G.A. Minutes 6-28-14

G.A. Minutes 6-28-14

We think we may be rained out tonight. At 6pm the temp is in the 70s and the sky is partly cloudy. The forecast is for strong and heavy rain expected to be arriving soon and lasting until sometime tomorrow. After a brief discussion it’s decided we’d better meet indoors. Seeing as this is a spur of the moment decision, we opt for the plan of last resort. Off to the Occupy couple’s house. They only live a few blocks away from the Memorial.

In a short time we are sitting around the kitchen table talking about the Idle No More Indian Taco Sale that some of us helped out at yesterday. The sale was held at the Red Lake Urban Office. The Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation is about 4 hours north of Duluth but there are many Red Lakers living in our city. The RLUO serves as a cultural center, a place to use a computer, cook and socialize.

Several Native folks from INM arrived very early to make frybread and start chopping all the vegetables. The Occupiers arrived a few hours later bringing more of the main taco ingredients and a vehicle to make deliveries. Quickly the orders started rolling in. We made and delivered tacos for about 3 hours and then ran out of food. People were still coming in and calling in but we had nothing more to give them. This was the first taco sale sponsored by INM. It was a success. They even made a small profit.

An Occupier reminds us that we have committed to helping the Northwoods Wolf Alliance table on July 12th at the Pow Wow at Big Lake on the Fond du Lac Reservation. We’ll have 2 vehicles that day so should be able take every one of our small group. Some of the Occupiers have attended this yearly Pow Wow in the past. They are looking forward to attending again.

Another Occupier says she believes that the mayor of Duluth holds an “open office” on the evening of the last Tuesday of each month. She asks if we would like to visit the mayor on the last Tuesday of July. Unanimous happy octopi.

We’ll have to decide beforehand what we want to talk to him about. We’ll need to remain focused. As we begin this discussion, we hear the rain come pouring down. Looks like we made the right decision.

We initiate a lengthy conversation covering many topics. Among the subjects covered are: the absurdity of various religions that profess doctrines of peace and love and then kill each other, the absurdity of allowing an individual to own a multitude of houses while others are homeless, the probable full legalization of marijuana in the foreseeable future, the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement and other dangerous agreements being negotiated behind closed doors by so called world leaders, the fact that Monsanto is suing the state of Vermont over its new law to require labeling of all GMOs in food, the scary fact that corporations actually believe human beings to not have the right to know what is in their food and the absurdity of the U.S. education system which spends 13 years forcing citizens to get up and be some place on time in preparation for a life of slavery.

As we are talking, an Occupier has quietly been cooking and chopping in the background. He presents us a delicious pot of “real” wild rice and vegetables. We stop talking to notice the hour is quite late and we are all very hungry. There is plenty of food and we have 2nd and 3rdhelpings.

Then it’s time to call it a night. The rain continues. One of the Occupiers packs those on foot into his vehicle and drives everyone to their homes.

The weather promises to be warm and dry for at least the next week. We’ll attempt to have our next meeting at CJM on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-24-14

G.A. Minutes 6-24-14

It appears that summer is over. We had a couple of really nice days a few weeks ago and yesterday it was really hot for a couple of hours. That’s been about it. Mostly it’s been raining with temps in the 50s. There’s a fine mist in the air and a strong east wind when we arrive at the CJM Memorial. It feels very cold and the place is empty.
We know how to remedy that. We have the fire roaring in record time, coffee and homemade lemonade put out; we all snuggle up close to the warmth.

An Occupier questions whether we should hold all our outdoor weather meetings at CJM. She says, “Here there are so many disruptions, it might be a good idea to hold some meetings in a different, calmer space”. Another Occupier says, “Actually, according to some of my readings, this issue is a major debate among Occupy groups all across the nation. Some say the most important thing to do right now is to discuss political issues, theory and strategy. Others believe it’s more important to meet and work amongst ‘the people’. Personally I think we should do both. Our friend up the street has just opened a new neighborhood music club. He has a back room that could be used to meet in. We should go and talk with him”. The 1st Occupier agrees and just as they begin to discuss the particulars, the 1st “distraction” appears.

