You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

PD+ This Thurs 1pm: How the Harry Potter Alliance Turns Fans Into Activists, One Muggle at a Time

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 25 2012

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's PDPlus teleconference with Andrew Slack, the founder of the Harry Potter Alliance--not because I'm a fan of the books, but because I'm intrigued to learn more about how you can convert fans into activists, and how the web makes that easier. We live in a world driven and distracted by pop culture, and while that may mean lots of brands spend lots of time trying to convert their consumers into their promoters, fans of various icons, books and movies are also creating their own autonomous spaces that can have political value. The read-write web, of course, as Henry Jenkins most memorably argued in his writings on Participatory Culture, makes this process of fan-driven expression and celebration a lot easier to do.

Into the new mix of challenges and opportunities Andrew Slack entered as a comedian with a love for Harry Potter and a passion to change the world. The Harry Potter Alliance practices what Slack calls "cultural acupuncture," that is, "finding where the psychological energy is in the culture, and moving that energy toward creating a healthier world." HPA has a staff of more than 60 volunteers, 85 chapters, and a network that reaches more than a million people. On that backbone, it has sent five cargo planes of aid to Haiti, donated tens of thousands of books, and contributed to a variety of political causes.

I'm hoping we'll be able to drill down into the details: How did HPA get started? How much of HPA is web-based? How important is it to have local chapters with face-to-face meetings? Would it help or hurt HPA if it wasn't an entirely volunteer-driven organization? How do HPA members decide what they want to work on? And where are some other places in today's culture where Slack sees an opportunity to stick some needles and draw out some energy?

To get on the call, just RSVP here.