G.A. Minutes 6-29-13

G.A. Minutes 6-29-13

It’s been one of the few truly warm and sunny days we’ve had so far this summer. The temperature is in the high 60s as we set up the chairs. We’ll be having a “courtesy fire” tonight. Small with just enough smoke and flame to be visible, no need to keep warm this evening.

An Occupier needs to move some furniture to his new home so others go to help him. There are just a couple of us left sitting at the Memorial. We discuss whether to proceed with the agenda or perhaps postpone discussion until more Occupiers are present. A wolf howl sounds from up the hill; a couple of the main organizers from Idle No More are on their way down. This is great!

There are not many progressive organizers in our area and the few in existence are overburdened. They rarely find time to just talk. Tonight that’s just what we’ll do.

Our conversation begins with a discussion of vegan and vegetarian diets and the reasoning behind our various choices. We speak of our past personal experiences with abuse and homelessness. We speak of our frustration with the petty quarrels and ego trips between activists who we are working with and of the importance of our work.

An Occupier has been offered an opportunity to video tape political discussion at a local TV station. She would like to share the opportunity with INM and others of like mind. We talk of the possibilities that could result from this collaboration. The TV station has also offered to provide training in the use of video equipment and video production. Some of us are interested but realize our schedules are already too full. We wonder if some of our unemployed youth could be engaged. We’ll give the matter further thought and keep our eyes open for possible candidates.

An Occupier has been contacted by a fellow organizer from another city. The organizer is interested in the subject of the Alberta Clipper pipeline and wants to form a coalition. The Occupier has been to an INM meeting very recently. At that meeting she was authorized to begin working on this issue. She receives further encouragement from the INM folks at the fire and they promise to connect her with a well-known person who will give her detailed information.

A round dance is scheduled to take place in a few days. One of the very young INM members is taking charge of the organization of the event. One of the INM leaders will be meeting with the young one tomorrow. We discuss what we know so far about the plans and agree to touch base quickly after tomorrow’s meeting.

As we have been talking, people from the street have been coming up to get their coffee and lemonade. Apparently they have sensed we are deep in serious conversation. They get refreshments and continue on their way. Finally, a Native elder comes to sit with us.

She introduces herself and tells us something of her life. She speaks of past involvement in actions in support of the homeless. She tells us the elders in the neighborhood are very unhappy about ongoing gang activity. She says the structure of extended families is being threatened. She says, “I’m homeless and a little bit drunk. People say to me, “If you’re homeless, how come your clothes look so good?” I tell them,”Damiano is just up the street. Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you have to look like a bum.” She calls a young man over and bids him to sit and then she leaves. We tell the young man we are Occupy and INM. He is interested.

An Occupier explains she has recently been talking with a well-known homeless outreach worker. The worker has met recently with the Chief of the DPD. The Chief assured the worker his department will not harass homeless persons anymore. However, the worker continues to hear many reports of police harassment of the homeless. We have heard of beatings and the destruction of tents and other personal property.

The outreach worker and the Occupiers made a plan. We will ask homeless people who are being harassed to surreptitiously look at the officer’s badge number or the number on his squad car license plate. Then they should report the numbers to the outreach worker or to the Occupiers. We will then give this information to the Chief of the Duluth Police Department so he will know which officers are disobeying orders. The young man smiles and says, “Sure, I’ll spread the word”.

The Occupiers who were moving furniture have returned. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the meeting. It’s almost dark and way later than we realized. We all have things we must do tomorrow. We head out with plans to meet again on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-25-13

G.A. Minutes 6-25-13
We’re running a little late tonight and we see the Christian youth leaving the Memorial as we’re driving down the hill. As we’re setting up, one of the Christian counselors returns. “I just wanted to check in and see what’s going on with you guys,” he says, “I feel very supportive of what you are doing and wish I could participate.” An Occupier tells him a little bit about the mining projects we are protesting. He can only stay for a minute as he has to get back to his charges. Perhaps he’ll spend more time with us once his job is finished.