A middle aged, rather attractive, well dressed blonde woman comes walking down the street and heads toward us. She is not wearing a coat; only a short sleeved shirt. She is yelling loudly as she tells us all how much she loves us and gives hugs all around. Her behavior is manic; she bounces from chair to chair as she yells and goes from one story, midstream, into another. We ask her to try and calm down. She stops, says, “I don’t even know why I do this!” and bursts into tears. She then starts up again, yelling and running around.

A small man wearing a leather jacket with Native designs arrives and asks for a cup of coffee. He sits down and joins us in our attempt to calm the woman. An Occupier asks, in an aside to him, “What is she on anyway?” He says, “Oh that’s psychic pain you’re seeing. She’s probably been drinking but mostly she has a bad spirit. There’s not much you can do for her right now”.

The woman suddenly jumps up and runs into the middle of the street. She continues with the yelling and hopping around. There are many cars in the street. Some have to swerve to avoid hitting her. Many are beeping their horns.

An Occupier remarks, “We have to call for help. We can’t just leave her like this.” A quick consensus of all present, says yes to calling for help. The Occupier takes a cell phone off to the empty back ledge and calls the Chief of the Bike Patrol. She gets an answering machine. She calls the main homeless outreach worker and gets an answering machine again. She leaves a message and calls the number she has for generic homeless outreach and a man answers. He says, “Oh, I know who she is. The only thing you can do with her when she gets like this is to call 911”. The man agrees to call 911 for her. The Occupier returns to the group and says, “They’re on their way”.
The infamous street woman, who we know well, arrives with 2 other women. The crazy acting woman comes to the sidewalk and she and one of the other women begin a round of “bitch this and bitch that”. We call to the infamous woman and ask her to please give us a break as the crazy woman is “toast”. Her friend immediately ceases the insults. The wild acting woman runs to a cab that is sitting on the corner, jumps in and the cab drives off.
Just as she leaves, the main homeless outreach worker pulls up. The Occupier explains what has been going on and gives the outreach worker the number of the cab. The outreach worker calls the cab company and explains the situation. It’s now up to the cab company and the 911 people to deal with the problem.

“Oh I know the crazy woman well,” says the worker. “When she gets like this all you can do is call 911. They’ll take her to Detox and when she wakes up in the morning she’ll be talking normal again”. She then tells her usual story about the refusal of social workers and the police to notify her when there are problems with her clients. She says, “So many issues could be taken care of at the very beginning if they would just contact outreach”. The Occupiers says, “Sounds like it may be a problem of them not wanting anyone else to get credit or operate in their territory”. The worker says, “You know, you may be right”.

While they have been talking, the infamous woman and several others have been waiting, appearing to want to talk to the main worker. The Occupier walks back to the fire and the others go up to the workers’ car.
When they are finished, the outreach worker drives off to the next crisis and the infamous woman walks over, makes a point of looking the Occupiers in the eye and says, “Thank you.” This is surprising, as that same woman had verbally attacked us many times last year. Someone says, “She told me she was trying to quit drinking and is looking for treatment”.

A large Native man comes to the fire, smudges himself and sits down. He tells us he is a Lakota sun dancer and that our fire and burning sage remind him of home. He graces us with a song. While the large man is singing, the small leather jacketed man begins flirting with one of the female Occupiers. The singing man addresses the small man saying, “I’m going to stop now. You were using vulgar language and disrespecting the song”. The small man says, “Don’t accuse me of being disrespectful”. They begin arguing. The Lakota man says,”You were disrespecting our grandmothers and our traditions”. The man with the leather jacket responds, “You’re right, I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize”. The Lakota man continues to lecture the other man and an Occupier says, “He apologized to you. A lot of men are not able to do that”. The Lakota states, “I agree. I’m sorry to be arrogant and to have a bad attitude”. Both men shake hands several times and depart, each going his separate way.

