G.A. Minutes 6-13-17

G.A. Minutes 6-13-17
There was very heavy rain and strong wind during much of the day; the weather people predict more for this evening, night and tomorrow. We conferred with each other a couple of hours before our meeting time. The weather map showed many big storms coming from the west and heading straight for our neck of the woods.
One of the Occupiers who normally brings much of the food for the fire circle stated, “You know, there’s a certain amount of preparation that goes into feeding everyone. If we get rained out as soon as we get there, what am I supposed to do with 2 dozen hard boiled eggs?” We decided to hold tonight’s meeting at the Coney Island up on W. 1st St.
This new (to us anyway) Coney Island is a little different than the old one that we used to meet at before it closed. For one thing, it’s 3 or 4 times larger; the décor isn’t old fashioned and cool and there’s no music playing. We expect the clientele will be different too.
This eatery is located very close to the CHUM and to Life House so we imagine some street folks will be around but the big downtown Holiday Inn is only a block up the street. Tourists frequently step out to tour the neighborhood. Oh well, we’ll just have to make due for now.
The place can probably seat at least 100 customers but when we arrive we see there are only 3. The 2 young people who are working the large front counter are quite friendly. When we explain that we expect more people and may need to push some tables together, the young man responds, “No problem. Just make yourselves at home”.
The city official is the first to arrive; he’s a bit out of sorts this evening. He tells his story, “Now you know I’m not the sort of person who ever gets violent but today I really had the urge to smack somebody. I know 2 twin sisters who were adopted from Africa and brought to live here in Duluth when they were just little babies. Their adoptive parents are well respected community members. The girls are very sweet and innocent; they’re 12 years old or so now; just entering their teenage years”. Most of the Occupiers know these girls and their parents and agree that they are good people.
“So anyway, these 2 young girls go into a recently opened sandwich type shop in our downtown area. They order and pay for their lunch and sit down to eat it. Suddenly the owner of the new shop comes stomping out and accuses the girls of stealing. Because nothing like this has ever happened to the girls before, they’re rather confused. The owner growls, ‘Show me what you took!’ The girls still don’t understand so they show him what they are eating.
“Their mother comes in to join them and she’s just flabbergasted when she realizes what is going on. She hasn’t had this type of experience related to her daughters either. She didn’t know what to do. When she asked me for advice later, I told her to hire a lawyer. I hope she does.
“I posted about the incident on my blog. Later on when I was at my job I expressed my frustration and my anger about the event. One of my co-workers had seen my post on my blog. He told me he thought I was over reacting, should not be displaying so much emotion in front of the general public and that the incident was really no big deal after all. When I told him that the adoptive parents of the African girls were white people he appeared to change his tune. He seemed to think that maybe the girls HAD been mistreated. I had to leave in order to refrain from choking him. You know, statistically, the junior high and high school students in this country who experience the highest level of mistreatment from adults are black girls”.
An Occupier has just returned from the public hearing about the Enbridge Line 3 that was held today at Fond du Lac College. He tells us, “It was wonderful. The place was full; mainly of FDL tribal members speaking against the pipeline. They had a round dance and beautiful drumming and singing. FDL just owned that hearing”.
Another Occupier shows us a flyer she received today from one of our Native organizer friends. The flyer tells about an Expungement Clinic hosted by the Legal Service of NE MN. It’s free of charge and will be held in the Ordean Building every first Tuesday of the month starting on August 1st and continuing until August of 2018. She says, “I’m guessing that none of us have any records that we need expunged but it’s still good information to have in case we run across someone in need of the service”.
The Occupier who reports things gives her report. She tells us, “Do you all remember that very popular band from about 10 or 15 years ago called Azure Du Jour?” Many of us do remember. The reporting Occupier continues, “Well they’re doing a reunion performance on Saturday, June 17th, 6pm-10pm at the Red Herring”. We say, “Wonderful!” Many of us were big fans of the band.
