The Harry Potter Alliance began its existence over a decade ago, after founder Andrew Slack realized that fans make the best activists: They’re passionate, progressive, and deeply committed to causes they’ve embraced.
From its early beginnings online and in the shadows of Harry Potter fan conventions in 2005, the HPA has grown into an international organization with 250 chapters worldwide and dozens of successful fan activism campaigns.
So it’s fitting that now, as the HPA celebrates its 10th anniversary, it’s looking forward to systematizing what it does best: bringing fans together and turning them into grassroots organizers and activists.
To this end, the group has created the Granger Leadership Academy—named for the greatest young adult heroine ever, naturally. The “academy” is actually a fan activist leadership training conference open to anyone, regardless of their fan status or even their interest in Harry Potter, though that probably would help you get a little more enjoyment out of panels like “#YesAllWitches.”
The academy’s inaugural run last year was intended to be a purely experimental workshop weekend according to HPA spokesman Jackson Bird. Bird told the Daily Dot by email that what they got was something of a revelation, a positive retreat that touched everyone around—even the hotel staff:
Last year we ran a small beta version in Alabama and people are still talking about the impact it had on them. The hotel employees got so into the event that they surprised the conference with housemade butterbeer on the last night and conference attendees were so psyched about putting their newly honed skills to use that a number of them left the dance party early and held an impromptu organizing session in the hallway.
The goal of the Leadership Academy is to teach fan activist methodology in a conference style setting.
The first official version of the convention will take place March 3–6 in Warwick, Rhode Island. Registration is $50 per person, but a $100 gift pack as part of the Alliance’s current crowdfunding campaign lets you get a swag bundle.
There’s also a fundraiser perk that allows do-gooders to sponsor chapter organizers’ attendance to the convention, including travel and lodging to get to the conference.
Planned programming includes keynote speakers and community-building, as well as sessions covering activism, social justice issues, community organizing, and more. You can also submit your own programming proposal up till Dec. 1.
“The hotel employees got so into the event that they surprised us with housemade butterbeer on the last night.”
“We’ve seen a ton of success and joy with our fan activism campaigns over the past 10 years,” Bird told the Dot, “but they’ve been restricted either to online or to our separate chapters around the world.”
“We wanted to have a physical space where we could bring people together to learn, collaborate, organize, and have fun together.”
The schedule also includes plenty of downtime for Harry Potter fans as well. “At some point, we might all just break out into song,” the programming rundown warns. And there’s already time slated out for a Wizard Rock party.
In other words, it’s a mini-Hogwarts. There’s even an opening ceremony, where we presume everyone gets sorted into their future roles as world leaders.
“Basically,” Bird said, “we think the world needs more Hermiones and we’re in the business of making that happen.”
Accio leaders of tomorrow!
Illustration by helina01/deviantART