Some of you may have noticed a tweet here and there about a project started by a non-profit organization called The Harry Potter Alliance. This is partly due to my (Seth, the Bake it Forward tweeter) obsession with all things Harry Potter, and partly to the fact that The Harry Potter Alliance’s current project is extremely relevant to Bake it Forward’s purpose.
The Harry Potter Alliance is an organization built from the very fuel that drives many great movements: personal interests and passions met with a call to take action. Its founders, Andrew Slack and Paul Degeorge, started with an interest: the Harry Potter story. Something that hundreds of thousands of millennials grew up with. I myself was eleven years old when I started the series and aside from wondering why I didn’t receive an invitation to Hogwarts on my birthday, I instantly felt I could relate with Harry, who was the same age I was. Those who’ve grown up with him have an attachment to the story that’s hard to beat with any other book or movie series.
Even more amazing about the Harry Potter saga is that it serves as a modern mythology for the things we see wrong in our world today (injustice, power struggles, corruption, modern-day slavery) as well as the qualities it takes to make the world better (friendship, humility, courage, will power, education, love). DeGeorge’s and Slack’s realization was that Harry Potter’s famed “Dumbledore’s Army,” which began in the 5th book of the series in order for students of Hogwarts to learn self-defense against the regime of a dictatorial and corrupt headmaster, doesn’t have to exist merely in story. It can be real just as evil is real in our world. The HPA’s mission as a Dumbledore’s Army for the real world is simply to courageously stand up for the less privileged, the silenced and the oppressed in our world as Harry, Ron and Hermione stood up for those of the wizarding world.
Paralleling the Harry Potter story is just one way the HPA connects with young activists. A whole world of fiction fandom, YouTubers, bloggers, and other social media gurus exists and is known by just about anyone who’s ever experienced the Internet. Harnessing this great power is practically second-nature to the HPA and its founders, and since it began in 2005 it’s reached over 100,000 young people and has earned the support of J.K. Rowling herself, author of the Harry Potter series. This momentum has been used, among other things, to send five cargo planes full of life-saving supplies to Haiti in aid of earthquake victims, to donate over 87,000 books worldwide to literacy campaigns, to raise over $16,000 for sending underprivileged kids to Kamp Kiwanis, and in their current campaign, to collect over 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for all Harry Potter-themed chocolate sweets to be ethically sourced.
The HPA’s current project, called “Not in Harry’s Name,” is designed to put pressure on Warner Bros., who is responsible for selling just about all Harry Potter-related merchandise, in order to ensure that the chocolate sold under the brand of Harry Potter be ethically sourced. After several formal communications between Warner Bros. and the HPA’s Andrew Slack, WB, a company who’s failed ethics inspections by Free2Work, simply refused to further explore their chocolate sourcing and has since failed to communicate further on the issue. Since their last communication with WB in November, the HPA has utilized its network of activists to barrage Warner Brothers with personalized letters and YouTube videos from the Harry Potter fandom itself. The HPA has committed to not being silenced in the face of corporate irresponsibility, sending the message that while the powerful in our world can get away with silencing those their products enslave, they won’t stand against those they rely upon to keep selling their products. Given until New Years Day at midnight to respond to the HPA, Warner Bros. failed to send any form of communication. The HPA will continue the pressure until it’s heard that people care about where their chocolate comes from.
At Bake it Forward we place great value in the simple everyday decisions. Decisions like what brand of chocolate we’ll bake into our next batch of cookies given the option to stand against child slavery and support the farmers at its source for a couple more dollars. The Harry Potter Alliance recognizes the power in everyday decisions like these, and won’t stop until Warner Brothers does too. We hope that as you’ve joined us in making just a few more ethical lifestyle changes, you’ll be willing to join the HPA in fighting for a choice that can affect the trajectory of thousands of others’ purchases.