G.A. Minutes 2-26-13

G.A. Minutes 2-26-13

People tonight arrive sans gloves, hats and with their coats unzipped. If the weather remains like it is this evening, Spring will arrive soon.

We’ve had several weeks with a lot of activity; it looks like things will slow down a bit this week so we take some time to just talk with each other. The first topic is the current state of our local medical field. Someone states there are many PCA jobs available. Another asks, “What’s a PCA”? An Occupier, who has spent many years working as a nurse, states, “A PCA is basically any person who can pass a background check that certifies they have never been charged with the crime of abuse. In hospitals and nursing homes caregivers must have at least a CNA license in order to work. In group homes, homecare and many other places any person can be hired. They receive only a few days training and are then required to care for people with very serious medical conditions. PCAs are required to administer complicated medication regimes, monitor for symptoms, fluid intake and output, blood glucose and much more. Most PCAs have no medical training. The whole situation is very dangerous but PCAs can be paid much less than licensed medical personnel.” Everyone agrees our healthcare system is broken, much like all the rest of the American systems.

An Occupier tells us a story. A few days ago a friend of his was beaten by her boyfriend, the police were called, the woman was very bruised and battered but the police didn’t arrest her abuser. The incident took place in Duluth. The battered woman hid out for a few days but, as she has no place to go with her children, she is going to return to the abuser. The Occupier is upset and saddened, “Why didn’t the police arrest him?” he asks. “In some states they have to make an arrest if there is evidence of physical abuse. The Duluth police are given way too much individual discretion.” He wants to help his friend and he also wants to call attention to a lack of police protection of abuse victims. He has been in contact with some of our friends working in victim protection and they encourage him to pursue this. He asks if we will support him. We will. Another Occupier tells a similar story of a woman in our neighborhood who was raped and then laughed at and degraded by several local officers. She gives him a few suggestions about other support systems he can contact. He will do further research and get back to us.

Someone asks how things are going with the planning of our next movie. The Occupier tasked with the movie says she has chosen five possibilities and is waiting for other Occupiers to view the trailers and offer their opinions. She says she doesn’t think “Milk” will be possible as she has discovered it is the property of a multi-national production company and the company hasn’t responded to her many emails.

One of the Occupiers has decided to spring for a pizza. It is served, everyone is eating and the computer geeks start talking in their language. The conversation seems to be about early types of computers and software.

After eating, an Occupiers asks what types of government people would like to see after capitalism crashes and burns and fake democracy is fully exposed. One Occupier likes some of the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, mainly the ones about small communities of farms. Another says she would like to know more about anarchism but believes this is difficult as she doesn’t know of any anarchist governments that have been formed in the past. Someone else says he has read articles which state that Somalia had some success after their regular government collapsed. We are all very surprised as this is not what we had heard. An Occupier reminds us there are many things happening in the world which the American public knows nothing about.

We are reminded tomorrow is the PSOH meeting, 4:40pm, 109 N 2nd Ave.W. Although everyone is hopeful they will be able to convince Morgan Chase to let Dale remain in his home, the bigger issues revolving around housing as a human right are of special interest to us. Perhaps we can convince PSOH to go up against the entire housing system. This is the root of the problem.

We are fortunate in that our stomachs are pleasantly full. Many others are not so fortunate and we keep this in mind as we go out into the world. We plan to return here on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 2-23-13

G.A. Minutes 2-23-13

It’s the usual suspects tonight along with a person we are meeting for the first time. He is interested in Occupy and also in the IWW so we start the evening’s discussion by talking about unions. We examine the pros and cons of AFSCME, SEIU, Steel Workers, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, IWW and others. We conclude the IWW really has the best plan but unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of power these days. Perhaps this is because they have a complete world view and the goal of organizing all workers in all work situations. Other unions are generally focused on the narrow concerns of their membership and this is probably why unions don’t get a lot of support from people outside their immediate circle.

It comes to light that our new person is coming from out of town and is looking for a job. An Occupier knows of a company that is greatly in need of help so gives him the contact information along with the remark, “You’ll almost certainly be hired.” This is good.

We give our new friend a brief history of Occupy Duluth starting with the first big camp at the civic center and first eviction by the police, the brief time spent meeting in the skywalk, our move into the Paul Robeson Ballroom and then the Last Resort homeless camp and second eviction by the police, the time spent at the CJM Memorial until very cold weather forced us back into the skywalk, now we’re at 3803 Grand Ave. until the weather lets us go outside again.

