G.A. Minutes 9-17-16
The Occupiers still have not been able to get the brakes on the truck fixed. The main problem is lack of funds. They are relying on mechanically gifted friends to get the job done. The friends are only able to help during the spare time their slave jobs allot. So fixing the brakes may take a while.
The Fire Magician is riding with the Food Occupier again tonight. They arrive at People’s Power Plaza in a little car stuffed to the gills with supplies for the circle. More Occupiers quickly follow; they are bringing things too.
The Occupier who usually does a quick general cleanup of the space is amazed at how clean everything is this evening. He says, “Wow, they must have had a whole cleanup crew here this afternoon. Another Occupier laughs and adds, “Maybe that head maintenance dude was embarrassed about what poor condition he and his crew were keeping the Plaza in, especially now that they have regular guests”.
We think it will be a slightly chilly evening. The sun is down; skies have been covered with dark, threatening clouds all day but no rain. Temperatures are in the low 60s; a chilly, light and variable wind has caused us to bring our jackets.
The Magician starts up a big fire right away. It produces a lot of smoke at first then settles down, soothing us with tall glowing flames.
Immediately a big young man walks up. We remember him from one of our earlier fires. He was living and sleeping on one of the benches. An unassuming middle-aged man who appears to be chronically homeless comes up too. The two men know each other well.
The city official arrives. As is not unusual, his dance card is full tonight. He’s just coming from a dinner event and on his way to hear a speaker from the St. Paul Black Lives Matter group. He’ll stop and visit for a while.
He comments to an Occupier, “So I heard the Human Rights Commission has been disbanded”. The Occupier responds, “Well, that’s not exactly what happened. Apparently, the mayor or whoever is responsible for such things, neglected to inform the current commissioners that their terms were up and that they needed to reapply. The mayor still has not appointed any new members to any of the commissions so technically, there are no commissioners so therefore, no Human Rights Commission”.
The city man states, “Oh, so that’s what happened. I knew there was more to the story than what I was told. Well, considering how government works, this will all be worked out”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “I don’t know how the Water Protectors are gonna make it through winter in tents. I mean, a winter in North Dakota?” Another Occupier answers, “Well, they’re not gonna have white man camping tents. They’re gonna have teepees and wigwams. Those things must be warm. Native people have been using those structures and living in winter for thousands of years. I think they must know something”.
The Newest Occupier tells a few stories. She reports, “I placed a call to the Energy Transfer’s vandalism hotline the other day. A lady answered and asked me who was doing the vandalism. I said, ‘Actually, I want to report your company for vandalism. They sicced dogs on peaceful women and children and ripped up sacred artifacts and graves’. As I started to explain more, she hung up on me. When I thought about it later I thought maybe I should have asked everybody to call the hotline”.
Another Occupier exclaims, “What a brilliant idea! Tuck it in the back of your mind for the next time the oil company commits a faux pax”.
The New Occupier continues, “Did you hear what the women of Indiana did when the legislature was trying to pass a bill that said anytime a woman suffered a miscarriage she would be mandated to report it to a government agency and then come in for ‘tests’? The women called the Governor to report every time they were having their periods. They’d say stuff like ‘Well, I had unprotected sex and now I’m having my period so do you think I might be doing something wrong? Just wanted to check in, you know’. The Governor received thousands of calls. Unfortunately the bill passed so now they’ll have to call all the legislators who voted for the bill too”.
Bench Man pulls out a paper bag. We look at him quizzically. He says, “I remember, no drinking in the circle.” All the homeless men in the circle, except one, take their food and go over to another part of the Plaza to share a drink or two.
Bench Man soon returns. He tells us he’s from Red Lake and that many of his relatives are out in Standing Rock. He tells us, “Yeah, the oil company sicced attack dogs on our women and children. The local warriors went home and got their own dogs. I don’t think their dogs would be much of a match for our dogs”.
The unassuming middle-aged man who did not go off for a drink smudges himself. He talks about the many places in the Central Hillside where sage grows wildly. He talks about building sweat lodges and wigwams. He says, “I’m not genetically Anishinaabe but I know their ways. He tells us he has lived on the streets for 11 years. The rest of his story is fairly typical of the stories we hear from older homeless men. He had a wife, family and very good job. Something bad happened, he lost his job and things fell apart. He ended up homeless.
An Occupier who is facing the lake exclaims, “Look at the moon!” We turn and look. It’s very large and sort of melon colored. Someone says, “It’s a Harvest Moon”. We sit in silence for a while, looking at the moon.
An Occupier asks of another, “Did you get that meeting set up with Officer Lepak?” The questioned Occupier answers, “I did. We’re supposed to meet him on Thursday, September 29th, 1:30pm at his office in the Transit Center”. To those who look confused she says, “We’re going to talk about the possibility of bringing our fires back to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. I don’t really expect anything to come of the meeting but we can’t turn down a chance of going back”.
Another Occupier reminds us, “Remember to give one of those Homeless Folks Pizza Nights flyers to everyone who comes by. The event will be Thursday, September 22nd 5pm at Trepanier Hall.
“Also, we’re needed to help Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance with some kind of Pancakes Not Pipelines event on Saturday, September 24th at the Hillside Community Center. I’m not sure what they want us to do yet but I think the event will run from 11am-2pm. I’ll try to have more info for our next meeting”.
The male from the couple who have been forced to live at CHUM shows up. He’s on his way to make curfew at CHUM but stops to express his solidarity with the circle. He remarks, “My partner has decided to spend the night somewhere else. She’s entitled to her choice but I hope she’s o.k.”
A couple of Native hipster kids who we may or may not know come to the table. They are happy that there is good food left. When they spot the double use salt and pepper shaker that sits by the hard boiled eggs, one of them exclaims, “You guys have really been around the block a few times!”
Ms. Community Cleanup’s partner is on the stairs. He is with a group of fashionably dressed adolescent boys. They all have skateboards. The partner is attempting to do some tricks. It appears that he was once a real skateboarder but he’s much older now. He seems to have lost his touch.
The middle-aged man quietly comments, “You know those kids are just watching him and waiting for him to take a bad fall so they can laugh”.
The man then tells us a story about watching ducks. He points over across the street to a tree in front of the Lake Place entrance. He and his former wife watched a mother duck build a nest in that tree and lay her eggs. They watched her sit on the eggs and they talked to her a lot. Eventually she got to know them and the sound of their voices. The mother duck hatched eleven ducklings. The man talked about how cute it was when he and his wife would arrive and call to the mama. Eleven baby ducks would come popping out from under her. They watched the first time mama took all the ducklings to the lake. Only four of the babies actually made it to the lake. The others died of various mishaps during the trek over the property of the humans.
The city official returns. He says the BLM speaker was fantastic. An Occupier remarks, “We were all wishing to attend his speech but we found out about it too late. We’d already promised everyone a fire, so couldn’t change horses in the middle of the stream”
Another Occupier says to the official, “So what’s up with our local BLM Chapter?” The city man smiles knowingly and replies, “I think we’re about to hit the streets”.
We should be thinking about packing up but instead, we get a visit from the grey haired woman. We haven’t seen her since springtime. She laughs, “I finally found you! I’ve been looking for you forever!” We know we told her dates and times to look for us the last time we saw her. We also know that the grey haired woman’s short term memory is basically toast It doesn’t matter though. Given the small area of town that she covers and the fact that everyone knows her, she gets along just fine.
We sit around chat, laugh and tell jokes with the woman of the grey hair. When the big clock strikes 9:30pm, she and the city official help us pack up. We give her times and dates again but we know we’ll just see her when we see her.
We hope to be back at People’s Plaza on Saturday.