Eh -- The Harry Potter Alliance?
The most common response you’ll get when you say the phrase “Harry Potter Alliance” is a giggle, followed shortly by an “Oh, you’re serious.”
Oh yes, we are.
The Harry Potter Alliance is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive social change through the lens of the Harry Potter book series. For many Harry Potter fans, the end of the series marked not a close, but a renewed desire to continue to celebrate the characters and the world we’d come to love.
As it turns out, the wizarding world isn’t so different from ours: as muggleborns are discriminated against for their identity, so are countless identities in our own world; as dementors suck the happiness from their victims, so does the real-life dementor of depression; and just as Harry and his friends felt compelled to make their world better, so do the fans of the series we all grew up in.
I was certainly one of those fans, and as both a card-carrying nerd and a social change advocate, the Harry Potter Alliance seemed to be the perfect union.
Since September 2011, the UA Harry Potter Alliance has grown to become one of the largest and most active chapters in the country. Every semester we begin with a Sorting Ceremony – yes, there is a hat – for members to select the House they’ll be working with that semester.
Each of our Houses works on one of our four areas of social change: Gryffindors for equality, Ravenclaws for literacy, Slytherins for sustainability, and Hufflepuffs for self-esteem. Our projects have ranged from planting trees in community gardens to paying for tux rentals for homeless high school students so that they could attend their prom.
The month of April marks our first time participating in the Harry Potter Alliance’s annual book drive: Accio Books (“accio” is a spell to summon things). It’s a campaign that’s near and dear to our hearts – after all, where would I be now if I’d never gotten the opportunity to read a book in the Harry Potter series? Sometimes things that look like plain old books are actually tickets to the Hogwarts Express, and no one should miss out on that.
So here’s what comes after the “Oh, you’re serious" comment: “That’s awesome!”
What the Harry Potter Alliance has taught me more than anything is that we really don’t need magic to transform our world, just a whole lot of love – and maybe a little boy with glasses and a lightning shaped scar to remind us to be brave.
Photos courtesy of Brittani Phillips
University of Arizona in the News