G.A. Minutes 5-24-14

G.A. Minutes 5-24-14

The first arrival at the CJM Memorial this evening is a solitary Occupier. As she drives up one of the regular African American businessmen of the street walks over to her car. “You fixin to set up?” he asks. She says yes, he answers, “All right then” and walks back to his post.

It’s been a pleasant, sunny day with a slight east wind. Once the sun goes behind the buildings a fire will feel good. The Occupier sets down a chair and sits to wait for others to arrive. One by one folks roll up. As we start to get things together several men sitting on the back ledge join in. They grab armfuls of chairs and put them in a circle. Things are ready to go in no time. Then all the street people leave. We are alone in the Memorial and the street is empty. What happened? Even though we have been meeting here for 3 years, some things are still a mystery.

Somebody says,” Did you hear that the Veterans for Peace are not being allowed to march in Duluth’s Memorial Parade this year? That really sucks”. Another says, “Yeah it does suck but it’s great publicity. They’re having a Memorial Day ceremony at 3pm by the bell above the Lakewalk instead. I bet a lot of people will come”. The 1st Occupier answers, “Yeah, I’m going to go just to offer support”. Someone asks if there was a March Against Monsanto in Duluth today and is told probably not but there was one in the Twin Cities and many all over the world.

We hear a beautiful melody nearby. It’s coming from a hippie guy who sells handmade wooden flutes on the street. We’ve known him for years. He comes over and says, “Are you guys going to make a fire?” We nod yes and he says, “I’ll come on through later” and goes off towards the downtown area. He goes looking for tourists that he can charm. Maybe he can sell them one of his flutes.

Along comes a skinny Native guy. He’s wearing a very strange looking set of headphones and staggering as he walks. He asks us what we are about but before we can explain much he tells he is a member of the Native Pride and his title is that of Chief of Central Hillside. He recognizes some of the Occupiers as he has seen them around the hood. He notices the smudge pot and says, “You guys smudge? You are alright!” He smudges himself. We have been told people are not supposed to smudge if they’ve been drinking. We don’t think it’s our place to remind him of this. Now he appears comfortable, sits down and begins to tell his story. Apparently, we have found our “new best friend”. The first thing out of his mouth makes us cringe. “See those 3 black guys up on the wall? What about Natives? Do you know how many Natives were killed? Why didn’t they make a memorial for Natives?” Most Native people we meet don’t say things like this but we have heard this idea expressed so many times it makes us want to scream. We start to contradict him but he doesn’t appear to be hearing anything but himself talking. He then tells us about all the fights and other things he’s experienced and all the bodily injuries he has. Then there’s a list of all his children and grandchildren. He pours some coffee and starts over again. Same stories with slight alterations. An Occupier attempts to join his conversation, but no luck. The Chief just doesn’t stop. As he goes on and on and on…….. and on, his stories change enough that they contradict the original. We look at each other and groan. We can’t ask him to leave; this is public space after all. We’re not going to leave but he’s driving us crazy. We are at our wits end.

Another guy comes walking down the hill and over to our fire. He doesn’t speak, pours himself some apple juice, sees the smudge pot and says, “Oh you smudge, thank you very much”. He sits down next to the Chief and gets an earful. He begins to calmly disagree with the Chief. Mr. Bigmouth doesn’t actually listen but he calms down a bit. He continues his rant but it’s softer now so we can hear the new guy as he tells about his brother who has just returned home from many tours as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the guy who calmed the Chief leaves, 2 women who look like middle class homemakers come walking around the corner. They are quite friendly and want to know what we are doing. We explain a bit and tell them what the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is all about. They are out of town tourists staying with their families in a nearby hotel. They decided to take a walk around and see what they could see. The Chief says to them, “You know you women don’t look like you belong around here. You need to be very careful and be sure to get off the street before dark”. He points to the Occupiers and says, “These guys are hippies and everybody know them. They’ll be o.k.”. The women laugh and say, “We’ll back with our husbands before then. They only let us leave them with the children for short periods of time”.

The Chief then says, “I’ve been in lots of fights. Wanna see my scars?” He pulls up his shirt. The women look and say, “Oh my!” When the women leave they have big smiles on their faces. One Occupier says to another, “They’ll be telling the story of this experience to their friends for years”.

