magic ingredients we’ll need to be careful or we’ll end up in Detox.
It’s probably just coincidence but as soon as we settle in and start conversing all the other customers get up and leave. No one gave us a dirty look so we take it as just a stroke of good luck. We quickly push most of the tables and chairs together. There will be enough room now when others arrive.
As if on cue, some of the Anonymous crew come in. They’re psyched up for the May Day rally at People’s Plaza. It sounds like they are some of the main organizers. The event will happen on Monday, May 1st from 2p-8p. We assure them that most of us will be attending.
An Occupier comments, “I’ve heard that there’s going to be a Climate March here in Duluth to coincide with the big one in D.C. and all the others across the country on April 29th. I’ve heard that it’s supposed to start out at the Rose Garden at 1pm on Saturday, April 29th. That’s all I know though”.
An Anon replies, “I heard that too. I know that the Socialist Action folks canceled the march they were planning to take place in Superior in order to accommodate the Duluth march”. The Occupiers answers, “Oh, I’m gonna be seeing some of the S.A. people near the end of the week. I’ll try and find out more”.
Another Occupier reports, “We had a really good time at the workshop out at Fond du Lac Tribal College last Tuesday. It was led by three 30 something people who were at Standing Rock for the duration. The two settler allies were attorneys from the large S.R. legal team and the Native guy was an experienced Water Protector and organizer.
“They informed us that now that all but one of the camps is closed down, the North Dakota “Injustice Department” is trying to drum up evidence in order to try hundreds of Water Protectors in court. They told us that of the wide variety of nationalities of people who were at S.R., all those who were arrested, traumatized and humiliated and are now charged with ridiculously absurd felonies are Native folks.
“The workshop leaders said that now grand juries are being formed in order to gather information that can be used to prosecute the Water Protector Heroes. The F.B.I. and assorted minions are now going around questioning anyone they can find who was at S.R. Using lies and trickery they are trying to gain information that they can pass on to the Injustice Department prosecutors for use in railroading the Water Protectors into prison.
“The workshop leaders reminded us that our relatively pristine waters in the Northwoods will be next on the death list. Enbridge, Polymet and other evildoers are already here and “revving their engines”.
“One of the leaders said, ‘If you don’t remember anything from this workshop, please remember this: When the FBI comes knocking at your door, tell them 1.) I will not answer any of your questions (then don’t answer any of their questions). 2.) I want to speak with my attorney. 3.) No, I do not consent to a search’.
“An FDL organizer and spiritual advisor who spent a lot of time at S.R. told the leaders that there were many people at Sacred Stone Camp who were facing serious charges and didn’t know what to do. The leaders gave him the contact information so that these worried people could get the help they needed”.
Another Occupier remarks, “I sure wish I could have been there. I’ve been thinking about the Keystone XL too and how it just doesn’t make any sense. They’re taking the worst Tar Sands oil and pumping it across our country. The pipeline is sure to burst at some point and poison the land and water beyond repair. The Tar Sands oil will be pumped out of Texas into the Gulf of Mexico and off to China and probably North Korea from there.
“The Keystone XL oil will not benefit the American people at all. There will be a maximum of 50 permanent jobs from it. Oil and gas are a dying resource but still they keep doing all this. Why?”
An Occupier says to him, “It all has to do with the stock market. It’s basically a high tech shell game. They move money and stocks here and there and all around. Then everything crashes and the 1% make off with everyone else’s homes, jobs and life savings. Then they start the thing all over again”.
Changing the subject, the city official reports, “The Holiday Center is giving away king sized mattresses. They’re in very good condition. People should call their security department in order to make arrangements to go and get one”.
The Occupier who guards the Occupy treasury announces, “Seeing as spring has finally arrived, we may be able to start having our recreational fires at People’s Plaza soon. The evenings are still too cold but it won’t be long until they’re not. However, our budget is really small and I’m thinking we may be able to afford only one fire a week. Our usual evenings are Tuesdays and Saturdays so which one do you all want to have a fire on?”
After minimal discussion we decide that Tuesday would be best. There’s more chance that we would have to cancel to attend an event on Saturday. We can hardly wait to get started.
Someone starts a conversation about #45s recent bombing in Syria. We all agree that the bombing had nothing to do with the fact that chemical weapons killed many Syrian children. We speculate as to what was the real reason #45 had the Syrian air field bombed.
