Archive of CSTS Global

A Short History of Can’t Stop the Serenity

Keeping flying for 10 years is no mean feat for any event, but it is a real achievement when every single person involved volunteers their time and resources for free.

To celebrate our tenth season we want to highlight some of our history. While many of you have known about us for a while now, one of the greatest things about Firefly is new Browncoats are discovering the series, and in turn us, all the time.

Here are a few things you may or may not know about Can’t Stop the Serenity.

It all began with one man’s idea. The One True b!X wanted to celebrate Joss’ birthday with a charity screening of Serenity, realizing it was a great idea he mentioned it on the message boards.

Browncoats worldwide responded. Called Serenity Now Equality Now, b!x handled the Tshirt sales and helped to co-ordinate all of the events. 46 cities in 5 countries held events between 17th and 31st June 2006, raising $65,900 for Equality Now.

The One True b!X chose Equality Now as the charity because it was close to Joss Whedon’s heart. His mother, Lee Stearns, had inspired the organisation’s founders.

Did you know the original website still exists, listing all participating cities and reports?

The enthusiasm and excitement after the first events led to ideas about how things could be done bigger and better the next year. Suddenly Can’t Stop the Serenity became an annual event.

108 individual cities across 9 countries have hosted events since CSTS began.

15 cities have participated in every CSTS, 8 have already registered events for 2015:

  • Arlington
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Dallas Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Melbourne
  • Minneapolis
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Raleigh
  • Seattle
  • Toronto
  • Tucson

Adam Levermore, better known as Lexigeek in the Browncoat community, designed the 2007 and 2008 logos and returned to create our 10th one.

In 2009 the Art Contest was introduced and Don McMillan, Melanie Fischer, Steve Jeyes and Jake Thompson have produced the winning logos, Don and Melanie each won two years in a row.

At the end of our 9th year we had raised over a million dollars for charity.

You can read more about our history including participating cities, donation totals and past logos on our website here and in our archived forums here.

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My Journey to a Million Dollars with the Browncoats by Mandy Sullivan

Thirteen years ago, I had never heard of Firefly. I had been working at Equality Now for quite some time and, as usual, we were struggling for funding. I got a call one day, from Renee Balmert from something called "the California Browncoats." She wanted our address in order to mail out a check to us representing proceeds from "ComicCon." The check was for over $3000, a staggering amount of money from one donor, at least it was in our experience. Apparently Joss Whedon had told them we were his favorite charity and they decided to give all the money to us. We were thrilled and grateful and Renee and I started up a conversation as she explained to me what Firefly was and what the Browncoats were.

I immediately purchased a copy of the series and spent the evening in a marathon viewing. Well, let's face it, it's hard not to, right?
Those events marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I won't go into the particulars of Joss' relationship to Equality Now as that is common knowledge now for most of you I think. The internet was starting to really come into force and, as I further learned, Joss had a huge and growing network of fans (from his other series Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Firefly) that was quickly becoming a worldwide virtual community. When Firefly was summarily dumped by FOX shortly after its short run in September 2002, this community decided to pool their resources and see how much weight they could put behind their disappointment, actually their outrage, and their loyalty to Joss. I mean, there were episodes that HAD NOT BEEN AIRED YET!!

In any case, you all know the rest. A film was made, Serenity, that closed out the stories of the characters in the beloved series. Throughout this time, I was mostly a bystander and cheerleader, but quickly becoming a true fan, a fan of the fans actually! And, a brilliant idea was forming, in the mind of a Portland, OR fan named b!X who asked the question: "Hey why don't we hold a screening of Serenity on Joss' birthday and raise money for Equality Now." That was June of 2006. 42 cities around the world held screenings that year. As the years went by, Equality Now began receiving checks from all over the country as well as UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland, as groups of Browncoats organized their own screenings. And it all happened at the same time of year! We sent the different organizers our brochures, key chains, bracelets, more brochures, hats and tee shirts for raffles and give-aways, supporting them in any way we could.