As the sun sets many people arrive. The flute seller is back, the Ho Chunk elder arrives, an older woman we have known for years appears and a black street regular man who is well known to us joins us. He brings a friend. The street regular’s friend seems hesitant to become a member of the circle and the man says to him, “If we sit here the police won’t bother us”. We were getting ready to let the fire burn out but throw on a couple more pieces of wood so the new arrivals can enjoy the flames.

The smudge pot goes around again and the Ho Chunk elder sings an Honor Song. The Chief yammers on but nobody is listening. An Occupier whispers to the street man, “We were waiting for you all to come and save us”. It seems many of the new arrivals know the Chief but no one appears happy to see him. We sit and chat and then the fire is dying. As we are packing up a former camper arrives. The woman he is with apparently is related to the Chief. She angrily chastises him saying, “What is wrong with you?!? You know you’re not supposed to be smudging when you’re drinking! You’ll bring bad energy on everyone!” Now we know we weren’t imagining things. He did have a slightly bad vibe about him.

We say good night to folks and remind them we won’t be at CJM next Tuesday. We’re going to Winona LaDuke’s “Love Water, Not Oil” 7pm at Clyde Iron. We’ll be back at the Memorial next Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 5-20-14

G.A. Minutes 5-20-14

The sun is shining brightly and there’s a moderate east wind as we arrive at CJM this evening. If we build a big fire and sit up close to it we’ll be fine.

Several Occupiers arrive on time and everybody hustles to set everything up and the get fire going. The Memorial site is empty and there are very few people on the street. It will probably be a quiet meeting as anyone who has any place out of the wind will likely stay there tonight.

Our roaring fire makes a big difference. We’re comfortable and seeing as few folks are on the street we may get a serious discussion going. One of the Occupiers is beginning his yearly gardening so everyone talks about gardening for a while. The Occupier who manages our website reports we are getting over 50 visits a week. We’re surprised at this and the Occupier who writes the minutes says, “Yikes! You mean there are actually people who read my stories?”

The Occupier who regularly works with the Northwoods Wolf Alliance reports the NWA founder and lead organizer has stepped down in order to better fulfill her many other organizer duties. NWA will be restructuring and the Occupier is trying to interest them in trying a horizontal leadership structure. This would mean they would have no one main leader but each NWA member would take the lead in the area in which they were most proficient. So far, the members seem interested in trying the new structure.

Another Occupier reports the Green Party had its entire northern MN email list hacked yesterday. All Greenies received an email giving them detailed instructions as to why the Green candidates should withdraw from the 2014 election. They were informed that if they didn’t vote for DFL state Representative Rick Nolan they would be insuring a win for the GOP candidate. They were informed the reason George W. Bush became president in 2000 was because Ralph Nader ran on the Green Party ticket. The Greenies think there was a lot more to it than that.

The Greenies are really pissed off and are contacting Nolan to find out what he has to say about the email hacking. We speculate Nolan must already be afraid of Green Party candidate Ray “Skip” Sandman. After all, Skip is light years ahead of Nolan on everything except selling out in order to get the votes of Iron Rangers.

The Occupier who regularly attends Human Rights Commission meetings reports the City Human Rights Commissioner has had his office and staff taken from him and has been demoted to a tiny cubicle in the back of the office of another department. She says the Human Rights Commissioner seems to be a pretty good guy who actually supports human rights for ordinary people.

The Commissioner has been supportive of the Homeless Bill of Rights and goes out of his way to assist homeless advocates. The advocacy of human rights for ordinary people is not popular with the City Administration. The mayor has been quoted as saying low income housing is nothing but a “diversion” from the pursuit of market rate housing for people who are well off.

An Occupier says, “Everything is so depressing. The earth is being destroyed and humans are doomed”. Another says, “I feel like that sometimes but most of the time I can see there is hope”. Yet another says, “Don’t be crazy. Everyday more people are becoming aware. People all over the world are waking up. In fact, people in other countries are much more aware than people in the U.S. We are now in the time of breaking apart when people will show who they really are. These times are going to be rough but many, many prophecies tell us after these times will come the great awakening. The earth will heal and humanity will survive in a new good way of living”. The other Occupiers nod in agreement.

