As an avid (some would say obsessed) Harry Potter fan, I felt compelled to write a post on this topic. Although I am incredibly sad that there will be no more midnight book release parties to dress up for, I am encouraged by the fact that Harry’s magic lives on by making a positive impact on the world in ways previously unimaginable. All of this made possible by a community of compassionate, creative, and innovative individuals – and the Internet.

Amidst the flurry of Harry Potter madness — including anti-Christian controversies and debates on whether or not the series is appropriate for children — it seems that a clear, positive global impact has been made on our youth. Check out Amy Jussel’s blog post “Harry Potter Alliance Tackles the Darkness of Darfur” on her Shaping Youth Blog where she discusses this topic in the context of how media and marketing influences kids.

Here are just a few examples of how the Harry Potter fandom uses the Internet to make a difference:

Wizard Rock — musical fan-fiction with a cause — raises more than $10,000 for First Book in 2007

Harry potter fans are extremely creative – so much so that they started an entire genre of music all their own called Wizard Rock. This genre of music has grown on me over the past few months – as some of it is really great and some is simply entertaining! Out of the Wizard Rock movement came the Wizard Rock Club – where fans subscribe online to receive monthly cds, and artists have a way to easily distribute their music. Fans can visit the Wizard Rock websiteto get a sampling of upcoming releases and discuss related topics. Subscription fees are used to cover all costs associated with producing and distributing the CDs to members. After that, all remaining proceeds are donated to First Book, a non-profit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. I am, of course, a proud subscriber.

The Harry Potter Alliance: The politics of Harry Potter & grassroots advocacy at its best

Couching themselves as the real ‘Dumbledores Army’ (only true Harry Potter fans know what this means), the Harry Potter alliance leverages the power of the Harry Potter community to make real change happen in our world through using online community outlets such as Myspace and Facebook, as well as producing events, podcasts and other multimedia messages with a cause. My favorite effort is the HP Alliance House Parties with a Cause, where there is an online toolkit you can download to help you plan a socially concious house party. You gotta love it!

Other HP Alliance efforts include:

The HP Alliance is growing in numbers and has created an energized movement that raises funds, awareness, and engagement by youth around the globe. They have implemented incredibly sophisticated and effective grassroots advocacy efforts through using community outlets, websites, videos, podcasts, events and more – all made possible by the power of community.

What strikes me most about all of this is that they did not need to hire ‘high-dollar’ Internet strategy experts to strategize and figure this all out. They had no boundaries, just conviction, compassion, creativity – and the Internet. Most of them started out using free tools to get the job done. All of us could stand to learn from this – it is genius.

There are other great examples of how this fandom uses the Internet to make change, but I will leave those for another post. I think you get the point.