For me, it was one of the biggest challenges and most wonderful experiences I had while working at Equality Now. The organizers were fantastic people to work with, all of them, throughout the years. From time to time, new organizers would come in to replace those taking a break and they too were enthusiastic in their support of Equality Now's work, and a genuine pleasure to work with and in some cases, get to know. Their patience with me was absolutely limitless.

And every year, the grand total increased. It was absolutely amazing. Seeing as I was the fortunate one who became liaison between Can't Stop the Serenity and Equality Now, visitors, other staff would ask me "who are the Browncoats and why are they doing this?" Well, it's a long story....

The Browncoats brought me to ComicCon in San Francisco to speak on a panel there, they brought me to the Universal Studios premiere of Serenity, they hosted me in Portland and New York City, and always assured me of my welcome in whatever city's screening I might attend. I was so happy when we were able to organize an appearance by Joss at the SoCal CSTS a few years ago It was to thank all of you in the most meaningful way we could think of. To have you hear it from him.

I left Equality Now in October, after 18 years. More than half of those years were spent interacting with you wonderful people. The fact that together you have raised a total of one million dollars for Equality Now and other charities fills me with so much pride and gratitude. You have worked so hard, on your own time, year after year. Awesome. That's what you are. Totally Awesome. Thank you for all you have done for Equality Now, for me, and for just being the people that you are. You've sent some mighty, mighty good vibes out there into the universe, and it will never be the same.

Stay Shiny but most importantly keep flyin'.

Amanda Sullivan

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Help Celebrate Our $1million Achievement Thumbnail

Help Celebrate Our $1million Achievement

Announcing we’d passed the one million dollar mark in donations was a momentous occasion for us.

This is an achievement that belongs to everyone who ever helped organise, attended, sponsored, spread the signal about or donated to a Can’t Stop the Serenity event. Big Damn Heroes all of you!

To celebrate all the thrilling heroics we want to show the world the amazing Browncoats who made this possible. We're looking for photos of Browncoats with signs celebrating that globally we've raised over 1 million dollars.

We would love pictures of you holding a sign along the lines of:
"Congratulations CSTS on raising $1M for charity from (Your name here) #CSTS1Million”.

It can be just you or a crowd of Browncoats. Have fun with it, be creative. Dress up in costume or show off your Can’t Stop the Serenity merchandise. Play around with photoshop. Your choice. Just don’t forget to tell us who you are!

Send your pics to

Over the season we’ll be featuring the photos on our website and across social media.

Below is one of our first submissions from Brooke of CSTS Lawrence, KS, we can't wait to see yours!

We have done the impossible and that makes us mighty!

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Give It A Go!

Never been able to get to a screening? Or maybe there’s not been an event in your city. Then it’s time you thought about running a screening event!

Screening events can be fun and seeing Serenity with Browncoats, both new and veteran, is an amazing experience.

The beauty about screenings is they vary in size depending on how big you want your event to be, from things like small screening rooms for 20 people at a local bar to big events at theatres with a capacity for 300 and everything in between.

In a way, taking on a screening event is a lot like Firefly. To start you need to recruit a trusty crew!

Finding the right venue can be the tricky part but with a bit of research and some thinking outside the box you can find the perfect one. It also helps to mention that it’s a charity event when negotiating and we provide a fact sheet to help explain what Can’t Stop the Serenity is.

Some past venues have included:

  • Independent cinemas
  • College theatres or lecture halls
  • High school auditorium or gym
  • Bars with screening capabilities
  • Library theatrettes

In addition to showing Serenity there’s usually the option of screening other content we acquire the rights for all CSTS events to show.

There’s a wealth of information covering all aspects of event planning to get you started here.

Most importantly you won’t be doing it alone.

Every organiser receives access to our forums where they can chat and get advice, support and ideas from other organisers and the global team. Global also assists with promoting your event across our social media platforms.