Someone else comments, “I was listening to the leader of Sweden talk about the recent terror attack Stockholm. He said, ‘We will not give in to the terrorists. We stand firm in our resolve to fight and defeat them’. Don’t they realize that those words are the same ones used by the people who live in the Middle East when they are attacked by the USA and its allies? What a bunch or lame brains!”
An Occupier says to the official man and the Anons, “The Homeless Coalition is bearing down on the nuts and bolts of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights now. We’ve presented a cost estimate for various port-a-potty ideas and created maps of all the currently available public restrooms in the Central Hillside and West End area and also of suggested spots for placing port-a-pottys”.
She nods toward the city man and continues, “I told them about your idea of using a bus as a portable shower facility. They liked it. We also talked about opening the men’s and women’s shower rooms at the no longer in use swimming pool at Washington Center”.
We notice the young staff woman is rolling up the rugs and sweeping the floor. The staff at Coney Island has trained us well. We clean up our table and bus our dishes. The staff people bid us a friendly good-bye.
We expect we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-28-17

G.A. Minutes 3-28-17
The regular hipster is back working the counter at Coney Island tonight. When we arrived for our meeting last Tuesday we found the day shift hipster working. He looked half dead and told us he was going to close soon as he’d been working since 6am.
He was still kind enough to make food for us. We gobbled it down while we contacted all the other Occupiers to let them know what was up. It was general consensus to just cancel and return this evening.
So here we are…. It looks like spring is truly on its way now. Flocks of geese are heading up north, everyone’s pets are shedding large amounts of fur and snow is melting fast. Today’s temperature hit 60 degrees; it’s still in the mid-40s when we roll up. No one has heard a robin’s call yet; once that happens we will be good to go.
As we are sliding into the back booth, an Occupier tells us, “There’s a bit of good news concerning the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance Coalition. We met with members of the Human Rights Commission last Thursday and they voted to accept and support our proposed Bill.
“One of the Commissioners is also on the commission that distributes the Community Block Development Grant money. He told us the CBDG Commission was looking for a way to contribute money to pay for some 24/7 public bathrooms for use by homeless persons and others. The City seems to get a little squeamish when it comes to spending money on the homeless”.
Another Occupier replies, “That is ridiculous! The City gives enormous amounts of money to all sorts of wealthy developers and companies but they can’t kick a few bucks for homeless folks?”
The first Occupier adds, “About a month ago during a HPB of R meeting I asked if anyone would be willing to do the research and give a report about how much money the City had given away to various wealthy entities in the past year or two. So far, no one has stepped up to do the research”.
The other Occupier responds, “I just may take on that task. I know someone who has all that information right at his fingertips. The first Occupier smiles and answers, “I’ll remind you”.
Someone reports, “Before I forget, Friday, March 31st will be the annual Trans Day of Visibility at Lake Ave and Superior St, 4-6pm”.
More Occupiers arrive; when they settle in an Occupier says to a newly arriving one, “I’m so glad you’re here. I need to pick your brain about tenants unions like the one you have at your building. My Co-op has finished with our tax credits and we’re going to have to sign new leases. I think we won’t have a BOD any longer so I’m thinking we may want to have a tenant union”.
The questioned Occupier responds, “They’re called Resident Councils now. We had a lot of help from some of our City Councilors. We needed that because our property management company is very hostile. Councilor Joel Sipress is probably who you might want to talk with first; he has a lot of information”.
The Co-op Occupier states, “Our property management company is way cool and tenant friendly. We just need to know the rules and regulations and how to go about forming one in case that’s what we want to do. I’ll shoot an email to Joel”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks, “So what’s gonna be going on in the next 2 weeks or so?” An Occupier hands him a copy of the Northland Worker Calendar; another tells him, “U.U. Church will be holding a Progressive Coalition event this upcoming Sunday at 2pm. All progressive groups are invited to attend and show what they’re all about”.
The Occupier who tries to keep track of all this stuff reports, “I hope I can remember everything. Next Tuesday, April 4th 6-8pm at the Fond du Lac Tribal College, Honor the Earth is sponsoring a Frontlines Are Everywhere workshop. It will concern the legal aspects of being a Water Protector. I’m hoping we could all go to it. We could carpool if we wanted to”. We all agree that it is important that we attend this FDL/HTE event.
The Occupier continues, “Duluth for Clean Water is having some type of an event at Community Action Duluth on Thursday, March 30th at 5:30pm. I think food and childcare will be provided. Up at Cass Lake on Sunday, April 9th 1pm, Marty Cobanais is holding a Line 3 Pipeline Walk.
