G.A. Minutes 1-7-20

G.A. Minutes 1-7-20

After a 2 week hiatus, we are back at Coney Island again this evening. We were on hiatus because the last 2 Tuesdays were Christmas Eve and New Years Eve; we knew the Coney Island staff peeps would be eager to close up shop and get on with their holiday celebrations. Maybe they weren’t even open on those evenings; we didn’t know because we all had holiday obligations of our own to deal with. Over the holiday season many of the Occupiers, folks from the Anonymous crew and some of the Water Protectors spent much of their time together.

When the first Occupiers arrive, they find a WP waiting for them. This WP is also a member of the Gitchigumi Scouts. The GS are a group of local people who look for murdered and/or missing Indigenous women and relatives. The number of MMIW&R has reached epidemic proportions in the western hemisphere. GS primarily searches for people who are lost in the Twin Ports, Cloquet and Fond du Lac Reservation areas. They have found quite a few people over the past several years; some were alive while others were not. The WP informs the Occupiers that another group of W.P.s from outside of our area will be joining us tonight. They’re coming to find out what kind of assistance they can provide for the GS.

The WP laughs and says to the Occupier who generally takes the meeting minutes, “I see you’re carrying a notebook and a pen, does that mean you’re actually gonna record some meeting minutes tonight?” The Occupier sighs and replies, “I’m gonna try. I have been really lame and disconnected over the last 2 months but so many things happened in my life since I wrote our last meeting minutes sometime in early November that I just couldn’t complete all my tasks. First of all, I always have quite a lot of cooking and freezing to do ahead of time for our big Christmas Day dinner. I caught that nasty cold that slowed me down for at least a week then I took a hard fall on the ice the day after the big blizzard. I was on my way to a potluck for the Housing Justice Duluth peeps and was carrying a big plate of homemade lemon bars. The streets were still mostly impassable so I had to park a good way away from the event location; I think I was paying more attention to the lemon bars than I was to the ice on the sidewalk. All of a sudden, KLABAM ! I was walking downhill when I started slippin’ and slidin” and flailing about trying to keep my balance. It wasn’t until the last minute that I realized my life was more important than the life of the lemon bars; I dropped the lemon bars and then fell with the left side of my face smacking into a thick metal railing. That didn’t feel very good but at least the lemon bars only fell upside down; they were still intact. A nice guy riding a bike saw me fall and stopped to make sure I was able to get up and make it into the building where the potluck was being held. Once I got into the building all the potluck peeps offered their support and then they just inhaled the lemon bars. I was very happy about that but it took about a week before the swelling and bruising on my face subsided.

“One would think that should have been enough bad luck for a person to endure all at once but….. NO…..it wasn’t. Once I was up and running again, my computer died. I took it to my computer fixing guy and he told me that the poor thing was toast. It took about 3 weeks until I was able to purchase a new one. I lost all my files too; actually, I still have them but will have to upload them myself whenever I can find the time to do it. Fortunately, it appears that my run of bad luck is over now so I’m gonna try to get back on track again”.

While waiting for others to arrive the WP had been standing with several of Coney’s regular neighborhood customers who were watching the TV behind the counter. In general, the TV seems to always be on and broadcasting Fox News so the Occupiers and others avoid watching it; that’s one of the reasons why their crew always sit way in the back of large restaurant. However, this time the broadcast is coming from a local news channel; the Occupiers stop to watch with the other customers. The announcer is talking about refugee resettlement centers; they report that every county board across the USA will be required to vote as to whether their county is willing to accept these resettlement centers. An Occupier comments, “I think it would be way cool if we could have a refugee center here in St Louis County. I would welcome the chance to do something to make life a little easier for refugees. Another Occupier opines, “Me too; I’m betting that all the counties up on The Range will vote against the opportunity but it’s possible that St Louis County will except the offer. We have a lot of progressive voices in our county”.