As we are discussing, a good friend, who has been at the margins of Occupy for many years, stops by. She was on her way to sing karaoke but saw us and decided to sit with us instead. She sings some of her favorite songs and others join in, calling out the names of favorite songs and singing them. A few street people join the circle. They are grateful for the warmth of the fire.

A street woman who has been coming to our fires since we returned this year arrives. As usual, she’s pretty drunk. She’s always pleasant and we like her. Each time, she knows we look familiar to her but can’t remember where we have previously met. We refresh her memory. She says, “Gee, it’s cold tonight. I’m still homeless and I’m going to have to find somewhere to sleep. I guess I’ll have to go to Detox”.

Another woman says, “Detox? Why would you want to go there?” She answers, “Well, they’ll feed me and give me a bed. I don’t have anywhere else I can go”.

We check a bus schedule; tell her what time it is and when the last bus will arrive. Over the years we have met many homeless folks who will get drunk and go to Detox as a last resort. Everyone chats for a while more and as the tower clock chimes 9pm the drunken woman says, “I know I’m supposed to do something but I can’t remember what it is”. We remind her she is going to Detox, give her bus fare and point her in the direction of the bus stop.

The few people out tonight are wandering off to their sleeping places. The fire has a good bed of coals and we don’t really want to put it out. We have to though. We pack up and head on home. Hopefully, Spring will be back on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 5-17-14

We’re back at our fair weather home again. Fair weather is definitely the correct description this evening. Today’s weather has been most agreeable. It looks like Spring has finally arrived. A sunny day, temps in the 60s, a light breeze, little bits of leaves peeking out of the buds on all the branches. Way cool.

CJM is quiet when we arrive. One content appearing young man who we sort of know is sitting in the back corner. We nod to him and set up a few chairs. Seeing as the air is wonderful and there’s no one around, the 1st Occupiers just sit down and check out the scene. A few street folks are walking by. A middle aged African American woman who has been around us for years exchanges pleasantries as she passes by.

A somewhat rough looking young white guy carrying a sandwich is being followed by another who says, “Hey where’d you get that? Can I have a bite?” When they leave the seagulls swoop down from the light posts to fight for any crumbs which may have been dropped. Food is always at a premium on Saturday evenings because the Mission doesn’t serve dinner on Saturdays.

As another Occupier arrives and so do a group of street people. We quickly set up the chairs, get the fire going etc. etc. There is some kind of ruckus going on but it takes us a few minutes to decipher things. A man is yelling at some guys sitting in the back corner. He says, “You piss me off so bad I’m gonna knock alla you all out! Sh*t! I’m so mad I’m even gonna knock myself out!”

It’s mostly black and Native men with a couple of women and everyone is yelling and posturing and acting like fools. A young woman we had met a few times last year runs up and asks if we have any sage. The smudge pot has already been fired and we hand it to her. She sits down smudges and says, “Everybody’s acting so crazy. Is it o.k. if I sit here where it’s safe and quiet?” We say, “Of course”. Within minutes the majority of the yellers come to our circle and sit.

We pass the smudge around and most use it. We don’t know any of the people who have come to join us but everyone seems to understand what the circle is about. The young woman and her much older boyfriend tell us about the apartment they have finally been able to move into. They are very happy as they have been homeless for quite some time. Everyone else is comfortably quiet, taking a break from the scene.

It appears there is something happening down the street at the liquor store. We can’t see it but people go out to look. Apparently the cops are involved so this brings more people coming up to the Memorial in order to escape the gaze of the DPD. Among them is a very large man who is making a huge racket. He is cussing at everyone in the street, using sexist and racist language and just about anything else he can think of to make the statement that he is angry as hell and no one had better mess with him. Some of the older men try to calm him down but he just gets up in their faces, attempting to intimidate them. They all back off. It appears everyone wants to make noise but no one really wants to fight. One angry looking older street man comes over to the circle. “I know this guy,” he says, “He’s not Native, he’s Hawaiian. He’s usually pretty nice so I don’t want to hurt him”.

One of our former female campers comes to sit on the side ledge. She is a veteran homeless person and well known on the streets and in the alleys. She usually has a group of younger people as an entourage. Tonight she is followed by a small group of girls. They are all very happily drunk and appearing a little worse for the wear.