Each screening event has access to a sponsor pack so you have some great loot to start building raffle and prize packs to raise more money for Equality Now .

And with up to 25% available for you to donate to other charities, you can do good locally as well as globally!

Still not convinced? Read Craig from Arcata’s thoughts on being a first time organiser here.

You can find all the information you need to register and run an event, including important deadlines, on our Host an Event page. And if you have any questions just contact us at

Become part of the wonderful CSTS community and help raise awareness and money for Equality Now by registering an event now!

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Can’t Stop The Serenity Raises One Million Dollars For Charity

CSTS is immensely proud to announce that as of the end of the 2014 year, our 9th, we have raised One Million dollars U.S for Equality Now and the other charities our event cities have supported.

One Million Dollars.

It has come in as Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and American dollars. In Pounds and in Euros. Small amounts and large, from big cities and small groups of friends.

We probably can't measure exactly how much good this money has done, but we can feel it. And we know what we are.
Those of us who have run events, those who have donated time, money or swag, and of course those of us who open up our hearts and our wallets when we show up at a screening or affiliate event.

Big Damn Heroes, all of us.

One Million Dollars!!!!

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A New Organizer Speaks

(This was first heard on The Signal podcast. Our thanks to Craig Kurumada for allowing us to reprint it here)

I confess that when I first heard of Can't Stop the Serenity, I thought that these events would be something I personally might visit, but never help create. I imagined them to be similar to a big conventions. Well, not as big as DragonCon, but big enough to be put on by professional organizations and have a few celebrities. The cities were generally large metropolitan places with hundreds and hundreds of Browncoats able to raise thousands of dollars for Joss Whedon's favorite charity, Equality Now.
Big league stuff.

So it took a while for me to connect a couple of dots. Please understand, I live in a small town: Arcata, California has 16,000 people when school's in session. A little more than half that in the summer or over holidays. But, we do have two movie theatres.
One of them, the Arcata Theatre Lounge, started what they call "Science Fiction Wednesdays." This generally means showing really low budget science fiction movies for a five-dollar admission. It's free if you buy 5 dollars worth of beer or food, which is quite easy to do. Now, please don't be insulted when I say low budget science fiction shows. It isn't always so. Sometimes, they show great, classic sci-fi such as Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and, ta-da! Serenity.

For the past 6 or so years, whenever they would show Serenity, I rallied all the Browncoats I could and even bought a block of tickets. We then started making a "pre-Serenity show" with trivia and prizes. I'm an incurable swag collector and whenever Qmx or ThinkGeek comes up with some Fireflyesque item, I always buy one or two extras as prizes for some shindig or another. We'd done this now for several years, so I thought, why not try to do a CSTS event here in Arcata? We've got all the makings, just not the grand scale.

So, I went online to the CSTS website and got informed. I found all the deadlines.
(You should get organized in late spring or early summer for anything to happen in early fall.)
I took the plunge and registered. I realized that I had all kinds of fears about doing it wrong, making a mess and disgracing our local Browncoats. But, the people at CSTS headquarters were wonderful. They were very supportive of a small event like ours and gave us plenty of guidance.

Our event actually was not much different from any regular shindig, except people were very happy to pay the extra dollar for charity. I was also wonderfully surprised at their spontaneous contributions once they understood what CSTS was about. Many of the attendees didn't know it was a CSTS event, but they were accustomed to the Serenity showings. It was just more shiny goodness to them, knowing they were supporting Joss' favorite charity.

So, we labeled the beer taps "Mudder's Milk", gave away a ton of swag in trivia contests, and raised over $400 for CSTS. As a matter of pride, we had a head count of 164. I realized that with a population of 16,400 or so, we could claim that 1% of the population of the entire town was at our event! Hah!

Now that my fear of failure has been dissolved, I know we can do much more next year. I'm planning on it.

And you should, too. Organize your local Browncoats and do some good. Size really doesn't matter. It really is the intent and getting more people involved in supporting this worthwhile cause, all while having the shiniest of times.

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