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Muggles in action: Minnesota Harry Potter fans join activism alliance

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There are no pure-bloods in Austin, Minnesota. It's a city of about 25,000 residents, all of them muggles, unable to perform a simple Alohomora spell or conjure a Patronus.

But a small cadre of local Harry Potter fans hopes to harness the passion of their wizard-loving colleagues to do good.

The Kingsley's Marauders are the most recent Minnesota chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, an international organization that aims to change the world "by making activism accessible through the power of story."

"The weapon we have is love," the organization's slogan reads.

Kari Oanes, a youth services librarian at Austin Public Library and co-founder of Kingsley's Marauders, told the Austin Daily Herald it's not a fan club, but rather an attempt to turn fandom into tangible change.

"It mirrors the values of fighting for social justice and equality [in the Harry Potter books],” she told the paper.

The goal, co-founder Andrew Slack told Forbes, is to mobilize the energy of the fan community by appealing to their passion, rather than hitting them over the head with "serious talk."

Kingsley's Marauders (which seems to reference Ministry of Magic and Order of the Phoenix auror Kingsley Shacklebolt) are the third Harry Potter Alliance chapter in the state, the other two being university chapters: WSU in Winona, and The Hut on the Rock (in reference to the hut the Dursley family took Harry Potter to while trying to make sure he didn't get his Hogwarts acceptance letter in the first book) in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

There's also Accio Love in Fargo, a community chapter, and Muggles United in River Falls, Wisconsin, a university chapter.

Kingsley's Marauders are small. There were a total of four people, including the group's two co-founders, at the initial meeting this past spring, the Austin Daily Herald says. It's since grown to 10 total members.

But despite the small numbers, a book drive they spearheaded had a big impact. The Marauders collected 381 books as part of an Accio Books event. They expected to get about 50, Oanes' co-founder Sarah Schramek told the Austin Daily Herald.

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The Harry Potter Alliance, which has chapters in 42 U.S. States and 24 different countries, has a list of successes on its website. Among them:

  • Raised more than $123,000 for Partners in Health in Haiti.
  • Donated more than 120,000 books around the world.
  • Collected thousands of signatures for a petition asking Warner Bros. to prove some chocolates were made without the use of child labor (which you can read about via The Nation).
  • Raised more than $16,000 by auctioning off a signed "Harry Potter" series for the AEC Scholarship Foundation and Kamp Kiwanis.
  • Organized house gatherings to raise awareness of genocide in Darfur.

And what does Harry's creator, J.K. Rowling herself, think of the alliance?

In a letter to Slack, she wrote the following: “The HP Alliance is, without doubt, the purest expression of ‘the spirit of Albus Dumbledore’ yet to emerge from the Harry Potter fandom.”

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