G.A. Minutes 3-1-14
We’re at the WSAC small gallery again and not expecting many Occupiers to turn up. Some folks have to take buses or walk and the temperature is in the not fit for man nor beast category this evening. Will it ever end? Here in the “Great White North” everyone says this by the time March rolls around. However, yesterday the local newspaper and puppet of the 1% had a headline that said “Duluth Has Coldest Winter In 139 Years”. As far as we know there has not been a homeless person found frozen to death this year. That’s probably because of the heroic efforts of our good friend the main homeless outreach worker and Loaves N Fishes and their crew.
As Occupiers start rolling up, an Occupier we haven’t seen in many months rolls up with them. We are very happy to see her. She’s been absent related to health concerns so is out of the loop. We take the time to fill her in on a few of our adventures. We’ve participated in so many actions, meetings and events we can’t even remember them all but we do our best to recount the memorable ones.
An Occupier reminds us we will need to hold our next Tuesday meeting at the Amazing Grace Café as the little gallery space where we are tonight is going to be used by another group. Other announcements include on Monday March 3rd Friends of the Boundary Waters will be sponsoring an event from 7pm-9pm at the Rafters on UMD campus, the date for the Bemidji wolf rally has been changed but the new date hasn’t yet been posted and the homeless outreach community is looking for volunteers to staff their early morning coffee and warm up gatherings for homeless people at Gimaajii and Elim Church.
The mention of homeless outreach segues into a general discussion about homelessness. Someone says, “How can this country throw away 40% of its food, have 5 empty homes for every homeless person and some of the most advanced medical care in the world yet have people who are hungry, homeless and without medical care?”
Another responds, “I’m sure I’m not using the correct psychological terms but I believe there is some type of evil magic that comes along with having too many materials things or too much money. Once a person accumulates a certain amount, they become overwhelmed with greed and just keep demanding more and more. They lose their capacity to share and their compassion for others.”
The returning Occupier asks what type of plans are being made for May Day. We say that we have put the word out we will be happy to participate and we have many things from last year’s May Day that we can contribute but we are over-extended and need someone else to take the lead this year. So far many have said they would like to see an event but no one has offered to take the lead. One of the Occupiers had offered to attempt to recruit throughout the progressive community but reports he hasn’t found any group willing to accept the challenge.
Some of the Occupiers have plans to attend a poetry reading and say they will need to leave early. The Occupier who has been asked to become a member of the Duluth Human Rights Commission has some things to report but says she can easily wait until our next meeting. The poetry fans leave and the rest of us pack up.
We plan to meet again next Tuesday at 6pm at the Amazing Grace Café.
G.A. Minutes 2-25-14
We’re back at the gallery in WSAC again and we’ve figured out the electrical problem. It was just a matter of finding the correct fuse box. It’s a good thing we found it because the dead of winter is back with a vengeance. Last Friday it dumped well over a foot of snow on us then plunged us back into the Polar Vortex. We would not have been able to hold the meeting if not for an Occupier’s trusty space heater.
Angela Davis spoke at UMD earlier in the day but unfortunately none of the Occupiers were able to attend. One Occupier says, “ It was publicized there would only be room for 600 people in the audience and I knew there would be more people than that wanting to hear her. At my age I just don’t like to fight crowds and stand for hours so I just didn’t go. I hope someone took a video”. Another responds, “Well it depends on how much money she was trying to make. If she wanted to get all the money she could she wouldn’t have allowed any type of recording”. One other says, “That’s a good way to tell what a famous person is really about. Just watch how they operate when money is involved”. We all agree and will wait and watch.
A middle aged Occupiers says, “I missed Angela but I went to a film showing about Byard Rusten and the civil rights movement. I had not heard of him. Seems like he was really smart. How horrible it was that all the civil rights activists mistreated him because he was gay. Didn’t they understand that LGBT rights are the same civil rights they were fighting for?” An Occupier who is old enough to have been alive during that time replies, “Mr. Rusten was a brilliant organizer and strategist. I’m sure Dr. King understood that gay rights were civil rights but most of the others did not. You know they all came to their activism
through the church.” This begins a discussion of the power of the Christian church within the African American community, speculation as to what things would be like now if black folks had been able to maintain their own African cultures. When one Occupier states, “It’s understandable that slaves would be attracted to Christianity because the actual message of Christ is to the poor and downtrodden telling them they are equal with others, that they are of value”, another says, “O.K. that’s enough. Talk about religion is boring”. Those having the discussion agree to change the subject but also agree to continue the discussion at a later time.
An Occupier says, “I’d like to talk about where we are going”. Another says, “Well in the long run we’re working towards a better world with a healthy planet, equal rights and basic necessities for all, caring for each other and stuff like that. In the short run, because we are few; we are assisting other likeminded groups who also are few. We’re sort of holding down the fort until we become many again. The first Occupier says, “I mean what we are doing as Occupy?” Another says, “I don’t know if making a name for ourselves as Occupy is all that important. I stay with Occupy because we stand for the broader view which encompasses the economic, political and social wrongs that make life in the world so hard. That’s why I don’t just up and join one of the other worthy groups who are more focused on single issues.” Another answers, “Well we need to recruit more people. I guess we try but we can’t force people to come out in the winter.” An additional Occupier states, “We know there will be just a few truly committed people in the beginning. It will take time before a large number become aware but there are signs awareness is beginning. We will have more people attending our meetings once we get back to the CJM Memorial. I wonder when that will be.” Somebody else says, “How about our next meeting?” We all laugh because we know it is forecast to be well below zero on Saturday.
Someone says, “Speaking of the short run, let’s review some of the things we’ve got coming up. We won’t be able to meet here next Tuesday because Wild Woods holds their meeting here every first Tuesday of the month. On March 5th our friend from Idle No More will be speaking at noon at a UWS forum about sex trafficking. The next INM/NWA meeting is March 11th 12:30pm at Randy’s. On March 12th at 6pm the Community Forum on Police Brutality meets at the East Hillside Community Center. On March 18th we’re going to the wolf rally and planning session in Bemidji and on March 25th 4pm at UWS there’s a forum about tribal members and allies working together. That’s the most I can remember right now.”
An Occupier states, “I just want to remind everyone that one of the main reasons most of the revolutionary groups are so small is because there are many divisions between people. Some of this is deliberate government infiltration and some is just petty ego things this culture has taught us. Remember we have been warned by revolutionary scholars and in many prophecies to expect this at this time. Our Native spiritual advisor friend says, ‘Don’t worry. We’ve been told this is supposed to happen now. Now is the time when people will show who they really are. Just watch and wait. It will be o.k.’”
Another Occupier says, “I want to smoke a cigarette but it’s really cold outside.” The Occupier who lives at WSAC says, “Well, we could adjourn the meeting and go to my house where the smokers could smoke.” The meeting is adjourned. We’ll be back on Saturday.