The Occupier who normally puts the fire together isn’t with us tonight and we’re having some trouble getting the fire going. One of the female Occupiers is chopping some logs for kindling. She says she was really good at chopping in her youth but now it’s difficult. An Occupier with greater strength shows up and finishes the job but the fire just won’t burn. Finally one of the neighborhood guys from a group home arrives and he gets it going. We fire up a bundle of sage and relax.

The people who did petitioning for Water Legacy on Saturday compare notes. Everyone one found the race watchers to be friendly and many were supportive. Between all of us we gathered almost 200 signatures. Pretty good for a first time out. We imagine we will help them a few more times before summer is over. The public comment period related to the proposed Polymet sulphide mine will take place at the end of August. Water Legacy would like to have as many petition signatures against the mine as possible to present during this time. We have found that most people are opposed to the mine or they are completely unaware of the issue. Asking the local folks to sign our petition serves as an education tool. There are many other actions against the mine either in process or in the planning stages. We’ll be participating is some of those things too.

Someone mentions we haven’t seen one of our regular visitors lately. Another remembers that the last time that particular visitor was with us; an evangelical Christian woman stopped by. She gave us little books of Christian cartoons. The visitor was greatly angered by this, yelled at her and threw his book in the fire. We comment he has always been offended by any mention of anything spiritual. A short discussion of various types of religion and spirituality ensues. There are many different beliefs among us but this has never caused any problem. We have been able to realize none of us knows anything for sure.

An Occupier gives an update about what’s going on with LCO Harvest Camp and the Penokee hills. Ashland and Iron counties have each passed very strict mining ordinances and the GTAC company is very angry. They’ve made comments about going somewhere else where they are welcomed. We say, “Don’t let the door hitcha where the dog done bitcha. Bye!” It looks like Wisconsin may win this one.

Another Occupier states there has been a lot of talk among local organizers this past week. The subject of discussion has been the seldom mentioned Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline aka the alternative to the Keystone pipeline. This Clipper pipeline is already in existence; it ships regular oil and runs from Alberta, Canada to Superior. Wisconsin. If Obama denies the Keystone, the alternative plan is to considerably increase the capacity of the Clipper and pump tar sands oil to Superior.

An additional plan is to build a big loading dock in Superior and ship this tar sands oil out in cargo ships across Lake Superior. There has been very little media attention paid to this dangerous plan. The only mention by regular media we know of was a recent DNT article. The article was written in praise of the fact that Enbridge is increasing its presence in the Twin Ports and is offering some high salaried five year jobs. We say jobs at what price? We realize we must educate the public and tackle this issue immediately. Many Twin Ports organizers are interested but all agree INM should first be consulted. The Occupier reminds everyone the next INM meeting will be Friday, June 28th, 9am at Randy’s Café.

An occasional visitor states more people are needed to run for the School Board positions. We try to give her ideas as to who might make a good candidate. Another Occupier reminds everyone that CHUM is sponsoring their annual Rhubarb Festival this upcoming Saturday at 1st Lutheran Church.

The neighborhood man who had made our fire burn returns from signing in at his group home. He carries a bundle of cedar. The sage has finished so we light the cedar. It smells good too. We begin to talk about all the rules and regulations one must follow if living in group homes, homeless shelters and such. Many of these rules are silly and demeaning. The Occupier who has been living far away has found a local apartment. For now he has a home but realizes things are pretty tight and isn’t sure he’ll have one in the long term. He questions one of the homeless Occupiers and receives a list of feeding places, food shelters, homeless shelters and homeless camps, complete with times and other helpful details. Many of the Occupiers are homeless, others are near homelessness and the ones who have homes have homeless people living with them.

