LAFAYETTE — A group of young professionals wants Acadiana to remember its roots in French.
So FrancoJeunes, a small group of French-speaking Louisiana professionals, has dedicated its free time to promoting that culture and supporting French-friendly businesses. The group, started in 2007, aims to further engage French speakers, especially young professionals, in Louisiana’s Francophone community.
The group encourages bilingual signage and services, as well as an increase in the visibility of French in the community. It contributes to the cause by hosting “Piastres en Masse,” a cash mob, on the third Saturday of every month.
“We decided to start Piastres en Masse to increase the visibility of French and French-friendly businesses,” FrancoJeunes member and teacher Mandy Migues, 31, said. “We did this partly to tell these businesses that do it already thank you and show the economic power to having a French-friendly business.”
A cash mob uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to bring a large number of patrons to a business during a set time and encourages them to spend money. The group first heard about a cash mob that took place in Philadelphia and decided to adapt the idea to Lafayette.
The monthly cash mob began this summer, and the December event brought FrancoJeunes to Cajun Spice Gallery, a gallery and gift shop at 535 Jefferson St. that includes French-speaking staff.
FrancoJeunes member Valerie Broussard Boston, 31, a doctoral student, stood outside the business with her infant and greeted customers in French. The group encourages patrons to speak French in public, even if just to say “bonjour,” “merci” or “au revoir.”
The group also has visited BiBi’s Patisseire, Breaux’s Mart, Johnson’s Boucaniere, the Boudin Cook-Off and the Blue Moon Saloon, all in Lafayette.
“We’d like for more people to recognize us. Our goal is for Piastres en Masse to be as recognizable as Art Walk and for people to be looking for us and asking, ‘Where are they going to be this month?’ ” Migues said.
The group does more beyond Piastres en Masse. FrancoJeunes launched in late June the “100,000 Cajuns, Creoles and Friends of French in Louisiana,” or 100kLA, a fundraising campaign to raise the money to make up for $100,000 in state budget cuts to the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, or CODOFIL.
The campaign culminated Aug. 26 during the “Lache Pas” benefit concert at Cochon Restaurant, which attracted about 1,500 supporters.
Last year, the group hosted Le Camp de Jeunes during Grand Reveil Acadien, a gathering of Acadians in Louisiana. All that came after the group began meeting formally in 2010 after three years of informal meetings at the Blue Moon. It has plans to return to its beginnings although details have not been formalized.
“Instead of doing French table, we want to do a French Happy Hour for people to come and mingle,” Migues said.
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