Occupy Erie: Like Sled Dogs after a Blizzard
There was a Lake Effect Snow Warning here in the area for January 1st and 2nd. Temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, but that wind drove the heaviest of the snow well south of the shoreline of Lake Erie. Because of the location of my house atop the first ridge line as the wind pushes moist air up the slope, it really starts to fall as it comes up the hill. I get more snow than downtown, but only half as much as Edinboro, 15 miles south of me. They get over 200″ a winter. With a delivery on its way from Occupy Supply expected soon, I broke out my pizza powered snow clearing device, named Chris, my 25 yo son, to clear my very steep driveway.
On Jan 4, members of Occupy Erie went to the City Council meeting, to again ask that they permit us some sort of shelter in the Square. As you may be aware, we have been raided and had equipment confiscated at least seven times since Dec 10, with one arrest. Members of the Mayor’s Administration have given us conflicting information about the need for permits, what they are ok with (for this go round, until they change their minds again), telling us they are ok with this, but acting not so ok, and all the other ploys used to sandbag us. We hope to get the City Council to pass something that clears the way for us to have some sort of cover from the weather.
I am on my Local’s (UE506) Legislative Action Committee, and initiated a recommendation to use some of our (non union dues collected) funds from our Committee to buy a suitable winter tent for the local Occupation to use. The recommendation was passed by vote of the Committee members unanimously. Now we wait for a commitment from the City to not take it and destroy it before we get it down to the Occupation. It is a Cabela’s Alaknak tent.
This was the first day of the newly elected Council’s term. There is a new President of Council, Curtis Jones. We spoke during the citizens “open mike” portion of the meeting, with several of us taking our 3 minutes. We again had support from those citizens there to address other issues, with many of them using part of their own allotted time to also speak up for us. After the meeting, three of the seven Councilors approached us to speak with us, to try to start a dialogue. Headway was made, but three is not a majority, and so far the headway is limited to sitting down with them to explain what we would like to do.
A day or two before the meeting, Brian Sonenstein sent out a mass mailing with the subject “Save Occupy Erie.” I forwarded that email to about 100 people that are not FDL members, including the members of City Council and the Mayor. I spoke last at the meeting. I started off by asking them if they had a chance to read the email I forwarded them, and mentioned the civic pride it instilled in me to see the Gazebo in Perry’s Square here in Erie featured in a national distributed fund raising request, with the story of our City’s actions towards Occupy Erie being the subject of that fundraiser. There were a couple with wry smiles on their faces at that comment, and a few clueless looks from those that ignored my forward.
I told them of the incoming heavy winter gear that Occupy Supply is sending here, and mentioned something about our being a “poster child” for Occupy Supply’s efforts. I don’t know if they realize that I am the one taking and posting all the pictures of Occupy Erie, but they sure see me taking a lot of pictures during the meetings. I then told them I really want two pictures. The first would be of the look on their faces after the next Lake Effect Snow and High Wind Warnings from the NWS, when they come to work and see the Gazebo, wind scoured clean of human habitation or equipment. The second would be the look they have when the Occupiers, hearing a commotion, “like sled dogs after a blizzard,” pop out of the snow in their Occupy Supply supplied Milspec ECWCS arctic gear to see what the noise is about. More wry smiles, a few shaken heads.
When I got home from work Friday night, the 6th, I found three boxes of gear from Occupy Supply waiting for me to deliver. I took the gear down that night and delivered it to Keith, Desi, Chris, and Ron. They opened the boxes to find “HotHands” hand warmers and body warmers, space blankets for placing between the sleeping mats and the concrete, and 3 pairs of the black Mickey Mouse boots. There was much rejoicing and merriment. We have had a heat wave come through after the snow storm, which is welcomed by us. I am expecting the rest of the heavy gear to come this week, with Jane mentioning that it is spread all over her living room getting packed during our Occupy Supply Liaisons’ webinar on Sunday afternoon.
It is possible that I will be driving to Washington DC for the Occupy Congress event with others from Erie. I have to carefully choose which events to go to that require use of my vacation time. I overdid it last year, and got a written warning for my poor attendance. I can’t believe it. Doesn’t General Electric realize this is a civic duty? They could be fulfilling their portion of the Social Contract that we are all (supposed to be) a part of in our society. Those Bastards!