The Occupiers are alone at the fire; everything is quiet. One of the group returns and says, “Did you see the new sign on the fence? It says there is to be no drinking, smoking or fighting here. I’m sure it’s the work of the CJM Memorial BOD member who doesn’t like us. I guess she thinks all it takes is a sign to change people’s behavior”. We all laugh.

A late Occupier arrives and we say, “You missed a lot of drama”. He begins a discourse about the minimum wage issue and tells us Wisconsin has just passed a minimum wage of $10.10/hr. He says, “That’s just enough for a person to lose their food stamps, subsidized health care and any other benefits but not enough to support a family. One needs a minimum wage of at least $15 to survive”.

A neighborhood woman who is a personal friend of several Occupiers drives up. This is the 1st Occupy meeting she has attended. She brings a load of wood, a freezbie and her dog. The dog does tricks with the freezbie.

Suddenly many street people arrive at the fire. There are too many to count. All our chairs are full and many are standing. The coffee has all been drunk and the lemonade is on its way out too. People are socializing in small groups. The vibe is friendly. The Lakota man returns. Unasked, an Occupier gives him her seat. He sits close to the flames and sings a few songs. His voice is strong and deep. All are quiet. We share the time in unity and meditation.

When he finishes, an Occupier says, “Crap. Look at the time”. We quickly pack up. The street people help us. Someone asks when we will return and we tell them it we’ll be back on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 6-17-14

G.A. Minutes 6-17-14

It would have been a very warm day today except for a light east wind which pleasantly cooled things down. Funny how one freezes one’s butt off for much of the year; then when summer arrives we worry about being too hot.

The Memorial is full of people upon our arrival tonight. Folks appear boisterous and happy. It’s a special night for us too. Tonight we bring the first of the years’ big container of homemade lemonade. Everyone loves it. Simple pleasures are a big deal to those on the street.

It seems everyone in the space wants to spend time at our fire this evening. They quickly fill up all our chairs; some remain standing.

Some Occupiers remind us that this upcoming Saturday is the Summer Solstice. They ask if we all would like to attend a Solstice celebration to be held out in the country. Unanimous happy octopi.

An Occupier asks another, “Will you be willing to ride shotgun in the delivery car for the Idle No More Indian Taco Sale on Friday, June 27th 11am-3pm? The other Occupier answers, “Sure, if you remind me”.

Seeing as our meeting is filled with street folks tonight, we don’t expect to discuss much business. The first topic of conversation is sex trafficking. We think the major point of debate these days is whether it should be made completely legal or if it should be made illegal with the stipulation that the criminals be considered to be the pimps and the johns while the trafficked people are acknowledged to be victims of coercion. Everybody agrees trafficked people are victims and that legalization benefits the pimps and johns while making life even more difficult for the victims.

A street person leaves the Memorial saying something about an abortion clinic. This triggers a brief discussion of the abortion issue.

An Occupier says, “I’ve been told that sometimes when a trafficked woman becomes pregnant she is forced to give birth to the child and then the traffickers take the child and use it as a sex slave just about from birth on. They don’t get a birth certificate so there is no record of that baby/person ever existing”.

Another says, “Whoa! That’s too creepy to even think about”. The 1st Occupier answers, “Yeah, that’s what I thought too but it is actually a reality”.

An Occupier has a cabin deep in the woods outside of the city. He speaks of a housing development that was started in the same area. Development was stopped when the economic crash happened. The rumor is that a major renovation of all the dirt roads was planned. The Occupier investigated further and discovered that the area was found to contain the only source of palladium (an important rare earth mineral) in the U.S. He thinks some corporation is planning on creating a mine in this beautiful wilderness. The Occupier owns the mineral rights to his property but is unsure if other residents own theirs.

As we are talking, a couple of men in green uniforms walk up. It says Park Ranger on their shirts. They say, “Oh we just wanted to see how everybody is doing”. We make small talk with them and as it appears they are questioning our legal right to be there, an Occupier says, “Believe it or not, we actually have a letter from the DPD Chief that says we are cool to be here”. The Rangers leave.

