Category Archives: Uncategorized

G.A. Minutes 11-5-19

G.A. Minutes 11-5-19

When the first two Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening they find staff guys who they haven’t met before working behind the counter. However, this is not a problem; these new guys have been informed about the Occupiers and friends and their regular Tuesday evening gatherings. For some unknown reason, the new staff knows these first arrivals are a part of the Tuesday evening crew. The workers are friendly and welcoming.

The female Occupier comments to the servers, “We’re not expecting to have many people joining us tonight. There are a lot of other things going on right now”. Among the things going on this Tuesday are the big Anonymous Million Mask March down in The Cities and a citywide election for City Council and School Board seats. The two Occupiers have shown up a little earlier than usual because they have come from voting. One Occupier opines to the other, “Even though voting went really quickly for us, I noticed that a lot more people than usual in our precinct had cast their ballots. I guess folks feel more inclined to vote given the state of government affairs since He Who Shall Not Be Named took the helm”.

The other Occupier agrees, “Yeah, that could be true; I just wish there were better candidates to vote for. With the exception of Mike Mayou for City Council-at-large, all the other candidates range from boring to absolutely despicable and evil”. The first Occupier states, “For real, the other three candidates for City Council-at-large are some serious 1% worshipers. It’s scary because, seeing as there are two Council seats open, you know at least one of them will win a seat. Our City Council never was really progressive but I’m afraid it will be worse after this election. I know we’re really gonna miss having Em Westerlund as the Councilor for our district”.

The other Occupier responds, “Bummer. I’m really sorry that the city official had to quit his campaign; he would have easily filled Em’s shoes. He didn’t have much choice though after WPR illegally fired him from his radio show. They said it was because he had declared himself to be a candidate for District 3 City Council but they coulda just told him that a popular radio host, according to his contract, was forbidden from running for public office. He coulda made his choice then; it’s pretty obvious that they just wanted to get rid of his show. Even though the show had higher ratings across the state than anything else they had on the air. The city official’s radio show wasn’t even a flaming revolutionary one; he just dealt with a lot of issues that didn’t get any attention from the major media clones”. The first Occupier adds, “NPR and the rest became a lot more conservative when Bush Jr. was president and it hasn’t gotten back to normal since then”.

Magically and as if on cue, the city official rolls in and asks, “Where is everybody?” An Occupier explains, “Well, some are down at the Million Mask March in the Cities, a few are at Mike Mayou’s post election gathering and the rest are in hiding or something. Meetings at Coney Island aren’t anywhere near as exciting as the ones at our fire circle, you know”. The other Occupier concurs, “True, but it looks like this is gonna have to make due until spring. This evening is a little warmer at thirty degrees than it has been lately but even then it’s only comfortable if one is walking or just outside for ten minutes or so”.

The city officials asks, “So what’s the latest on the fire situation anyway?” The Occupier who accepted the original citation, last May, answers, “Well, you know that my citation from the City was dismissed and then I received a threatening letter from the Acting Fire Marshal. The last fire circle we held was around the second week in October and the cops and fire department showed up and put it out. A few days later I received a notice of an official Administrative Citation being filed and a demand that I pay a $200 fine for starting an “illegal fire”. I filed an official letter to contest the citation and now I’m waiting for a notice about a hearing to be held, supposedly in early December. Our attorney friend has agreed to represent me at the hearing”. The other Occupier contributes, “Of course you know, none of this crap really has anything to do with any fire. It’s really about MN Power and the people who work in their building next to Peoples Plaza. They are scandalized when they look down from their high windows and see neighborhood regular and street people sitting in a circle or standing around outside of it. They observe these folks sharing food, talking and laughing while watching the little kids draw chalk pictures on the worn out brick floor and the older ones skateboarding and such.

The folks who work in the MN Power building appear to live on another planet; they’re horrified by the sight of poor people congregating in plain sight and acting like they belong there. Especially in a place where tourists and rich Duluthians can see them. So some people who work for MN Power are putting pressure on the cops and the fire department to do something to make us disappear. They don’t care where we go; they just want to cage us some place where no one else will see us. The first Occupier responds, “Yabut, you know what? Tough shit! Our fire conforms to all their fire codes and ordinances and according to the US Constitution and all that, we have the same right to make use of public space as rich peeps do”.

The city official changes the subject saying. “You know, I just don’t know what’s wrong with me; I couldn’t bring myself to go and vote in this election. I just didn’t think that any of the candidates were worth voting for”.An Occupier emphasizes, “Man, you’re still grieving. It’s only been about a week since Xavier Bell died; his sudden death, at such a young age, was a tremendous shock to the whole community. He was one of your best friends! It will take a long time, if ever, to recover from such a loss; it’s no wonder you don’t feel any enthusiasm for anything right now. There’s nothing wrong with you”.

The city official sighs, “I think I’m still in shock”. Another Occupier agrees, “ ‘X’ did so much good for this community; he was a role model for all the youngbloods and parents who came in contact with him. Yet, with all that he accomplished, he never just sat back and took it easy. He was always looking for more grassroots ways to improve upon what he did. I don’t imagine there will be anyone who can fill his shoes”. The city official remarks, “Well, he left behind a very competent wife and five grown, well raised children who are all committed to continuing his legacy. I think X’s organization will live on; it’s just that we all really miss the man”.

The female Occupier tells the others, “I went to a way cool art opening and discussion last night at the Zeitgeist. The art show was created by Terry Moses; she’s an art professor at UMD who specializes in silkscreen and related mediums. She’s also the main secretary or record keeper for our local NAACP chapter. The subject matter of her current show is the contrast between the way an African American woman and a Caucasian woman experience the same situations. I found the artwork of Terry Moses to be technically first class as well as deeply moving. The discussion featured the artists, Ms Moses, Carla Hamilton and Kym Young. The attendees were around 95% female with the black girls talking and the white girls (hopefully) listening. I’d guess the main takeaway from the discussion was, forget all the stupid and erroneous stereotypes; African American woman want to be seen as the unique, individual, autonomous beings that they truly are”. She laughs and opines, “I think that sounds pretty reasonable to me”. The city official comments, “I wasn’t able to make it to the opening but I’ll be down to see Terry’s work asap”.

The other big item of news this week is that the Anon/Water Protector couple’s baby has been born. Everything went well and mom and dad were blessed with a nine pound, healthy, little boy. The Occupiers have seen Mr Baby who is named after his father but will be called by his “Indian name”. The couple and the three little girls are currently “cocooning” with the newborn bundle of joy. We all wish them well and hope to see them soon.

We see the staff guys are starting to clean up; it’s a bit early but there have been almost no customers this evening. We think we should give them a break and let them go home. As we are packing up one of the Occupiers imparts, “I’m not sure how our next Tuesday meeting will work; I know I have to be at the Planning Commission meeting at 5pm that evening and I think we’re also gonna be called on to speak before the City Council concerning the fact that Essentia is building their new high-rise health center and that they’ve purchased some low income apartments near the building site. They’re planning on demolishing the low income housing and turning the space into another parking lot. WTF? Anyway, I don’t know yet if that topic is scheduled to be addressed next Tuesday or not. I’ll let you all know as soon as I find out”.

So we might be back at Coney Island next Tuesday or we might not. Time will tell.

G.A. Minutes 10-1-19

G.A. Minutes 10-1-19

On the first day of October, Mother Earth and all of her helpers have joined together to let us know that there’s no turning back; autumn is definitely upon us. This evening the sky is overcast and the temperature is somewhere in the low 50s. Very strong gusts of wind blow from the east, making the air feel about 20 degrees colder.

When the first Occupiers arrive they find Peoples Plaza completely empty of humans or any other animals. The Fire Magician exclaims, “Where is everybody? I thought the Water Protectors and the Anonymous crew were joining peeps from Socialist Action for a demonstration against ICE and the fact that the US Border Patrol and all its minions are putting captured immigrant children in cages”.

The Food Preparing Occupier responds, “I think that demo started a couple of hours ago; all the rush hour traffic is gone now so I’m betting they’re in one of the vicinity’s restaurants keeping warm and waiting for us to show up. I think we should just sit in our vehicles until a few others roll up. It’s kinda cold and we’re just too damn old to haul all the stuff by ourselves” So that’s what they do.

Within a very short time they see their friend, formerly known as Chicago Man, walking across the street. A few weeks ago, Chicago Man said to the Occupier who records the meeting minutes, “Ya know, I don’t like being identified by that name; it doesn’t really doesn’t describe who I am”. The Recorder agreed saying, “I’ve been thinking that same thing; you were given that name years ago when we had first met you. What if we were to call you Blue?” The renamed man smiles, “That will work”.

