"Candlelight Vigil at Clairemont Mall"
article by Germane Mercier published in The Shout newspaper
This Sunday I visited a candlelight vigil at Clairemont Mall, which recognized the impact of the berettaflies on our city. Dozens of citizens gathered in the atrium to stand witness. College students and other people our age have been especially hard hit by this incident because of so many casualties in the Environmental Studies class. Most of the attendees in the vigil had roped themselves together with a strand of butterfly tinsel to show their solidarity.
Roaming free were the organizers and safety staff. Basima Pearson wore a nametag saying Chairwoman over a crisp white blouse, and Poindexter Duval had one with Soup Liaison stuck to his Gumbo Ya-Ya shirt. I asked them about the purpose of this vigil.
"A lot of us lost friends or family in the attack, and everyone is pretty freaked out," said Ms. Pearson. "We wanted to offer people a way to support each other and start healing."
"Some tension is building between people with superpowers and people without them," Mr. Duval added. "We need to defuse that before it blows up in a way that makes matters even worse. So I'm here to facilitate that reconciliation. I made the manifesto display."
Officer Darelle Ardoin had a sticker emblazoned Civil Rights Watch over her New Orleans Police Department uniform and official nametag. "I'm sorry that my partner couldn't be here tonight," she said, tapping another sticker with a horse head and the name Zigana, "but we had to hold this vigil indoors for safety reasons. As mounties, Zigana and I supervise a lot of demonstrations, and I'm pleased to see that this one is so well organized. These folks really framed up what a lot of people have been saying around the city. Citizens need safe ways to express their feelings and wishes where those will be heard."
As is customary for demonstrations, large signs tacked to a folding board detailed their requests:
* GOOD JOB -- THANKS!
* Please keep us updated on risks from the laboratory and berettaflies.
* Find out how someone started a zetetic lab in the middle of our city, and close that loophole so nobody else can do it.
* Make sure somebody runs inspections to check that there aren't any more illegal labs here.
* Turn yourself in.
* Hand over any berettaflies you have left.
* Tell us whatever you know about them so nobody else gets hurt.
* Answer the questions: Why did you put a lab in a city? What if any testing did you do to make sure you could contain the berettaflies? Who paid for them? Where were they supposed to get used? Can they breed in the wild or will we be safe after these finish dying?
* Make amends to the casualties or their surviving families.
* Stop making awful things. "Powers are for helping, not for hurting."
* Turn yourselves in.
* Answer the questions: Why did you strike the lab on your own instead of contacting the police and/or SPOON? Why did you bust it wide open when that could release something dangerous? Why did you flee the scene instead of helping the people who got hurt? Why haven't you returned to talk with police?
* Make amends to the casualties or their surviving families.
* Stop acting worse than the supervillains you are trying to catch. "Powers are for helping, not for hurting."
* GO AWAY.
I observed that one of these lists was much shorter than the others. "That was the only item we could all agree on," Ms. Pearson explained. "It took us a lot of work to brainstorm ideas for each list, reach a consensus on which to include, and then revise them into something clear and civil."
An older gentlemen named Lionel Yves joined the conversation. "It took us a long time to put those in words not made of four letters," he said with a chuckle. "It's a good thing I came to provide an older and hopefully wiser viewpoint. We have a lot of strong feelings here tonight."
"I can see that," I said, waving a hand at the candles. "Could someone tell me more about these?" Each of the people connected by the butterfly rope held a drip guard with a white candle, traditional as a symbol of protection and healing in such vigils. A painfully large bank of gold (for the deceased casualties) and silver (for the surviving ones) candles propped up placards with the victims' names. More intriguing were the others: a lit red candle, an unlit black candle ... and an orange, a purple, a yellow, and a green candle which had all been lit and then dashed to the floor, extinguishing them.
"The Jewish cemetery donated a case of Shabbos candles, and I brought the colored ones from the holiday supplies at PGG Garden Center," said Jacques-José Gardinier, co-owner of same. "The red one is for Stylet because some of us really hope he'll come forward and clean up after himself. The black is for Mr. Pernicious because -- well, there's no hope there, he's got a list of crimes a yard long already and clearly doesn't care. The last four are for the Spectrum, to show that we reject their behavior."
"Don't anybody else drop candles on the floor, though, think of something else to do like little tinfoil hats or whatever," Ms. Pearson said sheepishly. "Somebody got the idea from an old book, but the mall custodians chewed us out for getting wax on the floor, and told us we'll have to scrape it up ourselves after the vigil. Also a couple of our Catholic members were kind of creeped out by it. We're really sorry about all that."
