Candlelight vigil ignites hope

2013 has been a trying year for Santa Monica College student Jessica Hudson. Within the span of six months, the Texas native has withstood a collapsed roof, a broken wrist, and most recently, a shooting on her college campus. This series of unfortunate events would be enough to make most Santa Monicans ball up in the fetal position. Hudson, however, was motivated to make an impact in her community.

“I felt a pang in my heart to do something,” Hudson said. “I wanted to create a platform for people who wanted to talk or to meet up.”

On June, 13, at 7:30 p.m. approximately 50 locals gathered to pay their respects to the dead. The intimate affair featured live painting, music and an opportunity for those in pain to reach out to others feeling the same.

Hudson, who openly admitted to being scared of returning to school, has only been to campus twice since the shooting, and missed the school sponsored vigil due to a final.

Unsatisfied with the current outlets for grieving, Hudson was compelled to have her own independent ceremony.

“Although school is a great place to have an event, I don’t think that everyone feels 100 percent comfortable going there, because the incident occurred there,” she said.

In less than a week the 23-year-old Anthropology major decided to organize a candle-light vigil at Clover Park for Santa Monica residents and SMC students not ready to return to campus.

“I didn’t know what to do and didn’t feel like anyone was stepping up to the plate to organize something outside of school,” she said.

Singer/songwriter Anastasia Nichole was honored to be able perform in commemoration of those who lost their lives. Nichole’s final song was a blessing in her own derived language that she calls “Soul Language.”

“I allow whatever I feel in the moment to come forth. With soul language I hold an image in my mind as I’m speaking, and as I’m singing, so hopefully the people will feel what I’m projecting,” said Nichole.

Third Street musicians Matt and Kika were in attendance as well as the Los Angeles artist simply known as Leba. Leba painted an original piece for the vigil entitled “Above.” The painting depicts a man and woman holding a heart above a broken arrow.

“The painting is about people coming together to put back the heart of the community, and rise above violence,” said Leba.

The Clover Park vigil showed Santa Monica coming together. Hudson, who received more support than she anticipated, is now considering making the gathering a recurring event.

“If there’s enough responses, I’m totally down to organize things and get people out and active in the community,” Hudson said. “We shouldn’t wait for tragic events to have something like this."