G.A. Minutes 2-28-17
Last week Duluth was a tropical paradise; tonight we’re having a blizzard.  Cars are sliding all over the place; many are having serious trouble getting up the hills. 
It’s really not that bad though because temperatures are in the low 30s with an occasional wind.  Providing they have somewhere warm and safe to go, folks who must walk won’t suffer frostbite.  Homeless folks will be wet, uncomfortable and unable to actually sleep but they probably won’t die.  Heck, it might even be spring one of these days; with the schizophrenia of climate change you never know.
We are only a few Occupiers and the city official at Coney Island this evening.  Maybe some forgot about our earlier starting time or maybe they just didn’t want to go out into this end of winter sloppiness.
We say hi to the lone hipster working the counter and head to the back booth.  The only other customers are 2 regular guys in another booth.  They’re talking about people who have seizures.
The city official tells us about the wonderful time he had at the Milwaukee conference.  He gives us a booklet from the event; it looks really interesting and makes us all wish we had been able to attend.  The official reports that when he was introduced as being from Duluth, the entire audience broke out in huge applause.  It seems that people all over the nation know about our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and are quite impressed.  We’re sorry that most people in our City government don’t feel the same way.  Mostly they just ignore CJMM; despite many requests, they still haven’t cleaned up the pawnshop garbage that’s been sitting behind the Memorial for 8 years.
The city man asks if we’re aware that the City Council recently voted to approve giving $250,000 to a developer to help him develop more market rate apartments in a currently wooded area near the Miller Hill Mall.  Of course, there will be no low income units available in this new development.
An Occupier comments, “Yet the City budget people say they can’t possibly finance 7 port-a-potties for homeless folks at a cost of $5,000 – $10,000 a year.  I’m gonna be sure bring that up the next time I speak before the Council.  I am so sick of this shit”.
Another Occupier changes the subject by saying, “Remember how we talked about a recent increase in shootings in our neighborhood last week?  I said I was going to the Citizens Review Board meeting and would ask about it.  Well I went to meeting but I didn’t have to ask; all the Commissioners were very concerned and asking what the hell was happening.
“Chief Tuscan was there so he gave the run down.  In the past month or so there have actually been 6 shootings scattered around our poor and working class neighborhoods.  One was at the liquor store close to CJMM, another in the East Hillside, one in West End, and one at 65th Ave W.  Then there was one where people in cars driving on I-35 were shooting at each other and another (I forgot where he said it was) that was an actual premeditated murder.
“Tuscan assured the Commissioners that all the shootings were between people who knew each other and there were no sniper type events.  He said the reason for increased shootings is probably because there are a lot of guns among the general public these days.  Of course, one must always take what the cops have to say with a grain of salt but that’s the info they’re putting out right now.
“I asked about the incident I witnessed on the Blatnik Bridge but all the cops said they were unaware of that event even happening.  They thought it might have been some other law enforcement agency.  I told them it was so dark that I was unable to see the markings on the SUVs.  We have so many so called law enforcement agencies these days; it’s anybody’s guess what was really going on”.
An Occupier states, “Before I forget, Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having a Taco Sale on Friday and they’ll need our help.  We’ll need to call the others as we’ll need them to help too.
“Also, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition is doing a letter to the editor campaign right now.  They find that there is so much talking behind their backs going on with the City government and some of the NGOs that it’s time to get the information out to the general public.  So far, there have been 2 letters posted in the Northland Reader and 1 in the Duluth News Tribune”.
The lone hipster asks if we mind if he goes out for a smoke.  We say that’s fine.  There are no other customers currently in the place so our job shouldn’t be too hard.
An Occupier reports, “Duluth for Clean Water is having another event at the Zeitgeist on Saturday at 2pm.  I don’t think I’m gonna go though.  I found their last presentation to be really elemental; I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.  Also, one of the last presenters made the comment that seeing as we’ve learned so much now about how to fight sulfide mining, we will be really prepared when the next sulfide mining projects apply.  I was very offended by that.  Everyone knows that other mining companies won’t be able to apply until after Polymet is in operation.  So was she saying that Polymet is already a given? That was so lame!  Even if that’s what she thinks privately, she shouldn’t be putting that out in public.  It made me wonder who she’s really working for”.
