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=====The Meeting=====

With the threat of EventTheExecutiveOrder looming, CharacterDennisRedwing saw one chance for the outnumbered and panicking community of therianthropes and mages: Draw them together, commit to action, and speak with one voice. In what would prove to be one of the most enormous political coups of TTU's early eras, he secretly gathered around 2,000 compatriots, held a discussion long into the night, and secured broad approval for an aggressive, united response that would define EraSchismAndStalemate.

===Event Information===

**Date:** [[TheWednesdayRule Wednesday]], Jan. 8 - Thursday, Jan. 9, 1997
~- **Era:** EraNationOnTheBrink
**Location:** Unknown wilderness area - see notes
**Major Characters:** CharacterDennisRedwing

==Summary==

In the silence following EventTheExecutiveOrder, rumors started quietly filtering out among some mage and therianthrope circles of a big plan ... a response to the order that would make humanity sit up and take notice. Those who were lucky enough to hear more than just rumors found themselves invited to a meeting to discuss the details. The details of what? It hadn't been quite worked out yet. How big of a meeting? //... Big.// All they had to do was keep a low profile until Wednesday night so that theris and mages could speak with a united voice once everything was settled.

Arrangements were made to contact each attendee at a certain time and place. A mage showed up and they linked hands. The world dissolved around them ... and a rush of vertigo and cool evening breeze announced their arrival Somewhere Else.

A staff member -- identifiable by a yellow T-shirt or armband, and a name badge -- escorted the new arrival out of the teleport circle and quickly explained ground rules and schedule. The green-armbanded mage disappeared for another pick-up. And the attendee turned around to take in a sea of faces -- furred, fleshed, scaled, all wearing looks of awe at such a gathering of kinfolk.

Redwing took to the stage once most of the participants had arrived, and laid out the situation: In 24 hours their life would change forever. They were all there because they wanted a say in that change; the only certainty was that a divided response would allow opponents to pick them off one by one, and a show of solidarity would give them a voice. Should they cooperate? Flee? Hide? Stand firm? Or fight? That was what they had to decide.

Redwing stressed that he wasn't going to pitch an idea at them -- he wanted a real consensus, not just a vote on one person's plan. And with that, he asked the two thousand attendees to split up into groups of 10 -- to discuss their options, and come up with good plans and persuasive arguments.

Redwing and other staff members immediately started circulating through the breakout groups, listening in, asking questions, passing on other groups' solutions ... and occasionally bringing groups with opposing ideas together to let the best ideas clash. The night quickly slipped on, punctuated with occasional announcements from the stage -- summaries of current hot topics, news announcements, reminders to stay civil, and offers of aid once the possibility of war started getting discussed.

Out of the chaos grew something like a consensus. Simply speaking out to condemn the Order was the first compromise, because it was an alternative nobody hated. But as the night wore on, it became clear that was also an option nobody //liked//. Calls for action grew, then moderated, then split and reformed; in the end, the idea of sending a warning backed by a credible threat gained prominence.

As attendees with less stamina dropped off to sleep, the fiercer arguers started getting bogged down in minutiae. But by that time, the consensus was fairly clear. Redwing circulated among the die-hards, while the less passionate let their debates stall and drifted into socialization.

And that was the situation as morning started approaching. Too fatigued to draft the nuanced statement the die-hards had been arguing about for hours, Redwing condensed it down to its blunt and bare essence: //"No. And if you make us, there will be war."//

He took to the stage one more time, summarizing the night's work and issuing a heartfelt plea for unity. "I'm not asking you to sign this because it's what you agreed to, or what you want," he said. "I'm asking you to sign this because after talking for hours, our deadline is here, and this is what we've decided is our best shot. Don't sign this because you believe it's right ... sign it because you believe in us. Because you believe that what we are really //is// worth fighting for. Sign it because we only have one chance, and better one chance than none at all."

Two thousand strong, they signed it. Then they drifted home from their all-nighter. The rest was history.


==Immediate Reaction==

When CharacterDennisRedwing released the declaration on the morning of Jan. 9, it immediately exploded into the day's only news story. The media frenzy over EventTheExecutiveOrder was already in high gear, and with such a high-profile development less than 24 hours from the deadline, most networks switched to continuous, live coverage of what seemed like an inevitable battle.