“Also, this weekend is Juneteenth weekend. The celebrations will be held in Duluth on this Saturday afternoon and in Superior on this upcoming Sunday afternoon. Another thing that will be going on Saturday, June 17th is Reclaiming Our Socialist Heritage sponsored by the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America and happening at 6pm at Norway Hall”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks, “I’ve been hearing a lot about something called the alt-right over the last few months. Does anybody know what it is? Another Occupier answers, “Oh that just means the white supremacists. Some right wing pundit came up with that term when He Who Shall Not Be Named started getting a lot of attention for his presidential campaign. I think the pundit was trying to make the white supremacists look not as dangerous or evil as they really are. I think we all need to make a conscious effort to always use the term white supremacist instead of alt-right. We need to call them what they really are”.
The city official opines, “When someone says white supremacist I believe most people think of the KKK. That’s one type of white supremacist thinking but there are other more subtle manifestations of the same thing. You know, like when white folks who are not necessarily really hateful but they still subconsciously see a person of color as less intelligent, less educated, less honest, less competent or what have you than a white person. Then there’s institutional white supremacy such as the slightly hidden ways the educational system, banking system, housing system, judicial system and all the other systems making life more difficult for people of color”. We say, “Ain’t that the truth”.
On that note, the city man has to leave. We say our goodbyes and as he heads out the door an Occupier reminds us, “He’s going to be the keynote speaker at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance on Thursday at noon”.
Another Occupier goes on a rant about how totally wacked the entire world is. When he comes up for air someone else adds, “It took me a long time to admit it but I believe we are living during a very important time in the history of the world. Things are very precarious and we need to pay careful attention and try to help things in a good way”.
An Occupier agrees, “Remember the indigenous prophecy that says now is the time for the spark that lights the 8th fire. If the 8th fire is lit then all the good teachings and good ways of being will come back. If not, it will mean the destruction of the earth. I think it means that the people living now are the ones who are responsible for bringing about the change in the hearts and minds of the people of the earth that will cause them to remember that the earth and all the living things in it are sacred. I know the prophecy is meant primarily for indigenous folks; our job is mainly to assist the carriers of the spark in whatever way they ask us to. Personally, I’m down with that”. The rest of us are down with that too.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says, “Want to hear something really weird?” We do. He continues, “HWSNBN’s wife Melania is from Slovenia, a formerly communist country. Her father was a fairly important dude in the Communist Party. So now Melania is moving into the White House. I was watching a news report that showed some of the move in. Melania’s father was there; he was just hanging out and wandering around.
“So all the politicians in DC are worrying themselves to death about Russia and communists but no one bats an eye at the communist in the so called First Family. I thought that was funny”. We all crack up; we think it’s funny too.
It’s about 8:30pm. The place is empty and the 2 staff people (they do not appear to be hipsters) are washing everything. They keep looking over at us. The hipsters from the now defunct Coney Island taught us what that means. We pack up, leave tips and head out.
It has not rained yet but it looks like it wants to. However, the east wind is super strong. Strong enough to have blown over our fire pit. We think we made the right decision. If the weather gods allow it, we’ll be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-6-17

G.A. Minutes 6-6-17
It looks like we’re going to get some good almost summer weather at People’s Plaza this evening. The sky is clear; the temperature is in the mid-60s with a very light northwesterly breeze.
When the Occupiers who bring the fire and food supplies roll onto the Plaza they spot a couple of guys from a local TV station setting up in the back of the space. It appears they are getting ready to broadcast something.
One of the Occupiers walks over to them to see what’s up. She just wants to make sure that we don’t get in each other’s way. The TV guys tell her, “No worries. We’re just using the foliage here as a backdrop for a short news report. We’ll be done and out of here in just a few minutes”. They ask what we are up to and the Occupier explains a bit about the weekly recreational fires.
Once the broadcast is finished, the camera person comes over to the fire and postulates, “Hey, if you folks do this every week I could ask my boss if it was o.k. for me to show up and do a short story about your group. What do you think?” An Occupier replies, “Well, I’m not too sure. I’d have to ask the rest of our people”.