A couple of young clean cut men who are probably not from the street are walking up the hill. The veteran woman calls out, “Hey, hey! Don’t go away. What chu what? Whatever you want, we got it!” The young men appear frustrated, angry, embarrassed and a little afraid. They speed up their step. The female Occupiers can’t help but smile. They feel sorry for the young men but know that this is what most women are forced to put up with every day of their lives. The women on the ledge call the veteran woman’s name and say, “Tsk, tsk”. She says, “Oh I know. I’m drunk. I am soooo bad!”

Then just as suddenly as all the people arrived, they all leave. The small group of Occupiers figure now might be the time to discuss a little business. An Occupier begins to tell the rest about the latest developments in the Northwoods Wolf Alliance when a few more Occupiers arrive. They have both been homeless for the last month or so and cheerfully tell the others about the new home they have found.

Then a conversation about the latest developments in the world begins. As one talks about what is currently going on in Turkey another says, “It’s happening all over the world man. There are riots and demonstrations everywhere. Mainstream media is just not telling about it”.

People are returning. Among them is the big, intimidating Hawaiian guy. The Occupiers look at each other and silently say, “Oh no”. However, as the dude sits down we see he is actually quite young. A few other guys who stayed at our former camp with us sit down too. Everybody smudges and we quietly talk about this and that.

The big guy suddenly says, “I’ve been married for 6 years and my wife just told me she’s pregnant with another man’s kid. I don’t know how to handle this pain. The only thing I know is to drink. How do I handle this pain?” He begins to cry. We don’t know his situation at all so have no idea what type of advice to give him. He says, “I don’t know why I’m crying; I don’t even know you people”. One of the older male Occupiers tells him its o.k., he can cry if he needs to. We then direct the conversation toward the other guys so as to let the big guy get a hold of himself. The older former camper is from the Ho Chunk Nation and he tells us a bit about his land.

It’s dark now, the fire is dying. We haven’t seen a squad car all night but now they begin driving around the block. We tell our guests we will have to leave as we don’t feel like arguing with the cops. We prefer to pick our battles. We give the remainder of the snacks to the homeless campers and say goodnight for now. The big guy comes out of his reverie and says, “How much does it cost to take the bus out to the western edge of town?” Someone says, “75 cents” and he says, “Does anyone have 75 cents?” We never carry money when we meet at the Memorial. The need on the street is huge. We couldn’t possibly satisfy it. However, realize that even as big as this guy is, he has little clue about sleeping on the streets.

We pack up and although this is something we rarely do, an Occupier puts the big guy into his truck and drives out to the edge of town where the large sized fellow lives.

G.A. 5-13-14

G.A. 5-13-14

It’s been raining hard and steady for several days. Earlier today the clouds began breaking up; allowing sunlight interspersed with rain showers. As we arrive at CJM the sun is shining across the street as a gentle misty rain comes down on the Memorial. We wait for the shower to pass and as we begin to unload we see a double rainbow in the eastern sky. All foot traffic on the street stops. For a moment we are all one as we gaze at the beautiful site. Sweet.

A strong wind is blowing. We need to anchor down some of the items on the beverage table. The fire blazes immediately. That’s good as it’s a bit chilly. In our neck of the woods May showers bring June flowers.
As we pull our chairs up close to the heat one Occupier says to another, “So how’d it go at the mayor’s open office on Monday?” The other Occupiers answers, “Can you believe it? He wasn’t there. His receptionist said he was out of town. I guess that goes to show how much value he places on his constituents. He has one hour a month where he allows regular people to come and talk to him. He obviously attaches so little importance to the occasion that he can’t even remember to put out an announcement saying he won’t be in the office that day”.

As we light the sage an Occupier explains that there are many types of sage and begins to enumerate them. Another Occupier says, “There’s also a type of sage used by the Mazateca people of Mexico. They smoke it and it has psychedelic properties”. An additional Occupier replies, “The Mazateca? I went to a place high in the mountains of Oaxaca. The Mazateca live there. I didn’t come across the practice of smoking sage but we picked the psilocybin mushrooms from the ground and I took part in their spiritual ceremonies”. The 2 Occupiers then converse for a while about the experiences they each have had in the country of Mexico.