Public opinion immediately polarized and fractured -- splitting, the day's scant polling data shows, against theris. But there was no time for the public to make an impact before deadline pressures forced politicians' hands. With theris ready to lash out and the controversy over the Order itself still a fresh sting, the White House backed down.

Redwing was initially conciliatory in victory, but his platitudes and overtures withered in the face of a redoubled political attack. With relocation camps ruled out and the public still frightened, right-wing lawmakers immediately convened a special session of Congress and pushed through legislation that was as harsh and restrictive toward theris and mages as they thought they could get away with. As pressure was coming from a broad front of legislators instead of a single source, and as a narrow majority of Americans was apparently backing the moves, Redwing retreated from confrontation rather than turn into the aggressor. The rest would be settled in the courts -- and in the court of public opinion.


==Aftereffects==

The Meeting would ultimately leave a bitter political atmosphere for months (or years) to come; see EraSchismAndStalemate for details.

Redwing's popularity, especially, took a long and painful dive. While nobody denies he saved American theris from an ignominous fate, he gained a reputation among humans as, at best, a revolutionary -- and a reputation among theris (many of whom felt that the political response should have been enough to provoke his promised war) as a sellout. He would eventually re-emerge and struggle to reclaim some respect as a moderate voice, but The Meeting was the end of his reign as a universal celebrity.

However, most of the attendees would hold fond memories of the event. The Meeting's pivotal nature and its huge-yet-intimate structure forged strong bonds between break-out group members. Many people exchanged contact information among their group and kept in touch afterward, sometimes kindling lifelong friendships. And several theri/mage communities trace their origin back to The Meeting; halfway through the night, after hearing pleas from theris desperate to find safety should war break out, event staffers called for -- and spread word of -- attendees willing to accept potential refugees.


===Timeline===

//All times are local//
**Jan. 6**
~- After the announcement of EventTheExecutiveOrder, CharacterDennisRedwing releases a brief response and immediately gets to work contacting friends and allies. Word of his plans begins filtering through mage and theri communities.
**Jan. 7**
~- **Morning:** The first RSVPs start arriving.
~- **Afternoon:** Redwing starts escorting staff volunteers to the chosen site; by most accounts, the teleport beacon was running by about 11 am and boosted for the teleport squad's use by 6 pm. On-site preparations begin after sunset.
**Jan. 8**
~- **3:30 pm:** The teleport squad starts contacting attendees (East Coast adults have gotten home from work, and some younger attendees are done with college/high school classes for the day) and bringing them on-site.
~- **~6:30 pm:** Teleporters start trying to round up the last batch of attendees (largely west coasters); most of those on-site have been socializing and many are sharing a brief dinner before the real action starts.
~- **6:56 pm:** Redwing takes to the stage to begin the event and explain the evening's structure. After a lengthy introduction of staffers and available amenities -- and a brief summary of the issue facing them and the questions that should be discussed -- the breakout groups assemble.
~- **7:22 pm:** Amid the soft glow of magical lights and a few campfires, 2,000 people burst into animated chatter.
~- **7:25 pm:** Staffers realize that, as usual, something critical got forgotten in the rush of planning, and Redwing is urged back to the stage for a brief announcement and request. A background-noise-reduction spell is hastily assembled, and for the next 4-6 hours, virtually everyone with magical skill will be contributing energy to it.
~- **~7:30 pm:** The evening begins settling into an equilibrium, with ideas filtering among and between groups; the discussions are punctuated by regular announcements on event status, attendee requests or offers, etc.
~- **Midnight:** Discussions continue -- slowing down, and fueled by increasing amounts of caffeine and stay-awake spells.
**Jan. 9**
~- **~1 am:** A broad consensus has developed for the action that would eventually become the Declaration, and attendees have started seriously losing focus -- many dropping into sleep or devolving into idle chatter. Around this time, those still trying to hash out details or plan strategies have regathered closer to the stage in a group of perhaps 500; this dwindles to about 200 over the next four and a half hours, though many others are still awake and socializing.
~- **5:30 am:** Redwing makes a long-before-dawn announcement (sunrise would come at about 7:30) to wake up the sleepers and point the starving toward what breakfast is available.
~- **~5:50 am:** Redwing unveils the result of the night's work and makes his plea for unity. Signature-gathering starts, with Redwing asking those who need to get home before being missed (it's already nearly 8 am Eastern time) to cut to the front of the lines.
~- **~6 am:** The first wave of attendees starts returning home. Others linger to enjoy the metaphorical calm before the storm.
~- **~8 am:** Redwing, who has been delaying his departure as long as possible so that news of the Declaration doesn't beat attendees home, finally decides he can't put it off any longer. He bids the remaining attendees farewell and heads to Washington, D.C. to announce an impromptu press conference.
~- **~9 am:** Most attendees have returned home except for staff members and lingerers. The latter are shooed out and staffers begin final site packdown, which continues throughout the day. The teleport beacon's boost is removed.
~- **~2 pm:** One final site sweep is made, and Redwing returns to escort the last staffers off-site. (... And (spooky voice) //nobody ever sees the valley again.// ;-))