As more Occupiers arrive, the supply bringing Occupiers relay the TV proposal. A consensus is easily reached; we think it would not be a good idea. Too much publicity would not be a good thing. The police and fire departments are well aware of our fires and appear to have chosen not to bother us.
Although everything we are doing is completely legal, if some of the control freak, stuffed shirts who attempt to run the City get wind of our group getting publicity they may force the DPD and/or the FPD to harass us. We’ve already been there and done that and it was decided that having a weekly fire was more important than fighting with the so called City leaders.
Also, the fire is supposed to be for other local grassroots activists, organizers and people from the neighborhood. We’re not interested in becoming entertainment for well off folks who want to go “slumming”. An Occupier comments, “We’ve already been featured in all the local newspapers, that’s enough”.
A large group of Anonymous young bloods roll up. They are wearing all their Anon gear and carrying lots of signs and their sound system. Most head right out to the street corner and begin “kicking it”.
Much to our pleasant surprise, the next person to arrive is Spiritual Man. We have not seen him for 8 or 9 months. He tells us that he was working out of state. He gives us tobacco and we give him hugs. A middle aged African American man who we haven’t met in the past is with him. Spiritual Man gets coffee and takes a seat around the fire circle. His friend, who appears to be rather drunk, takes a seat on a bench.
An elderly white man wearing a motorcycle jacket sits down. We have not met him previously. He’s very talkative and states he is a veteran. One of the Occupiers is also a veteran; they carry on a conversation about their service. When the visiting veteran suddenly gets up and leaves, the Occupier veteran says, “I told him we were Occupy Duluth; I guess that didn’t sit too well with him”.
An Anon arrives with his little dog. The dog is very cute and friendly; she jumps softly into fire watcher’s laps. We always carry a water dish for visiting animals; we give her some water.
The city official reminds us, “I’m going to be the featured speaker at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance this year; June 15th at noon. I hope you all will be there to support me”. We will all be there.
A long line of street cleaning and street painting vehicles have been going up and down the street for at least an hour. They’re very noisy and look kinda like a parade. Someone remarks, “They’re probably fixing things up for Grandma’s Marathon. That’s gonna happen on June 17th you know”. An Occupier adds, “Whenever Grandma’s Marathon happens I make sure to stay up on the hill. No way do I want to become part of that mess. This year the Duluth NAACP will be celebrating Juneteenth on June 17th in the Central Hillside Community Center Park. I plan on joining them”.
The Occupier who has recently begun working at the Mission feeding center sighs, “I received some very disappointing news recently. I took the job at the Mission because my social security retirement benefit is not enough to actually survive on. I’m only being paid $360 a month at the job but it sure does help. Now I’m told the housing authority will be increasing my rent by $120 a month because I have that little job. They just refuse to let poor people get ahead at all”.
The city official says to the Occupier with the new job, “I know you were at the local DFL convention last week; tell us about it. The Occupier answers, “It was just terrible. I really don’t want to talk about it”. Another Occupier chimes in, “I hear that the local DFL is so divided between the Clinton and Bernie supporters that they were unable to come to any consensus about endorsing any of the City Council candidates except for Joel Sipress”. Someone else agrees, “Yeah, that’s what I heard too”.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “There’s gonna be 2 somewhat local public comment hearings about Enbridge’s Line 3 soon. One is in Floodwood on Thursday, June 8th and the other is at FDL College on Tuesday, June 13th. Both will begin at 10am. She says to the big Native Anon dude, “By the way, I did a little research about He Who Shall Not Be Named signing that executive order allowing hunting of bald eagles. Turns out it’s just a hoax; HWSNBN didn’t actually do that. It wouldn’t be surprising if he did though”.
The big Anon replies, “Oh, miigwitch for doing that. I’ll be going to both the public comment hearings. Water really is life you know. I’m so pissed about how the 1% always wants to rip off the Natives. For 500 years they’ve been trying to genocide us but we’re still here. We may be crippled but we are still some strong people”.
