G.A. Minutes 1-25-14

G.A. Minutes 1-25-14
It’s cold again this evening.  This is no big surprise, seeing as it’s the end of January.  The weather people say it will be super, duper, dangerously cold over most of next week.  This is the most difficult time of year; we scurry from one warm place to another.  Catching a breath of fresh air is out of the question.  Soon cabin fever will set in; we notice people are already getting crabby.  However, we’ve all been through this many times before so know we will survive.  Only 3 Occupiers are present at the Amazing Grace as meeting time rolls around.  We think we’ll just sit and chat until others arrive.
We begin to discuss the Popular Resistance emails.  We like the information contained in them but no one knows who the author of the book Doing Democracy was.  We know his name was Bill Moyer and that he passed away in 2002.  We will have to find out more about him.
An Occupier comments that his stages of revolution are similar to the stages of evolution mentioned in the First Nations Fire Prophecies and the Mayan Prophecy.  All mention a sudden outburst of superficial awareness by the general public followed by a backlash created by the ruling class and then a time of disarray with much in fighting, struggle and discouragement.  We see signs of this struggle happening around us.
A well-known and well-respected organizer friend of ours is currently undergoing a well-financed but unsubstantiated attack on her integrity and motives.  There has also been a rather clumsy attempt by someone we thought we knew well to take over one of our ally groups.  We see several highly visible organizers involved in an ongoing petty argument that distracts from their very important work.  Another Occupier reports she has received word from a Native spiritual leader and friend of ours that we should not worry about these things.  All of this has been predicted.  Now is the time people will show themselves for who they truly are.  We should just watch while continuing to do honest work.  Everything will work out in time and the prophecies will be fulfilled.  Bill Moyer makes similar, though non-spiritual, predictions in his 8 stages of revolution.
Several Occupiers attended yesterday’s Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting.  It was reported that on an international level INM is in disarray, splitting into many factions.  We noted earlier this month that INM in the Twin Cities appears to be in bad shape.
NWA is planning to go back to its original mission of organizing in support of the wolves on the various area Native reservations.  This original mission was thrown off track by the intrusion of a wealthy female psychiatrist with political ambitions.  She managed to co-opt the Howling For Wolves group and also attempted to take over NWA. NWA is still intact however; the wealthy woman’s attacks are ongoing.  An Occupier states she is looking forward to spending time on the reservations as these areas are mostly unfamiliar to her.  Of course, Occupy will remain in our role of helpers and supporters.
The Occupier who is creating the calendar of all local progressive groups reports he is still having trouble getting it to function properly.  He sent out the link to many area organizers today.  At first people reported they had been able to access the calendar, but after several hours, these same people reported that when clicking on the link they were receiving a message that the calendar does not exist.  Grrrrr……  Finding a way for everyone to access this calendar has been an ongoing problem.  The Occupier jokingly says either Google Plus is a defective program or we have an NSA troll in our mix.  We know it’s possible that this is not a joke.  Most progressives operate as though there was a NSA spy among them.  Fortunately Occupy is by nature a transparent group so spies can just read our meeting minutes.  They don’t even have to go to the trouble of adapting a disguise and actually attending the meetings.
So we’ve been waiting for over an hour for the rest of our comrades to arrive.  We guess that no one else is coming tonight.  We’ll exchange some quick announcements and then go over to an Occupier’s house and relax for a while.
On Monday January 27th at 7pm, Break The Bonds is showing their first in a series of movies at the Zinema.  The movies are about the occupation of Palestine.  Suggested donation is $6 and we all agree that we want to see these movies.  Movies in support of Palestine are something people in the U.S. rarely get to view.
On Wednesday January 29th at 5pm at the Central Hillside Community Center, Native Alliance, Red Lake Urban Office and Idle No More Duluth are sponsoring a feast and a forum about Anthony Jackson.  He is the disabled man who, while sitting in his wheelchair, was severely and unjustly beaten by a DPD officer.  The beating was recorded on video tape and the lack of justification for the abuse was obvious.  The officer’s attorney successfully filed for a change of venue to Pine City.  In Pine City the officer was found to be acting in self-defense.  The citizens of Duluth were astounded.
On Tuesday February 4th at 5pm at the CHCC, the Green Party will hold its caucus.  An organizer friend of ours recently made the comment, “I don’t actually believe in the current electoral system but if we attend the Green Party caucus we should be able to push them in a more radical direction than they would go without us.  We agree with this assessment and plan to attend.
Some Occupiers report they have just scored some free Bose speakers.  They will test them out and then they will be made available for events as needed.
We’re off to hang out at our friend’s house and will be back at the Café on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-21-14