However, during the rest of our meeting we notice squad cars circling much more often than usual. Coincidence?

Someone brings up the topic of container homes. Apparently, New York City is investing largely in these homes.

An Occupier asks, “Do they have bathrooms and running water and stuff?”

Another answers, “Yup, they have everything just like a regular home”.

An Occupier who has been attending city commission meetings says, “Our main homeless advocacy group suggested investigating the use of container homes but was told if they attempted to use these homes the City would sue them”.

The street people have gone off to their sleeping places and CJM is empty except for the Occupiers. Then, who should come around the corner……….. but our good friend the older grey haired woman. We all laugh and call her name. She comes to sit and she and an Occupier exchange stories about their time spent living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It’s getting dark, so considering the time of year; we know it’s quite late. As we pack up, our grey haired friend says, “I need to start getting here at 6pm. I’m never ready for these gatherings to end”.

As we are leaving we see one last squad car watching from the intersection. Once we are all in our vehicles, it drives off. The DPD will have to wait until next Tuesday if they want to attempt to intimidate us again.

G.A. Minutes 6-10-14

G.A. Minutes 6-10-14

Bright sunshine and clear skies greet us this evening. Unfortunately there’s a cold wind which makes it feel more like October than the beginning of June. Oh well, at least there’s no snow.

The first Occupiers to arrive set things up quickly as we need to get the fire going right away. Once the flames are dancing, everyone feels a lot better.

Several Occupiers attended last night’s City Council meeting. They give a report. It was an unusually long meeting. It started at 7pm and it wasn’t until a little after 11pm that the subject of the CJM Memorial was introduced. There were 6 or 7 speakers; all spoke in favor of granting the Memorial local historical site status. The CJM BOD member, who has been insisting the Occupiers remove themselves from CJM, spoke but made no mention of Occupy.

The Occupier speaker was the last to speak. She narrated in some detail the activities of the Occupier meetings at CJM over the last 3 years. Her presentation was well received and several city counselors took the time to assure the Occupiers that the meetings at CJM were considered a valuable contribution to the Central Hillside neighborhood. The counselors specifically stated they would not allow others to harass or attempt to intimidate the Occupy meetings.

The Occupier reporting on the council meeting stated, “The CJMM BOD member who has been harassing us was sitting right there as the counselors were saying all that stuff. I would think she will back off now”. Everyone is delighted with this news.

One of the items on last night’s City Council agenda was rank choice voting. All the Occupiers who were present at the meeting say the discussion of the issue was very heated and confusing. They think at the end of a very long debate the council voted to completely reject the rank choice voting concept. They also voted against allowing an appointed group of experts to study the concept and issue their findings. The Occupiers don’t understand why a study was not allowed. Someone says, “Maybe they would have to pay for the study and the City can’t afford to do so?”

A young man who has visited our fire several times explains the mathematics involved in rank choice type of voting. He says the system would work well when only 3 candidates are in an election race. If there are more than 3 candidates running, things don’t work so well. We’ll just have to believe him, as none of us have the time or energy to figure it out.

Speaking of 3rd party candidates brings us to the subject our friend who is running against Rick Nolan for U.S. House of Representatives seat in the 8th congressional district. An Occupier states, “I just can’t support Nolan after he sold out about PolyMet. How can a person have a consistently good record on all environmental issues except for one? The one environmental issue he won’t support is a mine that is guaranteed to pollute all our fresh water and destroy our wild rice”.

Another replies, “Yeah, I know he wants to get reelected but so what? I’m sure he’s comfortable enough financially and he’ll get a pension even if he loses. I’m so sick of watching people sell their integrity for money and power”.

A couple of Occupiers arrive with a couple of bags. They tell us they have brought the ingredients for making s’mores. Cool. We find some sticks and everyone takes turns roasting marshmallows. We tell stories about the last time we each made a s’more.

