INTERVIEW: Granger 2020 & Re-envisioning The Future With The Harry Potter Alliance

Feb 28, 2020

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Charity, Fandom, Fans, Interviews, News

This week, on February 17th, The Harry Potter Alliance launched their Granger 2020 campaign, aiming to inspire fan activists across the U.S. and beyond to stand up for what they believe in, protect democracy and campaign for a better future for all. We spoke to Katie Bowers, Director at The Harry Potter Alliance, to find out more about the campaign, and what else is in store this year:

Using the character of Hermione Granger–known to us for her compassion, drive and passion for elevating the voice of vulnerable and marginalised groups–as a figurehead, The Harry Potter Alliance have crafted the Granger 2020 campaign to raise awareness of a variety of social justice issues, and encourage voters to get involved in envisioning their ideal future in the lead up to the 2020 U.S. election:

“Hermione Granger and a coalition of grassroots organizations are leading a visionary policy agenda for social justice in the United States. Her campaign highlights the interwoven causes of injustice in America, calls for candidate accountability to these injustices, and trains and mobilizes magical people across the nation for canvassing, voting, and running for their own local and national offices. 

The Granger 2020 campaign channels the passion and skills of fans into imaginative, effective organizing during and after this election cycle, and injects a measure of joy into election organizing. Together we can reclaim and rewrite the story of civic engagement in America.”


In the initial stages of designing the campaign, Bowers said the team focused mainly on the question of how to make the campaign effective in turning out voters, helping people support ballot initiatives and finding their vision:

“One thing we’re planning to announce is some workshops with people who have run for office about what it was like to be a first-time candidate, so we can work on hopefully getting the first wizard activists in office somewhere!

“The thing I’m really excited about is that we’re designing the campaign around the idea of continuing this work, no matter what happens in November 2020.”

This idea of continued momentum is at the very heart of the Granger 2020 campaign, calling upon fan activists to imagine better, and then act according to that vision in a positive manner:

“How do you draw up the well of hope, vision for the future and the community connections that you need, so that if your candidate wins in November, you have the energy and drive to keep going and hold them accountable? And if your candidate doesn’t win, how do you ensure you have the skills, hope, vision, connections and community to have the strength to keep working on this?

“It’s not about this one particular election, it’s about this life-long story that we’re all trying to write together.

“The campaign is about trying to help people be effective in the moment, but also it’s a renewing kind of thing. The past several years of politics have been very divisive, and very draining. It’s taken a toll on the mental health of a lot of folks out there, and we want this to be something that is restorative, joyful and fun–and also effective.”

This campaign also focuses on stories, and The Harry Potter Alliance believe fans–particularly Potter fans– are some of the best placed people to help make a change:

“Fans in general have a ton of experience of finding a source material they love and reworking and reimagining it in ways that help it grow, be accessible to more people and reach new heights. A big part of why the most prolific stories – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel (though that’s a different beast because there’s so much content!)–the reason these stick around for decades is because there are fans out there reworking and redefining the content, and that benefits from having something current in the story that keeps it relevant in society today.”

Fans who are engaged in ‘reimagining’ are uniquely suited to campaigning, Bowers tells me, as envisioning a better future often comes naturally to those who are used to analysing and redefining source materials:

“The way the U.S. makes most of its decisions is based on this very old piece of “content” – the U.S. constitution. We are constantly having to try to reimagine it, re-envision what it meant. By experience and practice, fans are really great at taking a source material and saying, ‘I see a new direction that this can go'”. 


Bowers gives climate change as an example of one of the biggest problems the planet is facing currently, and points out that this will take ‘an epic, sci-fi level of reimagining’ to solve. Who better to imagine that future than passionate, talented and creative fans? Especially fans who connect with the messages behind groups like Dumbledore’s Army and The Order of the Phoenix:

“There’s something in the DNA of the Harry Potter community that is exceptionally creative, and also extremely dedicated to wanting to make the world a better place than we found it,” Bowers tells me. “A lot of us grew up on these stories of young people coming together and working to change the world and fix their small part of society, and having it ripple out in huge ways.”

Change often comes in small increments, and whilst campaigning for something you believe in might seem daunting–there’s strength in small moments of action and figuring out what you believe in, too! Bowers uses Neville as an example–something The Harry Potter Alliance have used before as part of their previous Neville Fights Back campaign, and their Neville’s Guide to Tough Conversations resource:

“One of the heroes we talk about all the time is Neville, because everybody likes his journey from being everybody’s punching bag to being this big heroic figure in Deathly Hallows. One of the bravest things Neville does, really, is have the courage to stand up to his friends and say that they weren’t allowed to break the rules and hurt Gryffindor house!

“It’s a very small moment, but led to a big change in the story–and that’s what we need right now, just a lot of small moments of bravery, being able to fight back and keep going.”

One way fans can get involved in the Granger 2020 campaign is by joining or setting up a campaign circle, a way to mobilize ideas into action with likeminded people:

“You can have a campaign circle online, but we’re really pushing folks to have them in real life with either friends, maybe family, or you could even open it up to the public. The big point of it is helping people create that connection to community and even just a handful of people that are working toward figuring out what their vision for the world is and holding each other in support of making that happen.