We’re going to leave early tonight as almost everyone has somewhere they have to be. It’s been a quite night, pleasant weather, very few visitors and no drama. Hopefully we’ll catch the same vibe when we return on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 6-18-13

G.A. Minutes 6-18-13
The Christian youth group has returned as they promised they would last Tuesday. However, there’s a lot more of them and there’s something different about them. A counselor explains this is another group of kids; it’s only the counselors who will be in Duluth for the summer. These kids are from the Twin Cities and they’re not as wide eyed and unsophisticated as last week’s youth from South Dakota. They’re not at all impressed that we’re Occupy Duluth; to them we’re just another bunch of grownups. Boring. The counselors have a general idea of what Occupy is all about and they have even heard of Idle No More. They ask questions and we explain the urgency of halting climate change, fighting the financiers, oil companies and such. They say, “Well thanks for doing that”. They want to meet some homeless people. We say, “Homeless people probably won’t come into the Memorial until you are gone. They are used to being harassed by people who look like you; they don’t know you so will be suspicious. It took us a good while to establish trust around here.” They gather up the young people and leave. No one says good bye.

A middle aged man who has visited in the past sits down. Tonight he’s talking about the amount of homeless people who gravitate to Duluth. He says the services in our city are superior to any place he has ever lived. An Occupier responds, “We know the provisions for homeless folks in Duluth are insufficient so it’s very sad that many people tell us other places have much less.” The man tells us our city is the only place he knows of that provides anything for single homeless men. He has grown up in the south and says down there, the solution to homelessness is arrest and placement on a chain gang.

Our regular visitor from Mississippi arrives and then, the pregnant woman who stayed at our camp. Tonight she has a man with her and they both appear to be drunk. She smells our burning sage and asks to be smudged. We say,” We’re not Native so don’t really have the power to smudge”. She responds, “I have that power. I’ll talk you through it.” An Occupier does as she instructs him. She then tells her male partner they have enough money for one last 40 ounce. To us she says, “I’ll be back in a while.”

Another Occupier reports that Water Legacy has put in a request for Occupiers to assist them in getting petition signatures for their petition to protect our waterways and to deny PolyMet’s plea for a sulphide mining permit on the Iron Range. Everyone agrees to help. The petition drive is to take place next Saturday afternoon and evening so we know we’ll have to cancel our G.A. So be it.

As we are having this discussion we notice our main “problem child” has come to sit on the back ledge. This is another woman who lived at our camp. She has a serious drinking problem and severe mental health issues. When she drinks she becomes angry, aggressive and obnoxious. Tonight she is very drunk. After our camp closed, we didn’t see her for a while but when she returned, she returned with the belief that one of the Occupiers had ripped her shirt off, killed the baby she was carrying in her womb and then sent the father of her unborn baby to prison. From what we know of her life, these things probably did happen but of course, the Occupiers had nothing to do with it. She starts again with the same rant, “You tore off my shirt! You killed my baby! You sent my baby’s daddy to prison!” When this happens, the accused Occupier generally just hangs his head. Another Occupier has said, “We need to confront her when she does this. We need to tell she is wrong”. Tonight this Occupier gives it a try. She says, “You need to stop saying these things! You know they’re not true. Maybe all these things happened to you but they weren’t caused by him.” The ranting woman stops for a minute and then starts yelling again. As usual, her friends drag her off and apologize for her behavior. Oh well, we’ll just have to keep trying. When she’s not drinking, which isn’t very often, one can actually talk with her.

Now a couple of men we haven’t met get some coffee and sit down. They are residents of a nearby group home. The younger man says, “If the evil spirits are getting too close, you can always ask the butterfly for help”. We wonder what he means but decide not to go there tonight. We can only handle so much insanity at one time.

The older man chats with us about capitalism and such. He tells us he is content in the home where he is currently living. However, he tells of bad experiences he had while living in a home owned by one of the biggest companies in town. His stories jibe with what we had heard via the grapevine about this big company. He looks and his watch and says he needs to get the younger man back before curfew. “Will you guys be here another night? I’d like to come back”. We tell him when we hold our meetings and encourage him to return.

A regular man from the street comes walking rather rapidly. He’s the one we call the intelligent man. He knows the street well but never seems drunk or drugged and generally appears to be helping others. He calls to all the people on the corner, “Don’t go down there. Don’t go down there.” Everyone listens to him, turns and walks the other way. An Occupier takes a peek and says, ”Oh, they’re all fighting down there”. Squad cars go whizzing by. Same old, same old.

