V is for… Video Creators for Net Neutrality #AZChallenge

With huge thanks to Rhianna for today’s post.

Net neutrality is a principle that states that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform or application.

So why is net neutrality important? Well in May 2014 the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed a plan allowing larger companies to discriminate online and split the Internet into fast and slow lanes. This new plan could allow large companies to slow down its competitors’ content.

Net neutrality is particularly important to video creators. Without net neutrality we would no longer have free internet, this would make it possible for large TV networks to slow down or completely block the video creators who have recently become their competition.

On the 15th September 2014 The Harry Potter Alliance and Today Public Knowledge submitted net neutrality reply comments from over 14,000 video creators. Collectively, the video creators that signed have made videos viewed over 14 billion times worldwide. And they all signed up to collectively say: without net neutrality, what they do wouldn’t be possible.

On the 26th February 2015 the FCC voted for net neutrality. The FCC decided to instigate Title II reclassification this new legislation will stop broadband providers and ISP’s like Comcast from creating their fast lanes and will also stop them from slowing down or blocking traffic online.

So at last a victory for Net neutrality? Well not quite. A group of republicans have introduced a new bill that would invalidate passed net neutrality rules. This new bill introduced by Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, which is called Joint Resolution, allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies.

Comcast- an American cable company- has been at the forefront of the anti-neutrality cause since the beginning and now they are reaching out to their friends in congress to overthrow the new net neutrality.

The fight between Team Internet and Team Cable rages on. Net neutrality has been won but now YOU are needed to defend it.

For more information on the war for net neutrality and to lend you voices in defending your internet go here.


U is for…UK and Ireland Liaison #AZChallenge

Kirsty, our Chapter Organiser (i.e. me) has just taken on the role of UK/Ireland Chapters Liaison. What that means is that she is the link between the HPA and the Chapters in this international location, feeding news back and forward and celebrating the successful campaigns that chapters work tirelessly towards.

At the moment, on the HPA website there are 15 registered UK Chapters and 1 in Ireland.

We’d love to expand this.

If you’ve been inspired by some of things Phoenix Rising have been getting up to and are interested in getting involved – check out the Find a Chapter page to see if there is a chapter near you, or fill in the Start a Chapter form here. You can also find more guidance on starting a chapter on the Chapters Community Forums.

Once registered new Chapter Organisers will work through an online training program, and will have monthly contact with their liaison – as well as being able to contact Kirsty to discuss any challenges they are having.

Currently Chapters can be based in Schools, Universities, Communities or Libraries.

So, are you a school librarian, 6th former or university student that knows a group of people that love Harry Potter and similar stories that would love to take this to the next level by joining a real life Dumbledore’s Army and inspiring social change in their community? Then make today that day.

Image via Pinterest

Tweet Kirsty @kirstyes if you have any questions.

T is for… Teddy Lupin (& Orphans of War)

Thanks to Alex for writing this post for me – excellent research into a new topic.

Teddy Remus Lupin was the first and only child of Remus and Nymphadora Lupin  (Tonks).

Remus and Tonks were both killed shortly after Teddy’s birth in the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving Teddy as an orphan, an orphan of war. Teddy was named after Nymphadora’s father, Ted Tonks. He was raised by his grandmother but also by his God Father – Harry Potter.

Being an orphan of war was something Harry was well aware of, after all he was orphaned in a very similar way.

I am sure we all believe kids are innocent and more than anyone else they do not deserve to feel pain but we also all know it does happen, both in the stories of Harry Potter and in real life.

It is something that, last year especially was in a lot of people’s minds with 2014 being the 100th anniversary of The First World War. Although very few people born in that time are still alive today, there were many orphans of that war. And even more after WWII due to the increased female activity in the war.

But even today, without a world war on our hands there are orphans of war out there, in our world, right now. Children in orphanages because their parents were killed by war, often they would not even have been fighting in the war, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is one massive example of how unfair our world can be.

And when you realise the UN describes an orphan as “ a child who has lost one or both parents.” The number grows even more.

Teddy was very lucky to have Harry as a God Parent, not many orphans have the chance to be cared for and watched over by someone who understands their situation through personal experience and I am sure this helped Teddy grow in to a fantastic wizard. But it will have still, at many times in his life cased him pain, upset and distress – this is natural.

But as hard as the situation is to deal with and for many even imagine we learn a huge amount from Teddy (and Harry too).

The ability to value friendship as much as they both did. To protect those relationships and understand their importance. To realise your past does not define who you are, it may contribute to who you become but it does not have to rule your life. And to use personal experiences to help and support others.