So anyway, Blue reports that the Anons, W.P.s and others are across the street at a relatively new brew house. As soon as those in the brew house realize the first Occupiers are outside, they pack up and quickly begin carrying firewood, chairs, food and everything else onto the center of the Plaza. Everyone works as fast as they can in order to stay warm. Soon others appear; among them are another Occupier, the tattooed street guy and sometime Anon and his girlfriend, the guy from Loaves N Fishes and his girlfriend, a young Life House client, Menagerie Woman and a pleasant hippie couple who we are meeting for the first time.

The Fire Magician gets the fire pit and the small charcoal grill going while everyone else sets up the chairs (close to the fire tonight) and puts all the food out on the table. The charcoal grill will heat up the homemade tomato, rice and vegetable soup that is a favorite with our regular fire circle attendees. The fire roars up; everyone sits down around it. This is probably the coldest evening we’ve experienced so far this year.

Menagerie Woman tells us she’s just started a new job; she’s working in housekeeping and laundry for one of the big hotels in Canal Park. The woman with a house full of animals reports, “All my co-workers are really nice and very patient with me. It’s so much better than my old job working at Mini-Mart. When I worked there, most of my co-workers were mean to me and each other; they gossiped behind each other’s backs. Someone started spreading the rumor that I was developmentally disabled. Of course, being D.D. is totally cool but they were saying it as an insult even though I don’t have that condition. The other day at my new job a guest left me a $10 tip! I was thrilled; I’ve never received a tip in my whole life.

Many of the people in the circle participated in the Gitchie Gumi No Line 3 event which took place last Saturday in Gitchie Ode’ Akiing Park. The event took place on the last day of National and International Climate Strike Week. The impetus for Climate Strike Week in North America came from middle and high school students who began leaving their classes every Friday to get out and protest to raise awareness about the severe climate crisis happening across our entire planet. The young people are understandably angry because most adults are not taking the fact that our Mother Earth is dying seriously. The young ones realize that most of the current adults in the world will be dead before the worst effects of climate change reign down. Not so, with the young people and their children. The students would like to kick the adults in the butt to make them wake up and help save our planet for the next 7 generations. The adults who are already “woke” welcome the actions of these wonderful kids; we’ve been having a hard time getting the sleeping adults to wake up too.

A W.P. comments, “Did the Climate Strike event in Duluth rock or what?!?” Everyone agrees, it certainly did rock. The W.P. continues, “I think the organizers expected about a 750 or so attendees but it turned out to be around 1,500. It was so refreshing to see all those NGOs and other organizations working together, co-operating to make everything run smoothly. He nods toward the Fire Magician and his partner, “It was way cool that you all were asked to be the keepers of the Spiritual Fire”. The Fire Magician agrees, “Yes it was. We were at the fire all day and early evening; we didn’t get to cruise around or go on the march but we had many visitors including folks from all over the country. I hear that over 7.5 million people all over the world participated in The Strike”.

An Occupier adds, “Well, that’s what it’s gonna take; almost a billion people all over the world making a really big stink about the man made destruction of the planet and the people of the world’s right to live. It’s not gonna be easy and we’re all gonna have to unite in order to save ourselves and each other. Serious discussions will be needed but petty arguing and big egos are out of the question. There’s gonna be infiltrator people sent in by the extractive industries and their minions who will attempt to pit us against each other. If we fall for it our cause will be lost. We will need to stay focused on what’s really important. ‘The times they are a-changing’”.

An Anon observes, “It looks like we’re not gonna have any cops again tonight. If we don’t, it will make an entire month since they last visited us”. The young woman who is connected with Life House cries out, “What!?! The cops come and bother this fire?” An Occupier answers, “Yup, we’ve been doing this for 7 years and every couple of those years we get hassled by the cops. It’s always because some rich person with a lot of so called power doesn’t want to see homeless, street or other regular people openly congregating in a public space. The thing is though, what we’re doing is perfectly legal but some people think that folks who don’t have their own back yards should just crawl under a bush and die. We’re always quite civil with the cops but we don’t back down because we’re not doing anything wrong or illegal. This past year and a half or so the cop callers have been the trump head, bozo security guards from the MN Power office building over there. Most of the City department heads and government officials are afraid of MN Power so they order the cops and fire department to run us off. They come and tell us all kinds of ridiculous and untrue things, then the fire department sprays out our fire.

“Last May Day the cops gave one of us an actual citation for having this fire. Our cited one plead not guilty, the D.A. demanded they take a plea deal and when they refused, he pressed criminal charges. We thought we were gonna be able to take our fire issue to court but at the next hearing the D.A. dismissed the charges. I guess someone must have actually read the laws and the fire codes. About a week after the charges were dropped, the cops stopped bothering us”. The Cited One remarks, “It is possible to fight City Hall but it’s one hell of a lot of work”.

The female of the hippie couple opines, “Do you think the NGOs will be successful in stopping climate change?” A W.P./Anon replies, “Well, the big NGOs have their place but the only way we will save humankind is if the majority of the people on the planet realize the urgency of the situation and demand that the so called leaders do their part. I say ‘do their part’ because we can’t just rely on leaders; they can’t be completely trusted anyway. It’s gonna take many, many people making saving Mother Earth, the water and the air the primary focus of their lives. I know that some scientists have a lot of good ideas; I think the people who have the most knowledge though are the decolonized Indigenous people of the world. I guess I should say the very lightly colonized folks, because people who have had no contact with colonizers or their governmental and economic systems are extremely rare.

“Anyway, the lightly colonized Indigenous peeps have spent a bazillion generations living close to Mother Earth. They understand the way She works and the best ways to heal Her. So of course, very few colonized people (aka the majority of the people on the planet) ever listen to the Indigenous ones, I guess they figure that anyone without an Iphone or a Wall Street stock portfolio is a complete ignoramus”. An Occupier exclaims, “Yeah, and it’s the colonized humans who are the real ignorant ones!’ The W.P./Anon continues, “For real. Some colonized folks are beginning to realize this; some scientists too”. The young woman associated with Life House adds, “I hope everyone gets their shit together real soon. There’s not much time left and that is very scary”.

Someone in a light blue hoodie has been been sitting in the dark and the cold under a tree on the east ledge of the Plaza for over an hour. Despite what the employees of MN Power believe, Peoples Plaza is meant to be for everybody so we never bother folks who choose not to join our fire circle. Now the blue hooded one slowly and shyly comes over, standing just outside of our chairs. An Occupier turns her head and immediately recognizes the dude. He’s one of the street guys who attended our fires back in the day when they were held at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. He’s an African American gay man who used to sing and dance a lot when he was drunk; he was usually singing and dancing.

We never could figure out why he preferred to live on the street as he had family that cared about him and he was given a tremendous amount of shit re: being gay, by many other street people. He ended up doing a short stint in prison because a cop arrested him as he was defending himself from a physical attack. When the cop rolled up all he saw was the hooded guy hitting another man with a bottle; the cop didn’t see the previous 24 hours or so when the other guy was putting serious abuse on the hooded guy. Anyway, that was some years back; the hooded dude has been out of prison for a few years now. As far as we know, he’s been able to stop drinking, he’s rarely on the street anymore and is usually painfully shy. We welcome him and give him a bowl of soup; he gratefully accepts it, then stands beside the charcoal grill for a bit before fading into the shadows again.

Although the wind has been gusting all evening, suddenly a humongous gust of wind rolls over us. The flames of the fire shoot way up and everything goes flying; we all scurry around grabbing cups, plates, clothes and everything else that weighs less than a couple of pounds.

The Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors had a baby shower for the Anon/W.P. couple who will be having a baby in a few weeks. Folks of all genders and non-genders were invited. We had a good time, played pin the sperm on the egg and ate lots of good food. The couple were given a shit ton of diapers and some other stuff too. Most of the folks who help to make the fire circle are low-income; we’re happy when we have our basic needs met.

The Anon/W.P. who is one of the lead organizers of the fry bread making class happening at the Central Hillside Community Center this upcoming Saturday at 2 pm reports, “My mom was gonna teach the class but she’s been having health issues so the main CHUM staff guy, who is also organizing this class, is looking for another teacher. He knows lots peeps in the Indigenous community so I’m sure we’re gonna be o.k”. Many of us are interested in learning how to make fry bread; all of us are interested in eating it.

