G.A. 4-29-14

G.A. 4-29-14

We’ve have to meet in the WSAC performance space tonight. The small gallery is now being used as a small art gallery with paintings and sculptures and such. Who woulda thunk? The performance space is huge so we tuck ourselves into a corner, put out beverages and form a circle of chairs. We intend this meeting to be short and sweet as we have much work to do tomorrow to get ready for May Day.

Somehow a conversation gets going about homelessness. Most of the Occupiers have been homeless at some point. Everyone tells their stories and the one thing all the stories have in common is the unpleasant experience of being treated with distain and fear by most of the non-homeless.

We have a new person who is at his 2nd meeting tonight. He’s not familiar with the story about the homeless camp we ran during the Spring and Summer of 2012. We tell him about that experience.

It’s time to get down business. We write up a list of all the things we need to do. A quarter sheet flyer for handing out to passersby still needs to be made. One Occupier volunteers to take care of this. The lock to our storage space has been repaired so we’ve got the 2 propane stoves. Tomorrow afternoon some of the Occupiers will arrive to clean out the big truck and then pack it with all the stuff for the rally. We got most of the food things like plates, silverware etc.

The Occupier who is in charge of the food isn’t with us tonight. We’ll talk to him by phone later tonight. All the cooking will be done tomorrow. He promises us a very large pot of something vegan, gluten free and delicious.

The weather these last few has been rainy or misty with temps in the 30s and 40s. Most of the snow has melted. The forecast is for much of the same on May Day, the same as it was for our last several May Days. Everything worked out nicely in the past; we assume things will be o.k. on this May Day too.

A female resident of WSAC comes in and says pleasantly, “Sorry but I’m teaching a dance class in here in a few minutes”. One of the Occupiers who lives in the artist co-op says, “Oh, I had forgotten about that. We’ll be out of here right away”. We pack up and are out in a matter of minutes.

We take everything to the Occupier’s apartment, converse briefly and we’re off into the night to put out handbills for Mayday at the Homegrown Music Festival venues. These next 2 days will be extremely busy. We may be back at WSAC on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 4-26-14

G.A. Minutes 4-26-14
This evening’s meeting is taking place at the Pineapple Arts Center, an art supply store, community meeting and art making space in Duluth’s Central Hillside.
We have a full house and we’re ready to go over our plans for May Day again. Many speakers, musicians and poets have signed up to participate so we’ve decided to start the rally at 2pm instead of 3pm with cleanup set for 4:30pm and the march to Idle No More’s rally in Canal Park to begin at 5pm.
There are 5 people signed up to speak about various aspects of a non-capitalist economic system and sustainable ideas for the survival of humanity on our planet. There is one more friend we would like to invite to speak and an Occupier takes responsibility for contacting him. 2 groups of musicians are scheduled to perform. We also have several volunteers to help with cleanup.
The Occupier in charge of providing the food says everything is under control. There’s one small hang up in that the lock in the door to the place we have been storing all our cooking equipment is broken and the Occupiers responsible for this have not been able to get into the space. We’re pretty sure this can be remedied in a few days.
A supporter of Occupy has cooked some really good food; we serve ourselves and settle down to watch a somewhat humorous movie about the origins of May Day as a political holiday. The movie is about the Haymarket riots.
Only 4 days and one more meeting left until May Day. We hope we have everything under control. Much physical labor remains to be done. We’ll meet again on Tuesday at the WSAC small gallery.

G.A. Minutes 4-19-14

G.A. Minutes 4-19-14
The small gallery is full of Occupiers tonight. Everyone is exceptionally cheerful, which is odd considering that we had another big snow storm just one day ago. Things have been melting rapidly since and it does appear that Spring is trying real hard to get here. That’s a good reason for optimism.

We need to go over our plans for May Day. The Occupier tasked with organizing the food can’t be here tonight but he has sent word that there will be almost $100 for buying food. That’s more than enough to provide a simple but healthy meal for a lot of people.

Finding people to speak at the event is something we haven’t taken care of yet. One local environmental activist has agreed to speak about our mayor’s very unpopular decision to support the Endbridge pipeline expansion. One of the Occupiers has agreed to contact an empathetic city councilor and a professional organic gardener. We try to come up with other ideas and a longtime political activist who is an excellent speaker on any subject he chooses is suggested. Also suggested is someone from the Whole Foods Co-op who would be willing to speak about the new store about to open in the poor and working class neighborhood of West Duluth. Someone recommends a well know local permaculturalist and the conversation diverts a bit.

This man has been making a series of permaculture presentations in the area lately. Several of the Occupiers rave about his presentation, which they attended last night. “I was seriously enlightened”, says one Occupier. We all say we should definitely contact this man and we hope he won’t be teaching his college class at the time of our rally.

An Occupier asks, “Could we have a very simple half sheet flyer that we could hand out to passersby at the rally? Another asks, “Do you think we could leaflet the neighborhood the night before the event”? The Occupier in charge of making all the printed materials says, “No problem” to both requests.