Another young man runs up to us. “Is that sage?” An Occupier hands him the burning bundle, he smudges himself, says thank you and runs off.

It’s time to leave. Everyone helps clean up. The Occupier couple are the last ones to go. The man says, “Why do they fight each other?” The woman replies, “They have a lot of anger and stress. If they take it out on anyone else, they’ll go to jail”.

Just then, a squad car roars up and squeals on to the Memorial. Our friend, the former camper and her man are drinking their 40 ounce on the back ledge. They capture the two and throw them on the car. They are both all too familiar with this routine so they “assume the position”. Another squad pulls up and then another. The Occupier couple are across the street and have finished loading up. They decide to stay and watch and witness. After much talk and body searching, the cops pour out the 40 ounce and let the drinkers go. After 5-0 leaves, the Occupier woman gives the drinkers a few cigarettes and says, “Too much drama”. They appear a little shaken and say,”Yeah too much drama”. Another night in the hood.

G.A. Minutes 6-15-13

G.A. Minutes 6-15-13

The street and the Memorial are completely empty when we arrive. There was a big Juneteenth celebration up at the Community Center this afternoon, so we figure people are still there or are sleeping off the effects of a huge free meal.

As we’re setting up, our old friend from our former camp walks up. It’s really good to see him. He talks a mile a minute and tells the most wild and entertaining stories. The stories always seem to be based on things that actually happened in his life but they contain obvious embellishments. We think our friend is a much damaged veteran of the 1st Gulf War. He hasn’t come around for at least half a year and we ask him what he’s been up to. The fun begins. The yarn he spins is delightful. The part about losing his apartment, being homeless now and camping up the hill somewhere is probably true. The part about having top of the line camping equipment along with a detailed description of each item, leaving tonight with his new girlfriend for a bike trip to the southern U.S. and then finding a way to Hawaii where he has a job measuring lava flow for the National Science Foundation are probably not true. He gets a cup of coffee and takes off to begin his new adventure. Hopefully, it won’t too long before we see him again.

A young man who has attended several of our meetings over the winter arrives. This is his first time ever at the Memorial. He asks questions about the old burned down Kozy building across the street. We explain the history of our connection to the building and the history of the building itself. We tell him of our former homeless camp in the courtyard of the Kozy. Many of the people on the street of the Memorial were residents of our camp, so although this neighborhood is rough, when we hold our meeting here people either leave us alone or sit down to join us.

The young man speaks about a new branch of the BDS which is being formed in Duluth. Some of us know the branch organizer well and have been lending some support to his efforts. We all support divestment in Israel and the right of the Palestinians to have whatever they want to have. He tells us a story about an interaction with police officers. It seems he has had little experience in interacting with 5-0 so we explain a bit about police behavior. One of the basics is: police continuously lie so always be polite (that keeps them calmer) but never take anything they say as the truth.

The young guy then says he believes people in Duluth should form coalitions instead of having many separate groups around different issues. An Occupier comments we don’t form a lot of official coalitions and give them names but we know most of the other organizers and activists. We regularly work with each other and offer support for each other’s direct actions. He hasn’t lived in the Twin Ports for very long and we encourage him to stay involved. We promise him things are really “cooking” around here.

An Occupier asks another to start up the fire, she hands him her pink lighter. He jokingly says, “Oh I’m a man, I can’t use that. You do it” and hands her back the lighter. She says, “Well, because you just said such a scandalous thing, you have no choice but to use this to light the fire.” They both laugh and he lights the fire.

A couple, who are probably not homeless or from the neighborhood arrive and sit down. The woman says they have received a rare break from their young children. Their grandparents are babysitting and they are cruising around town trying to find out what’s going on. The man says, “So what’s Occupy up to these days?” We tell him what we’ve been doing lately and speak of our concerns related to climate change and the destruction of our planet. We speak about the importance of treaty rights and the kinship we feel with Idle No More.