The hippie couple attended the Rainbow Festival in the Chequamegon Forest this summer; one of the Occupiers was there too. The female hippie comments, “The forest and the land were so incredibly beautiful and I really liked the way the people were living. When you all talk about wanting a different type of society to live in, I think I would want one that worked like the way the Rainbow People live. You know, everyone sharing and helping each other”. An Occupier replies, “Yeah, I would like something like that too. Did you find many deer ticks on you when you were there?” The woman says, “No, I don’t think we had any but I heard that a lot of people did and that they came down with Lyme Disease too”. The Occupier confides, “It’s true, I was one of them. I got Lyme Disease and had to take a course of the most horrible antibiotics; they made my entire digestive system miserable and all I could eat was kefir and yogurt for a long time. I’m better now at least”. A W.P. adds, “We’re gonna see a lot more insects, snakes and other stuff we’re not used to seeing up here as everything moves north with the advancing of climate change”.

It’s getting late and has been dark for hours; many of those in the circle have gone off to their sleeping places. The basic fire making crew sit and chat for a while longer. An Occupier has been putting a big pile of big logs on the fire all evening; the fire has been large and putting out a lot of much needed warmth. As this same Occupier comes back from the wood pile with another arm load, someone cautions, “Wholly shit man! If you put those on the fire we’ll be sitting here til midnight. We have things to do tomorrow”. We all laugh then sit and watch the flames die down and turn into coals.

Time to pack up; we plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-16-19

G.A. Minutes 7-16-19

After being rained out last week, this evening we are back at Peoples Plaza. There is no rain in tonight’s weather forecast; the sky is clear, the temperature is in the high 80s with a very occasional light breeze. In other words, it’s really flippin’ hot! Fortunately, once the sun goes behind the surrounding buildings, the temperature will be noticeably cooler.

Whatever…… as usual, the fire and food bringing Occupiers are the first to arrive; they’ve lucked out too, having managed to find two empty parking spaces right next to the Plaza. No one else has arrived yet so the old-ass Occupiers begin to slowly unload their stuff. The Fire Magician (a very clever and resourceful fellow) has strapped a cart onto the back of his truck; this enables folks who are hauling supplies to carry more things at a time up to the Plaza stairs at least. After they’ve deposited the first load, the guy from Loaves N Fishes arrives; this is great because along with being good company, he is capable of cutting the load-on time in half.

About halfway through the unloading job the Fire Magician comments, “Did you notice that the vehicle entryway is open tonight?” The food bringing Occupier responds, “What?!?!” and runs to see if this is true. She exclaims, “OMG, it IS open!” Seeing as the unloading is at least halfway finished they decide that it would be more trouble than it’s worth to drive the vehicles onto the Plaza, however, they do push the supply laden cart through the entryway and then onto the chosen fire circle space. It is soooo much easier.

As they work they hypothesize as to why, after over a year and a half of having a third big tree planter blocking the entryway, it was suddenly moved thereby allowing vehicles to pass through between the other two tree planters. The maker of most of the food opines, “Was it something that I said? I’ve been very busy over the last month running to lots of Duluth Commission meetings to report the hateful and probably illegal actions of the MN Power security guards. I was even on TV a week or so ago reporting the security assholes to the City Council. I wonder if that made them change their ways?” The Fire Magician answers, “Well, that could be it but I noticed the tree that was pulled away appears to be dying. It could be something as simple as that”. An acquaintance who works for the cleaning company contracted to clean the MN Power building comes out to empty all the Plaza garbage cans; those doing the unloading quiz her as to what she knows. She thinks for a bit and then guesses, “Well, MN Power just hired a different security company so maybe that has something to do with it”. The information we get from this cleaning acquaintance is not always accurate but sometimes it is. We say, “A DIFFERENT SECURITY COMPANY!!!???!” Can a person actually die from experiencing feelings of extreme joy and euphoria? We hope not.

More people arrive; among them are a Water Protector/ member of the Anonymous crew, his partner Anon/W. P. and her 3 little girls, 2 more Occupiers, the girlfriend of the LnF guy, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner, Chicago Man and 3 more street folks who are regulars at our fire circles. We try to relay the information that our cleaning company acquaintance gave us; we attempt to provide this info in a nonchalant manner so as to not cause any deaths from extreme joy etc.

Some of the Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors attended the annual Veterans Pow Wow out at the Mash-Ka-Wisen Center in Sawyer, MN (read Fond du Lac Indigenous Reservation). They invited Chicago Man to join them; he tells us, “I haven’t had such a good time in many years; the entire event just reeked of spirituality and I was so happy. You know that I’m very attuned to that sort of thing and have really missed sharing those things with others. The public housing apartment building that I live in is a complete zoo making it difficult to maintain any peace of mind. It felt wonderful to be able to relax and feel safe while I was on the Pow Wow grounds”.

An Occupier agrees, “I felt the same way; my living situation is not stressful but I’ve been having all kinds of conversations, meetings, emails and whatnot with many people who work in our City government. I’m trying to get as many of them clued in as to what the fire ordinances, statutes and codes actually say. I’ve been working with the only City Councilor who offered to help us; actually he’s not very much help but he does open a few doors in order to connect me with City government people who I probably would not be able to hook up with on my own. He’s tasked me with setting up a meeting with Marnie Grondahl, the Interim Deputy Chief of the Duluth Fire Department and another high ranking DFD official of her choice, two high ranking Duluth Police Department officers, myself, the City Councilor and another Occupier (she nods toward the Occupier who works at the Mission). I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this because, I’m happy to say, I have absolutely no clout with City government types”.

An Anon/W.P. sighs, “I don’t know how you can stand hanging out with those types of people; they’re so creepy”. The Occupier replies, “I know. I don’t know how I can stand it either; some of them are reasonable but most seem to live on an entirely different planet and have absolutely no idea how the rest of us live. I think talking to them is worth a try though; I mean, how cool would it be to get the DPD, the DFD and some of the City Councilors to all look at the same fire laws at the same time and place? If good notes are taken, they won’t be able to claim miscommunication or lack of knowledge anymore. Shit, they just might decide to leave us alone for a few years”.

Another Occupier is not convinced, “I don’t know girlfriend, politicians and government types are a pretty sleazy bunch. Even if they know for sure what all the laws mandate, they’re still gonna try to do whatever they want.” The Occupier tasked with organizing a meeting tells him, “You’re probably right, I know I’m not going to dedicate all my energy into making this happen but I’ll give it a try so the next time a government type says to me, ‘But you need to contact your City Councilor and the DPD and DFD about this’. I’ll be able to show that I already did to no avail.

“My court date has been pushed back to July 26th, 10 am at the St Louis County Court House so I’m preparing for that too. I suppose you’ve noticed that I haven’t put out any meeting minutes for a month, AGAIN”. We have noticed but know the Occupier can’t do more than is humanly possible. “So anyway, instead of sitting home writing up minutes, I went out to the Pow Wow for the day. I found it to be very relaxing and peaceful too”.

The fire pit has been quietly burning for a while, we’re keeping it small tonight because the surrounding air is warm enough already. We’re still doing a charcoal base but we’ve discovered that putting hickory chips on top makes a good flame and we’ve been getting away with it so far. The problem is that hickory chips are expensive and we already have a whole cord of good firewood just waiting to be put to use.

People are happily getting what they need from the food table; we have the usual fixin’s plus a tub of hard-boiled eggs, some fried chicken from a local deli and a bowl of cold rice, fruit, marshmallow and whipped cream salad. Not too bad for a bunch of old hippies and their friends. We notice 2 bicycle cops riding out on the sidewalk, they glance over at us but just keep on riding.

The Anon/W.P. who has 3 children and is 6 months pregnant with another also has a flooded basement. Her partner and some of the Occupiers are arranging to meet early tomorrow morning, go out to her house and spend the day cleaning and fixing things. We all watch each others backs as best we can.

Then we get a big surprise; from the shadows we hear a familiar voice calling out, “Hello, good people”. It’s Spiritual Man! We have not seen him for over a year; we knew that he had left town a while ago but we hoped that we would see him again. He introduces us to a middle-aged woman saying she is his girlfriend. She’s very pleasant and friendly and coincidentally happens to be the grandmother of the youngest of the little girls. All 3 girls run to Grandma for hugs and kisses then she pulls out her makeup bag and begins putting lipstick and what have you on them. They are delighted and look funny and cute with lavender or shocking red lips. Spiritual Man confides, “The first time I met my girlfriend, I was smitten by her gorgeous eyes”. Grandma does have naturally gorgeous eyes.