Lumos – a charity set up by J. K. Rowling is devoted to children. J. K. Rowling believes no child should be denied a family life because they are poor, disabled, an orphan or from an ethnic minority. And she created Lumos to help the 8 million children in institutions worldwide to regain their right to a family life and to end the institutionalisation of children.

One of her aims is to replace these institutions with community based services which involve the community. She might not be able to whip up parents with a spell but she knows that a family isn’t always blood. It is those who are within your community. Relatives, friend, or just those you live near, and have things in common with. Family (either blood or created) gives children things they often cannot receive in an institution or orphanage. Things like a caring hug, love and feeling like they belong with others.

Denying children this is proven to be detrimental to children. It can delay emotional development.

And for those children who are orphaned by war it can leave them with a hatred and feeling like they have been cheated.

Several others are orphaned, left, abandoned due to poverty and disability which also can cause problems.

J. K. Rowling points out some harsh statistics on the Lumos website including;

“One study found that young adults raised in institutions are 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution than their peers, 40 times more likely to have a criminal record and 500 times more likely to take their own lives.”

Which is why Lumos is so very much needed. So children, orphans can turn out like Teddy who was raised by his extended family, friends and community rather than (potentially) like Tom Riddle who, after all was raised in an old, dark, dingy orphanage!


S is for… Save St Mungos 

Another super post by Alex today

Did you read Rita Skeeter’s recent story on the increase of cauldron burns due to a new brand of auto-heating cauldrons?


Did you know last month alone there was 127 new cases of Dragon Pox? 

If you didn’t, I don’t know how you missed it! Caring for a young witch or wizard with dragon pox is not an easy task!


A green and purple rash and sparks from the nostrils is quite serious! Especially when the young are involved. One accidental sneeze and the curtains go up in flames!


Every world is full of illness and ailments, I haven’t even mentioned Black Cat Flu or Mumblemumps!


In the wizarding world a lot of things can be cured quickly and simply like when Harry broke his arm playing Quidditch, well ok maybe that was not so simple as Lockheart accidentally vanished his bone! But as Madam Pomfry said “mending bones is easy”, it’s just a quick spell. A bit like us going to a pharmacy to buy paracetamol for a headache. 


But just like our world some things require something a little stronger than a quick spell or some simple paracetamol. We have hospitals and so do witches and wizards. They have the fantastic St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.


If you ever get the chance to visit, it really is a must. Seeing Dragon Pox first hand is something not to be missed!


St. Mungo’s is located in London and was founded by the infamous (in the wizarding world) Healer Mungo Bonham back in the 1600s.


Harry once asked Ron if the people treating the sick were doctors to which Ron replied “doctors? Those Muggle nutters who cut people up? Nah, they’re Healers”. 


Ron’s perception of Muggle doctors might be slightly warped but that is because he has no experience of Muggle doctors or Muggle problems, same as I have little (real) experience of Dragon Pox – only what my dreams show me.


But that aside St. Mungo’s is a fantastic place. Any witch or wizard can walk in off the streets and get help and treatment at no cost – just like our NHS hospitals, treatment is free at the point of delivery. No credit checks, no paying up front or having to waste time finding insurance paperwork – and that really is a good thing when you have a very nasty cauldron burn or are struck down by Vanishing Sickness – an illness that causes the infected persons body parts to vanish one by one. Any time wasted doing a credit check or looking for the right paperwork could lead to them vanishing completely!


Families find comfort and safety in St. Mungo’s. A parent can stay with their child while they are treated for Dragon Pox often saving their home from fire damage from those flaming sneezes!


And the same goes for our NHS. Parents are supported to stay with their sick children. They are made to feel welcome. No child should have to suffer a hospital stay without the comfort of a familiar face. No adult should have to worry when they break a bone tripping up an uneven step how much that plaster cast and x-ray will cost.


But unlike the wizarding world we often (well some of us at least) take what we have for granted. We do not worry about what will happen if it is no longer free or becomes privatised (more than it already is!)


The system may not be perfect, waiting lists might be longer than we’d like but it’s better to wait because the NHS is busy than to not even be given the option to wait because you simply do not have the money to pay for a consultation.


St. Mungo’s offers a universal free service where all witches and wizards are equal. Priority isn’t given to those with more Galleons than the next. Although I am sure Lucius Malfoy would prefer it that way! The Weasley family are far from rich but they are good people. Without St. Mungo’s they may not be with us now! Arthur especially after his injuries battling in the Ministry Of Magic while guarding the prophecy.


Without St. Mungo’s Neville’s brave parents who stood up to Death Eaters would not have a place to be cared for. Katie Bell would not have been saved from the curse she got from the locket she found.


