Make the World a Better Place (and Have Fun Doing It)

Morgan B, age 12 wrote this essay for school. We think you will be in awe at this young woman's grasp of what is important.

We all know that sometimes terrible things happen in the world, but did you know that in many countries women have almost no rights? In places like Yemen, Sudan, and Pakistan, young girls may be beaten, married, or even sentenced to death by their own families with few or no legal consequences. However, human rights organizations like Equality Now are working to change that. Can't Stop The Serenity is a series of movie screenings held annually to benefit Equality Now. Serenity is a Sci-fi movie created by Joss Whedon, so if you are a Whedon fan and care about women's rights, you should definitely come to a CSTS event near you.

Can't Stop The Serenity, also known as CSTS, started out as a birthday celebration for Joss Whedon. One of his mothers's students co-founded Equality Now in 1992, and Whedon himself is famous for writing strong female characters, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and River Tam, the main character in Serenity. In 2005, a fan of Whedon's thought that it would be appropriate to screen his movie for the benefit of his mother's charity, as a birthday present. The idea caught on, and other cities started to celebrate it as an annual tradition. Today, an average of fifty cities all around the world hold CSTS events. In eight years, CSTS events have raised over $900,000 for the charity. My mother organizes the events for North Texas.

Although the main idea behind CSTS is to screen Serenity, each city has a different way of celebrating. Some do carnival games, costume parties, show the movie in pubs, and more. We usually screen it in a theatre, along with a funny short film called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog. We also do raffles, live auctions, costume contests, trivia, and, my favorite, the evil laugh contest! The event lasts about eight hours, but the food and drink that the theatres provide keep the hungry people happy. Last year, we broke the world record for the amount of people singing an anthem from the movie. I help out by selling t-shirts, giving directions, and watching for anyone who looks like they need help. The number of people who show up every year makes me a little claustrophobic. However, that's a good thing, knowing that there are about 300 people walking around for such a good cause. Seeing so many people having a blast makes the many exhausting hours of preparation worth it.

The work leading up to CSTS is tiring and worrying, but fun as well. Mom's biggest concern would be the t-shirts. Figuring out how many to buy of each colour to sell at the event is more painstaking than it sounds. There is also making arrangements with the venue and performers, promoting the event, answering questions, posting on the website, selling tickets, collecting items for raffle, and making sure the house doesn't burn down. The amount of effort needed to home school me and my brother AND run the charity is amazing. My brother and I do our best to keep the house and yard clean while she works, and dad helps as well when he can. The “packing party” as my mother calls it is the day before the event. Our friends come and help us pack pre-orders, prizes, and generally pack any and all things we will need for the next day. The chaotic state the house is in during this time is simply amazing. Sometimes my mother (and friends) stay up to the wee hours of the morning, making sure that everything is perfect for the event.

My mom sometimes worries that CSTS takes too much time away from my brother and I. She once asked me how I felt about what she was doing, or if I had learned anything from it, and I replied, “Yes, I've learned something from it. I learned that if something is bad in the world, you can't just watch it. You have to do something about it.” I was only eight, and she was so proud. I stand by what I said to this day. I know that Equality Now and my mother have done something to make the world a better place. Women don't deserve to be treated as they are, and we are working to do something about that. I think that makes me, and a lot of other people very happy. Through showing a simple film, people all over the world are trying to create change, by giving women and girls around the world knowledge, hope, and freedom. Wherever you are in the world, try to find a CSTS event near you, you'll have a great time for a good cause!

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Perth Sells Out

Perth S-F fans are keen! Despite getting a venue that is twice the size as last year's, the Perth CSTS Affiliate event for May 15 sold out well before it is scheduled to run.

Those lucky enough to get a ticket are in for a treat. It is a Sci-Fi quiz night with loads of great prizes from local sponsors and a heap of swag including an item signed by Jewel Staite.
There is an auction and raffles to add to the fun.

We're looking forward to hearing some of the quiz questions!

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The First Affiliate Event of the Season

There are many ways to run a Can't Stop The Serenity events and over the last 9 years, we've seen a lot of them.

But this one is new!

A new festival, honoring web series has started up in Toronto Canada.
Called Toronto Webfest, it is 3 days of screenings, panels and other events. And what better way to celebrate a new festival that by showing one of the first major webseries?

On Friday May 9th at 10:00 p.m. Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-Blog will be shown with all proceeds going to Equality Now.

Tickets are only $10.00 and available for purchase online.

Imagine being in a theatre full of people who have not seen Dr. Horrible before or don't know the works of Joss Whedon!
An evening not to be missed.

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Why “Can’t Stop the Serenity?” Part II

In Sept, 2013, birdandbear wrote about the North Texas screening but she speaks for all of us. Thanks to her for giving us permission to reprint this from their website.