The Occupier, who reports things, reports, “So we know that MN Power and the City are going to remodel Peoples Plaza. I’m guessing they’ll do that at the same time that they repair the last stretch of Superior St from 2nd Ave W to the intersection right in front of the Plaza. I’m guessing they won’t start until next year but that still means at some point we’ll have to move our fire circle again. I was chatting with Chief Tusken a few weeks ago; he said we should go up the hill to Central Hillside Park and use the fire pit that was built for Duluth’s Indigenous population. Well, I didn’t say anything at the time but I knew the fact that the Chief of Police gave us permission to use the Indigenous people’s fire pit would mean next to nothing to the Indigenous population. However, I thought CHP might be a good idea in the long run so I went to yesterday’s Indigenous Commission meeting and asked what I should do and who I should bring tobacco to. The Commissioners didn’t actually answer my question but instead took a long time praising all the work we do; then they moved on to other agenda items. So I guess the next thing I’ll try is to bring tobacco to one of the main, local Anishinaabe spiritual healers and hear what he has to say. Someone says, “That sounds like a good plan; thanks for taking it on.”

The African American guy who attended a lot of our fire circles back in the days of our fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial rolls in; he’s brought a friend, who we have not met in the past, with him. The friend is very hungry and takes seconds on everything we have; this is good because we love being able to feed peeps who would otherwise go hungry, until 7:30 am at least, when the Mission opens for 45 minutes to serve breakfast to those able to get there during that short window of time.

We notice there is a DPD squad car parked outside the Plaza; the officer inside of it appears to be watching us. When he gets out of his vehicle an Occupier exclaims, “Great, now what? I’m so sick of these motherfuckers and their stupid bullshit!” Instead of coming to bother us, the cop walks over to the public easement for vehicles at the western edge of the Plaza. Then the 2 bike cops ride up to the same place. We can’t see them because they are behind some high flower beds; after a while an Anon/W.P. walks over to see what the cops are up to. When he returns he tells us, “Damn! Those cops were surrounding the dude we know from our CJMM fires and were yelling at him and harassing him. When they saw that I was watching them they changed their tune real quick; they started patting the dude on the back and saying how proud they were of him for getting off heavy drugs. I stayed there watching until they took off, allowing the CJMM guy to go on about his business.

An Occupier adds, “Yeah, I’ve noticed police officers change their behavior whenever they notice people filming with their cell phones; they don’t seem to have any shame about doing stuff like that when a bunch of people are
watching. I’m guessing that honor is not a characteristic valued by police departments anymore. Another Occupier agrees, “Yup, you’ve got that right. As for the CJMM dude, if you remember, when he would join our fire circle he would just nod out in his chair. If someone would try to talk with him, he didn’t seem to even know where he was. He never fell out of his chair, or cracked his head on the floor or caused any problems so we just let him be. I notice that since he’s been coming around this year, he still doesn’t have anything to say but he appears alert and aware of his surroundings. More power to him, I hope he’s able to maintain his sobriety”.

A W.P. inquires, “Is anyone going to the Honor the Earth Water Is Life Festival this Sunday?” An Occupier responds, “Oh right, I almost forgot; HTE has asked to be able to use our animal puppets for their Species Parade during the festival. We’ll be loading them up from the front of our building at about 10am; anyone who wants to help with the loading should be at our house before then. People are also needed to march and carry the puppets in the parade”. Several folks in the circle volunteer to take on the tasks.

It’s dark now and more hungry people are arriving but we’ve completely run out of food. Someone suggests, “I suppose we should just pack up now; I feel kinda sorry about not having anything more to feed the hungry folks. So that’s what we do; there are plenty of helpers still around so packing up is easy this evening. We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-22-18

G.A. Minutes 5-22-18

We sure got lucky tonight at Peoples Plaza; the weather just rocks. When the first Occupiers roll up, the temperature is in the 60s, the sky is clear and a light southern breeze pays an occasional visit. Several guys from the Anonymous crew are already in the Plaza; they’ve been chalking again. This time they hit Wells Fargo and US Bank; good for them.

The Occupier who brings most of the food says, “Man, we just made it here under the wire this time. We were running around like crazy, trying to get everything together and get here on time. We made it though and I think we have everything”. The Anons haul all the food out of the Food Occupier’s car then help the Fire Magician set up the circle, the fire pit and a table. When they are finished, an Anon comments, “I think there’s something missing here”. The Fire Magician exclaims, “Oh crap! I forgot the bucket that sits under the fire pit; I’ll go back home and get it right away. He jumps in the Food Occupier’s car and takes off; it’s a good thing he lives just a few blocks away. He returns in a very short time and makes a small fire; we have the chairs sitting a good way from the fire pit as we probably won’t need the fire’s warmth tonight. The smell and sound are nice though; the fire also serves as a focal point for people to focus their energy.

Our first visitors are Menagerie Woman, Bush Man and two little dogs. We have not seen them since mid-October of last year when we were forced to discontinue our fires due to an early winter. At that time, Bush Man was in some type of a mental health facility and it was unclear if he and Menagerie Woman would stay together as a couple. Well here they are, still together. They tell us that Bush Man has been in mental health facilities several times over the winter; he’s now staying up the hill a bit in a halfway house. The outside visitation policy at this house is generous so as long as Bush Man attends all his scheduled classes and meetings, he’s able to spend many days and nights staying in the home of Menagerie Woman. He informs us that he hasn’t had a drink of alcohol in four days. Considering how he used to be, four days is an absolute miracle; we all congratulate him.

A couple of folks who we haven’t met in the past arrive, get food and drinks and take seats in the circle. They appear to be people of the street. An Occupier informs everyone, “There was a forum up at the Damiano at 5pm tonight called Beyond Backgrounds. I would have liked to attend but had too much work to do in order to get stuff ready for our fire circle. Anyway, it was about how people who have felonies on their record have a very hard time finding an apartment to rent. I believe the event was created by folks who have that felony problem. The female of the unknown couple nods toward her partner and informs us, “That’s his problem exactly, he has a felony; he served his time in prison but even though he’s out now, no one will rent to him”. The Occupier adds, “Yeah, I know that all of the low income public housing places refuse to rent to anyone who has a felony. That really sucks! Anyone who has finished their time in prison and is out should be given the same so called rights afforded to all other citizens. I hear that local housing advocates are formulating plans to get housing for so called ex-cons. That’s kinda why I wanted to go to their forum so I could hear what they have going on. I know quite a few peeps with felonies who could seriously benefit from having a place of their own”.

An occasional Anon, who has somewhat of a drinking problem, arrives. He brings three guys with him; two of them appear to be pretty drunk, the other one appears to be really, really drunk. The two pretty drunk dudes are helping the really drunk dude to stand and to walk; they’re not having much luck. One of them runs over to the water jug saying, “We’ve got to get this guy some water!” An Occupier thinks to herself, “Looks like he could use a stretcher too”. The drunk dudes all go to sit on a side bench outside of the fire circle. The occasional Anon sits up on the ledge that overlooks the fire circle; he comments, “This is so weird! Those guys are all drunk and I’m not. I haven’t had a drink in 5 days; isn’t that weird?” We assure him that while it may be unusual, it’s not weird and we encourage him to maintain his sobriety.

Another Occupier remarks, “I wonder when the trial of the Water Protector Occupiers will take place. I think their pre-trial hearing happened about a month ago. Seeing as neither one of them are here tonight I guess I can’t find out. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll see them soon”.

The next person to walk up is Mississippi Woman; she’s another one who we haven’t seen since mid-October. As usual, she’s hungry; she greets everyone then commences to survey the food table and the soup pot. She takes some of everything, lines up three full bowls of food and begins to do some heavy eating.

An Anon reports, “Next Tuesday we plan to have a protest out on the corner against Line 3; we hope that a lot of people will join us”. An Occupier replies, “Well you know we’ll be here”.

The big Native Anon strolls in, it’s been a week since he had his tonsils removed and he’s not feeling so hot. He complains, “You all know I’m a regular cigarette smoker but I haven’t been able to smoke since I had my surgery”. All the smokers in the circle groan and he continues, “Then to top it off, someone stole my pain medicine. I was given a big bottle of liquid hydrocodone and it was in the nurses med room and then it wasn’t. They think it was probably one of the staff members who stole it. It was some pretty strong stuff; the nurses had a hell of a time getting the pharmacy to give me another bottle”.

It turns out that Bush Man and the big native Anon are residents in the same halfway house. They’ve seen each other around but have not actually spoken until this evening. The budding of a new friendship?