As we go over our memories, we arrive at one of our favorite subjects; the lack of basic facilities for poor and homeless people in this town. An Occupier explains we have learned very much about poverty and homelessness over the last year. Most of what we have learned breaks our hearts. The callousness of the capitalist system is astounding.

Almost all the Occupiers attended this morning’s PSOH rally. It was a success with a large turnout and lots of support from passersby. The main objective, to get good photos to send to Morgan Chase Bank, was easily met. We plan to attend PSOH’s next meeting on Wednesday.

An Occupier announces there will be some things coming up in a few weeks related to Idle No More. When everyone wants to know details she says,” Well I really don’t know myself, after they finish making the plans they’ll let us know. I think there will be some type of fire ceremony.” Whatever it is, we plan to be there.

The older Occupiers are tired because of the early activities so the others give them a break and close out the meeting. We’ll be back on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-19-13

G.A. Minutes 2-19-13

Most of the Occupiers, plus one who has been out of town for a while, are here tonight. We take a moment to chat with our returning friend. The conversation begins with ideas of humorous schemes for sabotaging McDonald’s and ends with a discussion about types of compost.

The actual meeting starts with a conversation about Idle No More. Treaty rights, protection of the land and preservation of indigenous cultures remain the primary focus of INM. The Duluth area INM people have decided to also focus on sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is a big problem for most Native communities. It is even more so in our local community, probably because the Twin Ports is a major shipping port for the world. We notice the INM folks here have a very good handle on methods for healing victims of trafficking. They have our support. An Occupier says maybe we could assist by approaching the issue from another angle. Officially, prostitution is illegal. If an activity is illegal it is the responsibility of the appropriate government official to monitor his officialdom for existence of said illegal activity. INM informs us prostitution is rampant in the Twin Ports Harbor. Most trafficking happens on the ships. The ships are probably under the domain of the individual ship companies however the prostituted people are usually taken over harbor land in order to get on the ships. Apparently government officials are not watching and halting illegal activity. What’s up with that? If INM agrees, perhaps the Occupiers could do some more investigation and call attention to the fact that harbor authorities are not preventing trafficking of human beings. Another Occupier states he thinks this has too much of an attitude of punishment and we need to get away from that. He says prostitution is the world’s oldest profession and one will never rid the world of it. We don’t need to appear puritanical. The first Occupier says it’s not about punishment; it’s about protecting the victims. Another Occupier offers to assist in investigating. Nothing is decided tonight. Each Occupier is free to investigate or not.

Another Occupier states all people of the 99% are prostituted. For example, a person needs to buy a house so he gets a job and gets a loan and a mortgage payment. His job is unpleasant but he has to keep working in order to keep living in his house. Work at bad job, pay mortgage, work, mortgage………. This person is being prostituted. Most people have unpleasant jobs and are being prostituted. Everyone agrees with him.

An Occupier brings up the topic of the march on D.C. which took place last Sunday. The returning Occupier is unfamiliar with this event so it is explained that the march concerned the urgency of the problem of climate change. It also concerned the Canadian tar sands pipeline and the fact that president Obama is being asked to make decision regarding its fate. If he chooses to allow the pipeline, the world will eventually burst into flames but the 1% will be happy. If he chooses to disallow the pipeline, the world may survive but the 1% will be angry. We honestly don’t know which decision Obama will make.

The returning Occupier wasn’t at the Project Save Our Homes/Loaves N Fishes open house. We tell him about it and about the plan to have the City use eminent domain to give vacant houses to homeless people. We think this project will be very interesting.

Our thoughts then wander to our dreams for another homeless camp. We know other activists in Duluth have the same dream. Duluth homeless people have the dream too. An Occupier has received some information about west coast homeless camps from a former Duluth Occupier who is currently occupying Oregon. We listen to the information she has and discuss how we could apply it to our situation.

We’ve been talking for over 2 hours and some are hungry or tired. An Occupier announces the next Move To Amend meeting will be Thursday, 7pm at CSS Tower Building. We head out with plans to meet again on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 2-16-13

G.A. Minutes 2-16-13

There’s a full house tonight. All the regulars are here at one time. It’s been awhile since we’ve all been together.

