The Harry Potter Alliance

When I was at ConQuest in Kansas City this year, I met up with the head of the Harry Potter Alliance, Paul DeGeorge.

What’s the Harry Potter Alliance? Well funny you should ask. The HPA is a charitable organization created by Harry Potter fans.  They take an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize people across the world. They focus on issues like literacy, equality, and human rights.

While it might have started in the Harry Potter fandom, these days people from all different corners of the geek world work with them on their projects. Most notably the Nerdfighters, fans of the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. (As some of you might remember, Amanda is a Nerdfighter).

What do they do specifically? Well, this last year alone, they:

  • Made over 3,000 calls for marriage equality in Maine last November, and it passed.
  • Collected over 30,000 books from fans and donated them to various literacy charities during their Accio Books campaign.
  • Debuted an Apparating Library at LeakyCon London – something of a pop-up convention library where if you donate a book, you can “check one out” at the end of the convention.
  • Launched the Superman Is An Immigrant campaign to collect and share immigration stories, and helped pass the Maryland DREAM Act this summer.
  • Ran a campaign that led over 200,000 Harry Potter fans to ask Warner Bros. about the sourcing of cocoa used in their chocolate frogs.

It turns out that Paul is a fan of my books, so when they started the Apparating Library the first book included was the Name of the Wind.


Here’s the thing: they’ve been doing a lot of cool things, but enthusiasm can only get you so far. Eventually you need money to keep the wheels turning for a charity.

That means every year, the HPA runs an annual IndieGoGo where they give away cool perks in return for donations.

So when they asked me if I’d like to help this year, I threw this into the ring.

HPA Cover Final

(My house on an average day.)

We gathered together a bunch of my previous writings into one place. Ancient blogs and columns that I wrote for the local paper back in the day. I tweaked and edited them. The fabulous Brett Hiorns did a bunch of new illustrations for it. And I added a bunch of footnotes to give historical context or make snarky comments about my past self’s writing style.

Topics include writing advice, the nature of love, and jokes about methadone and monkeys. Plus, you could read a story about a time I was nearly arrested.  Who doesn’t want to do that?

It’s at the $20 tier, and all of that money will go to charity, since it’ll be a digital download that won’t cost them anything to ship out.

[Edit: Over on the donation page it says the booklet is 20 pages long, but I’ve added a bunch of stuff to it since then, so now it’s closer to 30 pages.]

If you’re interested, and you want to help make the world a better place for everyone, feel free to head over to the campaign and contribute.  It’s only running for 5 more days, and the perk won’t be available anywhere else anytime soon, so be sure to go grab yours.

Caffeinatedly yours,


This entry was posted in BJ Hiorns Art, cool things. By Pat42 Responses


  1. itsjusthim
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    OK this sounds fantastic! I don’t want to be that jerk who draws attention away from the current charity, but there is absolutely no way that I could afford to donate in the next 5 days. Is it at all possible that Musings will be available later on through world builders or the tinkers pack?

    • GhostWriter
      Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

      I feel your pain. I’m getting laid off in a couple of weeks.

      Great idea and a great charity. Just bad timing for me. I’d love to pick this up in a month or two. (Provided I don’t end up living in a van down by the river.)

      • Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

        I’ll see what we can do.

        If nothing else, we might end up doing something similar to this for Worldbuilders. Even if it isn’t entirely the same….

        • Bookwyrm
          Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:47 PM | Permalink

          Whatever can be done would be greatly appreciated. I work for the Department of Justice and am currently furloughed for the shutdown. Gotta save my current pennies for food and gas, although this contribution would be a very close third.

  2. Marcus Cox
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    That cover is simply amazing. I’ve been having a rough week and it brought a hell of a smile to my face.

    Do you happen to know if the download is going to be in a PDF format, or is it going to be in one of the many ebook forms?

    • Brett
      Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

      I’m putting together a PDF. It’s not as flexible, but some of Pat’s comic timing has to do with the placement of the photos and illustrations, so having a device re-flow the text might wreck some of the funny. There’s also an embedded video that I really really hope works. Fingers crossed.
      I’m glad you like the cover. Very little of it is made up (for example, I’m pretty sure Pat’s Viking helmet is bronze, not leather).

      • Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

        Thanks for answering, Brett. I was too dumb to field this one.

        • Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

          P.S. Let’s see what we can do to get you some sort of snazzy icon for when you post on here.