The female of the unknown couple spies one of the fliers for The Woman Who Tells Good Stories that we always have sitting on the table. She sighs, “You mean they still haven’t found her? Oh my god, how long has it been?” An Occupier answers, “Close to three years; her body has still not been found. We always put those fliers out to keep her memory alive in people’s hearts and minds; when ever there’s a murdered and missing Indigenous women’s event we carry a big sign with her picture on it. Someday the answer will be found, until then, we need to keep her in our prayers or whatever”.

Menagerie Woman tells us, “Many years ago, I lived next door to The Woman Who Tells Good Stories. I didn’t think she was very nice at all; she was always yelling at me. I don’t think we ever had a normal conversation”. We all have to admit that although The Woman Who Tells Good Stories was always nice to us, when she was drunk we’d seen her be very aggressive to other people. Menagerie Woman continues, “To tell the truth, if something bad happens to someone who I don’t know, I don’t really care about it, it doesn’t mean a thing to me”. We all begin to make statements about how “We are our brother’s keeper” and stuff like that. Mississippi Woman comes up from her feeding frenzy and exclaims, “Oh no honey, you got to love everybody! I love everybody”. Then she gets “that look” on her face. We all think, “Oh no, she’s about to go into one of her rants; we have to distract her right away”.

Fortunately, an Anon accidentally knocks over a glass of apple juice that is sitting on the floor. It spills all over the notes of the Occupier who writes the meeting minutes. The Anon is very apologetic; the writing Occupier calmly states, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll just lay the papers out and they’ll quickly dry”. Mississippi Woman is sufficiently distracted and goes back to eating; problem solved.

A young man with spiky blond hair drops in. He’s been attending our fires off and on for a couple of years; the last time he was at our fire he was very upset because he had been kicked out of CHUM and all his belongings had been thrown away. He was kinda strange (who isn’t?) but could make himself easily understood. Then something happened; a few of the Occupiers had seen him around the neighborhood during the winter. He was babbling and completely incoherent. Tonight is no different; he’s not really interested in food or anything, he just wants to talk but no one can understand a word that he says. We all just smile and nod; maybe being forced to spend the winter out on the street just put him over the edge.

An Anon asks, “Did you all notice that someone started a fire in the porta potty across the street?” We say “What?!? Oh, no!” An Occupier remarks, “I did notice that it was sitting kinda crooked”. The Anon replies, “Everything on the inside is melted; the opening is still there and men can use it when standing up but if a person needs to sit down, it’s not gonna happen”.

The big Native Anon looks at one of the fliers for the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights and opines, “You know, I don’t really believe in this. What difference does it make? You all go to all this trouble to pass this policy and then the cops, business owners and others will just ignore it. You won’t have changed anything”. An Occupier responds, “That’s why we’re insisting that the HPB of R be voted in as an ordinance; we refuse to accept anything else. You’re correct, a policy doesn’t really have to be obeyed and it can be changed or discontinued at any time. The public doesn’t even have to be notified. An ordinance is the law; if anyone disobeys it there are consequences” The big dude says, “Oh”.

Menagerie Woman gives her dogs to Bush Man and comments, “I have to use the bathroom, I’ll be right back”. She is gone for a long time and when she returns she reports, “Well, you’re right, the porta potty is unusable. I went into the brew house across the street and used their bathroom. When I came out the staff people were blocking the door. They said, ‘You can’t use our bathroom unless you buy something. You are supposed to use the porta potty across the street’. I was too scared to say anything, I just ran out the door and over here”.

An Occupier tells her, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow; I’ll tell them about the potty. I think they will be able to grease the wheels that will get the potty company to put up a new potty. This fire business sounds like some stupid, drunken, college boy prank to me. Maybe the cops have a camera by the potty so might be able to see who started the fire”.

Changing the subject, the Occupier who lives in Superior reports, “I went to that meeting with area college science professors last Wednesday. It was about the explosion and fire at the Husky Oil Refinery. The professors said that the soil in the surrounding neighborhood is definitely polluted but the company and the government say they don’t have instruments that are capable of measuring what or how much dangerous material is in the soil. The professors also said we should expect the Husky company to be telling lots of lies; they said we should not believe anything the company says. Great, huh?” We all groan.

An Anon has a small packet of something that is supposed to make the flames of the fire turn colors; he throws it into the fire. We all move far enough away so that we won’t breathe in whatever it is that is in the packet. It certainly works; soon the flames turn all sorts of beautiful colors. Everyone is quiet, just watching the flames.

A couple of possibly street young men arrive. They are very hungry; Fortunately, Mississippi Woman has gone home. She actually left some food for everyone else. An Occupier tells the young men, “Please eat you fill; I really don’t want to take any of this home”. The young men oblige; they get some soup from the pot and cookies, hard boiled eggs, pickles, chips and juice from the table. Once they have finished and seeing that it’s almost 10pm, we begin to pack up.

A few of the Anons will go to an Occupier couple’s home for a while. We plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 12-5-17

G.A. Minutes 12-5-17
We’re at Coney Island once more. No surprise there; the weather is really cold again. Skies are cloudy with snow forecast for later; the temperature says 14 above but the fierce wind is pushing it much lower. The streets are pretty much empty; only crazy people are out tonight.
The Occupiers and the Anonymous crew arrive simultaneously. We are all bundled up from head to toe but the Anons are also stylin’. A couple of the Occupiers are snazzy dressers but the Anons are professionals. They’re dressed mostly in black over layers of warm clothes; their hoods and gloves are black too. Each has his entire face covered by a different colored Anon mask. Some have capes and carry big flags.
They also have lots of flyers for the No Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline event to be held at Black Bear Casino on Monday December 11th at 10:30am. They’re going to flyer the entire downtown area once they rest and warm up for a bit. We order a carafe of coffee and a bunch of cups as a gesture of solidarity.
An Occupier says to an Anon, “Did you guys go to the Pancakes Not Pipelines event last Saturday?” An Anon answers, “Yeah, we were there early to help with set up and then we went over the bridge to the event at UWS”. The Occupier replies, “Oh, I thought you guys had probably been there. We showed up about an hour into the event, stayed for the entire thing and helped with cleanup. Everything went well; a carload of residents from the Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp arrived just after we finished watching a really good documentary. Our friend who organized the pancake event was able to give almost $200 to the campers.
“They all got up and introduced themselves; each one of them has years of experience in protecting the water and fighting pipelines. They said they are always in need of firewood. I’ve been trying to find some for them but all the firewood dealers that I know of are out of dry, split and seasoned wood until next spring or summer. One of the Line 3 Water Protectors said they’d be more than happy with 8 foot logs which they are able to prepare themselves. I’ll get to work looking for 8 foot logs right away”.
Another Occupier adds, “The ‘pancakes people’ are having another meeting to plan next steps for supporting Makwa Camp and fighting Enbridge on Friday, December 8th at 11:30am at the same place where the Pancakes Not Pipelines event took place”. Many of the Occupiers plan to attend.
An Occupier asks an Anon, “Do you know that the Justice City Coalition is having a meeting tomorrow, 6pm at the Men As Peacemakers office?” The Anon answers, “We weren’t aware of that but now that we know, I think some of us will attend. We received an invitation to join the coalition a few weeks before the big march happened so we attended the last couple of meetings. The Occupier opines, “I’m excited to learn what the next steps will be in Dismantling the Legacy of Racism and Building a Community of Peace”.
One of the youngest Anons inquires, “Have you guys seen or heard about people in Leech Lake being able to turn on their water faucets, put a lighter to the faucets and see big flames come out of them?” None of us have seen or heard about this supposed phenomena. The Anon continues, “Yeah, I watched a video on Facebook of this girl who said she lived in Leech Lake. She put a lighter to her water faucet and flames came out. I heard that Facebook has since taken her video down and that all news coming out of Leech Lake is being censored”.
An Occupier responds, “Hmm… Leech Lake…. is there any fracking being done around there?” No one knows and she continues, “Flames coming out of one’s water faucets is usually a result of fracking. We know people who are from Leech Lake. If we see them, we’ll have to ask them what’s up”.
The Anons are now properly warmed and coffee’d up. They’re putting all their layers on. One of the Anons suggests, “Should we go down to Bentlyville again tonight?” The oldest Anon tells him, “Bentlyville? Tonight? Did you feel how cold the wind is outside? We’re up here where all the buildings are; the buildings block the wind. Bentlyville is wide open down on the bay. The wind down there will be so strong that it will be hard to even catch your breath. We need to save Bentlyville for another night”. Then off they go.
An Occupier queries, “So what’s going on with the city official? He hasn’t paid us a visit in over a month”. Another Occupier replies, “Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that he now has a very important meeting that he has to attend every Tuesday at Community Action Duluth. I don’t know any of the details but I know it has to do with the very real possibility of creating a not-for-profit charter school that will cater primarily to students of color”.
The first Occupier exclaims, “Oh that would be so cool! I sure hope it all works out; we really need a school like that in our community. I also hope that the official man gets a Tuesday night off soon so he can come to visit us. I miss hearing his point of view”.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “As usual, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is on Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. Everyone is welcome”.
An Occupier comments to another, “It looks like the cold, dark days of winter are upon us now. It’s time to try and track down the partner of the Stylish Native Woman. I don’t want him to freeze off any more of his appendages this winter. As a last resort, I’ll let him sleep on my living room couch”.
Another Occupier agrees, “You are so right. We have to make sure that The Partner is taken care of this winter. I’ll go down to CHUM and look for the Stylish Woman; she stays at CHUM once it gets too cold to sleep outside. It’s too bad that they won’t let her partner stay there too. He may be schizophrenic but he’s also a very decent guy”.
It looks like we have another busy week ahead of us. It’s only a little after 8pm but we decide to pack up, go home and rest up for the week ahead of us. Our old bones don’t bounce back as quickly as they used to however, we’re just bursting with life experience and wisdom. In fact, we’re all so damn smart we’re gonna predict that we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-15-17