"I hope other citizens planning demonstrations around this incident will take your positive examples to heart, and learn from a little goof," I said. My journalistic mission completed, I put away my notebook. Then I took up my civic duty, lighting a white candle as I looped myself into the circle of people bound by a rope of tinsel butterflies.
* * *
Germane Mercier -- Thon has fair skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. Germane is agender, so the spelling of the name is tweaked to avoid the gendered French pairing of Germain (M) and Germaine (F). Despite the name, thon's heritage is mostly British and German, only a fraction French. Thon dresses in gender-neutral clothes, but loves provocative slogans and pastel-tinted sunglasses. Germane is a journalism student working a paid internship at the New Orleans newspaper The Shout. Thon has always approached subjects by jumping into the middle of them and going directly to the source, which naturally suggested journalism as a career. But that makes it hard to deal with poorly informed, overly opinionated citizens.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Journalism Student, Good (+2) Agender, Good (+2) Boots on the Ground, Good (+2) Insightful
Poor (-2) Don't You People Ever READ?!
Pointer (Poindexter Duval) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and curly dark brown hair. He speaks both English and Cajun French. He enjoys physical activity and is a pretty good lacrosse player. He also makes floats for Mardi Gras. Poindexter is studying public relations at Loyola University. He works part-time for the Easy City SPOON base, helping them locate soups and identify what superpowers people have. He also does some activism for soup acceptance, interfacing between different groups.
Origin: His superpower grew in gradually during adolescence, when he was most intent on finding other people like himself.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) College Student, Good (+2) Athlete, Good (+2) Craftsmanship, Good (+2) Public Relations
Powers: Expert (+4) Power Identification
Motivation: To find other soups.
Officer Darelle Ardoin -- She has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and straightened black hair to her shoulders. Her heritage is Creole including African, Houma, and French. As a tween, Darelle bartered for horse riding lessons at a nearby stable. As a teen, she worked at a breeding farm to save money and put herself through the police academy. That's when she got the idea of combining her sense of civic duty and love of horses.
Darelle serves as a mountie in the New Orleans police department, most often assigned to the vicinity of Loyola University. Her partner is a dapple gray and white Gypsy Vanner mare named Zigana, or Ziggy for short. They have training in civil rights and often supervise demonstrations or other public events. While not stuffy on the job, Darelle maintains firm control, and has difficulty letting go of herself when it's time to relax.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Mountie, Good (+2) Activist, Good (+2) Psychology, Good (+2) Strong, Good (+2) Tolerant
Poor (-2) Loosening Up
Zigana or "Ziggy" for short -- She is a dapple gray pinto Gypsy Vanner mare. She is the partner of Officer Darelle Ardoin. They often supervise demonstrations and other public events. Ziggy is very clever and can do things like untie simple knots with her mouth. She loves water and hates fire. Hates it. Will not go near flambeaux or fireworks, will not stand for hot shoeing, etc. She doesn't buck, just balks and refuses to go any closer. She adores being bathed and playing in fire hydrant spray.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Police Horse, Expert (+4) Smart, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Hates Fire
[Character by Dialecticdreamer]
Lionel Yves photo link
Name: Lionel Yves
Appearance: An African-American man in his early eighties, Lionel has a rectangular face with a square jaw softened by the relaxing of his skin, although he still looks ten or more years younger than his age. He wears transition bifocals (hidden: and has a pacemaker). He keeps his gray hair short and his mustache neatly trimmed.
BACKGROUND: A child of railroad workers from Illinois who settled in New Orleans during the sixties, his parents taught him the value of education and extended family. Becoming a history teacher seemed as natural to him as breathing. Now one of the last in his generation, Lionel is the anchor of his branch of the family, and keeps in close contact with his three surviving siblings and their offspring, who are scattered from Hawaii to Ottowa and in military postings elsewhere in the world.
Master (+6): Historian
Expert (+4): Teacher
Poor (-2): AWFUL at card or board games!
Miscellaneous: Lionel has taken Haruko McCoy into his family as a grandson, without openly discussing it with anyone. While it's extremely unlikely to cause friction, it will cause poor Haruko a great deal of confusion when Lionel's descendents call him cousin!
Jacques-José Gardinier -- He has tinted skin, green eyes, and short black hair. His heritage includes French, Spanish, African, and Native American. Many of his ancestors fell into the "free creole of color" category, and he still identifies with that. He was named after his paternal and maternal grandfathers. Jacques-José and his husband are married with two kids (one biological by each from previous relationships) and are currently talking about adopting one together. They're stuck on whether they want to take an infant from a local crisis pregnancy center called Magdalen House, or consider an older refugee from elsewhere.