“I’m pretty sure that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having another Anishinaabe Taco Sale on Friday, April 7th. Of course, they’ll need our help. There’s talk about doing a walleye (from Red Lake) taco sale but I don’t know if they’ll do that this month or next. Whatever it is, it’s sure to be good.
“By the way, did you guys know that our good friend and organizer recently left her job on the FDL rez and started working for HTE?” We say, “Way cool”. “Also, I think Anonymous is out on the protest corner tonight. We could join them after we’re done here if you all want to”.
Somehow, we get into a conversation about healthcare and about how dental care is not included in general healthcare insurance policies. Everyone has at least one horror story to tell about having to pay way too much for health insurance and then needing dental care and being unable to receive it. One Occupier says, “I went through at least four courses of antibiotics before I was able to save enough money to get my tooth fixed”.
An Occupier, when telling his story, ends by saying, “But I must admit there are holes in my wisdom”. Another Occupier replies, “Well, you’ll certainly need a dentist for that”. When he sees our quizzical looks he adds, “You know, wisdom teeth…” We all groan. An Occupier remarks, “We’re not paid enough to have to put up with this”.
It’s almost 7pm when some of the Anonymous kids roll in. Our booth is crammed full so they fill the next booth and some chairs in the walkway. Even though it’s almost time to go, the hipster staff guy scurries around getting coffee and snacks for the new arrivals.
They have their sound equipment and a bunch of new signs with them. They show us their signs and we discuss sign making techniques. They have a lot of good ideas; their lettering is great. We just advise them to use very few words per sign; that way people driving by will have time to read them.
Just as we are leaving, the city official walks in. He’s coming from doing an interview for his radio program. As he goes walking up the street with some of the Occupiers he calls out, “Don’t forget, $5 bag sale tomorrow at Michael’s Used A Bit!” Most of the Occupiers do all their shopping at Michael’s. One of the Occupier couples loads up some of the Anonymous folks and all the equipment into their car and gives them a ride up the hill.
So, next Tuesday we’ll be attending the FDL Tribal College workshop and won’t be back at Coney Island until Tuesday, April 11th.

G.A. Minutes 3-14-17

G.A. Minutes 3-14-17
Another Tuesday evening, another meeting at Coney Island…. After a week of cold weather and snow, the weather people tell us things are going to slowly warm up. Tonight appears to be in transition mode with cloudy skies, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s.
Weather wise, everything appears to be kinda normal for this time of year. Some say that normal is boring but after all the crazy ups and downs of the last month or so, we think normal will work just fine.
Everything appears to be normal at Coney Island too. When the first few Occupiers arrive they find the same hipster working the counter, the back booth empty and a few customers in the other booths.
An Occupier comments, “I doubt we’ll have many folks showing up tonight. That flu bug that’s going around is pretty potent; it’s putting even the young ones flat on their backs for days”.
When more Occupiers begin arriving one of them exclaims, “Did you see that new video of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO that was made public today?” Most have seen it and they are stunned. To an Occupier who has not yet seen the video she explains, “It’s from the convenience store the night before Mike Brown was murdered by the Ferguson cop. It shows Mike talking with the store clerks; it’s obvious that they are well acquainted. They probably all grew up together in the neighborhood.
“Anyway, Mike shows them what appears to be a big, really nice bud of marijuana. All 4 guys behind the counter pass it around; they smell it, hold it up to the light, and then put it down on the counter. One of the clerks hands Mike what appears to be several cartons of cigarillos. Mike takes the cartons and begins to leave; he then turns around and gives the cartons back to the clerk. The clerk stashes them under the counter.
So after Mike is murdered the next day, the Ferguson cops put out the store video from earlier that day that shows Mike walking up to the counter, taking cigarillos and walking off without paying for them. The cops said it was proof that Mike had robbed the store. The thing is, the cops had the video from the night before, they just didn’t put it out”.
The Occupier who hasn’t seen the video is stunned too. The explaining Occupier continues, “I think the ‘night before’ video was obtained by the lawyer for Mike Brown’s family. So what do you think the cops did after the ‘night before’ video was made public?” No one knows. The explaining Occupier tells them, “They arrested the 4 guys who were working the counter that night”. Everyone groans.