One of our street friends appears. She says, “Hey, you guys are back! This is great!” She is one half of a pair of older women who are twin sisters. They have lived on the street for many years. They’re always friendly, well-mannered and observant of their traditional Indigenous ways. Sometimes they are slightly drunk and sometimes they’re not. She gets some coffee, a cigarette and smudges herself. A few hugs and she’s off. We’re glad to see she’s doing well.

Another Occupier arrives. Someone says, “So I see you’ve been hassling the churches again today”. He laughs and says, “Yup, gotta do it”. This Occupier regularly visits pastors and priests of many local churches to ask questions and to remind them of the actual teachings of Jesus. Tonight he tells us stories about a priest who would only answer the Occupier’s questions if he agreed to be converted to the Catholic religion. Another clergy person was very firm in his belief that women are 2nd class humans who must always be servants of men. The Occupier tells us he stood in front of a large wealthy church during the main service and held a sign asking for help. About 100 churchgoers passed him and looked the other way. One person warily gave him $5 explaining that the pastor of the church expressly forbade his parishioners from giving money to beggars. When the Occupier left he put the $5 into the nearest charity donation box.

The subject of constructing some type of comfortable bench that could be brought to CJM for the street folks to sit on comes up again. An Occupier who has been absent for a while suggests making one using a type of sawhorse design. Another Occupier says, “That’s a really good idea! It could be easily set up and taken down. I never would have thought of that”. As we are discussing the concept we become aware of 2 women loudly cussing and insulting each other. They are on opposite sides of the street. This is rather normal behavior and we are used to it. We continue talking but notice the street is filling up with street people and they are all watching something we cannot see.

Soon an officer from the DPD is standing on the corner and then our good friend the homeless outreach worker arrives. She is going along the street talking to this one and that. As she begins to leave she calls out our name and waves. We wave back and invite her to join us but she appears to be on a “mission”. The crowd comes over to our fire. As they get closer, we realize they are all former campers from our old homeless camp. Everybody sits around the fire laughing and reminiscing. Our friend the street woman from Mississippi arrives. We notice there are now 2 DPD officers standing across the street from us. They are staring pointedly at us. Oh well….. We also notice the bundle of sage has burned out. We light another one, everyone smudges. The cops leave.

We talk some more. Some of our visitors tell stories about what they have been through since we parted last Autumn then they wander off to their various sleeping places. The wood is gone and the fire is dying. Someone says, “Wow, look at the moon”. We get up and peer through a cutaway in the wall of the Memorial. There it is, a clear sky and a beautiful full moon. Sweet.
We’ll be back on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 5-10-14