G.A. Minutes 8-15-17
We’ll probably need to put on our long sleeved shirts or light jackets this evening at People’s Plaza. The weather is cooler than it’s been in a while. The temperature is in the low 70s and the sky is partly cloudy; a strong, cold east wind is responsible for the chill.
Many folks from the Anonymous group are waiting when the first Occupiers roll up. They set up the circle for us and then go out to the street to preach to the cars again. We can hear many beeps of support.
An Occupier apologizes to the others, “Sorry I didn’t get any minutes written from last week’s meeting. My life got in the way; I just could not find the time. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I threw all my responsibilities to the wind and spent 3 days at the Bayfront Blues Festival”. We all say, “Oh, of course not”. The Occupier continues, “It’s too bad though because there were a couple of good stories that came out of last week’s meeting”.
Another Occupier adds, “For real, like when the 2 Park Rangers came up to our fire and said, ‘You know it’s illegal for you to be having a fire here’. We politely quoted a few City ordinances and Fire Codes to them and then they said, ‘Oh sorry, we didn’t know that. Have a good evening”. Those cop types are so like that; they make high sounding pronouncements even when they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground”.
Another Occupier comments, “I got a kick out of the story that the Anon who carries the American flag with all the corporate logos in place of the stars told us. He said he was out on the corner and had his flag flying upside down, some dude walks by and says, ‘Hey, I fought for that flag!’ The Anon answered, ‘You might want to look a little closer at the stars’. The dude looks, doesn’t say nothin’, just walks away”.
Someone else remarks, “Yeah, and how about those cops down in Canal Park who threw that innocent 12 year old African American boy down on the pavement, cuffed him and put him in the squad car. When his sister protested his innocence, they cuffed her and put her in the squad too. If someone hadn’t called the kids’ mother to come and rescue them they would have been taken to lockup. They were completely innocent of any wrongdoing but the cops just took the word of the white supremacist tourist lady who was yelling the N-word. I’m so glad that some of the other kids recorded what the cops did; it looks like Duluth’s African Heritage community is not going to take this lying down either”.

Anyway, now we’re at this week’s fire circle. The Stylish Native Woman and her partner sit down; her partner is quite mentally stable tonight. We can understand everything he talks about; he tells stories about his younger life when he was married and working full time. When he was at his job he discovered that his boss was doing a lot of unethical things. That bothered him very much; when the dust settled, he found himself committed to a mental institution. That was the first time; he’s been in and out of mental health facilities (always against his wishes) for over the last 20 years. He has a grown daughter.
The city official appears; he brings a large box of fried chicken for the table. He’s on his way to the Charlottesville Solidarity Vigil up at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. In fact, everyone is going to the Vigil. An Occupier couple has volunteered to hold down the fort while the rest of the entire crew goes up to CJMM. So off they go.
A very “buttoned down” looking guy rides up on his bike. He looks at us like he thinks we are crazy and says, “What IS this?” The Occupiers give him an explanation of 25 words or less; the dude says, “Where’s my friend?…….Hey, they’re smudging over here!” His friend rides over; the friend looks rather “buttoned down” too but in a more streetwise sort of way. The friend looks at us like he thinks we MIGHT be crazy; he doesn’t say anything. They both smudge themselves and ride off.
The next person to visit is the young, veteran homeless man. He’s actually homeless by choice, has been homeless for many years and is pretty self-sufficient. He doesn’t need food or drinks; he’s just stopping by to say hello.
The gay African American former street man arrives. He’s been visiting our fires for many years; he used to always be singing, dancing and carrying on. He returned from a somewhat lengthy stay in jail almost a year ago; since then, he stopped drinking and is rather quiet. He always seems to be a little sad but still a very nice guy. He munches on a few chips and waits for his new boyfriend to show up. After about an hour the boyfriend still hasn’t arrived so he goes off to catch a bus to his home.
A man and a woman who we don’t know arrive individually; it doesn’t appear that they are acquainted but they are both very hungry. They stand next to the table and just eat and eat. When they are finally full they thank the Occupier couple and go off on their separate ways.
Now it’s just the Fire Magician and the Food Occupier in the circle. They pile wood into the fire pit; the flames get really big. Everyone will be able to warm up well upon their return.
The Anons return; some of them are very excited; they were impressed by the Vigil. An Occupier and the city official are right behind them; they tell us there were over 400 people in attendance.
A non-homeless woman who spends most of her time on the street comes to get coffee; she loves our coffee and drops by frequently. She tells us, “There were so many people at the Vigil that the cops had to blockade the street to vehicle traffic. The people are now in the process of marching down here. See that cop car around the corner with its lights flashing? The cops are getting ready to block the street so the marchers can march to Peoples Plaza”.
We notice a couple more squads, with their lights flashing, drive up and sit on the street. An Occupier opines, “Well this could be interesting. There’s no way we can feed 100s of people but some of them can get warm by the fire at least”. We then see a DFD fire truck drive up, followed by an ambulance. An Occupier states, “Wait a minute, marchers don’t need an ambulance; I hope someone didn’t have a heart attack or something”.
As we continue to watch it becomes apparent that someone is having an emergency in front of the Electric Fetus. All the squad cars and stuff have nothing to do with marchers or the Plaza. We look for the coffee loving street woman but she has conveniently disappeared.
All the chairs in the fire circle are full again; more people are standing on the outside and all around the Plaza. Our friend from Vets for Peace rides up; he asks, “Is there any coffee left?” Amazingly, there is. Menagerie Woman rides up, she’s finished donating plasma and watching her Tuesday night movie. She’s on her way to catch a bus home but stops in to say hi.
The new boyfriend of the gay African American dude comes up the stairs. Of course, he was hoping his boyfriend would be here. We tell him that his boyfriend was here waiting for him but left in order to catch a bus. We think the two of them need to find a better communication system.
The new boyfriend appears to be Caucasian and in his early 40s; he’s a veteran homeless person, with an extensive prison record. No matter, we know that many people with prison records are very decent people. He has a camp of his own somewhere but tonight he’s just going to crash under the back bushes in the Plaza. He fills a cup with apple juice then empties his pockets of all their change and makes a donation.
Most of the street folks have gone off to their sleeping places; the Anons and Occupiers just sit, watching the fire die out. As it finishes, we pack up.
Everything is packed up; the Food Occupier and an Anon are just about to drive off when a young African American man taps on her window. “Do you have any food left?” he asks. She tells him she believes everything has been eaten. When she checks the bins, just to be sure, she finds a bag of organic potato chips that she neglected to put on the table. As she gives the chips to the young man she notices he doesn’t have a coat or a backpack or anything. She hopes he has somewhere warm to sleep because it will be rather chilly tonight.
We hope for warmer weather when we return to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

Red Warrior Camp is reported though social media to have issued a call to action alert, urging everyone to come to Standing Rock.

Update 201609140338 Red Warrior Camp is reported though social media to have issued a call to action alert, urging everyone to come to Standing Rock in a good way.  All kinds of supplies are needed.  If you can go, bring enough for yourself and more to share.