After a moment of silence, an Occupier remarks, “I suppose you all know that our federal representative, Rick Nolan, is in town this evening. He’s answering questions and what have you at 4601 McCulloch St from 6-7pm”.
Another Occupier responds, “I think most environmentalists have pretty much given up on him. It’s apparent that he’s not going to listen to reason when it comes to mining and pipelines. He’s good on a lot of things but he just refuses to stop whoring for mining votes up on The Range. I believe he’s convinced that’s the only way he will continue to get re-elected. He’s wrong though. His stance just shows that he lacks integrity. Remember how Skip Sandman walked off with 16,000 of what were probably Nolan votes back in 2014? Skip had almost no budget. If any progressive candidate who offered integrity were to run against him, I believe all the progressives who don’t bother to vote in the off year elections would come running back to vote for the new candidate and Nolan would be toast”.
An Occupier brings a copy of the Northern Worker weekly activist calendar and passes it around. She says, “You know you guys can get a copy of this calendar sent to your email each week. Just contact Adam Ritscher and ask to be put on the email list”.
Among the many events listed in the calendar is the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s public comment period to be held at the DECC on Thursday March 16th from 5-7:30pm. The agencies are taking public comments about what effects sulfide mining will have on the BWCA.
An Occupier states, “I’m definitely going to the comment period. Maybe I should wear my old Forest Service jacket from when I used to work for them. Another Occupier answers, “Oh, please do. That would create a really nice effect”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I’m invited to attend an early morning meeting with some other Water Protectors tomorrow. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about but I’m guessing it has to do Enbridge. As you know, I’m not much of a morning person but this is too important to miss”.
The city official remarks, “I’ve also been invited to that meeting but will have to be somewhere else. Please inform them of my prior commitment”.
Another Occupier arrives. He’s just returning from A Day On The Hill. He went down to St Paul on a bus with many other Duluth activists. Their mission was to meet with our state legislatures and to explain our concerns. The arriving Occupier tells us, “In a way, it was kind of a waste of time. Our legislators Liz Olson and Eric Simonson are already on board with all our progressive values. I guess they at least received moral support for all their hard work anyway”.
The hipster staff dude goes out for a smoke while we keep an eye on the place, as usual. When he returns, a street guy is with him. They’re talking so we assume they’re friends. The street guy sits down in a front booth and the hipster calls someone on his phone.
Pretty soon a Duluth police officer arrives. It’s one of the younger cops but we know he’s not a new recruit because we recognize him. He’s wearing a short sleeved uniform but also has on gloves. He’s got his chest all puffed out and his arms hanging far apart from his body like a lot of men do when they’re trying to look more muscular than they actually are. He also looks kinda nervous.
So, we’re curious as hell but we stay back in our booth. It’s best to not mess with a cop who looks nervous. The cop stands away from the guy in the booth but begins asking him questions. The cop gets on his phone and then he goes behind the counter and grabs a bunch of paper towels. He appears to be handing the paper towels to the guy in the booth. Then a bunch of other men who aren’t wearing any kind of uniforms come through the door. They just stand around talking with the cop.
Eventually, an ambulance arrives. The paramedics stand around talking for a while. We hear the street guy say that whatever it is that has happened involved some guy named Mike. We find this amusing as at least one third of the males who live in Duluth are named Mike.
The paramedics put the guy on a stretcher and all the various involved people go outside and stand around talking some more.
The staff guy tells us that the street guy had been stabbed in the shoulder and was bleeding profusely. The staff guy didn’t personally know the stabbed guy but he saw that the guy needed help.
Once the doorway has cleared of talking people, some of the Occupiers go out for a smoke break. We see a fire truck parked weirdly at the corner. As the ambulance pulls away, an Occupier nods toward the street and says, “Must be a slow news day”. We see a camera person from one of the local TV channels packing up. We agree as someone getting stabbed in the shoulder around here is really no news at all.
When we return to the café we find the staff hipster dude is in quite a bit of distress. The paper towel mess complete with what he describes as a bloody disaster has been left behind. That means he will be expected to clean it.
A couple of the Occupiers are medical professionals. They take a look at the booth and the floor. They see there is actually very little blood but realize most people who don’t work in the medical profession get really freaked out by any amount of blood. The Occupiers advise the staff guy as to how he can safely clean it up with equipment he already has on hand. The building manager arrives to help with the cleanup; he carries a big mop. The Occupiers assure them that everything will be o.k.