An immaculately dressed young woman walks up. “What are you doing?” she asks. We tell her and invite her to join us. She says, “Oh cool. I haven’t done this in a long time”. As we chat she tells us she is working as a stripper at a place just down the street. She says pickings are pretty slim these days as other women in her business are willing to do extra things for the customers that she is not willing to do.

She generally moves around the country a lot but is thinking of staying in Duluth for a while. She asks if we know of motels that rent by the week. We offer suggestions and one Occupier exchanges phone numbers and offers to help her apply for whatever government help may be available.

An older Native man who has been visiting our fires regularly this year arrives. He is kind and has a good sense of humor. We’re happy to see him. He smudges and joins the conversation.

The street has been fairly quiet this evening but as evening turns into night people run by and grab a cup of coffee or juice, a cigarette, a smudge or just a few good words. This is a routine occurrence. They are heading off to their sleeping places.

The conversation has turned to a discussion about the incomprehensible manner of thinking that rich people employ. Someone says, “Oh, but remember, it’s easier for a camel to walk through a needle than for a rich person to go to heaven. Or something like that”.

Another says, “Well I wouldn’t mind trying to put a rich person through a needle”. We laugh and then someone else says, “Hey, I have an idea. We’ll do that next Saturday. Everyone bring one rich person…….” “I’ll bring the needles”, says someone else. We’re getting silly now. That’s generally a clue that we’re overly tired and need to go home.

It seems weird to be packing up when it is still light. However, it’s very close to summer solstice and still light at 9:30pm. We probably won’t be able to find any co-operative rich people but we’ll be back on Saturday anyway.

G.A. Minutes 6-7-14

G.A. Minutes 6-7-14

It’s been raining since last night. A slow steady rain, perfect for helping all the green things grow. An hour or so before our meeting at CJM it stops drizzling. A good omen?

Everyone arrives on time this evening. Maybe that’s the reason the clouds part; allowing sunshine to beam down on us.

A couple of Occupiers have brought food to go with our usual coffee and juice. We have a pile of organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with onions and potatoes wrapped in tin foil to be cooked on our fire.

It’s always a good idea to bring food on Saturday evenings because the Mission feeding station doesn’t serve dinner on Saturdays. Street folks are generally quite hungry on the last night of the week.

Our friend, the City official is joining us at our fire. We haven’t seen him in a while and are pleased he has found the time to be with us. There is new business with CJM that we need to discuss. An article in the DNT alerted us to news concerning a member of the CJM BOD.

Apparently this BOD member is planning on putting a resolution before the City Council. The BOD member will ask the council to issue a statement proclaiming the Memorial a local site of historical significance. If the council will agree to do this, the BOD member wants to then make an official “code of conduct” to be applied to all who set foot on the site.

We think it all sounds pretty silly, however we know what her real motive is. She has always been vehemently opposed to the Occupiers holding meetings at CJM. The moment, years ago, she found out she began complaining to the DPD and anyone else who would listen.

She says we are being disrespectful. She’s never attended even one of our meetings and we have no idea what she’s talking about. We hadn’t heard anything from her for at least 6 months but here she is again.

A few of us agree to attend the City Council meeting on Monday to try and counter some of her nonsense. Our friend the City official will be there too.

There’s some movement on the street tonight but not a lot. The people who do cruise through are happy to get a sandwich. A young man has been sitting on the back ledge with 2 women that we know. Eventually the women leave and the young man is left sitting alone. That’s when we notice he is so intoxicated he can barely walk. We assist him to a chair by the fire.

It’s hard to understand his very slurred speech. The most we can make out is that he’s real tough and he likes to fight. He also says “help me” and” pray for me” from time to time. We try to feed him but he’s not interested. He asks for a cigarette and then asks for the smudge pot to be handed to him.

An Occupier says, “You’re not supposed to smudge when you’re drunk”.

He says, “Hey, you’re not Native!”

The Occupier responds, “That’s true but that doesn’t mean I don’t know nothing”. For some unknown reason that response seems to settle him down.