The Occupier who usually keeps track of the weekly progressive/radical goings on reports, “The HPB of R Coalition meeting will happen again this Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day, the Anonymous kids will be out on the protest corner tomorrow starting at 11am and there will be an International Women’s Day Strike Rally on the same corner March 8th at 5pm.  There are a lot of things going on again this week so I brought a copy of the Northern Worker activist calendar for everyone to look at”.
It’s coming up on 7pm and it looks like the hipster dude is dying to go home.  As we pack up, an Occupier says to the city official, “I want to thank you again for the tickets to the Soul Food Dinner.  We had a good time.  The place was packed, the food was great and some of the spoken word presentations just blew my mind”.
So we’re off.  For another week we will try to do good things and stir stuff up as much as we can.  We plan to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-21-17
Duluth MN has turned into a tropical paradise.  For real. Temperatures have been in the 50s for the last 5 or 6 days with nighttime lows in the 30s…..in February.  We’re keeping a close eye on the sky as pigs will be flying soon.
At Coney Island, 2 of the hipster guys are working the counter. We’re all happy to see each other.  The other non-hipster staff people are o.k. but the hipster staff actually knows what Occupy is about.  They’re down with it too.
They tell us that the hours of operation have changed; they’re going to close at 7pm now.  One hipster tells us, “The place is usually dead by 7:30pm and it makes us kinda nervous to be here all alone until 9pm. 
We’ve noticed this ourselves.  We’re generally the only customers left by the end of the night.  Occasionally a lone male street looking person will come in to use the bathroom.  The level of violence in the neighborhood seems to have increased over the last month or so.  We’re not sure why.
An Occupier responds, “Dude, we totally get it.  No one should have to risk their life just to hold down a job.  We can start our meetings at 5:30pm from now on.  That will give us enough time to take care of any pressing business”.
As we take our seats in the back booth an Occupier comments, “So tomorrow is supposed to be the day that the cops and the military forcibly take down the Occeti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.  I wonder how that’s gonna go.  I know that all along the people in the Sacred Stone Camp have expected all the other camps to be torn down.  “They’ve been preparing Sacred Stone to be able to take in the folks from the other camps.  They have to close down the other camps anyway as all that land will flood when spring comes.  I hear the weather is unseasonably warm out there too”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve been seeing notices from the camp asking for people to come out there to be witness to what will happen tomorrow.  I know a few of our friends have gone.  The notices say that if you can’t get to camp then please hold a rally in support of Standing Rock.  There’s gonna be a Jingle Dress Rally in Support of Standing Rock tomorrow at People’s Plaza at 4pm”.  We all plan to be there.
The city official will be leaving for Milwaukee in a few days.  He will be giving a presentation about our city’s Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at the annual gathering of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum.  This is a pretty big deal.  The city man tells us a Memorial to the over 4,000 reported lynchings of black people that took place between 1877 and 1950 will be built in Memphis, TN.  Once it’s completed it will be a major big deal.  Of course, all of this is appalling and very sad but it must be seen and acknowledged.  Unless our country owns up to its true history its people will never be able to heal.
An Occupier reports, “Now that I’ve been able to hook up with the Homeless Person’s Bill or Rights Coalition again, I’m finding all sorts of intrigue going on.  I suppose that’s not unusual when dealing with government bureaucrats.  When the coalition members meet in private with people from the various departments and agencies (they call them stakeholders) those people say that they definitely are in support of the H.B. of R. However, I received an email from the mayor stating that several agencies had come to her with ‘concerns’.  I asked her which agencies she was talking about but she wouldn’t tell me.  The other coalition members report that they think there is a lot of talking between the stakeholders going on behind our backs.
“The Duluth Police Department wants the bill to be a policy instead of an ordinance.  Apparently, the mayor wants that too. We’re not going to go for that because a policy will have no real accountability.  A policy can be changed at any time without even giving public notice.  If the Homeless Bill of Rights is made into a policy, we might as well not have one at all. 
“We’re going to try and get everything out into the open.  We all took on assignments to write a bunch of letters to the editors of the various local newspapers.  I sent one off to the Northland Reader yesterday.  We have about 20 people who will write letters and then we want to hold meetings with more than 1 stakeholder group at a time.  That way they may be more forthcoming about their concerns.  If they say want they really feel, we’ll be able to address their objections or whatever.
