G.A. Minutes 12-4-18

G.A. Minutes 12-4-18

A small group of Occupiers drag their asses through the side door of Coney Island; they are the first people to arrive for the meeting this evening. One of them comments, “I always hate the time of year that happens after we have to turn our clocks back and then it continues until Winter Solstice. It’s just too dark; it makes me want to just crawl under my bed covers and not come out til spring”. Another Occupier agrees, “For real. Today the sun didn’t come up until about 7:30am and it was gone again by 4:30pm, it’s not fair. If people had any sense they would hibernate all winter like the most intelligent animals do”.

This remark cracks the other Occupiers up; an Occupier replies, “With all the capitalism and war mongering that the 1% and their minions have going on, mass hibernation would never work. There’s many different time zones in the world and half of the planet has winter while the other half is having summer. People would be worried that if they went to sleep the other half of the planet could come and steal their shit. What’s even worse, the awake half probably WOULD come and steal all the sleeping peeps shit. We’d first have to have a major paradigm shift before any mass hibernation could take place”. The postulating Occupier inquires, “Yabut, is it a good idea?” We say, “Yup”.

Lack of light is definitely not a problem at Coney Island; the place is always lit up like the biggest Christmas tree in the world. In fact, the excess lighting is kind of annoying but…. Whatever, the staff guys always seem genuinely happy to see us even though we don’t order mass quantities of food and we take up the whole back end of the restaurant. After several years of searching, Coney Island is the only place we’ve found that is willing to accommodate us. It sure beats freezing our asses off while trying to hold a meeting in a doorway or a parking garage until someone calls the cops and they roll up and tell us to “move along”.

Once the first Occupiers get settled, one of them tells the others, “It looks like we’re gonna get a warming station for folks who get stuck outside during the coldest days and nights of this upcoming winter”. An Occupier exclaims, “Whoa! Do tell”. The Occupier who is in the know explains, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition has been trying to push the City and/or some of the area churches to provide a suitable space for a warming station. We even offered to staff the place ourselves but we got pretty much the same answer from everyone we contacted; they said, “A warming station is a very good idea but we’re not able to provide a space at this time”. Then about 2 weeks ago there was an article in the Duluth News Tribune. A reporter interviewed Lee Stuart (director of CHUM); Lee stated that there was a great need for one or more warming stations during the winters in Duluth.

“This was a huge big deal. Over the past 10 years or so, there has always been a need for warming stations but Lee Stuart refused to admit it. She’s always been, understandably, protective of CHUM but CHUM has never been willing or able to house or accept all homeless people. CHUM has a lot of rules that some of the homeless ones are unable or unwilling to accept. Therefore, every winter homeless people would be found frozen to death.

“Anyway, once that article came out, the City, County and some of the major NGOs started networking behind the scenes. They scheduled a meeting for the middle of last week and at the last minute someone figured it might be a good idea to contact the lead guy at Loaves N Fishes and put him in the loop. He frantically called around to the Coalition members hoping to find someone who was able to attend that meeting and, fortunately, he was able to find someone. I was told that the City is gonna provide the space and the County is gonna wiggle its budget around in order to hire a couple of people at $15/hr. to staff the station. That’s about all I know right now; I’ll find out more at the next HPB of R Coalition meeting on this upcoming Thursday and report back to everyone”.

Another Occupier opines, “I’m really happy that there’s gonna be a warming station but the way it’s happening kinda sucks; it seems like this is the way everything happens. A whole bunch of grassroots, ordinary people can work for years trying to get their so-called representatives to provide something or do something that the ordinary people think is very important. The so-called representatives smile and offer platitudes but they never do anything to provide for the people’s needs. Then one person in a position of power speaks out publicly stating that the people’s need is valid and all the so-called representatives run around like crazy trying to at least look like they’re meeting that need. I mean, WTF?…… ordinary people are the reason that the so-called representatives have their well-paying jobs and their prestige and all that. The people in power just seem to want to take care of each other. “It makes me feel so mad that I feel like I want to go and tip over all their desks and tables and stuff”.

Another Occupier suggests, “I suppose you could go tip over a few tables if you wanted to but I doubt you would get the result you were looking for. The cops would come and arrest or maybe even shoot you; seeing as you’re a white person they probably wouldn’t kill you right off the bat but you’d still be in jail and in need of considerable bail money and a high-powered attorney. To top it off, all the major media would talk shit about you and you’d actually hurt your cause and the so-called representatives would just call the janitors to put the tables and desks right side up again.”

The Occupier who proposed tipping stuff over answers, “I know, that’s why I haven’t actually done it but don’t you all just get so pissed off about the minions’ obstruction that you want to throw things?” We all say, “Yeah”.

A group of Water Protectors, peeps from Anonymous and an elder Native organizer arrive. Someone orders a carafe of coffee and a bunch of cups; the Native elder and a few Occupy elders entertain the rest of the folks with stories from the old American Indian Movement (AIM) and other adventures from back in the day when the elders were living in Minneapolis.

Some of the Occupiers attended an event a few days ago. It was sponsored by the Native elder and some Water Protectors and concerned the ever-present trauma related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives. A woman from the Sahnish Nation (North and South Dakota) has an organization that searches for murdered and missing Indigenous people. The Sahnish woman and her assistants have participated in searches throughout the northern hemisphere. Among the many things she talked about were the fact that very few police departments participate in a meaningful way in trying to locate murdered and missing Indigenous folks. She also said that in our Twin Ports area, many Indigenous women and girls go missing but even MORE Indigenous boys and young men do so. The Native organizer asks an Occupier, “If I bring the Sahnish woman here again, would you be interested in attending another event?” The Occupier enthuses, “Oh, for sure! I’ll invite all my friends too”. The Occupier thinks to herself, “I wonder if we could ever find the remains of The Woman Who Tells Good Stories?”

A few of the W.P.s are planning a trip down to the so-called southern border of the so-called USA. They will bring along medical supplies, people who are bilingual and people with medical expertise. An Occupier wants to go along and whines, “Damn! It will be warm at the border; I’m bilingual and have medical expertise too. Too bad that my old ass doesn’t have the physical stamina to endure a long ride or non-stop work with little sleep. It’s not fair”.

An Anon inquires, “Hey, is tomorrow supposed to be a national day of mourning because of the passing of George Bush Sr.?” A W.P. tells him,”Yeah, ‘fraid so”. An Occupier adds, “I won’t be doing any mourning. All I ever saw was just another soulless politician”.

We notice that the staff guys have everything cleaned up, we’re the only remaining customers and the guys are just standing quietly waiting for us to notice……again. It takes us a while because we can’t stop talking and it’s so cold outside that we all have tons of clothing to put on.

Some of us have an activity planned for tomorrow; it will require sage but we don’t have any yet. An Occupier couple has a bunch of extra sage at their house so we all pile into our vehicles and head over to gather sage….so to speak.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.