===Further Reading===

==Story Appearances==
{{category header="0" col="4" only="Story,Culturalia"}}
==Story Excerpts==

~"It was a little after breakfast the next mornin' that the wolf-man showed up. --- He was wet head to toe, wearing a rain slicker torn in half a dozen places. The Red Cross workers, and two burly firemen, talked to him for a long time. After a while the sheriff showed up, and then they talked even more. Nobody was real sure what was going on up front -- not until word started passing back from the guys at the TV. --- The Beast had declared war, they said." - StoryShelter

==Other Associated Pages==
{{category header="0" col="4" exclude="Story,Culturalia"}}

===Other Information===

==Logistics==

The logistical challenges of a 2,000-person meeting -- not to mention transportation for all the attendees -- are hard to overstate. Much of Redwing's 48 hours of full-time discussion and networking were spent on assembling a staff and handling the organizational issues.

Ultimately, one of the critical factors that kept The Meeting on track was a large group of theris with directly relevant experience: Convention organizers. With events such as [[FurConium Furconium]] already running at nearly that size, con staffers who committed to help Redwing found themselves up to the challenge of many of the logistical hurdles. Lavatory facilities, food, water, location setup, and attendee-herding were quickly delegated. Other old convention hands found themselves improvising the audiovisual system for the pseudo-stage used to speak to the crowd; working as on-site media (in charge of photographing or recording the event so as to supply proof of its existence); buying a few score matching T-shirts and bandannas for staff to help them stand out; and playing mediator when breakout groups' debates got too heated.

Redwing turned to another source for transportation: mages. He was very insistent that all the attendees be teleported to a remote location rather than arriving by more conventional means. He first turned to several of the mage circles he was acquainted with; word filtered out slowly from them, and ultimately by the deadline about 100 mages -- virtually all of the attendees that knew how to or could be immediately taught to teleport -- were pressed into service. All of them had an exhausting time, spending several hours before and after The Meeting simply shuttling people back and forth (on top of the full night of discussions).

The convention veterans, naturally, coined the teleportation squad the event's "gofers."


==Attendance==

The figure most commonly cited for Meeting attendance is 2,000 people, which is a good estimate given the confusion around the actual figure. Several different groups of staffers were meticulous about attendance records -- they didn't want to leave anyone stranded in the middle of nowhere after the event wrapped up -- but none of their figures agreed. The differences probably could have been sorted out given the luxury of time, but shortly after The Meeting ended, Redwing shredded most of the data to keep the government from getting ahold of his lists and tracking down attendees en masse.

The event planners say they recorded RSVPs from 2,123, approximately 300 of which the teleport team was unable to contact, for a total attendance of about 1,825. Some of those "no-shows" were certainly there, though -- a number of attendees arrived in groups and the gofers' alphabetical-by-time-zone contact lists didn't reflect that.

The staff members tracking arrivals and departures say raw head count at the teleport circle was 1,994 -- plus the 92 gofers, for a total attendance of 2,086 -- but that counted total arrivals/departures rather than unique guests.

The Declaration contained 1,871 signatures, and staffers estimate over 90% of those present signed it.