As we continue our conversation, an Occupier reports there will be a demonstration at UWS at 11:30am on Monday. Idle No More will be having a meeting Friday 1:00pm at Randy’s. Also a well-known local artist, hipster and good friend is celebrating her 70th birthday on Friday.

A couple of somewhat older guys walk up. It is apparent they are friends of the drunken young man. They nod to us and go over to him. One guy takes a look at the back of the young man’s head and says. “So you still haven’t got that fixed, huh?”

Youngblood says, “No and I ain’t gonna. I’m gonna die next week”. Both of his older friends try to convince him he needs to go to the emergency room but he keeps refusing.

The City official says, “Maybe we should call homeless outreach”. An Occupier nods toward the boy’s 2 friends and says, “Looks like we already have homeless outreach”.

An Occupier who is a nurse goes to look at the large cut on the back of boy’s head and says, “Damn! That’s deep”. The friends tell her the young man got hit with a crow bar maybe 3 days ago at a notorious local Bar.

“No, was yesterday.” Fist loosely clenched he swings at the air and misses. “I knock you out.”

Several Occupiers are questioning if someone should call an ambulance. Another Occupier says, “We need to ask his friends”.

They ask and the friends says, “Well, he’s not gonna go by himself and he definitely needs to see a Dr.”

An Occupier calls 911 and we all sit down to make small talk and wait.

After about 20 minutes, 3 squad cars roll up; a cop gets out of one of them and comes over to the circle. We don’t have to point out the injured party; the cops spots him right away. The boy turns and notices the DPD has arrived. He responds with belligerence to the first cop and immediately 2 other officers appear.

One stands the boy up and the other cuffs him. The boy lunges aggressively at the cop in front of him. He says “I’m goin hit you.” The cop steps back and says, “Come on man, you can’t hit me. You’re in handcuffs!”

We tell the officers that Youngblood wasn’t causing any problems; he just really needs to go to the ER. It’s always a dilemma for us when we’re faced with these situations.

When you call the DPD you never know if they’ll help or if they’ll make the situation worse. With all the Occupiers standing around watching, they’re treating the boy very gently. Once they’re out of our sight, we have no idea what they will do.

A few more of our friends show up including one who has had his own battles with the police. He is a major permaculturalist and has spent years trying to establish his right to plant food in public spaces. We talk about how there are so many groups of people working on different parts of the system. We hope to all be able to come together for mutual survival when the system crashes once and for all.

It’s still light outside but we notice a few of the “2nd shift” folks appearing. That means it’s time to go home. As we’re cleaning up, a man comes by saying he and his children are hungry. We give him all the food that we have left.

We plan to be back here on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-3-14

