G.A. Minutes 2-25-14

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.

G.A. Minutes 2-18-14

G.A. Minutes 2-18-14
So we’re meeting in the small gallery of the Artist Co-op for the first time tonight.  There’s a lot of stuff in here and we don’t know who it belongs to or where it’s supposed to go. We push everything against the walls and set up some chairs and a table with coffee and cold drinks.  The room has no heating source and it’s a little chilly.  The Occupier who lives in the building rolls in a space heater and we take turns plugging it into the various wall outlets.  No luck.  The Occupier says, “They have events in here and plug in crock pots and stereos.  The lights are working.  I don’t know what the problem is”.  By this time heat from the open door to the hallway has drifted in. It’s comfortable.  The chairs are facing the big window that looks out on the neighborhood.  We light a candle for ambience.  Cute.  We’ll figure the electrical situation out later.
Some of us are pleasantly exhausted from spending most of the day working the Northwoods Wolf Alliance Indian Taco Sale.  The taco making and selling took place at the Red Lake Urban Office. Two Anishinaabe women threw down a bunch of killer fry bread.  Many Red Lakers stopped by to get tacos and to socialize.  Good food, good friends and NWA managed to make a decent contribution to their nearly empty treasury.
An Occupier says, “As long as we’re talking about wolves I’ll mention that Howling For Wolves is sponsoring a Wolf Day At The Capital down in St. Paul on Thursday, February 27th.  Also, a wolf organizer from the east coast is attempting to organize people to go to the capital buildings in MN, WI and MI all at the same time on Monday, February 24th.  He wants them to handcuff themselves to something in solidarity with the wolves.  Personally, I don’t know enough about this action to be interested in participating.  All the NWA people I’ve talked with don’t feel comfortable participating either”.  Everyone laughs and agrees.
It is announced that the next Idle No More meeting will be Monday, February 24th, noon at Randy’s.
Another Occupier mentions the free Soul Food Dinner being sponsored by the UWS Black Student Union Saturday, February 22nd 5pm at the Student Union on UWS campus.  She asks us if we’d like to go over to it and possibly hold our G.A. there.  We think this is a good idea.  Free food and a chance to smooze with some of the African American Community.
One of the Occupiers calls our attention to an article recently written by a blogger who also works with Occupy MN.  She thought it was really good and has brought copies for everyone to read. People like it but feel they are too tired to begin a serious discussion.  The winter has been difficult weather-wise and also very busy with meaningful events and actions.  It appears things may be slowing down a bit for the next week or so.  We all need a rest so decide to make it a short evening.  We’ll hook up again on Saturday at UWS.

G.A. Minutes 2-15-14

G.A. Minutes 2-15-14
It’s been snowing lightly for most of the day.  The roads are somewhat slippery and the wind is picking up.  We had considered canceling tonight’s meeting at the Amazing Grace Café but seeing as we have been busy supporting various allies for the last 2 weeks we felt it would be irresponsible to cancel.
There are only a few of us this evening; some have gone to the Sustainability Conference at LCO near the Bad River Reservation and others are just fed up with winter.  This time of year the only thing that gets people out of their homes (if they’re lucky enough to have one) is cabin fever.
An Occupier who lives in the Washington Artists Co-op in Duluth reports we may be able to use their small gallery to hold some of our meetings.  The others think this may be a good idea. Amazing Grace is a wonderful place but we sometimes have trouble hearing each other because other patrons are also talking at their tables.  Many evenings the live music starts before we are done with our meeting.
 We strive to hold all our meetings in some type of public space so that all will be welcome and no one will be forced to pay any type of admission fee.  The capitalist system has taken over almost all public space.  We struggle to find suitable space even in times of good weather.  The Occupiers present agree we should try out the WSAC small gallery and the Occupier who lives there agrees to try and arrange it for next Tuesday.
Someone mentions that the Northwoods Wolf Alliance Taco Sale fundraiser at the Red Lake Urban Office is also next Tuesday and that some of us have volunteered to help out.  Looks like it will be a busy day.
Someone asks if anyone attended the Tony Jackson Community Forum on Police Brutality last Monday.  Everyone present had other obligations so missed the Forum.  An Occupier says she had read that the DPD asked for a definition of community.  Another Occupier says, “Tell them to get a dictionary and look it up.  This is a forum for the people and although the DPD has been invited to send a representative, they don’t get to start setting terms”.  We all agree that the DPD will try to control all situations so the community needs to stay aware.  The next Forum will be held on March 13th and we all want to be there.
An Occupier mentions the next Green Party meeting is also on March 13th.  She attended the last Green Party meeting a few days ago and rates it  “meh”.  She says, “They have to conform to all the electoral system rules and the ‘two parties in one party’ have even tightened the rules on 3rd parties this time.  Almost all the people at the meeting were friends of our and some of those friends are being recruited to run for office under the Green Party banner.  The statewide Green Party Convention will be held in Duluth on May 3rd”.
Most of us are not too sure we have enough faith in the current electoral system to justify putting much energy into it and everybody agrees, if forced to choose between the Green meeting and the Forum, we’ll go to the Forum.
Another Occupier states he has discovered that 3 different very high ranking bankers in 3 different banks in 3 different countries recently committed suicide, all in the same week.  He says, “I wonder what that is all about?”  We agree; it appears another huge scandal will break and those 3 bankers will have something to do with it.  Another Occupier says, “What could they be doing now?  Seems like they’ve already done or are doing just about every damn crooked thing a person could think of.”
An Occupier has recently presented a long article about the banking industry.  Among other things, the article talks about what has been happening since Congress passed laws at the end of the Clinton presidency.  These laws allowed banks to purchase actual material things like warehouses and various metals.  Now banks have warehouses with bazillions of tons of copper, zinc and nickel.  The banks are holding these metals, keeping them off the market and using them to control prices and make money when stocks go down and also when stocks go up.  Another Occupier says, “Oh great!  Then they tell us they have to dig up our land, pollute our water and remove our mountaintops because they just have to have copper, zinc and nickel to make computers, cell phones and stuff.  I forwarded that article to every person fighting against the mines that I know.”
Another Occupier says the Progressive Forum that drew such good response in Duluth a few weeks ago is going to be held at different locations across the state.  Our comrades in Occupy MN are holding one tonight in the Twin Cities.  We hope some serious action comes from this.
An Occupier mentions he missed the last Community Forum because he attended a Fair Food Access event.  The subject was the food desert that exists in Lincoln Park/West End.  He tells us a company called Quick Stop presented plans to open a grocery store in the neighborhood.  They will sell fresh fruits and vegetables along with other things.
The evenings live music is starting and it’s louder than usual.  Time to head out.  We’ll meet again next Tuesday either at WSAC or here.  If you’d like to attend, contact an Occupier on Monday. We should know what’s up by then.