==Non-Attendees==

While a gathering of 2,000 therianthropes and mages was a powerful and unprecedented statement, Redwing was hardly able to invite everyone who would have been interested. Perhaps 4 in 5 American theris were nearly as surprised by the declaration as the rest of the country ... and no small number of them would be disappointed or hurt at their "exclusion." And non-American theris were almost totally left out as well (though some were tapped as event staff).

Another 1 in 10 American theris heard hard details of the event, but either chose not to go or were unable to attend for personal reasons (largely, they didn't want to vanish and thus "out" themselves). The need for secrecy was stressed both to those who attended and to those who declined. Either because of this or because the invitees were chosen for discretion, no word of the event (beyond rumors and conspiracy theories -- which, in this case, proved accurate!) leaked out to the wider world until Redwing's declaration.

Reaction among theris that weren't invited was far more split than among attendees. Many who hadn't had a full night to discuss the consequences were uncomfortable with the idea of violent resistance. However, since Redwing's guest list included most of the theris with early media prominence, the anti-war voices were hard to find in the declaration's aftermath. That, plus an enthusiastic response from Redwing's supporters, helped preserve the myth of a monolithic, organized movement far beyond The Meeting's guest list. It was only with the passage of time that the truth began to show.

Several hundred theris (a relatively tiny proportion) actually obeyed EventTheExecutiveOrder before Thursday morning. As the camps at which they gathered were situated at military bases, there was initially a great deal of concern that the theris were spies sent to disable or take over armed forces facilities in case of war. Many of these theris suffered harsh treatment at the hands of frightened captors; one base actually threw its theri population out at gunpoint and forced them to flee into the desert -- barely unwilling to kill them and completely unwilling to leave them on-site.


==Location==

Oddly, for such a well-attended event, the location of The Meeting has never been positively identified.

Redwing's later writings say that he found a huge, secluded and unused area in "a national park" (he refused to add further details, and anyone else who knows them hasn't told); the site had no roads, trails or other evidence of human influence, and was located in a grassy valley surrounded by forests and snow-capped mountains.

None of the attendees has said they recognized that valley. And none can provide any sort of detail about the area beyond line of sight. Everyone (even staff) was teleported in; arriving attendees were asked not to leave the site; and the event was urgent enough that there was no chance for exploration. Between that and The Meeting's timing (no daylight, except at the end when everyone was signing the declaration and heading home), it's little surprise that those who later tried to locate the site found their searches fruitless.

This is apparently true even for the squad that teleported the attendees in -- a disturbing tidbit that has quietly circulated around mage circles. However, the significance of this is up for debate; many of the gofers point out that they were fixing on the strong teleport beacon set up for the event, not the location itself.

The weak consensus among the teleporters that tried to get a lock on the area is that the event was held somewhere in the eastern Rockies -- if nothing else, this matches the time changes as they teleported cross-country. Others point out that this makes no sense geographically: Though nippy, the site's temperature was well above freezing, and there was no sign of snow. Those are definitely not characteristic of the Rockies in January.

Some theris quickly suggested, only half-jokingly, that Redwing got Earth's cabal of secret masters to loan him Shangri-La for the evening. It says something about Redwing's reputation that this theory became one of the leading explanations among those who bothered to investigate the event.


==Other Notes==

The Declaration was the product of Redwing's tired mind -- a quick distillation of several paragraphs of resounding yet conflicting moral proclamations, finely crafted and poorly assembled language, and delicate hair-splitting. While the blunt and brief language had impact that a dull argument by committee couldn't, Redwing himself would quickly regret it.

He wrote in a later memoir that while his summary was unquestionably necessary, the first round of screaming newspaper headlines -- 'THERE WILL BE WAR'; CIVIL WAR LOOMS; THERI THREAT; NO CAMPS OR ELSE -- firmly convinced him for many months to come that he had made an awful mistake.


==Writing Tips==

The Meeting was an epic event -- in scope, in execution, and in impact. It was undeniably one of the pivot points around which TTU swung. And in the charged days of January 1997, it was the central focus of virtually everyone in the nation. Write accordingly.


===Feedback===

Discuss this event here or in comments.

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CategoryEvents
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