G.A. Minutes 1-21-14
Well we’re on our way back into the deep freeze again.  The Polar Vortex is paying another unwelcome visit and we don’t know how long it will stay.  We think at least a week.  Everybody is currently sick with a cold, just coming down with one or just getting over one.  Our coughing and sneezing is louder than the background music being played at the Café.
Several Occupy friends who haven’t been around for many months are with us tonight.  They’ve come to tell us about the work they’ve been doing with IWW.  There are several local organizing campaigns currently in the works and a brain storming session with IWW organizers from another city being planned for February 1st.  The IWW is preparing to work with others on a campaign to raise the minimum wage.  An Occupier states she has noticed this issue is in the forefront of many national NGO and progressive congress people’s agendas lately.
 A discussion develops with Occupiers talking about the advisability of recruiting the sponsorship of a City Council member vs drafting a petition and getting one tenth as many signatures from Duluth citizens as the amount of voters in the last City election (approx. 17,000 voters).  Either one of these methods would enable the issue to be put before the City Council.  A few people remember the almost successful Campaign For A Living Wage from about 10 years ago. The campaign received a lot of attention and it appeared as though it would succeed…..  but then it didn’t.  No one can remember exactly what happened.  We think it would be a good idea to find out the details of that campaign before embarking on a new one.
An Occupier reports the Overpass Light Brigade light board making session last Saturday was a success.  Men As Peacemakers showed up with a bunch of people, they barreled down and made all the boards and were completely finished by 2pm.  They even brought their own food.  We were impressed.  The OLB action will be this Thursday, January 23rd, 5pm at the Lake Ave and Superior St freeway overpass.  When the action is finished people are invited to attend a candlelight vigil at Trepanier Hall.
The next meeting of Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be held Friday January 24th, 1pm at Randy’s.
An Occupier brings up the subject of May Day.  He reminds us last year’s May Day celebration was quite successful and he thinks we should do it again this year.  Everyone thinks this is a good idea but we’ll have to find a different venue.  The backyard at the Washington Artists Co-op has been remodeled and is no longer suitable for a big gathering.  People agree to start looking around for another space.
The Occupier who has made the progressive calendar of events asks how people like it.  Most folks report they have been unable to access it.  “Omg,” says the Occupier, “I didn’t realize that.  I’ll get back to working on it and try and figure out why it can’t be accessed”.
It’s beginning to sound like we are having a coughing contest.  We’d better call it a night, go home and rest.  Barring any earth shattering developments, we’ll be back here at the Amazing Grace Café on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 1-14-14

G.A. Minutes 1-14-14
The cold snap has finally broken and we are now basking in the warmth of +10 and +20 degree temperatures. Considering the 2 weeks of severely below zero temps we just suffered through, we’re not complaining.
We begin by discussing the status of our latest Overpass Light Brigade project.  We have the actual boards made and most of the lights have been purchased.  There is still a lot of work to do and the event is supposed to happen on Jan. 23rd.  We plan to spend most of the upcoming weekend working on this.  We hope Men As Peacemakers will show up to help us but if they don’t, we’re prepared to complete the project ourselves.  We’re trying out a new way of making the light boards; there will be 24 letters which will say Native Women Are Not For Sale.
Last Saturday we had 2 major events of equal importance to attend so we split up with some of us going to one event and others attending the other.  The Occupiers who attended the Progressive Forum report at least 100+ people were in attendance.  There was much discussion about the need for all progressive groups to work together and to conscientiously avoid petty disagreements and the spreading of rumors.  This behavior feeds the divide and conquer strategy of the 1%.  It’s also reported there were many people from Democratic Party organizations and few young people.
The Occupiers who attended the 13 Moons Pow Wow report a huge crowd of over 1,000 with much drumming, dancing and socializing.  The Occupiers spent their time staffing the table of the Northwoods Wolf Alliance.  Many new volunteers were recruited and everyone had a very good time.
Last night many of the Occupiers attended the Water Legacy workshop related to the upcoming public comment hearing on the proposed Polymet sulphide mine in northern Minnesota.  From the hearing they went to the City Council meeting where the first step for the Homeless Bill of Rights was unanimously approved by the City Councilors.  The Bill of Rights will now be passed on to the Human Rights Commission.  Everyone agrees that the Occupier who has been asked to join the HRC should do so asap so as to give an Occupy viewpoint concerning the Homeless Bill of Rights.  The Occupier says she will fill out the paperwork right away.
An Occupier reports CHUM will be holding a donation drive January 31st and February 1st.  They have been asking for volunteers and she was thinking the Occupiers should step up but as she’s been watching things, it appears the local churches will have this thing covered.  Many are volunteering their buildings as drop off spaces, their vehicles for transportation and their members to staff the drive.  Another Occupier says,” Maybe they’re being so cooperative because with this event they won’t have to actually touch or interact with homeless people”.  A mean comment, but unfortunately, probably true.
With all the reports out of the way, a discussion about the 2 emails received from Popular Resistance begins.  At first we have a good laugh because the information in the emails is primarily taken from the writings of Bill Moyer. The article states Bill Moyer passed away in 2001.  Upon reading this several Occupiers said, “What!  Bill Moyers is not dead.  I just read his latest article yesterday”.  There was much internet messaging between the Occupiers and one even attempted to email Popular Resistance to inform them of their error.  An Occupier with an eye for detail then messaged the others, “It’s Bill Moyer, not Bill Moyers”.
We talk about Bill Moyer’s idea of the 8 stages of revolution, the idea that the Occupy Movement brought on the 4th stage and that we are now in the 6th stage.  Stage 6 is the stage of Major Public Support, the time when the general public is ready for knowledge and ideas about the true state of the world and what can be done about it. Mr. Moyer states many organizers think that the job is to fight the banks, lawmakers, police, judges etc.  In reality the job is to interact with people in our daily lives and consciously bring up the subject of the 1% and how the world is run.  This does not mean dogmatic preaching but just gentle conversation and listening.
As we converse we notice the workers cleaning the floors and putting the chairs up.  It’s time to leave; they need to go home.
We make plans to meet on Thursday at the public comment hearing, on Saturday at the OLB light board making space and here again, at the Amazing Grace Café, next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-7-14