G.A. Minutes 2-1-14

G.A. Minutes 2-1-14

We’re back at the Café again.  We’ve made it through January and into February.  If we can just make it through February without perishing in a Polar Vortex blizzard we stand a chance of seeing Spring again; eventually.

We had expected to meet at the Amazing Grace Café last Tuesday but Loaves N Fishes held a homeless outreach meeting and we decided to go to it.  At that meeting there was some discussion about what is hoped will happen when the Homeless Bill of Rights is sent to the City of Duluth Human Rights Commission. One of the Occupiers has applied to become a member of the Commission.  She was happy to hear Loaves N Fishes plans on keeping close contact with the Commission members during their attempts to write the actual bill.

Several Occupiers attended the Introduction to the IWW Forum which was held this afternoon.  An Occupier reports several MN IWW organizers from outside Duluth were present to direct this event.  Among the subjects discussed were the abolition of the wage system, the IWW method of organizing groups of workers based on their particular job site or employer rather than the type of job worked, IWW membership dues structure (it was noted the organizers stated they were more interested in attracting workers than they were in collecting dues) and the IWW annual weekend event at a park up on The Range.

The Occupier asks if the group would be interested in expending some of our energy working for the IWW.  A few state they would like to become involved while others say they are not interested.  Everyone agrees we should remember to invite and include IWW in all relevant events in which we participate.  It is decided that Occupiers will participate in the IWW according to their personal preference but we will not expend our energy as a group.

An Occupier reminds us the political party caucuses will take place next Tuesday evening.  Many Occupiers make faces and roll their eyes.  The Occupier states a well-respected organizer and friend has requested we attend the Green Party caucus and attempt to push them into taking a radical stance in their resolutions.  We agree to attend the caucus on Tuesday, February 4th, 7pm at the Hillside Community Center.

An Occupier who is not present tonight has suggested that he look into holding our Saturday meetings at Pineapple Arts.  The Occupiers who are present agree this might be a good idea.  The Café has live music on most Saturday nights; this interferes with our ability to meet and our meetings interfere with the musicians performances.  We will await the go ahead to meet at Pineapple.

No one from Occupy Duluth was able to attend last Thursday’s NWA meeting out on the Fond Du Lac reservation.  We were informed a Taco Sale is being planned for Thursday, February 13th and we discuss what we will do to help with the sale.

We are reminded the Winona LaDuke and Paula Maccabee event, Land Based Economics, will be held Saturday February 8th, 6pm at St. Scholastica.  We all plan to attend and are looking forward to the occasion.

Someone informs us the 2nd movie in the series presented by Break The Bonds will be shown Monday, February 3rd, 7pm at the Zinema.  An Occupier says, “Crap.  I wish I didn’t have other important obligations on Mondays.  I really want to see those films.  It’s not often one gets to see real movies about what the occupation of Palestine is like”.

The subject of this year’s May Day is introduced.  Our celebration last year was a big success and we’d like to do it again.  However, we will not be able to use the same venue as last year and we have so many other obligations we know we need to let other groups take the lead.  We think we can do tabling although we’ll have to make more literature as the small amount we still have is very out of date.  We can provide some food and we still have appropriate signs and the big animals of the north woods puppets.  We’ll wait and see if others groups pick up the ball.

An Occupier asks if there has been any communication from the lead organizer of the very well attended Progressive Forum. This forum was held 3 weeks ago and appeared to energize those who participated. Another Occupier says yes he has had contact with the organizer and further work is in progress.

This evening’s performer is beginning his 1st set.  He sounds really good and we know we should not detract from music.  We’re off into the cold, grateful that although the weather isn’t comfortable; it’s not deadly.  It looks like we won’t be back for at least a week.