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

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 info@cantstoptheserenity.com

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 events@cantstoptheserenity.com

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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Small but Fun

There's still time to register events to be held from June to October!

We want as many Can’t Stop the Serenity shindigs across the world as possible to celebrate the 10th year of Can’t Stop the Serenity and the 10th anniversary of the big damn movie Serenity.

Every size event is very welcome.

Some of you may be up for running a Screening event but if you want to start a little smaller or turn an existing event into a Can’t Stop the Serenity fundraiser, why not organise an Affiliate event?

The fantastic thing about Affiliate events is they can be almost anything. Here’s a few ideas to inspire you:

  • With so many Firefly board games out there, a games day makes a great event.
  • A trivia or pub quiz event
  • A costumed picnic
  • A pajama party
  • Dinner at a Chinese restaurant
  • Get a group of friends together to see a movie, buy a book of discounted tickets or do a group booking so it’s less per ticket and either charge everyone slightly more to or pass the hat to raise money for Equality Now.
  • Have a ‘Shiny’ jar at your event, it works like a swear jar, at the start of the event nominate a popular Firefly word or phrase and every time someone says it they have to put a dollar in the jar
  • Pin the cunning hat on Jayne

These are only a few concepts, but as you can see an event can be as big or as small as you want. See how easy it could be?

The benefits of being an officially registered event include:

  • Access to our forums to talk with other organizers to share ideas, experience and support
  • A prize pack to help you raise money and promotion of your event through global social media
  • Meeting and hanging out with other amazing Browncoats
  • Your event's charitable donation will be added to the 2015 Global Donation Total.

You can find all the details about registering and running an event, including important deadlines, on our Host an Event page. And if you have any questions just contact us at events@cantstoptheserenity.com

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Our New 2015 Logo

Can't Stop the Serenity is celebrating 10 years in 2015, and we've got a great new logo to mark the occasion! This year's artwork was designed by Adam Levermore, a long time Browncoat and designer of some of our early promotional art designs (back in 2007 and 2008).

You may have already noticed the new logo on our website and social media. It's available now for you to download, so you can dress up your social media accounts to help spread the word about this year's events.

2015 is off to a great start already and we hope you'll come along for the ride and help us celebrate 10 fantastic years!


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