Jacques-José works at the PGG Garden Center. The initials actually stand for Padilla, Glenn, Gardinier -- the families in the collective -- but overlap to the Purple, Green, Gold of Mardi Gras which is why their logo features a Mardi Gras mask. People joke about it standing for "Pretty Good Gardening." The nursery specializes in dual-purpose landscaping for humans and wildlife alike. During Mardi Gras they field a float decorated with real flowers, not tissue. Jacques-José also volunteers on Easy City's storm cleanup crew, where they can always use a man who knows how to handle a chainsaw. A drawback of all this is that he can't keep clean for more than a few minutes. He is almost always dirty and frequently smells of sweat and fertilizer.
Qualities: Master (+6) Civic Duty, Expert (+4) Landscaper, Expert (+4) Spatial Intelligence, Good (+2) Cajun Cooking, Good (+2) Conversationalist, Good (+2) Float Krewe, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Dirty
* * *
Terramagne-America does not allow infringement on the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Therefore, permits for protests are not generally required because that invites a violation of rights simply by denying them. Permits may be required for any venue that regularly requires free or paid booking to use its space. Protesters are still not allowed to break laws, and police may require people to move to a safer location if they choose an unsafe one. Civil disobedience tends to get handled differently than malicious crime even if it breaks the law. Furthermore, a perk of voluntarily registering your demonstration with the police is that most departments have at least one officer trained in civil rights support whom they will send to the event in case anyone tries to infringe on your rights. T-America understands that peaceful demonstrations are an important part of democracy. It keeps most of its protests peaceful by ensuring that they work -- that is, people listen to protesters with a fairly good chance of following feasible requests. Know how to stage a protest properly.
Candlelight vigils are popular as memorial activities. There are tips on organizing one.
Activism ideally includes making a list of demands. Local-America isn't very good at this; most manifestos here are written by nutjobs. Happily T-America does much better; protesters there are generally expected to display a coherent list of complaints and/or solutions, not just make a lot of random noise. I managed to scrounge up some references to writing a demand letter and a manifesto, although they aren't aimed at demonstrations per se.
Butterfly tinsel is a shiny garland rope with foil butterflies on it.
This is Pointer's Gumbo Ya-Ya T-shirt.
In T-America, many organizations that do a lot of displays or demonstrations will have permanent folding display boards, not just cheap cardboard. They're covered in cloth so you can pin, hook, or clip your pages to them depending on what kind of accessories you have.
Participatory decision making involves going through a discussion process to map a range of agreement until people reach a satisfactory level of consensus. Here is an example, and my go-to book on the topic, The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making.
Negative emotions can be hard to handle but they are important for a healthy life. There are tips for helping children and adults deal with strong feelings. Know how to cope with other people's difficult emotions too.
Snuffing candles is a historic part of excommunication.
Shabbos candles such as these are part of Jewish tradition. When used for vigils, carry them in candle holders to protect against drips. And really don't drop them on the floor! It is a pain in the butt trying to scrape wax off of linoleum.
Candle colors have different symbolism.
For the activists: The white candle evokes the highest level of consciousness. Burning one engages protection, healing and purification.
For the deceased casualties: The gold candle seeks enlightenment and symbolizes light in its purest form, the steadiness of the Sun. It is the color of deities and ascended spirits.
For the surviving casualties: A silver candle stands for the Moon, whose waxing and waning rules the tides, and the rise and fall of deep feelings. It is the color of innocents and seekers.
For Stylet: Red symbolizes temporal pleasures, passion, and love. But it also carries scorn and the courage to stand up to your enemies.
For Mr. Pernicious: Burning a black candle means serious business. It binds and neutralizes negative energies. This color protects against illness, evil and hostile energy cast at you by enemies.
For Tanger: The color orange represents sudden change. It conveys a kind of superpower in its intense energy, and few dare to wear it. So burning an orange candle is an aggressive move, which causes instant and profound change.
For Blastwave: Purple candles can cancel out the negative effects of bad karma. Burning one can expand upon what resources the user already has. It may also bring spiritual protection, recognition, or reconciliation.
For Levinbolt: Yellow embodies brainpower and intellect, also cowardice. Burn yellow candles to improve concentration, communication, logic, learning, and action.
For Limestrike: Green candles stand for nature, growth, and healing. They can also be used in dealing with envy, jealousy, and other unhealthy comparisons.