“Creating and passing a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights has been worked on for the last 3 years.  It should not take this long. I don’t understand why granting homeless people the same rights that the rest of the people in this city are entitled to is such a big deal”.
Another Occupier states, “There is going to be another Pancakes Not Pipelines event on Saturday, February 25th 11am – 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center.  Water Protectors are trying to raise funds to hire a bus to take people up to Bemidjii for the one and only hearing in the country about the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion, aka, the Alberta Clipper.  Remember that one?  It’s the one where they want to push tar sands oil through their already existing pipeline.  The already existing pipeline has been pushing regular oil for a long time but now they want to switch to tar sands and on top of that, they want to greatly increase the amount of the flow.  The expansion will cross the Canadian/US border but through some slight of hand, Enbridge has managed to not have to seek USA permission in order to do this.
“We were worrying about the Alberta Clipper a few years back but Enbridge managed to make us believe they weren’t gonna do it after all.  Surprise, surprise……they lied”.
Someone mentions, “Socialist Pizza (that’s our pet name for the Socialist Action monthly gathering at Pizza Luce’) will be happening again on Monday, February 27th at 6:30pm.
Someone else says, “It’s possible that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having another Anishinaabe Taco Sale on Friday March 3rd.  I should know for sure by tomorrow.  They’ve been waiting for the kitchen they’ve been using to be remodeled. If they can do a sale, of course they’ll need our help.
An Occupier asks, “Does anybody know what’s going on in our hillside neighborhoods these days?  We usually have 1 or maybe no shootings a year.  We’ve had 2 or 3 this month alone. WTF?”
Another Occupier tells about a scene she witnessed a couple of days ago while driving over the Blatnik Bridge.  She says that 6 or more DPD and/or Sheriff SUVs, all with their big lights flashing, were blocking both sides of (to Superior and to Duluth) the traffic and they had a beat-up old car up against a rail and cops were running all over the place.  She also says, “WTF?”
The first Occupier remarks, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow.  I’ll ask and see if anybody tells me anything”.
7pm has come upon us pretty quick.  We pack up; 1 of the hipster guys comes out with us as we leave.  He turns off the open sign and locks the door behind him.  The other hipster dude starts in on the nightly cleanup.  Things are much safer this way.
Barring a hurricane, earthquake or who knows what, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.         

G.A. Minutes 2-9-17

G.A. Minutes 2-9-17
It’s still winter here in Duluth and everywhere else in the Great White North.  It’s cold too.  A couple of days ago the temperature went up to almost 20 degrees and we got a bunch of snow.  After that it went back down into the teens with below zero temps during the night.  That’s where things are this evening as we meet up at Coney Island.
Everyone has seasonal affective disorder.  The last month or so of winter is always so hard to get thru.  Most people just drag around and whine a lot.  Those of us who pretend to be cheerful are really just faking it.  Winter is just too damn long around here.  
It’s a good thing that our city has so many remarkable features. That’s what keeps most of us here. The weather people say it’s going to get up into the high 30s tomorrow and things will start melting.  That would help a lot.
The non-hipster guy is working alone again.  Come to think about it, we haven’t seen any other staff people in a while. Maybe the non-hipster is the only person who works here anymore.  That would explain his frazzled behavior.  We miss the old hipster staff guys.  In an odd sort of way they were on our same wave length. 
As we’re settling in an Occupier says, “I have news.  The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights meetings are being changed to Thursday nights, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House.  That means we can have our meeting here on Tuesdays again if everyone is down with that”.  Everyone is down.
An Occupier has recently returned from several weeks in Europe.  He tells us about a fabulous high speed train he traveled on.  He saw many green energy innovations, none of which are in use in the USA.  He drank really good beer in Germany and thinks most Parisians don’t like Donald Trump or maybe it’s just Americans in general.  The Occupier doesn’t speak French so he couldn’t explain that the two are not interchangeable.
The city official will be traveling to Milwaukee, WI in a few weeks.  He’ll be giving some lectures about the creation of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  His radio show has been picked up by a third radio station.  His radio show is becoming quite a success.  With all that the city man does for our community, he has our immense affection and respect.
An Occupier comments, “I suppose everyone knows about the March in Support of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women that will take place on Valentine’s Day.  It will leave from the Central Hillside Community Center at 4:45pm and march to People’s Plaza; stop there for a bit and then go down to the waterfront.
