I was the PR executive for the Harry Potter Alliance while I was in university. I absolutely loved the experience for a number of reasons.
- Harry Potter was involved.
- Social justice was involved.
- Public relations was involved.
- Becoming involved with an on-campus club was a great experience.
The Harry Potter Alliance started in the USA in 2005. It is a not-for-profit charitable organization. The HPA uses the Harry Potter series to decrease “world suck”. Campaigns revolve around poverty, literacy, and other social justice issues.
The beautiful thing about the HPA is that it makes activism by using the power of story (words borrowed from the mission statement). The power of fandom, especially in a story like Harry Potter is incredible.
To date there are around 275 chapters in 43 states an 25 countries (again, facts from the website). My alma mater had a chapter (yay!) and it’s actually pretty easy to start a chapter because the HPA headquarters is super supportive and gives you what you need.
*Disclaimer* I should be clear that the idea of decreasing “world suck” is courtesy of the VlogBrothers. They created the Foundation to Decrease World Suck and, by extension, Project For Awesome (P4A), although I don’t know which of the two came first. Any ways, fans of the VlogBrothers are known collectively as Nerd Fighters. The executives in my particular chapter of the HPA were all huge fans of the VlogBrothers, so “world suck” and DTFBA (“don’t forget to be awesome”) were just terms we used a lot. John and Hank Green (AKA the VlogBrothers) have a ton of connections to the HPA, including but not limited to the fact that the Foundation to Decrease World Suck is one of the major donors through P4A.
WHAT DOES THE HPA DO?
The Harry Potter Alliance uses the power of fandom, fantasy and Harry Potter to inspire activism and social change. One of the first campaigns was Helping Haiti Heal. Since then, the campaigns expanded to include Accio Books, as far as I know that’s where people donate books to under privileged schools, communities, libraries, etc., Make It Better, an anti-bullying and LGBT equality campaign, and Esther Day. The current campaigns are Video Creators For Net Neutrality, Odds In Our Favour, and Not In Harry’s Name.
The individual chapters hold campaigns on their own. As far as I know, you aren’t restricted to running the exact same ones that the headquarters are doing. For example, some chapters have an ongoing Accio Books campaign.
A number of celebrities have become involved with the HPA in someway, including Evanna Lynch. For those of you who do not know, Evanna Lynch played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies.
WHAT DID OUR CHAPTER DO?
I found out about my chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance when my friend, who was the president at the time, invited me to the Yule Ball. So yeah, we did that, I was involved in planning the second Yule Ball and they just hosted the third Yule Ball in November 2014 – it’s an annual event. We also played Quidditch, seriously, I was there. The other university in the city had a team and they invited us to come play a game. It was so much fun.
When I became a Public Relations Executive for the HPA, we hosted Hunger Is Not A Game and the Lumos Campaign. Hunger Is Not A Game (HING) was all about hunger, poverty and socioeconomic inequality and was our name for Odds Not In Our Favour, which is a campaign that actually draws on themes from the Hunger Games. HING included booth days, educating other students about socioeconomic inequality, opportunities to donate stuff to a women’s shelter, the food bank, and a few other places. We wrapped up HING with the Yule Ball.
The Lumos Campaign was a campaign for mental health. Again, we used it as an opportunity to educate people about mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and we provided information about local social services for mental health. My favourite part of the Lumos Campaign was the Marauders Art Exhibition. There is some evidence that proves that art is a great benefit to people with some disorders like depression, so that played into our choice to hold the event. We collaborated with the students taking the Medieval Harry Potter, a course held by a history professor at my school who is a big HP fan. The collaboration really helped to get word out about what we were doing. People made art – crocheted scarves and mittens, paintings, drawings, hand-decorated coffee mugs, and more. We had pamphlets for a local counselling agency and one of the men from that organization came out to see how we were doing. At the end of the event we ended up donating over $200 to the counselling agency!
WANT TO GET INVOLVED, DONATE, OR LEARN MORE?
If you want to learn more, get involved, or donate, you can check out the Harry Potter website here.
” The Harry Potter Alliance turns fans into heroes. We’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story. Since 2005, we’ve engaged millions of fans through our work for equality, human rights, and literacy.” – Source: http://thehpalliance.org/
* We believe in magic.
* We believe that unironic enthusiasm is a renewable resource.
* We know fantasy is not only an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it.
* We celebrate the power of community—both online and off.
* We believe that the weapon we have is love.