The subject of the march after the rally is next. We talk about music and begin discussing various musical instruments that may be available. One of the Occupiers living in the artist co-op says, “You’ll never believe what I dug out of the dumpster a few days ago”. He leaves and returns with an intact high tom from someone’s trap drum kit. Several Occupiers who are musicians express amazement that anyone would throw away something so useful. These musician Occupiers discuss what kind of straps can be put on it so it can be used in the march.

Another Occupier has brought all the old but undamaged signs left over from one of the big actions we held over a year ago. We examine each sign and decide they are all suitable for May Day. That’s great as we won’t have to make as many new ones.
We had originally decided to hold the May Day event from 3pm-5pm. Tonight an Occupier says, “If we’re going to march down to Canal Park and join Idle No More at their Wolves, Water and Women event maybe we should stop the rally at 4:30 pm so we are sure to get there in time”. Everyone agrees.

“Remember the times when we had marches with some of the unions and we marched in the street? If we notified them in advance, the DPD would block the traffic lane for us,” says one Occupier. Another says, “Yeah, but that was when we were marching with the unions. The DPD ain’t gonna to do jack for Occupy”. The first Occupier says,” Oh yeah, I guess that’s true”. We all laugh.
The Occupier tasked with doing the printing gets a text on his cell phone. The text says that we have the use of Pineapple Arts for our next 2 meetings. Sweet. Time to pack up, rest up, maybe do the family thing tomorrow on Easter, then back to work and back to the small gallery next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-15-14

G.A. Minutes 4-15-14
All the usual suspects arrive for tonight’s meeting in the small gallery. We’ve previously agreed to focus solely on the upcoming May Day event so we put up a big piece of paper and write down all the relevant topics for discussion.
First off everyone wants to know the details of the May Day Decolonize event that Idle No More is planning. We’re hoping we can finish our event before theirs begins so we can join and support them. The Occupier who regularly attends INM meetings says the tentative plan is to start the Decolonize event around 5 or 5:30pm down in Canal Park. “Oh good, seeing as we’ll be happening from about 3pm to 5pm we should be able to get down there and join in,” says another Occupier.
Next on the agenda is the role of police liaison. The Occupier who had done most of the legal research during our “battle” with the DPD at the CJM Memorial volunteers to take on the liaison position. She says, “The Civic Center is considered to be a city park and I have a list of all the city ordinances on city parks. I’d like to at least read all of them to everyone before May Day so you’ll know what our rights are.”
An occasional Occupier reports he’s heard some Duluth church is planning a vigil at the Civic Center at 5pm on May 1st. Another Occupier offers to investigate just so we know what we may be dealing with.
The biggest item on the agenda is food. A longtime Occupier has already taken charge of this. He reports on his progress and we make plans to do an inventory of all the cooking equipment we have left over from our previous camps.
We also need to discuss signs and literature. We know one of the occasional Occupiers is not with us tonight because he is finishing the new flyer he is making for May Day. We have a big 2 sided May Day banner from last year and many well-made signs left over from our 2nd Anniversary of Occupy action. We’ll need to make some new signs and an Occupier reports we can make more on Sundays at Pineapple Arts when they open their space to the general public. An Occupier volunteers to find out more and report back at our next meeting.
Will we be inviting people to speak? We think that would be a good idea but no one has any concrete ideas about who we could ask. It will be kinda tricky because we need to find people who speak fairly well, have free time during the event hours and will agree to speak on a topic related to poverty, homelessness and to our challenge to the City to spend more time and money meeting the needs of the citizens as opposed to meeting the needs of big business. We will think about it for the next several days and hopefully will bring ideas to the next meeting.
One of the Occupiers wants very much to also have a fire. He says that a fire is very symbolic of May Day. Another Occupier is adamantly opposed to having a fire. She says, “A fire will cause us a lot of problems with the DPD. Cops are generally not too bright and they are not going to realize that the fact that their Chief gave as a letter stating he has ordered his police force to not bother us when we have our fire at the CJM Memorial also means they shouldn’t bother us about our small safe fire at any place deemed to be a city park. The cops will bully us and spoil our event. Also, we don’t have a lot of firewood and we need it for CJM”. It doesn’t appear that either Occupier is going to concede so we agree to table the discussion until next meeting.
Somebody says, “I guess we’d better talk about cleanup”. That’s always the last and the most unpleasant thing however, over time we’ve become pretty good at it. We invariably leave a site cleaner than it was when we arrived. With 2 large vehicles designated to carry all out belongings and a box of big garbage bags we think we will have it covered.
So that about raps up everything for now. We’ll pack up, stop by the Occupier couple’s house to relax a bit, then everyone will take care of their assigned tasks and we’ll meet back at the small gallery on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 4-5-14

G.A. Minutes 4-5-14
We’re meeting at the small gallery again. Weather wise, today was the most pleasant day we’ve seen in about 6 months. We put out a general call for progressive activists to show up tonight and plan our yearly May Day event. Seeing as the open-air is pretty darn agreeable we wonder if anybody will appear.