G.A. Minutes 1-7-14

The weather is still deadly cold.  The entire Midwestern United States has been in what they’re calling an Artic Vortex for over a week.  In layman’s terms that means if one is outdoors without serious winter clothing they will freeze to death.  Mother Nature is definitely not playing this time.

When we arrive at the Amazing Grace Café this evening we notice a sign on the door which states they will be closing at 7pm.  We think the staff is getting fed up with this horrible weather and they want to go home before the temperatures drop into the risking your life to be outside mode.  We’ll have to talk fast.  We decide to do a quick rundown of up all the things we’re planning to do over the next few weeks.

An Occupier reports she has been asked to become a member of the City of Duluth Human Rights Commission. She was told by some of the commissioners they are having trouble making and decisions because they can’t make quorum.  They believe the Occupier generally follows through when she makes a commitment so they’d like to become a member.  She’s not sure what to do as she questions whether these commissions actually accomplish anything.  She wonders if she’ll be wasting her time.  Another Occupier says he has a friend who is interested in joining the Human Rights Commission.  The next HR Commission meeting is tomorrow evening and the 2 Occupiers agree to meet up at that meeting.  Hopefully the friend will come with them.  They plan to attend the next few HR meetings and then make a decision.

A quick rundown of the next few weeks events consists of a Water Legacy phone bank held at the Occupier couple’s home on Thursday January 9th from 4p-9p, a progressive forum at the Coppertop Church Saturday January 11th from 11p-4p, the 13 Moons Pow Wow also Saturday January 11th from 10am-10pm at Black Bear, the Water Legacy EIS comments workshop Monday January 13th 5p-9p at Leibovitz Bldg UMD, presentation of the Homeless Bill of Rights to the City Council also on Monday January 13th 7pm, election for district 2 county commissioner (replacing the Occupier’s good friend who recently passed away) Tuesday January 14th,  the Polymet EIS comment hearing Thursday January 16th  5p-10p at the DECC and many Martin Luther King Jr. Day events which will take place from Friday January 17th thru Monday January 20th.  We’re going to be quite busy.

There is also another project that we will be working on.  The month of January is Sex Trafficking Awareness Month.  Our ally Idle No More is greatly concerned about this issue as approximately 80% of trafficked women in the United States and Canada are of Indigenous heritage.  Of the few local agencies that address sex trafficked persons, none are concerned specifically with the needs of Native women.  Several area Native women’s groups have banded together and are planning an event for Thursday, January 23rd to highlight this problem.  As part of this event, the women would like to have an Overpass Light Brigade action.  They have requested that the Occupiers take charge of this action.  We’re told Men As Peacemakers will help with the labor.  It will be a lot of work but we have a work space and experience with making the light boards.  We are happy to help out.  Right now we are in the planning and gathering supplies stage.  The bulk of the work will be done Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 17th, 18th and 19th.  That means we’ll miss the majority of the weekend MLK events.  We hope to be done in time to make the MLK rally on Monday.