Blue, another Occupier and the WP/Anon with their 4 children roll up; they are quickly followed by a small group of W.P.s we have not met in the past. These folks travel around the northland gathering supplies for the various groups of W.P.s who are fighting expansion of old gas and oil pipelines and the creation of new ones. Of course, along with pipelines come out of town pipeline workers, Man Camps and then murdered and /or missing Indigenous women and relatives. The traveling W.P.s are familiar with the consequences of Man Camps; they are willing to gather supplies for the Gitchigumi Scouts too. Among the most needed items are food, gas cards, tents, sleeping bags snow shoes and vehicle repairs.

The Scouts are going to hold a free showing of the movie Indian Horse at noon on Friday, January 17th at the Central Hillside Community Center. The movie is about the Indian boarding schools that all Indigenous children were forced to attend starting in 1860 and continuing until the late 1970s. A major slogan of the boarding schools was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”. These schools were responsible for the almost complete destruction of the Indigenous family and community. A WP tells us the personal story of their own family in relation to the experience of the boarding schools; the story is a very sad one, telling of violence, addiction, low self esteem, feelings of disconnection and suicide. Although these horrible schools were closed approximately 50 years ago; most Indigenous people suffer from the harmful affects of Indian boarding schools up to this very day.

A WP questions the reporting Occupier, “I heard you mention a group called Housing Justice Duluth earlier; I’ve never heard of them before. Are they a new group?” The Occupier answers, “Well yeah, kinda. They’re basically a reformation of the old Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. Personally I still believe that an HPB of R ordinance is a very good idea although I was never in the leadership of that group but just the rep from Occupy. The leadership peeps were all living within the Loaves N Fishes community and saw and spoke with each other on a daily basis. I’m sure they had good reasons for making the decisions they made. As far I can tell, it will be easier to push our so called City leaders to create more homes for homeless people than it will be to convince them and the general public that homeless folks are deserving of respect and are entitled to the same rights as white privileged folks with their own houses or whatever. Anyway, when I received an invitation to work with HJD, I accepted. There are a lot of very smart and kind people in HJD. I’ll still be representing Occupy; if any of you all want to come along with me to a meeting or event just let me know”.

An Anon remarks, “I’ve notice that many Duluth citizens believe homeless peeps are the most dangerous, despicable and worthless human beings in existence. The truth is that homeless folks are just as diverse, with different personalities, beliefs, abilities and life stories as the rest of us”. We all say, “Word”.

Someone observes, “I see they have a warming station up and running again”. An Occupier responds, “Yeah they do and it’s a NEW IMPROVED warming station. It opens from 8pm-8am and it will be open every night that the temperature is expected to be at or below 10 degrees F. Last year the hours were from 10pm-6:30am and it didn’t open unless the temperature was at 0 or below. Also, the new warming station is in Gloria Dei Church at E 6th St+3rd Ave E instead of way the hell out in West Duluth. I’ve heard the City is going to open another warming station either in West End (aka Lincoln Park) or West Duluth but I don’t think it’s been opened yet. I haven’t had a chance to get to our Central Hillside station yet but I plan to do so soon. If anyone would like to join me, just hit me up”.

One of the visiting W.P.s inquires, “I’m told that you folks have also been doing a winter clothing giveaway on Saturdays down at Peoples Plaza?” An Occupier replies, “Yeah, we do but we are just helpers for the Anonymous Crew”. An Anon informs, “We call the giveaways #Op Safe Winter. We collect winter type clothes and other stuff all year long and then when winter hits the “Great White North” we roll up with good food and all our winter gear and just wait for street folks to stop buy, eat and take whatever they want from the winter supplies. As always, the Occupiers bring their fire”.

We continue on with all sorts of good conversation when all the lights in the restaurant start flashing off and on. WTF? Then we look around to see that the place is completely devoid of customers, the staff guys have their coats on and it’s well after 8pm. Whoops! We quickly gather up our stuff, apologize and head out the door.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

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