One of the Occupiers is attempting to organize his workplace and is trying to decide which union he should contact. People express their opinions concerning the best options. AFSCME is considered to be made up of good people but it is felt they may be understaffed. SEIU is having much success nationwide with organizing service workers however; some are concerned about this union’s integrity and organizing tactics. IWW has really good ideas yet many wonder if they have the resources needed. The Occupier will continue working and investigating. We wish him well and offer our help if needed.

Almost every Occupier attended last Thursday’s Idle No More Feast in Honor of Victims of Sex Trafficking. A young Occupier and beginning union organizer suggests organizing sex workers. Another Occupier points out this would be in direct conflict with the goals of Idle No More. INM wishes to get sex workers out of the business and to offer them better alternatives. INM has a good few members who are former victims of the sex industry, these members are adamant about this kind of work being very detrimental to the workers. Several Occupiers offer suggestions as to what benefits could be offered to make the workers’ jobs less burdensome. A brief dialog develops concerning the difference between pornography and erotica and the people who purchase or work in these fields. A female Occupier gently points out that all the people discussing organizing sex workers are men while former and current sex workers are almost entirely women. We value our relationship with INM so table this discussion for the moment.

All of the Occupiers attended the open house sponsored by Project Save Our Homes and Loaves N Fishes. We were very impressed by the turnout. These groups have access to a nice little house that has been foreclosed on by J.P. Morgan Chase. A happy family was put out of their home four years ago and the house has remained empty since. PSOH and LNF invited very many people into the house to publicize the campaign to convince the City Council to pass a resolution specifically stating, housing is a human right. From this the City of Duluth will be encouraged to use eminent domain to take the many empty houses in our city and allow homeless people to live in them. This tactic has been successful in other cities. It would certainly help with our homeless crisis. It seems that most people who have decent jobs and comfortable homes would like homeless and poor people to just go away. It doesn’t work like that. The sun shines on all and all are entitled to meet their basic needs. We hope this campaign will produce sustainable results and we intend to offer as much support as we can.

An Occupier comments, all issues are connected and expresses his vision of Duluth declaring itself a City of Refuge. Another Occupier says, “Oh boy, Amy Z. (columnist for a local alternative newspaper) would have a fit if she heard you say that.” Everyone laughs.

An Occupier has a few announcements. 1.) Take Action MN will be holding a workshop at 6822 Grand Ave., 10am February 23rd. 2.) CHUM will be sponsoring an ongoing forum centering on the book “Pedagogy of the Poor”. The first discussion will be held February 20th , 3pm at Community Action Duluth. 3.) PSOH will be holding a demonstration to draw attention to their newest campaign to save a Proctor man’s home from foreclosure. Also, PSOH will hold their next meeting on February 27th, 4:40pm at 109 2nd Ave.W.

It looks like we’ll have our plates full. Spring is on its way, we’re looking forward to going back to the CJM Memorial and we’ll be back here on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-12-13

G.A. Minutes 2-12-13

There are only a few Occupiers present this evening. Everyone is busy with preparations for this weeks’ various events. We agree to make this meeting as short as possible.

An Occupier gives a report concerning progress made on finding a suitable LGBT centered movie for our next film showing. She has emailed a request to be allowed to show “Milk”. She thinks this would be the best choice as it may appeal to the widest audience. This film is the property of a large company so the chances they will allow us to show it without a large fee are pretty slim. There are four other films on the list. She has watched all the trailers and believes they are all quality works however, she thinks these films would interest a smaller group of people. She doesn’t feel qualified to make a decision so another Occupier offers to look at them and offer his opinion.

We do a quick review of the events of the next few days. Tomorrow there will be an important meeting of our offshoot housing advocate group. Immediately after this, many of us will go to dinner at one of the houses of a local homeless advocacy organization. On Thursday there are two evening events scheduled. One event will be the kickoff for what we hope will become a major action. Idle No More is also having a big feast to honor victims of sex trafficking. We intend to make both events. On Fridays most of us hold up antiwar signs at the corner of Lake Ave. and Superior St.

So with all the business attended to we head out. No time for soapboxing tonight. We’ll be back on Saturday

G.A. Minutes 2-9-13

G.A. Minutes 2-9-13

We have another occasional Occupier joining us tonight. We haven’t seen him since the meetings at the CJM Memorial so decide to take some time to listen to what he’s been up to. He’s in touch with a lot of mainstream progressive groups and comments on their recent actions. We hear about Take Action MN, MN ASAP,the DFL and many others. One of our local Democratic state representatives may be retiring soon so the DFLers are looking for someone willing to run for the seat. Dennis Kuchinich has written a very progressive bill which several progressive federal legislators are attempting to push through the House. “I’m sure it will pass” an Occupier says sarcastically.