Wanna hear something as mind-blowing as it is inspirational as it is humbling?

2013 marked the eighth annual CSTS event season. In that time North Texas Browncoats have raised more than $41,000.00, and the global events have raised over $840,000.00 for Equality Now and other charities. If the global events don't break $1,000,000 next year, they certainly will for the 10th anniversary in 2015.

The stunning thing is, those figures aren't subsidized in any way. There are no grants, no paid employees, no PR machine. Just some generous sponsors, and folks across the world coming together once a year to watch a movie, have a good time, maybe don a cunning hat, and make a stand in the name of what's right. We come from all walks of life and all belief systems. We're regular people, trying to do good works because they need doing. And ladies and gentlemen, we are a force to be reckoned with.

This was on the front of our programs this year, but I'm putting it here again because it speaks to me so:

"Everyone here might well think of themselves as an agent of change. I'll say to you all, from the bottom of my heart:
you're missing the point. You are not agents of change.

You are change.

There is no world but what we see, no history but a compendium of perspectives. How you see the world will be the world or will become the world.
If we see it with fear and hate… Fear and hate will manifest.
If we look beyond, if we dream the next text, it will be written.
We do not pass through this life, it passes through us.
You are not just existing: you are happening, you are an event.
You are changing everything."

-Joss Whedon

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The First Event of the Season – in South Wales!

It is always a great moment when CSTS starts up for the year. This year it is doubly exciting because it is a new event.

The Valley Browncoats in Wales are having a screening on April 14th. It's being held in Blackwood and it promises to be great. It is, of course, Easter Break and so this is an event for the whole family to begin with. For kids of all ages there are activities like Mask painting while the older ones can try out the new Serenity Board Game.

Firefly themed food will be available including Fruity Oaty Bars and Mudders Milk. (Non-alcoholic for the young'ns).

Join a team to challenge your knowledge of all things Whedon and Sci-Fi related and buy some shiny merchandise including hand crafted keyrings and earrings. A raffle increases your chance to walk away with something to remember the first event in Wales. There is also a silent auction for more unique items as well as a mystery box filled with nerdery.
The Serenity screening begins around 16:30 and is open to everyone 15 & over who bought a full ticket.

Can't make it? You can help raise money by donating here. One lucky donor will win a mystery prize!

P.S. Sample quiz question "What reason did River give for cutting Jayne and what episode was it in?"

Jayne hat

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Why ‘Can’t Stop the Serenity’?

Last May Vancouver Organizer Samatwitch wrote about why Vancouver holds CSTS events each year. Thanks to her for giving us permission to reprint this from their website.

Why do we do this? Why do organisers spend so much time and money for each event? Why do people volunteer, paying for their own tickets to do so? Why do Browncoats - and others - keep coming out to CSTS events?

Partly of course, because the events are fun. Each city is different and has ideas and plans that work for them. A lot of people come out to see Serenity on the big screen or to sing along to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Some people come to spend an afternoon or day with their friends at a fun event - or to bid on an auction item they can't find anywhere else, especially handmade items. All those are legitimate reasons, of course, but I think a lot of people come because the events enable them to make a contribution to better the lives of women and girls globally and locally.

Last year I wrote again about D'ua Khalil Aswad and how it inspired many of us to continue to work hard for Equality Now. This year I want to talk about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for having the desire to get an education - something we in the west take for granted. She was targetted because, at 15, Malala was already known around the world for her blog on education and the state of women's rights in Pakistan. Here is a video from the New York Times, recorded with Malala and her father when she was only 11. Even then she was determined to continue her education. Now she is doing that, albeit in Birmingham, England, where she was taken for her surgery and safety.

I also want to talk about the heinous crimes committed against women and girls as young as five in India. There have been numerous accounts lately of girls being kidnapped and raped. Some have died as a result; some have committed suicide. These things don't just happen in India or Pakistan or Iran or Ethiopia or Egypt, of course, as we saw this week with the rescue of three young women who had been held captive for a decade in a house in Ohio. But when it happens in the United States or Canada or England, our laws are (usually) strong enough to punish the perpetrators - and deter a lot of people from committing the crime in the first place.

This is where Equality Now comes in. They work with groups in various countries to educate and to change the laws to protect women and girls from violence and discrimination aimed at them BECAUSE they are female. You can check out some of their successes and some of their ongoing campaigns on their website.

This year, we need you more than ever - to buy a ticket, bid on an item or two or more, to spread the word and bring your friends to support these causes - and to have fun while you're doing it. Dress up in a Whedony costume, sing your heart out along with your fellow fans, maybe enter the Evil Laugh contest - or write some Vogon poetry. We will come together to have an enjoyable afternoon, made more so by the fact we know we are helping women and girls around the world - and locally - have a better life.

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