A man pushing a shopping cart comes into our circle. He is a friend of one of the Occupiers. He says he has just had his individual camp on the hill torn down by the DPD. He is on his way to set up camp in the Graffiti Graveyard. This camp is unofficially sanctioned by the DPD. We tell him we think the police want to have all the homeless congregated in a few large camps where they can be easily watched and controlled. He agrees with us. He says he knows he has many treaty rights which the police regularly violate. He speaks about something called the LaPointe Treaty. He says it is a treaty which covers many of the Ojibwe tribes in the north central U.S. We make a note to do some research concerning this treaty. We ask him if he is familiar with INM and he says he is not but mentions there is no separation between Natives of the U.S. and those of Canada. Native nations are not the same as nations made by the white man. This man has to leave as he needs to set up his new camp before dark. He promises to return and we hope he will do so.

A woman, who had been a speaker at the anniversary commemoration of the CJM Memorial the previous day, arrives. She is doing a doctoral thesis on various types of memorials throughout the country and had been introduced to one of the Occupiers. She’s come to observe and participate. We welcome her.

A very drunk woman comes to sit. She is crying and talking about the death of her husband. She says she is the victim of much abuse by her husband and other men. She points to her glass eye and her shattered cheek bone. She does look quite battered. An Occupier remembers they have not fired up a sage bundle yet so she does this. The smell of sage seems to calm the drunken woman. Her friend arrives, accepts the sage but says, “I’m really not supposed to smudge when I’ve been drinking”. Then the two friends throw their arms around each other and sob about past abuse and some man who has recently been arrested. Stopping our political discussions and ministering to the neighborhood street folks is the price we pay for using the Memorial.

Another man calls from across the street, “Do you still have free coffee?” When we say yes he comes over to get some. He’s a little confused by the sugar we have. We tell him it’s just the same as regular sugar except it’s fair trade and unrefined. He says, “I may be just making this up but I think the reason Native people have the highest diabetes rate in the nation is because they were forced to eat all that commodity food”. We assure him he is not making it up. The drunken woman continues to sob. We know we cannot solve her problems so begin to pack up. We give her some cigarettes and ask her to join us again next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-11-13

G.A. Minutes 6-11-13

We arrive at the CJM Memorial this evening and find a rather large group of junior high school students hanging out. They’re very friendly and tell us they are members of a non-denominational youth group from South Dakota. They’re in Duluth for the summer doing some type of volunteer work. When we explain about our bi-weekly Occupy meetings, they are absolutely thrilled. Go figure.

We have noticed over the last half year or so, the general public seems quite favorable toward Occupy. The youth help us unload everything from our truck. One of their leaders sits down with us for a chat. We ask her about the oil and gas drilling in her state. She tells us, “All of that is going on in North Dakota, not in South Dakota. However, I’ve noticed oil company trailers being parked all around. I haven’t heard anything but I’m thinking maybe some of that stuff will be starting where I live”.

She has no knowledge whatsoever about fracking. We explain what it is and the damage it will bring to her water supply. We remind her that clean water is necessary for life. It appears the things we are explaining are new concepts to her but she does not seem resistant. The other group leaders are gathering up the kids so she joins them. Everyone says, “See you next week”.

The temperature is still in the 70s. We agree to wait to start a fire until the sun goes behind the buildings. One of the Occupiers was unable to go to the Penokee Harvest Camp on Saturday. He’s very anxious to hear what we found. We inform him we were impressed by the camp. It covers a good sized area of pristine forest and has a river flowing alongside. The chief and about 10-15 regular campers run an efficient encampment complete with kitchen, dishwashing, gardens, fire pit and socialization area, many nature trails and guides, Native arts and crafts and plenty of tents for guests. They have the approval of all the woodland neighbors and many supporters across Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While we were at camp, the chief explained some of the intricate details of the legal battle with the government and the mining company. Many people are fighting the proposed mine and the possibility of a victory is real. The main mission of the camp is to educate visitors about the precious area and to keep watch on the activities of the mining company. We received word this morning that the company had begun exploratory drilling. A call was put out for as many supporters as possible to come to camp and serve as witnesses. We have many commitments this week but Idle No More folks headed over today. We are attempting to send a news reporter to the camp a.s.a.p.

