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?

L is for… Love

With thanks to one of our new members Vicki (who we haven’t actually been able to meet yet) for today’s post.

 

‘Omnia vincit amor’ Translated from its original Latin form to; Love conquers all. It is a phrase that has been quoted repeatedly throughout history. The Harry Potter Alliance say ‘The Weapon We Have is Love.’ How true is it that love is indeed a weapon, and can it actually conquer all?

Harry Potter, although fictional serves us well here to give us an example of love conquering all. The main underlying theme of Harry Potter running throughout is indeed Love. Whether it be the love of Harry’s parents still protecting him despite their death, the love shared between Harry and his friends or Snape’s infamous undying love for Lily which meant he sacrificed his whole life to protect her child, despite that child not even being his. It is this love that leads to Harry and his friends conquering evil, and ultimately it is Voldemort’s inability to love that led to his demise.

But how true is this to life?

The ability to love is inbuilt in us from the day we are born. Love for our family, for our friends, for lovers and even for other species and for strangers. Love is ever present in our lives and like Harry we are stronger for it. It gives us hope, and a reason to fight.

Think about hostages of war, which unfortunately we still see to this day. When they are rescued and arrive home, the one image we all have is that shot of them greeting their family at the airport. That deep rooted love must play an enormous part in them surviving despite the odds. No matter how hard it gets the determination to come home to them overrides it all. This is where love is weapon, if you have something really worth fighting for you will succeed.
Take a wife who nurses a comatose husband every day for months on end, parents who give up their lives to care for a disabled child. Or soldiers who fight for the love of their country, strangers who dive into a burning building to save a child. Not forgetting smaller but by no means less important gestures; charity workers who toil away for no pay, someone buying a hot cup of tea for a homeless person, a child that stands up for a friend being bullied, even dogs sitting by their injured owner to protect them. All of these things and more prove that love is all around us and it is truly the greatest weapon we have.

 

K is for… K or no K?

Another great post by Emily.

Truth be told there is no ‘K’ in J.K. Rowling. Joanne Rowling was advised to use a pen name by her publisher due to fears that young boys would be put off. Therefore Rowling decided to go by J.K. Rowling, using the name of her grandmother ‘Kathleen’. There is more about this here.

It is a pity to think of how many people would have, or have not read Harry Potter based on Rowling’s gender. It is even more of a shame to think of other writers who could have done better if they were “hidden”. Even the Brontë sisters hide their identities under pseudonyms in order to get some of their work published. But even though J.K. Rowling was advised to use her initials, was it really necessary? Are there really great gender differences in reading?

There has long been a fear that boys fall behind the girls in reading and writing skills and much research has come about as a result. A paper by the Canadian Council on Learning (2009) reported that girls read more for enjoyment, outside of class and feel more confident reading than boys do. They found that boys tend to not value reading as an activity and see themselves has having lower reading skills than girls. It is an interesting paper to read.

Manuel & Robinson (2003) also identified the assumptions that teenage boys don’t read as much fiction as girls and don’t like books, but they later dispute these findings by finding that 50% of boys and 40% of girls read for 2 hours or more a day.

So perhaps it is more of a belief we hold as a society about boys and reading. May be we choose to think boys just are not interested. However, there is no doubting that Harry Potter has had some effect to reading. The Harry Potter effect has been noted, as giving reading a cool factor. Harry Potter became so big that you couldn’t ignore it; you were almost forced to know about it.

I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until last year (shhhh I know!). I had always loved the films but really disliked reading as a child. Only within the last couple of years have I actually become a book worm with a book shelf shortage issue. The first series I read that really got me into reading was the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. This was only because my friends were talking about it so much that I wanted to join in with it.

I don’t know… Is it to do with being a woman that makes boys appear so disinterested in reading? Possibly it could be because we assume that boys just won’t be interested. Boys aren’t supposed to into reading, right? So maybe we just need to talk about the books we enjoy more. We need to stop assuming that boys don’t like reading, or that reading is nerdy and therefore only for nerdy people. Reading is a private experience, but it is also a shared experience and the only way to beat this stigma with boys reading is to open up (like a book…. Hehe).

 

 

J is for…Jelly Bands still for sale

Oops – totally forgot to post yesterday.

Anyway this was just going to be a quick update to say that our jelly bands are still for sale and proceeds still going towards the various causes as outlined in this post. Details on how to buy are all outlined there too.

Look how flaming pretty they are!

Phoenix Rising Jellyband

 

I is for Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you were awol from all social media last summer, you can hardly have escaped witnessing the viral phenomenon that was the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Motor Neurone Dystrophy, as it is known in the UK or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s Disease as it is known in the States is a devastating condition which, prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge, received very little attention.  The ALS association state that prior to last summer less than 50% of Americans had heard of the condition.  By the end of the summer they had recieved more than $100 million in donations.  Donations to the MNDA in the UK eclipsed £7 million.

The premise was a simple one: once nominated you have 24 hours within which to make a donation in aid of ALS/MND, or you must receive a bucket of ice and water…over your head.  Once your participation, be it financial or chilling, was completed you in turn nominated three tributes to face the challenge themselves.  The challenge grew increasing momentum with celebrities, athletes, politicians and civilians posting their videos online and making their nominations, and the money came pouring in.

Now here at Phoenix Rising we do not shy away from good causes.  When three of our intrepid members were nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge, it was an easy decision to make.  We donated.

 

Oh, and faced the Ice Bucket as well, for good measure.