Once the dust has settled, the Occupiers resume their conversation. One Occupier says to another, “Hey, you went up to Bemidjii the other day for the comment period for Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper. How did it go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Oh, we really rocked it. Enbridge was trying to keep the event secret but we brought a busload of people from Duluth, 2 busloads came from the Twin Cities and another busload from somewhere else. There were also a lot of Native people from various reservations.
“There was a lot of security and they sort of searched people before they entered the big public comment room. Many people made public comments in person; Native women did a jingle dress dance out in the lobby and a large crowd chanted out there too. Basically, we let Enbridge know we are not asleep”.
An Occupier reports, “It appears there is good news in the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance department too. A couple of days ago the main organizer for the HPB of R Coalition received a call from the mayor. She told him that she has always supported the HPB of R but was waiting for all the various governmental departments to weigh in and hadn’t wanted to appear to be pushing her influence on them.
“However, the departments appear to be trying to ignore the issue so she thought it was time for her to get involved. Also, the Human Rights Commissioner has been given a part time assistant so that makes him more inclined to support the HPB of R. too.
“She also told the main organizer about a resolution that was going before the City Council yesterday in support of the process of City agencies and City Councilors working with the coalition to get the ordinance worked out. We all showed up yesterday and spoke in favor of the resolution; the councilors voted unanimously in favor of it.
“We know that a resolution has little power behind it and that Mayor Larson is giving a State of the City speech on Monday, March 20th, 5:30pm at Lincoln Middle School, 3215 W 3rd St and she probably will want to brag about her support of homeless people.
“She could just be using smoke and mirrors but at least her public support will make all the governmental departments have to meet with us so that helps.
“It really sucks that people in power can make things happen or not happen just according to how they feel. It’s not right”.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to another, “I’m really sorry I missed your movie event at U.U. That flu bug really got me and I ended up in the ER that evening”.
The Occupier responds, “Bummer. It was a Michael Moore movie entitled ‘Who Do We Invade Next?’ I strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, try to do so”.
The hipster guy has cleaned up the mess but is barely started with his final regular cleanup so that he can go home. We try to put extra tip money beyond what we normally leave. Maybe that will help him to feel better. He has a hard and sometimes stressful job.
We expect to return next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17
The weather is actually normal tonight as we cruise into Coney Island.  Normal for March, that is.  The month of March can have all sorts of different weather but it’s rarely life threatening and the promise of spring makes it almost bearable. 
The wind has been howling like crazy all day with gusts up to 50mph.  We hear the early morning commute was pretty exciting.  All the snow on the roads and sidewalks had been melted until the very early morning hour when a light but very moist snowfall came down.
All the cars were going sideways down Lake Ave; they were smacking into parked cars.  Eventually there was a 5 or 6 car pileup in the 3rd St and Lake Ave intersection and somebody ran into a power pole which caused a power outage in part of the Central Hillside.
Most of the Occupiers have managed to find ways of survival that don’t require an early morning commute. Most of us just woke up to a power outage.  We had flashbacks to last summer’s 36+ hour power outage in 100 degree heat.  No worries this time though.  The power was back on in  half an hour; the sun came out and melted all the snow and the wind dried up all the wetness.
We scare easily these days.  We know climate change is happening right now.  We know that under the “current administration” things will be getting worse.  We know we will probably experience the kinds of weather and lack of energy services that folks in Third World countries experience on a regular basis.  We worry about our future generations as we don’t know how long it will take until “the meek inherit the earth”.
The same hipster guy is working alone again.  There is already a group of people in the back booth; it sounds like they’re about to have a meeting.  We are a small group again tonight so can easily take the middle, slightly smaller booth.
We can hear the folks in the back booth talking about whether they want to eat or not.  They decide that they do; they leave to go somewhere else.  We don’t come here for the food.  We come here because it’s centrally located in the neighborhood, it’s comfortable and if we see any of our street friends, we can invite them to join us and know they will be accepted by the staff and the other customers.  Once it is empty, we go to the back booth.
We think many of our Occupiers have gone on the 350 bus up to Bemidjii to the hearing about the Alberta Clipper pipeline.  We hope so and we hope the bus was full too.
An Occupier asks, “Has anyone heard what is going on at Standing Rock these days?”  No one has heard anything. The Occupier continues, “I guess I’m gonna have to find the time to do some research.  We know there are still Water Protectors at Sacred Stone Camp.  Ever since the porkies tore down Occeti Sakowin the general media has been silent.  I hope I can have some information by our next meeting.