“I guess there’s been some questioning because some folks are confusing this march with the annual event that happens in Canal Park on May Day.  You know, the one where we put flowers in the water?  That event will still happen on May 1st.
Another Occupier arrives.  He reports, “Hey, did you hear that the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Trump’s ban on immigrants and refugees?”  We all say, “Hurray!”
An Occupier adds, “That means this issue will probably go to the Supreme Court.  The ban is only good for 90 or 120 days so it will probably be over before it gets to court.  What would probably be best is if it would go to court before the ban has ended.  Then the court would still have only eight judges which would mean a four-four decision and the lower court decision would stand.  With all this evil shit going on, it would be nice to have something good happen in the government”.
Another Occupier remarks, “I’ve read several articles recently that suggested that although Trump totally sucks, he’s just the sideshow.  His antics are designed to distract us from what all his minions are doing behind the scenes”.
Someone agrees, “That’s probably true.  I think there will be some dark days ahead.  I also think that if we don’t panic, stay united with those of like minds and ‘keep our eyes on the prize’ things will turn out for the better in the long run”.
Another states, “Speaking of dark days, I see that the Army Corp of Engineers caved in and obeyed Trumpopath’s illegal order to give the final permit for Energy Transfer to drill under the Missouri River at Standing Rock.  I imagine they’re drilling right now.  The water protectors have several law suits filed but I imagine by the time a final court decision orders Energy Transfer to stop; the pipeline will already be finished.  I want to go out there but I know the corporations are coming for our water next. I think I need to stay here.
“I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the water protectors at Standing Rock.  I wonder what they are planning to do now.  Some I have spoken with say they won’t be surprised if they are killed”.
Seeing as the city official will be out of town, he gives his tickets to the UWS/UMD Soul Food Dinner to some of the Occupiers. The dinner will be held in the Greysolon Ballroom on Saturday, February 25th at 6pm.  The event has been sold out and the Occupiers are grateful to receive these tickets.  The Soul Food Dinner has become an annual event for them.
An Occupier has a hole in the sleeve of his coat.  Another Occupier happens to be carrying a sewing kit with him.  He takes the coat and begins repairing the sleeve.  The rest of the Occupiers go outside for a smoke break (the non-hipster stepped out for his break a while ago). 
When they return, the staff guy is sweeping the floor and the coat is fixed.  All the other customers are gone.  We start packing up.
An Occupier says, “Before we leave I just want to tell you all that I’ve been asked by Idle No More to help out this weekend at a big conference for representatives from most of the Anishinaabe tribes in the northern watershed.  Also, Honor the Earth’s Sioux Chef Dinner still needs a few people to act as servers and such. It will be happening at Peace Church on Monday, February 13that 5pm.  If we can get there by 4:30pm that would be good”.
So with that, we all head out to go home and crawl under the covers.  When we wake up tomorrow the weather will be much warmer….right? 
We won’t be having a meeting next Tuesday as we will be marching for the murdered and missing women.  More than likely you will find us back at Coney Island on Tuesday, February 21st.   
G.A. Minutes 2-2-17
It’s Thursday again and we’re back at Coney Island.  The non-hipster dude is working alone again.  He’s still stressed out but doesn’t seem to care.  Although there are only a few customers, he’s running around like crazy.  Maybe being stressed is just his normal way of being.
Winter has definitely returned.  It snowed during most of the week and now temperatures are in the single digits with strong wind.  The street is devoid of pedestrians.  Everyone who can be indoors is indoors; many of those who cannot are hiding out in the parking ramps and the skywalk.  On nights like this, most of the security guards will turn a blind eye to the homeless ones as long as they are quiet, hidden and back out on the street before the business people arrive.
The Anonymous crew is out on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St holding a #NO DAPL rally.  As she walks through the café door, an Occupier says, “I’m so glad the youngbloods are stepping up.  Ever since I contacted pneumonia a couple of years ago I’ve been unable to breathe while standing outdoors when it’s really cold”.  
As the first Occupiers arrive they are joined by a woman, formerly of the streets, who they have known for many years. She’s had her own apartment for a few years now and has still been struggling with addiction.  She’s had a very hard life but has not given up.  Fortunately she is highly intelligent, with great organizational skills and a kind heart.  We’re pretty sure she will be one of the lucky ones who survive and then go on to help others.