          • Brett
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

            I can has icon? The first time I replied to Marcus, I just started a new post. Totally missed the “Reply” link until Amanda fixed it for me.

            Now you’re saying I can have a cool icon like yours? If I try, I may end up destroying the internet.

  3. Bengmac
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    By far the most anticipated reading material I have to look forward to (Other than the final Locke Lamora).

    I always feel warm and fuzzy after donating to charity, but I feel extra damn special when they have these donation incentives. Not because I always expect something for a donation, just that it’s nice when you get cool stuff, there is no better way to make cool stuff even cooler other than by getting it for a donation. Now that’s cool.

    I would feel extremely cold if I missed out on this opportunity, frozen in a sheer state of disappointment yet hot with anger all at the same time.

    Now it is only a matter of time until I get my hands on this. I’m ticking with anticipation.

    Thank you Pat for your endless endeavors to help charities by providing great incentives. It is truly appreciated on all sides of the equation.

    • Marcus Cox
      Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

      Concerning the use of the words “final Locke Lamora”, are you referring to “Republic of Thieves”? And if so instead of “final” do you perhaps mean “most recent”? In case you weren’t aware there are four more Gentleman Bastards novels to come after today’s release.

      • Bengmac
        Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

        I wanted to try and cover up that with some sort of spin such as “Oh no, I meant the finally arriving Locke Lamora” or “Did I say final? My bad, stupid typo, I meant latest.” However, clearly neither of these ideas would suitably bail me out of my unintentional lack of knowledge and would only succeed in making me an internet douche.

        Therefore I must thank you, kind stranger, to making me aware of the continuation of a series that I both love and adore.

        This has been a good day indeed.

        Now, I must get back to finishing “The Wheel Of Time” series.

        *Turns in a slightly over dramatic manner, manages to slip on the newly polished floor but grabs the hat stand for balance. Exits immediately*

        • Bengmac
          Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

          Some time later…..

          Damn, I should of said I meant the 7th book.

  4. ali rahemtulla
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    Alright, can someone clear something up for me? Why are same sex couples after “marriage”, because isn’t that just a label? I mean, sure, legal partnership, but isn’t marriage as it is today something from the Roman times for slaves? Is it for the name? Do people feel slighted? Or are there different perks between marriage and same-sex marriage?

    • GhostWriter
      Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

      I’m sure every couple has different reasons. If nothing else, simplified taxing and insurance, etc. Still, I imagine there are better places on the internet for this discussion than on Mr. Rothfuss’s blog, don’t you?

      • Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

        You’re right Ghost, this isn’t the best place for a discussion of the issue of same-sex marriage. (Though honestly, given the high level of gentility and intelligence among the participants in the comments here, it’s far from the *worst* place for it either.)

        To answer what I think of as the main jist of the above question at face value. “Why do the same-sex people want to be able to get married.”

        The honest answer is “It varies wildly from couple to couple.” And “It’s complicated.”

        But most people I know find one of the huge, central issues is this. Getting married provides you with certain unassailable legal rights. Right now if Sarah and I got married, we would get all those legal rights, easy as anything.

        But if two dudes wanted to get married, they can’t. So they can’t get those legal rights.

        A lot of people think that this is a shitty thing. That it’s unfair and discriminatory. I am one of those people.

        • SilverTpt
          Posted October 9, 2013 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

          It’s unfortunate our current system conflates the legal benefits of marriage with the religious and spiritual.

          This has always seemed backwards to me. Any two competent adults can enter into a contract with each other. Make a particular class of contracts satisfy the legal definitions of marriage, and if you have one of these you are considered, for literally all intents and purposes, married. Prior wedding licenses are grandfathered. This is a really simple law to write! By leaving it exclusively in the realm of contract law it requires a meeting of the minds, so nobody’s going to be marrying donkeys. Or underage, for that matter.

          Problem solved. No more legal discrimination. Anyone who wants to be recognized under their belief system of choice may do so, and while this may be profoundly meaningful for many it carries zero legal weight.

          Unfortunately governments these days seem to be more interested in creating problems than solving them…

      • silencekit
        Posted October 8, 2013 at 9:42 PM | Permalink
  5. Posted October 8, 2013 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Done and done.

    I can’t wait to see Oot in cartoon form!

    Thanks for being such an exemplary human being – and encouraging slackers like me to do the same!