Tonight is our 1st meeting of the season back at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. Everything is quite clean. It’s been that way since last fall when somebody moved the big cement permanent garbage container from across the street on to the Memorial grounds.
The evening is mild with temps in the low 50s. The space is empty except for one street woman who we have been acquainted with for several years. We exchange pleasantries and begin setting up the chairs and beverages and getting the fire started. We’ll make a courtesy fire until the sun goes down; then we’ll crank it up for warmth.
Most of the regular Occupiers are present and we take our places, pass the smudge dish around and begin talking while waiting to see what will happen on our 1st night back.
An Occupier reports the mayor’s monthly open office will be on this upcoming Monday at noon. Another says, “Monday at noon? That’s a dumb time. Nobody wants to do anything on their Monday lunch hour”. One more responds, “That’s probably why he chose that time. I doubt he really wants to hear from regular people”. The 1st Occupier says, “Well I’m gonna go. I want to ask him why he hasn’t appointed the new applicants to the City commissions. He was supposed to appoint them in April. I also want to ask him about his back pedaling on low income housing. Another Occupier says, “Yeah, I want to get a few words in about Enbridge. I’ll meet you there”.
At this point we get our 1st visitors, 2 youngish guys we haven’t met before. They ask what we’re up to, smudge, get some drinks and sit down. They’re somewhat shy and very polite. Next a man arrives who says he’s a friend of one of the Occupiers who is not present tonight. He says he’s visited us in the past. We don’t remember him but of course invite him to sit. He says, “I don’t believe in any of the things you guys are working for but don’t be offended because I don’t believe in anything. All I care about is where I’m going to get my next bottle”. As he sits down, a very large bottle of alcohol falls from his coat. He quickly picks it up. Ordinarily we ask people not to drink around our fire because we know the cops will use peoples’ drinking as an excuse to stop and harass us. Seeing as tonight is our 1st time at CJM in a good while we figure we shouldn’t make any demands as we attempt to re-secure our place in the hierarchy. The man says he has lived in Duluth for 30 years. As a way of starting conversation an Occupier says, “So where did you come from when you moved to Duluth?” The man responds, “What does it matter where I came from? I was a different man when I came here. I probably would have walked up here and (making the motion of putting a gun to his head) pop….pop..pop…each one of you. I’ve been here 30 years and I’m different now”.
He then says, “Are you burning sage?” We nod yes. He responds, “Well you better put it out. You aren’t supposed to burn sage when there’s alcohol in the circle and the alcohol’s not leaving. If you keep burning it, bad things will happen”. An Occupier thinks for a minute and says, “Well I know one is not supposed to use it if they’re drinking but I suppose you would know so you’re probably right”. She puts out the sage.
A man we have met many times in the past arrives. At 1st we don’t recognize him because his beard is much grayer and he’s wearing a stocking cap. As he gets closer we see exactly who it is. One of the Occupiers had previously established a rapport with him so there is hugging and such. Our new arrival opens the conversation by repeating a tired old refrain we have heard a bazillion times before. “See those 3 black guys up there? They have a Memorial. What about all the Natives who were murdered? What about all the unspeakable crimes committed upon Native women and children? Where’s our memorial?” We respond as we always do with, “Oh man, both Natives and African Americans have had unspeakable crimes committed upon them. You’re taking it out on the wrong people. That’s just what “the man” wants; all the groups of regular people fighting for crumbs so they won’t notice who their real oppressor is”. Of course the new arrival already knows this and agrees. He begins talking about Mother Earth, Father Sky, respect for women and we all have a long conversation about spirituality vs religion. The drinking man becomes bored with all this and leaves. We fire up the smudge pot again.
Soon people are coming up right and left. Some we know, most we don’t. Among them is an infamous woman of the street who had lived at our previous homeless camp. The last time we saw her she was screaming and accusing one of the Occupiers of beating her up, putting her baby’s daddy in prison and causing her to miscarry. Then we heard she went to jail for a while. Well she’s back and it appears she’s still crazy. Tonight she hugs the Occupier and says, “I forgive you”.
Another unknown man with a gift for street slang sits down next to a female Occupier who is experiencing one of her 1st CJM meetings and politely begins hitting on her. He says, “You know, when I get with a woman, I’m there, I’m really there”. She takes it all in stride. When we tease her about it after he leaves, she says, “Oh he wasn’t such a bad little guy”.
As darkness descends people start wandering off to wherever. We get one last visit. This is from a pretty young woman who is in a zombie like state of drunkenness. She plunks down, looks quite unhappy and begins making demands. It takes us a minute to understand what she is saying but we finally get that she wants a lighter. We give it to her; she puts it in her mouth and then looks confused. She says, “I want…. I want..” An Occupier says, “A cigarette?” She smiles. We give her one and she smokes then suddenly jumps up, goes to the table, lays a rag down, pours coffee creamer on it and then apple juice on top of that. A female Occupier says, “Hey girlfriend, what are you doing?” She says, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know”. She grabs the rag, smears the mess around, throws the rag in the fire and leaves. The female Occupier says to the novice female Occupier, “A lot of evenings end like this. A young woman who is zombie drunk comes in, acts really weird and leaves. We always worry about what will happen to them after they’ve left”. Someone retrieves the rag and cleans up the mess. The female Occupier says to another, “We’d better watch our time”.
Throughout the entire evening we have observed a DPD SUV driving around and around the block and scoping us out. He never stops but makes it obvious he is watching. We guess he’s gotten the word from the Chief that we are not to be bothered. Just in case, we will always carry a copy of the letter signed by the Chief of Police in our supply box.
We figure the DPD is just hoping we will lose track of time and stay past 10pm. They will then swoop on us and charge us with being in a city park after curfew. We know the Memorial is not a city park and we don’t have to be out by 10pm but it’s not an important battle to fight. It also gives us a reason to go home just as the “2nd shift” of street folks are arriving.
The novice Occupier says, “So what happened to our meeting?” We laugh and someone quickly says, “There’s an Idle No More meeting next Friday, noon at Randy’s. Honor the Earth has a Love Water Not Oil event at Clyde Iron at 7pm Tuesday, May 27th. We need to find out when the DFL is having their big conference at the DECC and see if any other groups are going to attempt to protest. Skip Sandman is running against Nolan in November on the Green Party ticket and needs volunteers. We still need to find a way to hook up with some Native leaders or elders and get some lessons about being good allies and we should have further discussion about the proposed idea for a bench”.
With that we start packing up and putting out the fire. The police officer is making his rounds again. He’s probably disappointed because it’s only 9:30pm so he won’t be able to bust us. Oh well, we’ll be back on Tuesday. We’d like to say to him, “There’s always hope”.