“I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen something online that I think is such a great idea, and then you just…carry on with your life! Campaign circles are about having that face-to-face connection with people, where you can say, ‘These parts of Granger 2020 are really important to me'”.

“Take the people you’re already having tough conversations and provide yourselves an avenue to do something and have it be fun and in the name of Hermione Granger.”

An example of this might be a group with the aim of getting people to register to vote – but what does that actually look like in person?

The Harry Potter Alliance will provide information on setting up voter registration drives, which are as simple as printing out forms and going out with a clipboard! Bowers also says that a helpful–and slightly less extroverted–thing people could do is send postcards to people in their town explaining how to vote, as State and County variations can often be confusing!

Bowers also stresses that Granger 2020 action can absolutely also take place outside of the U.S.! There are The Harry Potter Alliance chapters everywhere (can’t find one? Set one up!), and the need for a better world is applicable all the way around the globe. If you’re interested in taking action in line with your vision of the future, find The Harry Potter Alliance’s resources here for some handy tips. If you’re looking for resources related to other fandoms, you can find those at The Harry Potter Alliance, too!

Granger 2020 title-card

Why is Hermione Granger at the forefront of this campaign? The Harry Potter Alliance explain in their FAQ that “The truth is, Hermione’s not really the candidate we believe in. You are.”, and that this campaign is actually about mobilizing the people rallying behind Team Granger with a vision of a better future. Bowers explains the choices behind Granger 2020:

“A lot of the people who are really into Harry Potter and find it inspiring are usually the people who see a piece of themselves in Hermione. I think a lot of people see themselves in this girl who loves books, is sort of awkward but also badass, is having to walk the line between following the rules and history and school she loves, and then also realising the system is a mess and they need to flip the whole thing over!

“I think a lot of people identify with and love Hermione, so seeing her as the figurehead of this campaign makes sense to people and just connects — who else would it be!”

The Granger Leadership Academy will take these elements of inspiration, and put them into an national conference brining together fan activists to learn how to better enact the changes they want to see in the world. This year’s GLA will take place in Pittsburgh, and registration opens April 21st.

Bowers describes this conference as a place where folks can come together, and where fan activist skills being taught online are being taught in person. Much like the Granger 2020 campaign, the GLA will see fans take action together as a community during workshops (on topics from community organisation skills and issue education around social justice issues, to workshops on personal development, leadership styles and learning your individual role in privilege and oppression). The conference also holds creative workshops (such as social justice theater / zine making), as well as fun, empowering activities in the evenings: a wizard rock show, a Wizards in Space Literary Magazine Open Mic Night, and – of course – a trivia night!

Throughout the Granger Leadership Academy, there’s an emphasis on taking the skills learnt throughout the weekend and turning those into action through The Harry Potter Alliance’s partnerships with other organisations. For example, in previous years  the GLA worked with The American Library Association to write letters and make videos to get more funding for public libraries. Another year, GLA  attendees threw a protest (creating chants, designing artwork and orgnanising a rally) in partnership with Border Links to protest the detainment of a local organiser being held by ICE.

“It’s about the work the community will do together”, Bowers says, and Granger 2020 has very much the same aim–figuring out a vision, and then finding out the best ways to achieve this vision and putting those ideas into practice as a community:

“You can’t work towards something you don’t have a clear vision of. Two things have made that really difficult right now: We are living in this time period of constant and mostly manufactured crisis. There are folks in politics and media purposefully creating crises that have to be responded to immediately, and on social media you’re hearing about everything at once from all over the world, and it creates this brain space where it’s hard to think in a focused way about the future, and about making good decisions about the future. 

“Secondly, folks who are working toward a progressive vision of the future are trying to build a world that we have never really seen on a large scale. That is, build on compassionate policies vs policies that focus on getting the most profit and efficiency. Envisioning a world where everyone has equal rights and equitable support – the things that are important to being fulfilled as a human being. We’ve never lived in a world like that, so taking the time to imagine that as a community and have other people say ‘I see that too, and I believe we can get there also’ is really important. If you don’t have the time to think about the vision, or the vision to give you hope and direction and meaning, where are you going?”

In this day and age, it’s easy to get dragged down by negativity–even Harry Potter had his off days! The Granger 2020 campaign is about coming together to envision with hope and compassion, and think as Dumbledore’s Army might. Bowers calls the campaign ‘restorative’ – it’s about creating a more empowering, positive, and compassionate world.

Join in with this conversation beginning TOMORROW, Leap Day! This day happens once every four years and feels like a pretty magical occasion, so why not dedicate some time to leaping into the future?

Find The Harry Potter Alliance’s Leap Day Celebration livestream (beginning 8pm EST on February 29th) below, find resources on how to set up your own Leap Year Imagining Event conversations about your vision for the future here, and let us know if you plan to set up a campaign circle!

Thanks so much to Katie and The Harry Potter Alliance team for this illuminating interview – we can’t wait to see what’s to come with Granger 2020! Find out more about the campaign at the official website, and find merch here!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.