G.A. Minutes 6-3-14
It’s summer time now. Finally. The official beginning of summer won’t be for another 2 ½ weeks but tonight it is definitely summer.
We are all in shirt sleeves as we arrive at CJM. The Memorial is full of street folks and quite a few little children are also running around and having fun. There’s a festive feeling in the air. At first we think this is due to the beautiful weather but then we remember, it’s the beginning of the month. This means that people who receive small government checks have just been paid. They’ll be buying alcohol and/or drugs. Everyone appears very happy now. We know from experience things will go downhill as the night goes on.
We set up and prepare the fire but we don’t light it right away. It’s still pretty warm outside so we’ll wait awhile.
An Occupier asks about the latest news from the Northwoods Wolf Alliance. Another Occupier says, “Well you know the NWA founder has moved on to other things so they have to regroup. They’re having another Indian Taco Sale on June 27th”. The Occupier also reports some NWA members have brought up the subject of getting a Stop The Wolf Hunt referendum on the MN ballot. The majority of MN voters do not support a wolf hunt. There is some discussion about the process and feasibility of doing this. An Occupier comments, “I wonder if that would fit into Anishinaabe principles? You know the members of NWA need to consult with their Anishinaabe elders before beginning major project.
Someone reports that several of our Native friends took a trip to Rosebud Lakota Reservation last week. They went to observe a Lakota school that uses the Walden method to teach Lakota language and culture as well subjects commonly taught in the U.S. public schools. Our friends were very impressed and excited. They are planning on opening an Ojibwe school in Duluth. The Lakota teachers told them they were specifically teaching their grandchildren because theirs is the generation that will fight the final battles for the air, earth and water.
The subject of defending our Mother Earth segues into discussion of the Polymet mine. Some of the people at the Memorial are getting really loud. A young woman is getting up in the faces of many of the African American men and yelling at them, using racist terms. The men try to ignore her. She doesn’t stop so some of the men begin yelling back at her. Somebody says something and she goes stomping off in embarrassment. The men laugh at her. The whole interchange was earsplitting but we have absolutely no idea what it was about.
An Occupier asks how things are going with our good friend who is running on the Green Party ticket for the 8th CD seat against Nolan. Another says our friend was able to get enough signatures from residents of the 8th CD to allow him to have his name on the November ballot. The next meeting of our friend’s campaign organizers will be in the Lincoln Park pavilion this Thursday at 6:30pm.
Someone mentions the City of Superior is planning to hire a consultant to create a wage and benefit recommendation in regard to all City employees. This consultant will cost $30,000. “Oh great,” says an Occupier, “Instead of using that money to pay the workers, they’ll hire someone to make a plan for them to pay the workers less”. We shake our heads in disgust.
Somebody also mentions that last weekend at the state DFL convention they voted to table any resolution on the PolyMet mine. An Occupier says, “Cowards”.
We begin a conversation about Guantanamo but the voices of the street people are so loud that we can’t hear each other. Mothers and children are at our table pouring glasses of apple juice. The littlest ones are crying. The original loud woman is back and still loud, a group behind the wall appears to be selling something, 4 or 5 older men are walking around as if they were zombies and there’s lots of laughter coming from the back ledge. A man we have been acquainted for several years comes over to visit. He always has a great sense of humor and he gets us laughing too.
Just then, a woman who has been to our fire a few times stumbles over and plunks herself down. A couple of Occupiers look at each other and mouth “Oh no”. All visits we have had from this woman in the past have been disastrous. Her speech is unintelligible and she also has a zombie like quality about her. Everyone seems to know and watch out for her. No one wants to talk with her so she’s stuck with us. Or is it the other way around? She seems to be enjoying the warmth of the fire, then opens her big purse and begins throwing things into the flames. It’s mostly paper but we have to watch her closely as there’s no telling what she’ll do next. She takes out a bottle of alcohol, gulps some down and quick as a flash throws the rest of the bottle in the fire. Yikes! An Occupier runs to get the grabber thing, but too late……. We hear ssssssssssss….BOOM! Fortunately that’s all that happened. No damage, no one hurt. Then after 2 or 3 tries, she stands up and leaves. Many of the people in the space also leave.
Huh? An Occupier says, “Everyone is probably hurrying to get to CHUM before curfew”. Another Occupier says, “Well how can they do that? They’re all so messed up they won’t be let in”. The 1st Occupier answers, “Oh they’ll be let in. There’s only 1 staff member on the night shift and people get a break at the 1st of the month”. The 2nd Occupier says, “Oh great, a person must feel real safe sleeping at the CHUM under those conditions”. The 1st Occupier nods knowingly and says, “Yeah”.
One more Occupier says, “Why do they live that way? Why don’t they take personal responsibility and straighten up? “Another says, “Well what if you came from a horrible family, were abused and ignored? What if you were an orphan? What if you had little education, no family, no prospects, no options and no hope? If somebody offered you a little substance to change your perspective for a bit, what would you do?” The 1st Occupier is silent.
We decide to pack up early as all the ruckus can be draining. As we are doing so, a large older man we haven’t met before comes off the back ledge and walks over to us. In the earlier ruckus he had been attempting to calm people down. He says, “I’d like to apologize for everyone’s behavior here tonight”. We smile and say, “Oh man, we’ve been coming here for years. It’s really no big deal”. The man shakes everyone’s hands and goes back to the ledge. When we return on Saturday, we expect it will be quieter.