G.A. Minutes 5-6-14

G.A. Minutes 5-6-14

Tonight we’re in the WSAC big meeting room. It’s not cozy and we have to sit around a big business type table. Kinda weird but all the other rooms are taken so we’ll make due. Many people have no roof at all over their heads; we can’t complain.

The May Day events went well, however we expended a lot of energy so decided to take last Saturday evening off for rest and to possibly catch the last of the bands playing at the annual Homegrown Festival.

Someone asks how the artist co-op (WSAC) functions and this begins a somewhat lengthy discussion about the possibilities of a wonderful old building like WSAC. Another notes the co-op is not doing many of the things that they could be doing and an Occupier who lives in the co-op explains many of the WSAC work long hours at low paying jobs while still trying to produce their art. These co-op members generally don’t have much energy left over for organizing art showings in the hallways or hosting big community events. The Occupiers spend much time discussing possible remedies to the co-op situation but in the end everyone agrees co-op life would be much more productive if lived under a system better than capitalism.

An Occupier suggests it is now time to start having meetings again at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. Some Occupiers are excited by the prospect; others say they want to meet there again but they want to do things differently this year.

When questioned about what they would like to do differently people suggest serving hot meals, making deliberate attempts to draw the homeless and street people into conversations, making a video of the people telling their stories or making a bench to be left for people to sit on. Another Occupier says that one needs to offer something that the people actually would want and appreciate.

Still another says, “We don’t have the funds to provide a hot meal, the street people don’t like to be approached directly but will join us as they please, a video would be interesting but we’d have to locate equipment and be trained how to use it and it would take a long time to get people willing to be filmed. However, the idea of making a bench might work”.

Someone else says they think things would be fine just the way they were in the past and she can hardly wait to have a fire in the fresh air.

An Occupier says, “We spent about 2 years standing up to the DPD over our right to have a small safe fire and we won. Now we have to move forward and accomplish something else that is meaningful”. After more discussion we come to the conclusion that if it doesn’t rain, we’ll meet at CJM on Saturday and continue the discussion.

An Occupier reports on the Northwoods Wolf Alliance supported presentation by long time animal rights activist Rod Coronado. He was in town yesterday and spoke about his life and his time spent in prison because of actions to protect abused animals. He advised young activists to be aware that things have changed very much since 9/11.

The government passed many laws that label actions previously warranting a mere citation, as acts of terrorism. People are now being sentenced to 15 or 25 years in prison for simple acts of property destruction. Mr. Coronado advised people to plan their actions very carefully. The Occupiers who attended the NWA event were glad they did so.

Another Occupier reports the Duluth mayor holds open office hours once a month. During this open office time citizens of Duluth are allowed to bring almost any topic they wish to discuss to the attention of the mayor. The Occupier isn’t sure of the exact time and day of this open office as it isn’t well publicized but he’ll find the information for us. We think we should pay a visit to the mayor ASAP and ask him about his actions in relation to affordable housing and our large homeless population.

We notice it’s getting dark and if we’re going to continue we’ll have to turn on the obnoxious over head lights of the meeting room. We opt for calling it a night. Weather permitting; we’ll be at CJM on Saturday.