Another Occupier has recently been to a meeting of the UnFair Campaign. He states the UnFair people have decided not to continue their billboard postings. The conversation at this meeting centered on the ways in which the public school system is detrimental to students of color.

A discussion about racism in general develops. An Occupier says she is surprised to hear that Duluth has been found to be the most racist city in Minnesota. She says of course she sees plenty of racism in Duluth but has been to many places in Minnesota and has seen more blatant racism in these places. Another Occupier states he believes the most racist distinction is based on statistics such as the number of people of color in Duluth vs number of those people in high paying jobs, number graduating from high school or college, number incarcerated etc. Everyone agrees, racism is definitely an important problem that needs to be continuously addressed.

The occasional Occupier asks us what our plans for May Day are. As of now, we haven’t made any plans. We are few in number and would need to partner with others. The Occupier suggests contacting the people at Emerson Co-op and we think this may be a good idea.

We begin to discuss our next film showing at the Zinema. The Occupier tasked with getting this together reports she has acquired a copy of “How To Stop A Plague”. The occasional Occupier informs her “How To Stop A Plague” is currently being shown at the Zinema on the main bill. She laughs and says, ”Oh well.” She has a list of possible films and will begin hunting down another. She says she has gotten a lot of good feedback about “Milk”.

Several non-mainstream progressive groups are planning an action for later on in the week and we are excited to be a part of this action. We have been waiting for something like this for months. The details of the action won’t be made public until shortly before the event.

The forecast calls for a fairly large snow storm to descend on our area in a matter of hours. Everyone is anxious to make their last minute preparations and hunker down for the next day or so. All the Occupiers now have some type of lodging and some of the Occupiers are sharing their spaces with homeless friends. We know others who are still homeless. We don’t know where they are right now but we haven’t forgotten them. Providing travel is possible, we’ll be back next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-5-13

G.A. Minutes 2-5-13

We’re at 3803 Grand Ave. again. We’ve had two successful events in the past week and we have two occasional Occupiers joining us this evening. Things are looking good.

The film screening of American Autumn went very well. The weather was terrible and several other events were happening at the same time as our movie. Still, people came and all were very impressed by the quality and content of this film. We held a discussion after the show; it was obvious everyone felt inspired. They left enough donations in the jar to double the funds in our treasury. That will help us to find the next film.

We would still like to hold a film screening of something with an LGBT theme. The occasional Occupiers have some suggestions we hadn’t thought about. Among these suggestions are Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Milk, Venus of Mars, The Main and a movie about a gay bullying incident in Ashland, WI. Everyone agrees, we really would like to show Act Up. However, we don’t have the $250 it would cost for permission to screen it. Someone suggests perhaps we could partner with another group and split the cost or we could try to contact the film maker for permission to waive the fee. The Occupier tasked with working on movies agrees to check into all these things.

An Occupier asks if we should plan an action for Earth Day. Another suggests a trash pickup event that could connect to a previous idea concerning a resolution to be put before the City Council. The previous idea concerned requiring fast food places to be responsible for the trash they create. This trash litters our neighborhoods. It’s also very easy to determine what place is responsible for what trash, as each establishment has their name written all over their garbage. An Occupier states a trash pickup on the scale we’re talking about would require help from a lot of other groups. One of the occasional Occupiers gives a list of many groups she feels might like to participate. The Occupier with the best writing skills offers to contact these groups and find out if they’re interested.

An Occupier who attended the last meeting of Duluth Community Action gives a report. He says the meeting was centered on our local education system. The Superintendent of Schools was there and received an ear full of complaints. The discussion concerned what works and what doesn’t work in adequately educating public school students. Among things that don’t work are out of school suspension, students of color not having role models of their same ethnicity and not having lessons that reflect the history of their ethnicity, large class size, poverty and an unstable home life. The things that do work are pretty much the opposite of things that don’t work.

People want to do something for Valentine’s Day but when realizing the day is only nine days away we decide we will attend another group’s event. Idle No More is planning something and possibly Project Save Our Homes. We’ll check into the details.

The last month of serious winter has begun and we’re looking forward to the energy of Spring. There’s so much to be done. It would be great if some more folks in search of a better world would join us. How about you?