G.A. Minutes 5-10-16

G.A. Minutes 5-10-16
We’re at Coney Island tonight.  The weather forecast said rain for the next 3 days.  It did rain all day but it’s not raining now.
As the first couple of Occupiers walk through the door, one of them comments, “Actually it looks like it would be a really good night for a fire.  There are neighborhood people the on the street; with the overcast sky and temps in the low 40s I’m sure some folks would have really appreciated a hot cup of good coffee and a seat at the fire.  Too bad we didn’t know the rain would stop during the evening”.
The other Occupier looks at his phone and responds, “Well according to the latest weather map, it’s raining right now”.  They laugh.
The regular Tuesday night hipster staff guy is happy to see the Occupiers.  He says, “Wow, it’s great to see you guys again.  You haven’t been here in a while”.  An Occupier explains, “Now that spring is finally here, we hold recreational fires over at People’s Plaza on Tuesday and Saturday nights unless it’s raining.  We’ll do that until winter comes around again.  If ever you’re not working maybe you could stop by.  You’d definitely be welcome”.
As the first Occupiers are settling in, one of them calls around to see who else is planning on showing up.  He says, “It doesn’t sound like anyone else is going to make it tonight.  However, I missed the last meeting so maybe we could get something to eat and you could tell me how it went”.
The other Occupier agrees and begins, “We didn’t have a fire last Saturday either.  The National Fire Service or someone like that put out an emergency fire alert because of the forest fires burning up on the Range.  There was an air quality alert and a request that included Duluth, asking that no one have any type of outdoor fire.  I find it hard to believe that our little fire, at the entirely brick made People’s Plaza, would have been any danger but if the fire department happened to drive by, we didn’t want to appear to be a bunch of idiots.
“It turned out we couldn’t have had a fire anyway.  The Spin Collective was already there.  They were having a final dress rehearsal and needed to take up most of the space.  Their music was pumping real loud too.
“Homegrown was in full swing and the street was full of decked out concert goers.  Of course, the local street folks were all out of sight. Most don’t like to be around straight people very much. 
“We had the food table up so some of the concert goers came over to see what we were doing.  People started arriving very early to be part of the audience.  Just as it was getting dark, the Occupier with the really long hair took the sage bundle around and smudged everyone.  There were almost 100 people in the audience and he was well received.  Spin Collective rocked out.  With the exception of a few very minor mishaps, they were flawless.
“We managed to have some conversation before the performance started.  I took a few notes; let me see what I can find.  She rummages around a bit and continues, “I had to report that the East Coast Occupier has had to return to her home base.  She has a few medical issues to take care of and wants to go back to the doctor who has taken care of her for years.  Once she’s healthy again, she promised to return to Duluth”.  The listening Occupier states, “Bummer.  I sure hope she does come back.  She’s a great person; in the short time I’ve known her she taught me a lot”.
The reporting Occupier agrees and continues, “We talked about the fact that the mayor appointed Mike Tusken as the new Police Chief. We weren’t surprised but we were disappointed.  He doesn’t appear to be a person who is truthful. 
“I don’t know our mayor, Emily, very well.  She seems to have her heart in the right place but I don’t know how she thinks.  Maybe she realized it would be best to hire the other guy as he wasn’t part of the local good ole’ boy network.  Maybe she didn’t have the courage to choose the other candidate; all the people who actually run this city would have been really pissed.
“By the way, I received another letter from Tusken the other day. This one says he is very sorry that I felt the previous letter was inappropriate.  He says no citizen should have to put up with that but there’s nothing he can do about it because the person who wrote the letter doesn’t work for the DPD anymore”.
The listening Occupier shakes his head and says, “WTF?”
The reporting Occupier responds, “I know.  I wonder if he has someone else writing letters that have his signature on them.  I know he’s not the brightest bulb on the tree but there’s no way he’s gonna try to tell me he doesn’t work there anymore.  The next time I talk with him I’m gonna ask him if someone else writes his letters.
“However, another part of me says, ‘Why bother?’  I get really tired of all this fake friendliness bs.  That’s how the control freak types operate though; they smile to your face then whack you in the back of your head”.
The listener agrees, “I think it’s called Minnesota Nice”.
The reporter goes on, “We also talked about a newly released movie called Cowspiracy.  It’s about the meat industry and how the raising of animals to be sold as meat is responsible for 51% of the climate change/air and water pollution in the world.
“It talked about grass fed and free range meat too.  That type of meat is not as bad but it still requires an enormous amount of land for living.    The amount of land needed to grow all the food that gets fed to animals raised for meat is enormous too.
“At least a billion people in the world are starving to death because of all the resources used to feed meat eating humans.  That sucks.
“The movie said many of the so called environmentalist groups refuse to discuss the topic.  The groups are afraid their supporters will be offended and will refuse to donate more money to the groups.
“I actually knew all this but I had pushed it to the back of my mind.  I already pay attention to what kind of meat I eat; I am gonna try to pay more attention to the amount I eat also.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop eating meat entirely but I’m gonna try my best to eat very little”.
The listening Occupier answers, “Getting the world’s meat eaters to become vegetarians will be very difficult.  It wouldn’t hurt me to eat less meat though”.
The reporting Occupier comments, “We also got into a conversation about our marvelous ‘injustice’ system.  We talked about plea bargaining.  Like if a cop accuses an innocent regular person of something and then the district attorney tells the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge.  The person is innocent but is still expected to accept blame.  If the accused insists on pleading not guilty, the court imposes the most serious charge it can think of.  If possible, it tries to eliminate a jury trial.  If the innocent person is found guilty anyway, the court imposes the strictest penalty allowable”.
The listener adds, “That’s where we get the cliché ‘You get the most justice you can pay for’.  People without a lot of money don’t get any justice.
“Have you heard that the annual Housing Summit is going to be at Coppertop Church on Thursday, May 26th 10am-3:30pm?”
The reporter responds, “No, I hadn’t heard that.  I went to one of those in the past.  It consisted mostly of NGO peeps talking about funding sources.  This year I think I’ll just let them do their thing.  If anything earth shattering happens I’ll hear about it later.
“So anyway, most of last Saturday evening was taken up by the fire spinning performance.  The weather was so nice that after it finished and all the people started leaving, I just sat there for a while.  I love being outdoors when the weather’s nice.  I hope climate change leaves us some nice weather for a few more years at least”.
Around 7:30pm an Occupier says, “It sure looks like no one else is going to show up.  Maybe we should call it a night.  If the weather people are correct, it’s not gonna rain on Saturday so we could have a fire at the Plaza”.
The other Occupier agrees and off they go…..  see you Saturday?

G.A. Minutes 3-15-16

G.A. Minutes 3-15-16

Technically speaking, it’s still light outside when the first Occupiers pull up to Coney Island this evening.  The sky is covered with grey clouds and they’ve alternated between light rains and serious downpours all day long.

That’s o.k. though, we turned the clocks ahead on Sunday and that little bit of extra evening light makes the final days of waiting for spring a bit easier.  The rain will wash away the last piles of black snow lying here and there.

The weather people say we’re going to have a big blizzard tomorrow with many inches of snow.  As a precautionary measure, the Duluth schools will be closed.  Parents with young school children may be tearing their hair out about now with trying to figure out who can take care of their kids.  No matter what, parents and everyone else still have to go to work.  It sure would be nice if the weather people were wrong.

There are only 2 customers besides ourselves as we walk through the door.  A regular hipster is working by himself.  It appears he’s happy to see us.  Time usually seems to go faster when one has something to do.

As we are settling in an Occupier comments, “I wonder whatever happen to the so called interview panels the City was supposed to convene to help choose the next Duluth Police Chief.  A couple of months ago, at the Citizens Review Board meeting, all the high ranking cops said there would be interview panels made up of regular citizens.  These panels would have a say as to who gets hired as the next Police Chief.

“I sent in my application and resume just the way the former Human Right Officer advised me to do.  I have heard absolutely nothing since then.  Tomorrow is the CRB meeting again.  I’m gonna be sure and bring up the subject”.

The Occupier tasked with communicating with the various evil doers opposed to our recreational fire reports, “I had a lengthy phone conversation with the City Attorney today.  I was introduced to him last Friday at the retirement party at Central Hillside Community Center.

“I figured after making small talk with him on Friday, he just might answer my phone call.  I was right; he took my call right away.  He was friendly and very chatty but I didn’t care for what he had to say.  I informed him that we’d been told he was holding meetings with members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board in an effort to write a list of formal rules that would govern the use of CJMM.

