Graphic above attributed to Karen Kavett.
With the first book that was more than mildly interesting to a large group of people came the fans, and then, more recently, the fandoms. Fandoms are groups of people who all follow the intricacies of a show, book (singular or series), or a podcast.
Basically, fans are people who care a lot about something. ‘A lot’ being a relative term that can sometimes be a gross understatement.
The question is, what do they do with that enthusiasm and excitement? I’m sure you could ask anyone who writes for this website, but personally, I have loud and hurried conversations about everything that I love, and I rewatch, reread, and try to connect with people who like the same things. And that’s it. All that enthusiasm is an untapped resource, but according to organizations like the Harry Potter Alliance, we should be using that enthusiasm in efforts towards social change.
The Harry Potter Alliance was founded in 2005, and since then has worked to accomplish many things, like helping Warner Brothers change how their Harry Potter chocolate is sourced, so it can be 100% UTZ or fair trade.
From donating books to raising money for critically needed supplies to Haiti, the HPA seeks to use the “renewable resource of enthusiasm for social change”. If you look on their website, the Harry Potter Alliance believes in magic, love as a weapon for change, and the concept of unironic enthusiasm as a renewable resource.
Look no further than one their key values to understand what kind of organization they are:
Knowing that fantasy is not only an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it
They also endeavor to celebrate both online and in real life (IRL) communities.
I think that these two values separate the HPA from just any ol’ fan club. They acknowledge that although the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts is great, there are real problems beyond the pages of our favorite book series that can be fixed with enough work and determination.
The power of a community like HPA is something I hope to be a part of with the same level of enthusiasm for the rest of my life. I am drawn to their values for two reasons:
- They acknowledge that there are different types of communities, and it legitimizes online communities that often are seen as worthless or not real.
- They call into the mind an image of a bunch of nerdy people fighting, and winning. Our power is in representation and tabling and campaigning, and it is powerful, because it changes lives and the world.
The HPA is currently working on a bunch of campaigns such as Fan Works are Fair Use, focusing the awesomeness of fan made creations, Positive Fandom, which is working to create guidelines for a “more positive fandom”, Fandom Forward which are toolkits that help fans think about current issues, and lastly Accio Books, which basically a magical book drive.
The Harry Potter Alliance’s work doesn’t stop there, they are planning events such as The Granger Leadership Academy, and others.
If you’re wondering what to do with your unironic enthusiasm check the Harry Potter Alliance out, join a chapter, and continue to be awesome!
Miranda is a college student studying Adventure Education and Sustainable Agriculture. Don’t let all that outdoorsy-ness fool you, when the Deathly Hallows came out Miranda was at the release party. Other nerdy credits include having deep discussions about various book series on reddit, tumblr, and twitter. She loves Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, the Delirium series, basically anything dystopian and the community of Nerdfighteria. You can find her on twitter @genderisweird, check her out on her blog and tumblr.