As more Occupiers begin to arrive the conversation turns to the hot topic of the past year or so, Standing Rock.  There was another confrontation with the cops yesterday.  This time it was with the National Guard and not the Morton County Sheriffs so none of the water protectors were seriously injured or maimed. Well over 50 were arrested though.  Their crime?  Setting up another camp on land stolen from the Standing Rock Sioux over 100 years ago.  Of course, although the confrontation was completely peaceful, the arrested water protectors will be charged with inciting a riot, assault of a peace officer or some other trumped (pun intended) up charge that carries expensive bail and a large fine.
As most people know by now, the Psychopath In Chief issued an executive order a few days ago aimed at the Army Corp of Engineers.  The order stated that the ACE must quickly finish the DAPL EIS and permit the pipeline to be finished no matter what.  The ACE has not yet responded, no permit has been issued and the executive order is probably unconstitutional but some of the water protectors believe Energy Transfer has begun drilling under the river anyway.  Each time any of the water protectors try to sneak a little peek at what’s being done, they are met with the rubber bullets and dangerous chemical sprays of the Morton County Sheriffs Department.  
The water protectors of Standing Rock have sent warning to the water protectors of northern Minnesota that we can expect to be next in line re: Enbridge (a major investor in Energy Transfer) attempts to build their water destroying pipelines across the waterways and wild rice beds that lie in the ceded territories of northern MN Anishinaabe tribes.  Many Native and non-Native people of northern MN are sworn water protectors; preparations began years ago but more are in the works.
Several of the Occupiers have been meeting with elders and almost-elders of the Fond du Lac band.  At this time the discussions in these meetings cannot be made public.  The Occupiers have been able to provide a few ideas as far as strategy goes but mainly they have been learning and receiving the wisdom from the legends and philosophy of Anishinaabe culture.
An Occupier comments, “I wonder how things went at the meeting between the Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition and the Human Rights Commission.  I really wanted to be there but our meetings at FDL happen at the exact same time as the HB of R meetings”.  None of the Occupiers who are present attended the aforementioned meeting.  We agree to ask around and to attend the HB of R meeting next Tuesday and the HRC meeting next Wednesday.
Another Occupier reminds us, “This upcoming Saturday, there’s going to be a rally in support of refugees, immigrants and against the “Trumpopath’s” ban of them.  It will start around 1pm and then at 3pm there’s gonna be a Forum on Polymet at the Zeitgeist.  On Sunday, our friend from the Green Party will be sponsoring a potluck and presentation about a Guaranteed National Income”.
Some of the Anonymous folks come through the door.  They are carrying signs and their sound system.  They appear to be at least halfway frozen.  We quickly order coffee for them.
The non-hipster staff dude needs to go out for a smoke.  We’ll keep an eye on everything until he gets back.   
An Anon reports, “We had at least 15 people show up for the rally”.  An Occupier responds, “In this weather on a week night, that is amazing”.
Another Anon tells us, “I was talking to a woman from the City’s Clean and Safe Team.  She told me that she is very opposed to the Homeless Bill of Rights”.  An Occupier opines, “She probably sees homeless ones as a big nuisance.  She might even find them scary.  Some of them actually are.  However, the homeless really can’t help it that they have to hang around on the streets.  They don’t have anywhere else to go or anything to do.  If I were homeless, I think I’d become a major drunk or dope fiend just out of boredom”.
The Anons begin talking among themselves about future plans for actions and such.  We just sit and listen; they have many good ideas.  We’ve noticed that many of the Millennials are turning into good, responsible revolutionaries.  This gives us a huge amount of relief.  Some years ago, most of us were worried there would be no one to carry on the work and the dream for a healthy planet and society once we all were gone.
The staff guy is sweeping the floor in a hurry.  He probably wants to go home.  We begin to clean up; the Anons gather up their stuff.  We notice that although they are dressed in layers, none of their clothing was made for actual winter weather. They’re planning on hauling all their stuff way up the hill.
One of the Occupier couples will somehow figure out a way to cram 3 Anons and all of their gear into a small car and give them a ride home.  It’s the least we can do.
The way things stand now, we plan to be back at Coney Island next Thursday.