“He said no, he had not been meeting with the BOD and there was not going to be a list of rules.  He said he will issue an official letter shortly that will be his official legal opinion about fires being lit at CJMM.  The letter will state no fires shall be lit at the site.

“So we blabbed about the deeper issues related to homelessness and poverty, the difference in activity at CJMM after we and our fire arrived, the CJMM camera (courtesy of our arrival on the scene) and all sorts of other stuff.

“For a guy who hasn’t been meeting with the CJMM BOD, he sure did sound like a clone of the former CJMM BOD co-chair.  I never once mentioned the word Occupy but he used the word at least 5 or 6 times.  I guess he watches Fox News like the rest of them.

“Anyway, I sure hate to leave CJMM but if we’re gonna have a fire that stands a chance of not getting put out before we are ready to do it ourselves; we’d better pick another site close by to use”.

An Occupier exclaims, “That sucks!  I don’t want to go to another site.  The City and all its good ole’ boys just do whatever they want to.  They don’t give a damn about laws.  They think the laws are just for people who aren’t rich”.

The tasked Occupier replies, “I agree, but we’ll have a better chance of proving that if we go to another site that has its already written laws and the cops come down on us there too”.

Another Occupier suggests, “It’s kinda like that thing a few years back with Jim what’s-his-name and Last Place On Earth.  I was glad to see him and that synthetic crap go.  I can’t remember the details but there was something fishy about the way the City got rid of him.  I remember thinking I wasn’t too happy about the way they did it.  I’m sure other people noticed too but they didn’t care because they wanted him gone.  That’s how people lose their rights”.

The tasked Occupier responds, “You’re right, I felt a little uneasy about all that too.  I think our situation is a bit different though.  A lot of people with common sense are in support of our fires.  L.P.O.E only had the support of the synthetic addicted zombies.  Hopefully our supporters will protest when the City tries to screw us over.

“I still have to do some research about the site that is our first choice.  There are only so many hours in the day”.

An Occupier states, “I will help you do the research”.

An Occupier says to another, “So how was the lecture at UMD last night?”

The Occupier answers, “The place was packed and Nekima Levy-Pounds spoke well on the topic of Black Lives Matter.  However, her target audience was young college students so most of what she had to say were things that I already knew.  I left before the thing was completely done.  I didn’t have a chance to grab anything for dinner before I arrived so I was very appreciative of the food that was provided”.

Everyone feels very tired.  Rainy days do that to people.  We think maybe we’ll leave early tonight.

The hipster staff guy wheels out the mop bucket; it’s not as early as we thought.

As we pack up, someone says, “Remember Deb and Winona have their Meet N Greet on Thursday at CHCC 4p-6p and our city official friend has his In Black Ink presentation on Saturday 1pm at CHCC too”.

We plan to return on Saturday.  Maybe we’ll have answers to some of our questions.  Pray that it doesn’t snow.


G.A. Minutes 1-30-16

G.A. Minutes 1-30-16
The weather tonight feels more like March than like the end of January.  We had a big snow/sleet/ice/rain storm last night.  That was pretty much like March too.  We think this is pretty nice in the short term but realize it does not bode well for years and decades to come.
As a few of the Occupiers are entering Coney Island, an unknown young man asks them for $1.  He says he’s a recent arrival from Nevada and has come to visit his children.  He’s been to CHUM already but has no desire to stay there.  An Occupier gives him $1 and everyone wishes him well.
There are 2 hipster guys on staff tonight.  They are non-stressed and appear to have everything under control.  As usual, some of the regular evening customers are present.  There are some not as regular folks too.
The Occupier who is a member of the Duluth 7 tells us what’s been going on in his life since he last attended our meeting.  The Duluth 7 are a group of serious activists who had allowed themselves to be arrested during our Stop the Enbridge Invasion occupation of an Enbridge office last November.  It’s officially called the Duluth 4 now as 3 of the arrestees accepted a plea bargain.  The remaining arrestees have pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing and are scheduled for trial sometime in April.
These Duluth 4 are hoping to argue their case on the grounds of Necessary Defense. Necessary Defense basically means one had to commit a minor legal violation in order to protect themselves and/or others from a greater danger.  We all agree Enbridge tar sands pipelines are definitely a greater danger.
He recommends that we research Tim DeChristopher and the Environment Civil Disobedience Center for a deeper understanding of the concept.
The Occupier tells us in order to have a trial instead of accepting a plea bargain, the Duluth 4 will have to except harsher punishment should they lose.  They will also have to forgo a trial by jury.
We have a brief discussion about the fact that the majority of court cases don’t go to trial anymore.  Most non-wealthy defendants are forced to accept some type of guilty plea rather than risk being found guilty of crimes larger than the one originally charged.  This includes defendants who are completely innocent of any and all charges.
The Occupier who is single parenting 3 children expresses concern about an increase in residential utility taxes which is about to be passed by the tax regulators.  The utility tax on ordinary households will be increased in order to reduce the tax paid by big corporations.
The Occupier parent is an employee of a major “big box” store.  He exclaims, “Being a single parent is almost impossible.  Working 40 hours a week, coming home, making dinner and helping the kids with their homework doesn’t leave you enough time for a full nights’ sleep.  On your 2 days off you do the laundry, do the shopping and clean.  Where is the time for your own life?  Along with this is the constant worry “Am I going to be able to make the rent payment this month?  Is the car going to break down? Etc.etc”  Some of the Occupiers have been single parents.  We all emphasize with his situation.
Another Occupier states, “I have a sort of weird story to tell.  I was at the Citizens Review Board meeting on Wednesday.  I’m sitting at a table making small talk with the commission members when I see the senior Deputy Police Chief walk in.  I notice he looks carefully over the sign in sheet appearing to put a face to each name.  He looks at me for a while.  I’m sure he recognizes my name because it’s on all the numerous complaints about the DPD that we’ve filed.   Judging by his response to the last one we filed, directed specifically at him, I know he knows who I am.
“So anyway, he puts the sheet down, walks over and plunks himself down right next to me.  He puts out his hand and says, ‘Hi, I’m blah, blah, blah’.  I’m thinking you must think I’m really dumb but I tell him my name and shake his hand.  He sits next to me for the entire meeting whispering comments in my ear. 
“He makes the announcement that he’s been appointed Interim Police Chief by the new mayor.  He says he’s throwing his hat in the ring for the position of permanent Chief.  At one point the CRB president asks for suggestions from community members about what type of qualities are important in a Police Chief.
“Seeing as I was the only grassroots community member present, I gave a little speech about transparency, accountability, fairness, inclusiveness and so on.  Basically everything the Interim Chief has not shown to us. 
“The I.C. doesn’t get the irony at all.  When I’m finished he says loudly, ‘Well said!  Well said!’ The rest of the cops in the room soundly agree.  Give me a break!”  We all laugh.
An Occupier reports, “I’ve applied to be on the hiring panel for the new police chief candidates. The main homeless outreach worker has done so too”.  She looks at another Occupier and comments, “I think you should apply also”.  She explains the process to him.
Another Occupier announces, “I have some bad news.  Our fire pit and wood are gone.  I called the Superior Public Works Department and was told that the Superior police ordered our stuff thrown into the landfill.  We’re gonna have to buy a new fire set up”.
Someone replies, “Wait a minute; our fellow Occupier is charged at the last Stop Enbridge rally with Failure to Show ID to a Police Officer.  So, not showing an ID is only a violation if one is committing a crime or about to commit a crime.  The police are erroneously saying that starting a fire in a public space is a crime.  Our fire pit and wood is their supposed evidence and they’ve thrown it away?”  We shake our heads in disbelief.
An Occupier reminds us, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance has another NDN Taco Sale coming up on Friday.  I assume we’re all down with helping out?”  We are.
The staff guys are wiping off the tables and sweeping the floors.  An Occupier’s phone rings. Friends are asking when he will be leaving and coming to meet them.  It’s that time again.
As we are collecting tip money and getting ready to leave, an Occupier says, “I’ve got a proposition for you all.  I’m meeting with the new City Councilor on Monday, going to the Forum on Racism and Cultural Understanding on Tuesday, making NDN taco meat on Wednesday, going to the INM/NWA pre-taco meeting on Thursday and working the taco sale on Friday.  If we don’t have a meeting here on Tuesday evening, I might get a chance to get started on that letter to the editor that I’m supposed to write”.
We accept her proposition.  It looks like we won’t be back to Coney Island until next Saturday. It will be February by then…… wow.