An Occupier tells a story.  She was at the mayor’s press conference at Trepanier Hall earlier today.  The conference was the kickoff to Sex Trafficking Awareness Month.  All the domestic violence NGOs were there and everyone was giving speeches and praising and patting each other on the back.  Almost as an afterthought, the MC pointed to two of our main Indigenous women allies and said, “Oh, we mustn’t forget these women.  They are doing lots of great work and they’re not even getting paid”.  We all laugh. We know the difference between getting paid to care and caring because you actually care.

The workers are putting the chairs up on the tables and nervously reminding us they are about to close.  We had planned a discussion around some literature we’ve been reading.  It’s about the subject of where does Occupy go from here.  Well tonight Occupy is going home.  Perhaps we can discuss when we return next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 12-31-13

G.A. Minutes 12-31-13

It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re having a G.A. at the Amazing Grace. A bit unconventional but seeing as we haven’t been able to meet for over 2 weeks, we thought meeting tonight was a good idea.

Some of our people will leave early as they are volunteering to help out at a CASDA fundraiser. CASDA is the main sexual assault/domestic violence protection agency across the bridge in Superior, WI. Those of us who remain generally shun the New Year’s Eve party and bar scene referring to it as “amateur night”.

Temperatures plunged a few days ago and haven’t risen above zero since. There is no end to this frigid weather in sight. Homeless advocates and concerned others are on high alert. The CHUM center isn’t picking and choosing its residents this week, all are admitted. A few homeless folks are in the hospital and in danger of having their frostbitten limbs amputated. The remaining Occupiers won’t be hanging around under the stars this evening. When the café closes we’ll drop those without vehicles off and all will scurry home to dive under blankets and maybe stay awake long enough to welcome the New Year. It appears this new year will be promising.

Some of our allies went down to the Mall of America this morning. They planned on attending the 2nd annual Idle No More Round Dance Celebration. A few days before the scheduled event some of the people believed to be leaders received unsigned letters telling them they would be arrested if they attempted to hold the Round Dance. Idle No More and their allies were rightfully quite offended upon receiving these letters.

Mall of America’s practice of regularly allowing Christian groups use of the space for celebration of Christian and dominant culture rituals, while terming Native celebration political protest, smacked of racism and ethnocentricity. INM decided to go ahead with the planned Round Dance. As the Occupier couple was leaving to attend the G.A. they were notified that 2 women classified by the MOA as leaders had been arrested. One of these women is a very close ally of the Occupiers.

The couple was informed MOA security had been stationed at every entrance and were stopping and searching people at random, turning away whomever they chose. They decided to bring their laptop to the G.A. so as to keep tabs on the situation.
During the meeting it was determined to be a “courtesy arrest”. The 2 INM women were released within the hour. This will surely become a legal matter. As we discuss the issue we wonder what criteria was used for searching and turning away those entering the mall. We also wonder about the fact that MOA was built with a lot of public funds and that it sits on ceded territory. We are disappointed that what could have been a joyous, inclusive and healing occasion was turned into one of racism, mistrust and hatred by MOA.

An Occupier reminds us the next INM meeting is Friday, January 3rd at Randy’s.

The discussion evolves into one about another issue we have partnered with local Native people to address. The wolf and the wolf hunt. We participated in 2 more Ogichiidag Overpass Light Brigade actions during the past 2 weeks. One was at Bentleyville in Duluth and the other in Bemidjii. Both were successful and received good media attention. 2 more actions are planned; one will be in Ely and the other in Grand Rapids. The dates haven’t been decided upon but they will probably be sometime in January. The MN and WI hunts are now officially finished. They finished early as the hunters had reached their government approved killing quota.

We wonder what Northwoods Wolf Alliance strategy moving forward will be. Seeing as we are allies of NWA, our ideas and opinions are always heard however, strategy will be decided by our Anishenaabe partners. We will wait until our next INM/NWA meeting to find out what will happen.

We know there will be another Wolf Rally on Saturday January 4th at Lake Ave and Superior St. It has been suggested there be a ceremony for the honoring of all the wolves who were killed. The local spiritual leader will be consulted as to what is appropriate.

An Occupier has recently earned a Bachelor’s degree in science but has been forced to take a part time job at Target in order to meet basic survival needs. He tells us of his disapproval of the management’s blatant anti-union propaganda. This leads us into a discussion about the short sightedness of many unions and then into a discussion of our racist and classist judicial and prison systems.

The Amazing Grace Café is closing a little early tonight. Hopefully this is so the workers can have some time to celebrate their New Year. They are all young and eager to party. The Occupiers are older and like to party also but their parties are of a different nature. We exchange good New Year’s wishes all around and if we’re not needed elsewhere, we’ll be back on Saturday.