(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.