An Occupier concurs, “It appears to me that Native people are no longer accepting the rip offs”. The Native Anon exclaims, “You’ve got that right! We’re taking back our traditions and our languages; we’re standing up and fighting for our rights as human beings and as indigenous peoples. The 1% is totally freaked out by that and they’re coming down hard. As you saw at Standing Rock, they tried their hardest to break us but we stood and will continue standing”.
The Occupier who is a single parent to 3 children changes the subject, “Being a poor person in this world is so difficult. Just trying to survive feels like slavery”. The city man answers, “If you want to see slavery, just look at our prison system. Now that’s slavery”. Another Occupier adds, “It is; I think that work stoppages are where prisoners have the most power and are most effective. Of course, I know they pay real heavy for doing that”.
All the sandwiches, cookies and coffee have been gone for a while. There’s still a bit of apple juice. Many people have been at the table and the fire circle tonight. As the sun sets completely we feel the full effect of the fire.
An Occupier opines, “I notice that CJMM is empty of street folks since the Bottle Shop Liquor Store closed. The street is empty too, even on good weather days. She says to Spiritual Man, “Do you know where all the street folks who are drinkers go for their liquor now that Kenny’s Bottle Shop has closed?” The Spirit Man replies, “I think they go up to the store on 4th St”.
Another Occupier adds, “Oh yeah, Loiselles. I thought that’s where they might go. I wonder where they’ll go after they get their alcohol. I know they don’t like to go too far from the store. I guess CHCC Park is the closest place to hang out. They’re gonna have a hard time asking for spare change in that 4th St neighborhood. None of the residents have much money. They’ll have to target people visiting Essentia Health. I don’t think that will go over very well”.
Spiritual Man’s friend has been quietly sitting on the bench in the shadows all evening. Apparently, he’s also been sipping on something. He suddenly jumps up and begins staggering around and yelling. He looks at a small group of Anons who are now sitting at the fire. “What’s wrong with you!?!” he hollers, “Are you all gay? How come you ain’t got no wimens?” He sits in the circle and continues, “If I had a fire like that I’d bring it into the house and sit with my arm around my woman. I’d rap and make love to her all night long”. An Occupier laughs, “If you brought that fire into your house, you’d burn the place down. That would not be very romantic”.
The drunk man doesn’t seem to have cared for that comment. He says, “You guys ain’t shit! I’m gonna go find me some white boys who like to shoot pool” and staggers off. Spiritual Man just shakes his head. The drunken man is not really a friend of his; just someone he met on the street that followed him over to our fire.
It’s well past 9pm and we are planning on packing up but the Anons keep putting more wood on the fire. Just as we start to gather up the wood we see the Stylish Native Woman and her partner coming across the street. This is great! We haven’t seen them since last fall. Nevermind….. We put more wood on the fire.
The couple has come for coffee but have to settle for apple juice. We’d heard that the partner was forced to have a couple of his fingers amputated during the winter but that’s all we know. He shows us his left hand; the first 2 fingers have been amputated. He wants to tell his story; we listen.
We’d forgotten how soft his voice is; the traffic drowns out some of his words. From what we can gather the story is, he was sleeping outside all winter. At some point his fingers became frostbitten and he went to Essentia ER. They bandaged him and gave him some medicine and sent him on his way. Seeing as he had no place else to go, he continued to sleep outside. His fingers became frostbitten again and the police forced him to go back to the ER.
In the ER he was given a large dose of morphine and then asked to sign a paper. He doesn’t remember signing anything but his signature was on the paper. They then put him into an induced coma. When he eventually woke up he found that his fingers had been amputated. He wasn’t real happy about that.
They then refused to allow his visitors, even the Stylish Woman and his parents, to visit him. They tried to make him take his medication for his schizophrenia but he refused. He absolutely hates to take it. They called some lawyers and a judge and said he was incompetent. He says, “I know they were trying to have me committed to St. Peters. They’ve tried before. I just kept arguing with them and refusing to go along with their program. Finally they just let me go so now I’m missing 2 fingers, can’t even roll my own cigarettes and still don’t have a place to live.
“I must have got their attention though. Now I have an ARHMS worker and a couple of social workers. They say they will find me an apartment that I can rent. If I don’t find a place by next winter I guess I’ll have to sue all concerned”.