Spattergroit’s highly contagious purple pustules or a bad case of common Piles. St. Mungos is there for all its community and that is reason enough to protect and be thankful free help and treatment is possible. And if St. Mungo’s can last from the 1600s till today and beyond surly our own NHS that has only been around since the 1940s can last many many more years so our children’s children can grow up in a safe community where they know, if they need it medical help it will be there, free of charge and without question for them.

R is for… Reminiscence

Gilderoy Lockhart is a wizard whose special skill is memory charms, namely removing the memories of others so that he can take the glory of their adventures for himself. Not a nice thing to do. He makes the mistake of using Ron’s broken wand and his charm backfires and he loses his concept of himself. 

A specific and long lasting memory charm that affects Muggles is called Dementia and many people live with it. We’ve said already that we’d like to support the Dementia Friends initiative.
You can find out how to get involved yourselves here.
One specific technique that can be beneficial to some with Dementia is Reminiscence therapy. We have lots of different types of memory, and often our longer term memories remain intact. Reminiscence uses images, songs, sounds and objects from our past to create feelings of familiarity and comfort. If you know someone with Dementia you could use old photograph albums, newspaper clippings etc to talk about things that happened when they were younger. 
Start making concrete memories for yourselves too, we keep everything digital now but do keep some hard copy memories. Maybe try scrapbooking or photo/art journaling. 
And, at least we’ll ALWAYS have Harry Potter! 

Q is for… Quidditch

…but, I’m so tired you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out more. 

Here is the delayed post:

In Harry Potter’s wizarding world Quidditch is a sport played on broomsticks.
It consists of teams of seven people: a Keeper, who tries to prevent a ball called the Quaffle entering the three hoops their end of the pitch, three Chasers who aim to get the Quaffle past the opposing Keeper, two beaters who carry bats to whack a ball called the Bludger with the aim of unseating opponents (or protecting their own), and a Seeker who tries to catch the fastest of the three balls, the Golden Snitch. 
All in all it sounds like a fairly dangerous game, and the injuries Harry alone gets in the books shows it isn’t for the faint hearted. 
Like Muggle football, bad feeling can spread between supporters of teams too. Hermione, as always, is accurate in her assessment in the scene below. (Image via Google Books). 
Violence among sports fans or teams is not something that should be condoned, competition is part of life and to be expected, but shaking hands and congratulating the winners at the end of a game should become the norm. 
Of course Muggles have adopted Quidditch and, because of our lack of magic, now run around with broomsticks between their legs, use softballs instead of bludgers and the snitch is a person with a tennis ball dangling behind them waiting to be grabbed. 
I’ve only managed to catch a brief snippet of a game at LeakyCon but I don’t think this is a game that can be taken all that seriously in terms of unfriendly competition. 
Have you been to a Muggle Quidditch game, how was the interaction on and off the pitch?
Have you ever avoided attending Muggle sports because of fear of violence? 

P is for…Phoenix Rising Presents

Short and sweet post today.

I have an idea to run short talks in our local area, on topics linked to Harry Potter themes, to engage the local community in social activism.

This will start with our now postponed introduction to Suspended Coffees and Accio Books.

Other ideas we have are:

Memory Charm – Dementia Friends session

Accidental Magical Reversal Squad – First Aid Training

Care of Magical Creatures – Bat Basics

If you are in the Bournemouth/Poole area – would you attend an event like this?

What else would you like to see on the agenda?

O is for… Odds in Our Favor

Much of the advertising for The Hunger Games movies has focused on the fashions of the Capitol. Now, don’t get me wrong we all like a good fashion show but The Hunger Games series is not about the Capitol, it’s about the inequality in the Districts.

As an early Fandom Forward campaign, the HPA started Odds in Our Favor where it asked people to join the resistance, and share their own three fingered salutes.

They also used each District ‘We Are The Districts’ to represent a different aspect of Equality.

I wrote a few posts to consider different aspects of this.

District One – Healthcare Access
District Two – Homelessness, Housing and Gentrification
District Three – Media Access
District Four – Voting Access
District Five – Unemployment
District Six – Transportation Access
District Seven – Literacy and Education Access

I still have to complete posts on the following, which I plan to do on the run up to the final film – Mockingjay Part 2.

District Eight – Unequal Pay and Gender Disparities
District Nine – Food Security
District Ten – Environmental Justice
District Eleven – Undocumented Workers and Refugees
District Twelve – Violence & Poverty

What other aspect of inequality would you add for District Thirteen?

Inspired? Find out how you can get involved here

I can’t leave this post without sharing Jennifer Lawrence’s haunting rendition of the Hanging Tree from Mockingjay Part 1.


N is for…Neville

With thanks to Alex for another great post – make sure you read to the end, the last sentence made me laugh.