An Occupier expresses his frustration with the 1%, with their blindness and their greed. He bemoans the extreme poverty and suffering of so many of the world’s people. “Why can’t they see that people need a means to survive?” Another Occupier says jokingly, “You mean austerity is not the answer?” Everyone laughs. He sighs and we move on.

A woman who has been sitting on the ledge comes over. She says, “You’re Occupy Duluth ain’t ya? Remember me? I was at your camp”. We do indeed remember her. She was extremely skinny, always drunk and looking for a fight. Now she has put on 30 or 40 pounds and is talking in a friendly and intelligent manner.

“I’m not homeless anymore. I got into treatment, jumped through all them hoops they make ya do and got myself a little place to stay. I still hang out with all these guys’ cuz they’re still my friends but I’m pregnant now and I got a kid to take care of. I’m acting different these days.” We are genuinely pleased to see her; we congratulate her and give her encouragement.

Another man sits down. He is talking a mile a minute and although we listen to him carefully we have no idea what he is talking about. He says he’s from San Francisco but that’s about all we understand. He’s using regular English words and has an intelligible accent but we have no clue what he’s trying to say. We hear him for a while; he thanks us for our hospitality and leaves. After he is gone an Occupier says, “I guess with some people, style is more important than content.”

An Occupier reminds us tomorrow night there will be an important panel discussion at UMD about the proposed Polymet mine in Northern Minnesota. We have been asked by one of the organizers to arrive a little early to help him plan for questions and answers. Most of us will be able to make it to this event. Somebody asks what the position of our local Native tribes are. We know Protect Our Manoomin is an ally but there’s a lot that remains to be seen. Many people are opposed to this sulphite mine. We know the health of our land and water takes precedence over a few promised jobs for a few people. It looks as though most government officials and regulators have been purchased by the corporation. Tomorrow night may get heated.

Someone mentions an ordinance was passed by the City Council yesterday and it had something to do with synthetic drugs. Another explains the ordinance made being under the influence of synthetic classified as a crime. It’s called internal possession. Everyone thinks this is really funny. The ordinance also said any store selling synthetic drugs must have a license to do so. We wonder how “internal possession” will be determined as we know drug tests for synthetic are very expensive and police and treatment centers don’t have them. We wonder if there is such a thing as a license to sell synthetic drugs. It’s obvious to us that synthetic is a real problem in our city but we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.

As our meeting was going on, the street scene was very loud. We weren’t paying much attention but were aware there was a lot of yelling and people running around. At one point we fired up a small bundle of sage and let it drift over the area. Things became quiet and calm immediately. The entire ruckus went somewhere else. Now a pair of DPD officers walk up. One of them says, “Have you been having any trouble?” “Everything’s fine here,” we say. One officer says, “Is this a cooking fire or a warming fire?” It seems like he thinks he needs to appear to be in authority. We choose one and say, “A warming fire.” He says, “Well that’s o.k. then” and they walk away. The mysteries of the DPD….

Nightfall is arriving; we have many things to do this week. We’ll keep in touch and meet back here on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 6-4-13

G.A. Minutes 6-4-13
It’s very cloudy and looks like it might rain. We’re going to take a chance that it won’t. Last Saturday we met indoors as we thought it would rain. It never did. We like being outdoors at the Memorial so we’ll risk getting wet.

Just as we’re setting up the chairs and preparing the fire we receive a visit from one of the members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial board of directors. This is his first time meeting any of the Occupiers so we all introduce ourselves. He says, “I can’t stay tonight but I just wanted to thank you for all you do and to say keep up the good work.”

One of our regular street friends stops by for a minute. She’s carrying lots of bags and is on her way down the street. One of the Occupiers has a small bundle of sage, he offers it to her and she lights it up and smudges as all and we smudge her. The wonderful fragrance wafts throughout the neighborhood.

Another Occupier arrives; one of our friends from the City arrives with him. They remind us the anniversary of CJM ceremony will be held June 14th at noon. The featured speaker will be a big surprise to many people. He tells us who it will be and we are sworn to secrecy. The Juneteenth celebration will be the next day at the Hillside Community Center. The Occupiers plan to show up and inquire as to how they can be of assistance.