    • Brett
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

      We’re all a little slacker–that’s why we have to stick together. And thanks, by the way, for supporting the HPA.

      Why wait for cartoon Oot? Click the “Musings” cover to embiggen. He’s the one with the pterodactyl.

      • Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

        I first read this post on my phone and I failed to embiggen the photo. I see it now. Excellent work!

  6. Posted October 8, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    So I personally learned of the Nerdfighters when a certain charitable situation popped up recently in Beaverton, OR. There is a man who attends a Christmas show every year that I perform in. He is elderly and deaf. He is also the nicest, most loveable guy you will ever meet. His iPad was stolen while on the Lightrail in Portland. The Nerdfighters and the Portland Singing Christmas Tree (the show I’m in) both raised money to replace that man’s iPad. When we realized that we were both contributing to the same cause we combined our total contributions and were able to replace the man’s iPad and get him some additional swag on top of that. This is the article about that.

    I was genuinely impressed with the Nerdfighters and it will be a pleasure to contribute to their organization in the future, especially if I get a Rothfuss book out of it.

  7. Posted October 8, 2013 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Sounds cool.

    I like this Harry Potter Alliance. Seems fun outside of being a charity.

    Kinda wish this could be published in actual book format though. Guess I’ll just have to print it or something and take it to Office Depot. LOL.

  8. Paper Sheep
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    This was my first time contributing on anything like this. Partly because I haven’t owned a credit card for that long, but also partly because the perk could be sent by email rather then mail. You see, I live in one of those obscure little countries where no-one really ever want to mail anything to. So yay for being charitable and yay for getting to read more awesomeness by Pat!

  9. froregon
    Posted October 9, 2013 at 2:27 AM | Permalink

    True story: In a livestream during Accio Books 2011, HPA director Andrew Slack recommended “The Name of the Wind,” saying something like “You guys, this is going to be the next Harry Potter.” Bought the book, adored it, history, etc.

    • froregon
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 2:34 AM | Permalink

      Oh yeah, and I’m not just a client of the HPA, I’m also a staff member… er…

  10. tanis0
    Posted October 9, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    Does anyone else feel at all weird that a beloved children’s series is being used to promote a political agenda? I happen to agree with the agenda in this case, but it still makes me feel kind of dirty.

    • Thebackpack
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

      I agree, but since the agenda boils down to “more tolerance, less discrimination” I think it is ok.

      • tanis0
        Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

        The problem with that, in my opinion, is that the other side would say their agenda boils down to something like “more morality, less sin” and I’m sure that would sound as reasonable to them as this does to you. I’d have the same issue with it if the Power Ranger Consortium (or whatever is popular with the kids these days) sprang up to oppose gay marriage on those grounds. I think it’s dangerous to say that it’s ok for your side to use sketchy tactics while the other side can’t simply because you’re right and they’re wrong.

        • Thebackpack
          Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

          True, I was referring to the “supporting immigrants” part.

          You are right, but “more morality, less sin” concerning gay marriage is a flawed argument, and the people who use it either: 1. does not understand the reasoning behind it or 2. knows it is flawed but still use it to discriminate.

          • tanis0
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

            To be clear, I agree with you, but that’s not the point. :) The point is that nobody thinks they are the bad guy, so a justification that it’s ok to do shady things (and I personally think co-opting Harry Potter to push a political agenda qualifies) because you’re on the side of good is going to apply to pretty much anything done by pretty much anyone if the only person who gets to judge is the person doing the questionable things. The particular issue isn’t really all that relevant so long as it’s moderately controversial.

          • Thebackpack
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

            Yeah, you are right. However, I still think it should be ok in cases of “less poverty”, “less racism”, i.e. causes without controversy.

            And I guess I am a bit colored by the country i live in, where it is highly controversial to be against gay marriage.

          • tanis0
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

            That I would agree with. For example, it’s much more reasonable for the organization to oppose child slavery, so long as it is also committed to making sure the former slaves don’t starve to death due to lack of economic options after being freed.

          • Thebackpack
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

            Good talk :)

    • Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

      I don’t feel weird about it in this particular case. Mostly because I don’t consider Harry Potter to be simply a beloved Children’s Series. In my opinion, it’s proven itself to be an all ages, all people read.
      Plus and mostly, the story in general promotes a political agenda throughout. Children experience it through Hermoine’s founding of S.P.E.W. and Harry’s founding of D.A.
      They also get to experience and (hopefully) understand, the effects of discrimination when presented with Wizard Race superiority vs Muggles and Mudbloods. Hell, even Houses.
      I mean, it’s pretty blatant throughout the text, so I don’t see why bringing that to life in the real world should be considered wrong. It’s not better to keep everything fictional, and to think JK Rowling wasn’t promoting an agenda of equality to begin with is a bit far fetched in my opinion.