“Enbridge is coming for our northern MN water next and I know we need to shift focus but everything is connected and we can’t forget our Standing Rock relatives.  In fact, they have stated they will be here to help us when the time comes”.
An Occupier expresses concern related to the mother of his children who has recently been released from a drug treatment facility.  He tells us, “They just sort of plunked her down into the same environment she was in before she went to treatment.  She’s really not capable of being left on her own with no guidance.  I’m already overburdened with being a single parent to all the kids.  I can’t take care of her too”.
We talk about the many failings of drug treatment facilities.  Most are understaffed and overburdened by the amount of people in need of treatment.  Most are completely dependent on government and insurance company funding.  The government and insurance companies are interested in contributing the least amount of funding that they can.  We come to our usual conclusion; our for-profit healthcare system is grossly inadequate.
The city official tells us about his upcoming radio show which airs on Thursday.  He has interviewed a woman journalist who is originally from the south.  She has written a book about some deeply hidden facts that she came across when researching her family history.  Her family was very unhappy with her bringing these facts to light, even within the family.
An Occupier adds, “People in this country need to know the truth about our history.  If we are unwilling to know the truth, we will never be able to heal.  Another truth is that every human being on this earth is related to every other human being.  It’s been calculated from measurements of the human genome that as recently as 4,000 generations ago all humans originated from the same genes.  That means every person in the world is related to every other person in the world.  We have at least one common ancestor, in as little as a hundred thousand years ago.  That’s practically nothing in archeological deep time.”    We all nod in agreement.
Another Occupier comments, “The Anishinaabe Taco Sale went well.  They made a good profit to add to their “save our mother earth” coffers.  They might try something different next month.  I don’t know the particulars but it has to do with walleye fillets”.
The Occupier who generally keeps a record of progressive events passes around a copy of the Northern Worker calendar again.  She says, “As usual, too much going on to give a verbal report so here you go.  Tomorrow is International Women’s Day so there’s been and will be a lot going on around that.  I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to attend anything as I’m already committed to being at the Human Rights Commission meeting and then at the Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
“I’m definitely a feminist but as you know, my main interest lies with saving mother earth, the water and the air.  If we don’t have a planet to live on, none of this other stuff will matter.  Besides, seeing as we do a lot of that work with local Anishinaabe folks and seeing as women are very respected and equal in traditional Anishinaabe culture, I feel comfortable in my role”.
The city official asks, “So what’s going on in our local feminist circle these days?”  The Occupier responds, “As far as I know, there are 2 main groups.  One is a large, well-funded group (I can’t remember their name) that has a lot of women from the Democratic Party.  I’m told some of them spend a lot of time taking negative comments off of Mayor, Emily Larson’s Facebook page.  The other is a smaller progressive group called Feminine Justice League.  They are a political study group that also does most of the art and picketing in front of the Duluth Building for Women.  There’s another group called the Hotdish Militia.  I think they are a fundraising group for women in need”.
Another Occupier reports, “The weekly Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights meeting is Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House again.  We’re also going to be attending the HRC tomorrow at 5:30pm at City Hall. We’re going to make sure the HPB of R isn’t just being sent there to die”.
We notice we’ve been watching the wrong clock and that it’s well past time for us to have left.  The hipster is being patient but we can tell he’s ready to go.  We begin packing up.
An Occupier, still sitting in the booth, reaches down to the floor to pick something up.  As he does this, his face falls into a plate of unfinished French fries.  The city man gasps and moves towards the Occupier.  French Fry Man sits up with the thing he was looking for in his hand and a quizzical look on his face.  The official man exclaims, “OMG!  I thought you were having a stroke of something!”
We all just crack up.  We take turns making up what the article in the Duluth Trib. would say if the French fry death event had actually happened.  We know we’re supposed to leave but…..we just can’t stop laughing.  Maybe it was a “you’d have to be there” moment.
We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-28-17
Last week Duluth was a tropical paradise; tonight we’re having a blizzard.  Cars are sliding all over the place; many are having serious trouble getting up the hills. 
It’s really not that bad though because temperatures are in the low 30s with an occasional wind.  Providing they have somewhere warm and safe to go, folks who must walk won’t suffer frostbite.  Homeless folks will be wet, uncomfortable and unable to actually sleep but they probably won’t die.  Heck, it might even be spring one of these days; with the schizophrenia of climate change you never know.