They appear; we find more chairs and crowd together tightly. There are 2 people we don’t know well; everyone else has been connected to Occupy one way or another since the beginning of the movement. Everyone takes a turn reporting to the others what they have been up to for the last year or so. Some have worked closely together with Occupy while others have gone off to do union organizing, work in organic gardening or travel the country.

The original plan hatched by the core group of Occupiers was to hold the event at the People’s Power Plaza/Mai’igan Corner. One of the occasional Occupiers suggests going to the Civic Center instead. He says, “Seeing as May Day is on a Thursday, if we do things in the late morning or in the afternoon there will be plenty of people around. We’d probably have more of a chance to actually connect with folks than we would at the Plaza”. Everyone thinks this is a good idea.

We kick around many ideas as to what will be the central theme of the event. There is much joking and laughter before we settle on poverty and homelessness. A regular Occupier says, “This idea connects well with what we’ve been doing for the last 2 years. You know, having our meetings at CJM and all”. An initial discussion about whether we’ll have food, music, amplified sound or other things is begun. Another regular Occupier says, “Remember, the Civic Center is officially a city park so you’ll need to study the City ordinances concerning city parks to know what you legally can and cannot do. If you are prepared with that knowledge things will go a lot easier”.

Everybody agrees we should meet again soon to work out the details. Next Tuesday is suggested but a regular Occupier reminds that we had planned to attend Dr. Vandana Shiva’s presentation 6pm at the UMD Kirby Ballroom. The next suggestion is for next Saturday, April 12th 6pm in the small gallery. A regular Occupier says, “I’ve already committed to man the NWA table at the Fond du Lac Pow Wow next Saturday but you guys could go ahead without me”. This Occupier is the one who generally writes the meeting minutes. There might not be any minutes taken for next Saturday’s meeting.

G.A. Minutes 4-1-14

G.A. Minutes 4-1-14
This evening we are at the Amazing Grace Café. At our last meeting we had forgotten that the Wildwoods group uses the small gallery each 1st Tuesday of the month. Fortunately someone remembered so we were able to reroute everything in time. The musicians are playing loudly and the place is packed. Having our meeting will be challenging but we’ll make the best of it.
One of the Occupiers arrives somewhat upset. We find we have to almost shout to hear each other. We crowd around the table and lean forward in order to hear what he has to say. Most of us had attended the NORML presentation last Sunday evening at the Ziconne. The upset Occupier was with us. We felt the presentation was reasonably worthwhile; apparently the upset Occupier did not feel this way. He says, “I’m really worried about the possibility of marijuana becoming legal in MN. I’m afraid people will smoke it and then go driving and have accidents and kill others. I’m afraid they’ll smoke it and then neglect their children. I tried to express my concerns to the speakers and organizers after the presentation but they just ignored me or said my worries were insignificant”. We have known the upset Occupier for years so we know that sometimes he just needs to be validated. We listen and suggest that some of these things will be monitored by having the same type of regulations that are currently in place related to alcohol consumption. As we listen more we begin to realize his main concern is with the drug testing equipment used nowadays. Another Occupier says, “That’s the main reason I am so opposed to employer mandated drug tests. The test can’t tell if a person is stoned at the time of the test or if they had some weed days or weeks ago.” The upset Occupier says, “That’s what bugs me. If a person is driving while too stoned they won’t be charged with intoxication because it can’t be proved they were too stoned at the time of the test.” An additional Occupier replies, “I think we’ve already found that punishment is not a very good way of altering people’s behavior. We’re attempting to usher in the new paradigm. As this develops folks will be more loving, trusting and respectful of each other. This may take care of a lot of bad behaviors and the suffering that causes bad behaviors.” Upon hearing this, the upset one calms down. He says, “You’re right. Love is the answer. I know that, I just forgot. I have some things going on in my life right now that are difficult to deal with.” We all emphasize with him.
The coffee house is so loud we decide to just quickly go through announcements and postpone other subjects until next time. On Thursday April 3rd several activities will take place. NORML has a meeting at 5pm at Pineapple Arts, the Green Party has a meeting at 5:30pm at Randy’s and one of our organizer friends is recommending an organizing forum that will take place at 6pm in Rm 510 of the Dewitt Seitz building. We’ll each pick the event that most interests us.
On Saturday April 12th there will be an all-day Pow Wow at Fond du Lac Community College. One of the Occupiers has volunteered to watch the NWA table and asks if the Occupiers would like to cancel the G.A. that day and come on out to the Pow Wow. Everyone thinks they would like to do that.
On Tuesday April 29th another organizer is holding a forum called Effective Organizing vs Ineffective Organizing. It will start at 4pm in Rm 1004 of Swenson Hall at UWS. We think we’ll probably cancel the G.A. that day too and attend the forum.
That’s enough business for tonight. We sit, listen to the bluegrass music and chat about the problem of corrupt judges within the American judicial system. Before long, a server starts turning off lights and we know it’s time to leave. We’ll meet back at WSAC on Saturday.