      I guess I just don’t see how this is a sketchy tactic…
      In my opinion, it’s no more sketchy than keeping an issue illegal or pushing an agenda because a religious text agrees or disagrees with it.
      Books are Books in my Book. :)

      • tanis0
        Posted October 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

        Fair enough, it’s entirely possible that it’s just me. It’s the same sort of weird feeling I have when politicians make a “do it for the children” argument about something that has little to do with children. I guess I just don’t get what Harry Potter has to do with gay marriage (which I support), other than the extremely subtle Dumbledore connection which has zero to do with the marriage part.

        I do take slight issue with your characterization of HP as supporting a specific political agenda though. Being against racial discrimination is a pretty non-controversial topic these days in just about all of the world, but even so, Harry and Ron don’t get anywhere near so worked up about SPEW as Hermione. I’d argue that HP didn’t so much make an argument about which side is right as it simply brought it to the reader’s consciousness in a thought-provoking way. For example, most of the house elves don’t even seem to want Hermione’s help and none of the adults seem to think there is a problem, so it’s left to the reader to decide. Expanding that to say that HP makes such a strong case for equality that it should even include marriage equality (even in light of the Dumbledore stuff) is a massive overreach imho, but I don’t know how else one connects the two.

        • Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

          Yah, everyone’s opinion is pretty subjective to their experiences for sure. But it’s an interesting topic of conversation. The way I see it the connection goes like this:

          Gay marriage is an issue of equality and human rights.

          HPA focuses on issues of literacy, equality, and human rights.

          Harry Potter Series deals with issues (among others) of equality and personal rights (maybe not necessarily human)

          I agree that expanding the agenda strictly based on the SPEW example might be far reaching, (okay, it totally is…) but when you look at some of the opinions expressed in Harry Potter, especially on the front of “Blood Traitors” it’s not that far a leap, in my opinion. Though I agree, again, you could look at this subjectively and see both sides, but that’s really in any occasion isn’t it? LOL.
          We’re presented more than once with the fact that a sect of the Wizarding community does not support the idea of marriage between muggles and pure blood wizards. To me, this is not that different from not supporting a marriage between two same sex partners. Both are an issue of equality, so both have some connection, however small, to Harry Potter.

          From my point of view that is. :)

          • tanis0
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

            Out of curiosity, would it bother you if the organization started spending their donations to promote a pro-life / anti-choice agenda? One could make at least as strong a case that the books support defending the helpless and protecting life, which is the crux of the pro-life side’s argument. It’d still make me uncomfortable though.

          • Posted October 9, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

            I can’t say it wouldn’t bother me, as I support the opposite agenda, however I would just choose not to support them any longer. It wouldn’t make me uncomfortable in regards to its relation with the novels.
            Depending on their reasoning and what textual support they could offer for drawing their ultimate conclusion, I could possibly understand why they think differently. The problem with that agenda has always been which human has more rights and they’re a Human Rights charity….so it would make some sense and I’d see the connection.
            Though in my opinion, any textual support for either side of that agenda would be pretty biased toward personal feelings.

            However, I could see how, possibly, depending on a persons interpretation of the text they could potentially say the same about the Gay Marriage agenda. I just personally feel that the novels support this sort of idea enough through out by addressing it in others areas of inequality.
            Maybe if you feel that it doesn’t you should write the HPA and see what they say? Or maybe they have information about why they make the choices they do on their website.

          • tanis0
            Posted October 9, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

            There’s probably not anything they could say to really change the icky feeling I get. It’d be like using Babar to support climate-change advocacy or Winnie the Pooh to support gun control. A convoluted A-to-Z of how they get there isn’t going to help since the issue is that they’re politicizing something to a much greater degree than is in the actual text, and in a way that’s going to be exclusionary to a large portion of the audience. Something just feels wrong about that when we’re talking about kids’ characters. It feels like an assault on childhood I guess.

  11. iampolo
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    Plus 1 for the “awesome cover” comments. It’s just wonderful.

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