Our City friend mentions the subject of possible funding for the renovation of the old Kozy apartment building. The building is directly across the street from the Memorial. Our previous homeless camp was pitched behind this building. Many of us have been contacted recently by another City official asking for our opinions on how we would like to see the old Kozy renovated. Most of us support the idea of housing for poor and/or homeless people.

Our friend explains the ins and outs of obtaining TIF funding for housing development. We express our usual concerns about developers gentrifying the Central Hillside and forcing all the poor and homeless out of the area. He tells us renovating the old Kozy and turning it into low and moderate income housing using TIF funds would be a sure fire way of keeping regular people living in the Central Hillside. He elaborates on some of the ideas he and others have for the project and we like what we hear.

The old Kozy housed many “difficult to house” people until it burned in a fire several years ago. Since then it has been standing empty. We all hope the project will work out and that some of the people burned out of their homes will be able to live there again.

Our friend tells us One Roof Housing is having a free meal catered by Duluth Grill and they are also giving away many plants that people can plant in their gardens. We are surprised we hadn’t heard about this event. He says” Oh, I guess it wasn’t very well publicized. Maybe that’s why there are so few people in attendance.” He and an Occupier decide to leave to get some of the food and plants. We jokingly say, “If they have any to go plates, bring us some”.

A boy on a bike rides up and asks for water. We give him some and begin to chat. He tells us he is homeless and that he sleeps on the front porch of one of his relatives. He says, “You guys are the ones who had that camp in the back of the Kozy last year. Hey, you really helped a lot of people”. We tell him about the free meal and he hops on his bike and takes off to get fed.

An Occupier reminds everyone about the Truth To Tell educational event to be held at UMD June 12th at 6pm. It will be a live broadcast of a panel discussion concerning the proposed PolyMet mine. One of our friends is a main organizer and would like our support. Besides, we are sure to learn things we need to know.
The Occupier begins to talk about the Penokee Hills situation when our City friend and the Occupier pull up.

They are bringing us plates of food from the free meal! Someone says, ”Oh man, you rock!” We are all hungry and very grateful. We chow down immediately. There is a lull in the conversation while we “occupy” some really good food. When we come up for air the Penokee discussion resumes. The older man from the neighborhood sits down to listen. A woman we don’t know walks over and says, “Are you folks Occupy Duluth”? When we say yes, she says, “But I thought Occupy was a bunch of kids”. She then begins to talk about the Book of Revelations and the 2nd coming of Christ. She gives everyone religious pamphlets.

We listen politely and accept her pamphlets but the older man will have none of it. He says, “Why are you telling us this b.s.”? She says goodnight and leaves. After she is gone the older man throws his pamphlet in the fire. He always gets upset when someone talks about spiritual things.

Anyway, back to the Penokee situation. The Penokee Hills is near the Bad River Reservation in Wisconsin. It is a very pristine area with many clean rivers and streams. A mining company is attempting to build a mountaintop removal iron ore mine there. The Bad River Band with assistance from various other Native bands is fighting this proposed mine. They are battling to save the land, water and environment from pollution and destruction.

The Bad River Band holds treaty rights to the area of the proposed mine. The current governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker is completely in the pocket of the corporations and is trying very hard to ignore treaty rights and to push the mine through any way he can. This coming weekend, June 8th and 9th, the mining company (G-Tech) is planning on making some exploratory drills in the area.

Bad River is asking for help from all supporters. They need as many allies as possible to join them in protesting this drilling. We would like to go there so discuss logistics. When will we need to leave and how many people can fit in the Occupy couple’s vehicle? Will another Occupier be willing to drive his vehicle if we can get gas money for him? The older man says, “I won’t be able to go along but I’d like to contribute to the gas money.” He gives us a generous contribution. That pretty much settles it. We should be able to go.

Rain drops are becoming noticeable. We pack up and head for home. If we go to Bad River there will be no G.A. on Saturday.