We know it will be hard to find a place for the partner to live. He has 2 old felonies on his record and his schizophrenia causes him to have fits of yelling. However, he always tries to go off by himself to yell; he’s considerate of others. We think the mental health people get really pissed off at a guy with his illness who still manages to see the game they’re playing and to stand up for himself. He seems to always land on his feet. We admire the Stylish Native Woman who has stood by his side for many, many years.
So now its’s after 10pm and we really must go. We say, “Now that the fire’s back you’ll know where to find us on Tuesdays, at least”. We will also look for them on the street.
So……… Good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise….. We’ll be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-30-17

G.A. Minutes 5-30-17
The sky is covered with rain clouds this evening as we roll up to People’s Plaza. We know it’s not going to rain though; we checked the weather map before we drove down here. The map showed us that a string of rain clouds would pass over the area but Duluth was on the tail end of it. The temperature is in the low 50s with occasional gusts of south wind. Everything will be just fine.
As we begin setting up, a large group of young bloods from Anonymous arrive. It looks like the entire crew is here. They help with the set up; then some of them take their signs and sound system and go out to the street corner to preach to the cars.
The rest of the Anons sit around the fire circle. The city official asks, “What do people think about the idea of a guaranteed annual income?” The Occupiers think it’s a good idea; some of the Anons are unsure about what it is. We explain the concept. An Occupier tells them, “Some people believe if our country had a guaranteed annual income most people would quit their jobs and lie around drinking and taking drugs all day. However, in European countries that are currently experimenting with giving out the income, that’s not what they’re finding.
“They find that people are using the funds to meet their basic necessities, pay off their debts, access education and training and to try to start their own businesses. They find that people are no longer homeless and/or starving anymore”.
An Anon inquires, “Did you guys see that He Who Shall Not Be Named signed an executive order making it legal to hunt bald eagles?” No one has heard about this; most say “What!?! Or WTF!?!” An Occupier remarks, “An order like that will certainly be struck down by the court system. Bald eagles are on the endangered species list. HWSNBN cannot just make pronouncements about anything he damned well pleases and supersede any law he wants. I wonder if he’ll ever be able to figure that out”.
A stylishly dressed, very pretty young woman walks up. She says hello to one of the Occupier couples and asks if they remember her. The couple does not recognize her but they don’t say so. After chatting a little they’re able to determine that the young woman is a regular at the monthly Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
The Feast is open to all people but is generally attended by young Native families from the Central Hillside neighborhood who are struggling with various types substance abuse and addiction. The Occupier couple also attends the monthly feast; they always make a big healthy hotdish to share. Most of the attendees are struggling financially too, so a good free meal is appreciated.
The stylish young woman takes a seat, looks around at all the people in the circle and out on the sidewalk and says, “So what do you guys all believe?” An Occupier tells her, “I think we’re all on similar versions of the same page. I’d say the one thing we all are is anti-capitalists”. The woman responds, “What does that mean?”
The Occupier continues, “Well, you know how some people are born with access to more money and material things than the rest of us? Those people then get to have agencies, companies or whatever where they hire some of the rest of us to do the work. They pay their workers very little and keep most of the profits for themselves. Basically they’re allowed to get rich from the labor of others”. We see a look of recognition on the young woman’s face. She understands a lot; she just doesn’t know the current terminology.
She says to us, “I have a really hard time focusing on just one thing. I’m always aware of and watching everything in my surroundings. A therapist told me that I’m hypervigilant. I guess it’s because I have been hurt and kicked around so many times; you have no idea what I have been through. I’ve even been hurt by churches”. When some of the Anons return from the sidewalk we notice the young woman is already acquainted with them.
A middle aged, chronically homeless man who has been attending our fires for several years sits down. He has a bus pass that he is trying to sell. No one in the circle is interested but the man has always really liked our coffee; he gets a cup and takes a seat. He fills us in on this week’s street gossip.