Neville Longbottom is a pure blood wizard who went to Hogwarts and was in the same year as Harry – but I’m guessing you already know that!

Neville’s parents were Aurors and members of the original Order of the Phoenix. About 15 months after Neville’s birth, they were horrifically tortured to insanity by Death Eaters with the Cruciatus Curse. And were admitted to St Mungo’s Hospital leaving Neville to be raised by his strict grandmother.

During the start of his time at Hogwarts Neville was shy, nervous and not someone others would go out of their way to befriend. He lacked confidence and self-esteem.

I’ve heard people say “every school needs a Fat Kid, Neville is Hogwarts’”. Not many people remember that he stood up and tried to stop Harry, Ron and Hermione sneaking out of the Gryffindor Common Room late one night. That act, the ability to stand up to his friends gained him house points, which in turn helped Gryffindor win the house cup. To quote Dumbledore “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends”. And this is just my point. We need to look at Neville and see someone who knew what was right, knew what should happen and as hard as it was, as much as he could have lost some of the only friends he had, he still did it. That makes him one of the bravest characters in the stories in my eyes.

And as his time at Hogwarts went on he grew and grew gaining massive amounts of courage and determination. He became an important member of Dumbledore’s Army, and fought in many battles including the final Battle of Hogwarts.

During the Battle of Hogwarts he stood strong and refused Voldemort’s invitation to join the Death Eaters. It was Neville who destroyed the final Horcrux when he beheaded the snake Nagini.

That’s why I thought N should be dedicated to Neville because of his sheer courage and ability to see right from wrong in a variety of hard situations. And to me this is a very important, especially in this day in age.

Not a day goes past where I see something in the news that makes me think “someone must know” or “why is no one standing up to do anything?”

Today it was in my local paper, the photos of several local shoplifters were released in the hope that someone will recognise them and call the police.

A few months ago it was an investigation into years of abuse of adults with Learning Disabilities in a local care home.

All these acts of crime and hurt didn’t happen in the dark when no one was present so why are they in the news? Because those who really know what happened and were there at the time either would not or could not stand up and say.

Maybe they feel if they do speak out, they themselves would be in danger. Maybe they think it’s just a simple act of a few stolen energy drinks and is not worth reporting. Maybe they do not even think about it. Or they lack faith in themselves, do not think they are strong enough to do the right thing.

They say those who commit big crimes often start small. Maybe if they had been stopped earlier, if someone they knew had stood up to them – like Neville did to Harry in the first film and many others since, just maybe they would have been caught or got help and changed their ways.

I’m not suggesting anyone puts themselves in the face of danger. I’m just saying, don’t let disbelief in yourself or thinking it is not worth the bother being what stops you. If Neville had thought like that the wizarding world would be a very different and probably very dark place! – If Voldermort ever returns, his Boggart will probably be Neville Longbottom!

M is for… Minister of Magic

Fudge, Scrimgeour, Thicknesse, Shacklebolt. Who would you vote for?

The Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter universe is democratically selected and voted on by the public, although the process isn’t really explored all that much in the books. What is explored is corruption within politics, but we are left at the end of the books with a turn around – Kingsley Shaklebolt shaking things up for the better.

Hopefully it hasn’t escaped your notice that a general election is happening in the UK on 7th May 2015. Is it time for a shake up in the Muggle World too?

In 2012 the Harry Potter Alliance in the states aimed to encourage people to use their vote,  and we’d like to do the same here in the UK.
There are many reasons to vote, and I was reminded of this when spotting the first trailer for the film Suffragette yesterday. Voting is a right people have fought for. Women, minorities, people under dictatorships. But voting engagement in the UK – where we have that right automatically has fallen. Figures showed 83.9% voted in 1950, 59.4% in 2001 and 65.11% in 2011  Can we make this year’s even higher.

Interestingly this website doesn’t include deliberate spoiling of voting papers in voter turnout – however personally I think it is preferable to turn up and spoil a paper rather than stay at home. I still believe we should have a none of the above option.

What I’m asking you to do is to explore the issues, there are a number of ‘which party should I choose’ quizzes that summarise the main parties policies and you can see which party best represents your views. Now, there isn’t going to be one party that you agree with 100%, but I think the view I’m going to take is, if my right to vote was taken away who would I have wanted to vote for. For once I’m going to put aside the notion that it has to be between one of the two bigger parties and really vote to affect the change I want to see. Our votes do matter. So who do you want to be your Minister? Apparate to your local booth, that will be open from 7am to 10pm, and let’s make UK voting magic happen.

How do you make a decision on who to vote for? Any handy links that help you make sense of the policies?