We are only a few Occupiers and the city official at Coney Island this evening.  Maybe some forgot about our earlier starting time or maybe they just didn’t want to go out into this end of winter sloppiness.
We say hi to the lone hipster working the counter and head to the back booth.  The only other customers are 2 regular guys in another booth.  They’re talking about people who have seizures.
The city official tells us about the wonderful time he had at the Milwaukee conference.  He gives us a booklet from the event; it looks really interesting and makes us all wish we had been able to attend.  The official reports that when he was introduced as being from Duluth, the entire audience broke out in huge applause.  It seems that people all over the nation know about our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and are quite impressed.  We’re sorry that most people in our City government don’t feel the same way.  Mostly they just ignore CJMM; despite many requests, they still haven’t cleaned up the pawnshop garbage that’s been sitting behind the Memorial for 8 years.
The city man asks if we’re aware that the City Council recently voted to approve giving $250,000 to a developer to help him develop more market rate apartments in a currently wooded area near the Miller Hill Mall.  Of course, there will be no low income units available in this new development.
An Occupier comments, “Yet the City budget people say they can’t possibly finance 7 port-a-potties for homeless folks at a cost of $5,000 – $10,000 a year.  I’m gonna be sure bring that up the next time I speak before the Council.  I am so sick of this shit”.
Another Occupier changes the subject by saying, “Remember how we talked about a recent increase in shootings in our neighborhood last week?  I said I was going to the Citizens Review Board meeting and would ask about it.  Well I went to meeting but I didn’t have to ask; all the Commissioners were very concerned and asking what the hell was happening.
“Chief Tuscan was there so he gave the run down.  In the past month or so there have actually been 6 shootings scattered around our poor and working class neighborhoods.  One was at the liquor store close to CJMM, another in the East Hillside, one in West End, and one at 65th Ave W.  Then there was one where people in cars driving on I-35 were shooting at each other and another (I forgot where he said it was) that was an actual premeditated murder.
“Tuscan assured the Commissioners that all the shootings were between people who knew each other and there were no sniper type events.  He said the reason for increased shootings is probably because there are a lot of guns among the general public these days.  Of course, one must always take what the cops have to say with a grain of salt but that’s the info they’re putting out right now.
“I asked about the incident I witnessed on the Blatnik Bridge but all the cops said they were unaware of that event even happening.  They thought it might have been some other law enforcement agency.  I told them it was so dark that I was unable to see the markings on the SUVs.  We have so many so called law enforcement agencies these days; it’s anybody’s guess what was really going on”.
An Occupier states, “Before I forget, Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having a Taco Sale on Friday and they’ll need our help.  We’ll need to call the others as we’ll need them to help too.
“Also, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition is doing a letter to the editor campaign right now.  They find that there is so much talking behind their backs going on with the City government and some of the NGOs that it’s time to get the information out to the general public.  So far, there have been 2 letters posted in the Northland Reader and 1 in the Duluth News Tribune”.
The lone hipster asks if we mind if he goes out for a smoke.  We say that’s fine.  There are no other customers currently in the place so our job shouldn’t be too hard.
An Occupier reports, “Duluth for Clean Water is having another event at the Zeitgeist on Saturday at 2pm.  I don’t think I’m gonna go though.  I found their last presentation to be really elemental; I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.  Also, one of the last presenters made the comment that seeing as we’ve learned so much now about how to fight sulfide mining, we will be really prepared when the next sulfide mining projects apply.  I was very offended by that.  Everyone knows that other mining companies won’t be able to apply until after Polymet is in operation.  So was she saying that Polymet is already a given? That was so lame!  Even if that’s what she thinks privately, she shouldn’t be putting that out in public.  It made me wonder who she’s really working for”.
The Occupier who usually keeps track of the weekly progressive/radical goings on reports, “The HPB of R Coalition meeting will happen again this Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day, the Anonymous kids will be out on the protest corner tomorrow starting at 11am and there will be an International Women’s Day Strike Rally on the same corner March 8th at 5pm.  There are a lot of things going on again this week so I brought a copy of the Northern Worker activist calendar for everyone to look at”.
It’s coming up on 7pm and it looks like the hipster dude is dying to go home.  As we pack up, an Occupier says to the city official, “I want to thank you again for the tickets to the Soul Food Dinner.  We had a good time.  The place was packed, the food was great and some of the spoken word presentations just blew my mind”.
So we’re off.  For another week we will try to do good things and stir stuff up as much as we can.  We plan to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.