The man asks an Occupier, “Don’t I see you up at the Mission?” The Occupier has recently accepted a job as a greeter for the evening meal at the Mission feeding center. He answers the man, “Yup, that’s me. I’ve only been there a few weeks. The most people we’ve served so far were 160 within 45 minutes. I think I’m doing o.k.; no one has physically or verbally attacked me anyway”.
Two young men who are vaguely familiar to us arrive. Their appearance suggests they are some of our neighborhood’s homeless and living on the street folks. The Native guy smudges and they both sit down. The Native guy gestures toward a bush at the back of the Plaza. He says, “That’s where I’m living these days. I need to go check and see if my stuff is still there. When he returns, he is carrying a jar that is about half filled with coins. He sits to count it out then puts all the pennies in a cup on the table. He and his friend wander off, presumably to spend the rest of the coins somewhere.
An Occupier asks, “Did you all see where a bunch of inside information has been leaked that shows there was coordination between the security company hired by Energy Transfer, the local cops, several other police departments and the U.S. military during the water protector camps at Standing Rock? They called the water protectors terrorists and treated them as such. Another Occupier adds that she was appalled by the extreme racist attitudes displayed by people from the dominant culture of North and South Dakota.
The big Native Anon exclaims, “It’s been over 500 years since we came into contact with Europeans and many of them still don’t see us as human beings!”
Someone remarks, “With all the wars that HWSNBN is trying to start, I wonder if they’ll bring back the draft”. An Occupier answers, “I don’t think that would work anymore. Too many people are aware of the bullshit”.
An Anon opines, “Yeah, we’re not stupid anymore. We’ve learned about Vietnam. We know the real story about Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars are never for the reasons the so called rulers say that they are. We know that it’s not a coincidence that opium poppies are the major crop in Afghanistan and the United States is in the midst of a major heroin epidemic”.
Another Anon states, “Hey did you know that those little denture cleansing tablets can be used as a detoxifier to allow a person to pass a drug test? A while back I got a call from my P.O. She said I had to come to her office in two days to take a piss test. I thought, ‘Shit, I’ve been smoking weed all weekend. What am I gonna do now?’ My uncle showed me how to use those denture tablets. I passed my test”. The Anon explains the denture cleanser process.
An Occupier exclaims, “I sure wish I had known about that when I was still working. I spent a lot of money on those detoxifier kits from Last Place On Earth in order to keep my job. Denture tablets would have been a lot cheaper”. We all laugh.
Another Occupier reports, “The documentary First Daughter and The Black Snake is going to be shown free of charge at the Zinema on Thursday at 7pm and at AICHO on Saturday at 5pm. I think Winona LaDuke expects to be at the Thursday showing”. We all plan to attend one of the showings.
The partner of Ms. Community Cleanup arrives. We’re surprised at how good he looks. He tells us, “I’ve got 100 days sober”. We see that most of the Anons also know him. One of them comments, “You look really healthy dude”. He does; he’s put on weight and is speaking coherently. Everyone congratulates him.
A woman from the Skinner Apartments comes up. She has attended our fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in the past. She gets coffee and observes, “So you guys are still kickin’ it, huh?” We reply, “Yup”.
It’s now 8:45pm and still light out. An Anon points to a cloud coming down from hill and says, “That one looks like a real rain cloud”. An Occupier disagrees, “Nah, it’s gonna pass”. Everyone sits quietly just watching the roaring fire.
The big clock strikes 9pm and…….SWOOSH!!! Rain comes pouring down. Everyone jumps up; the Fire Magician runs to get the vehicles. We throw a sheet of plastic over the table and stack up all the chairs. The fire and the sage are still burning brightly in spite of the downpour. The street folks all run for cover.
The Occupiers and Anons just stand around the fire and laugh. We’re getting drenched but it’s not very cold. Someone comments, “This feels kinda good”. Eventually, the vehicles arrive and we load everything up. We pack up the Anon sound equipment too; fortunately, it’s water proof. Once we are done and the fire is put out………. The rain stops.
Oh well, time to go home and dry off. We’ll be back next Tuesday.

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.