Sunday, 10 August 2014

Project Lily

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” – J.K. Rowling

The Deluminators had the opportunity to do something very unique and special on August 3rd. We negotiated with Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, called insurance companies, printed gorgeous postcards, flyers and purchased some dazzling coloured roses from Kelvin Hall's Floral Design. Why? Because we wanted to celebrate the love and hope of Esther day by reflecting on the love in our own lives and passing it on to strangers.


‘Esther day’ is a day introduced by author and video blogger John Green. John is a person we admire very much in our passion for the Harry Potter Alliance and also in our lives as Nerdfighters. In 2010, he had the great pleasure of getting to know the beautiful soul of Esther Earl who was very ill with cancer at the time of their meeting and whom he dedicated his bestselling novel 'The Fault in Our Stars' to. A few weeks before Esther passed away in 2010, John told her that he and his fellow video blogger and brother, Hank Green would make videos about whatever she wanted every year on her birthday (August 3rd). Esther decided that she wanted the day to be about celebrating love for family and friends, a day for people to tell the people they love that they love them, especially if they find that difficult on a regular day. Or as John puts it, ‘a Valentine’s day for the rest of love’. And so Esther day was born! And what a blessing it is.

The HPA celebrates Esther day in different ways throughout different chapters. Our idea for the day was to set up a stall in the middle of our beautiful city, beside the harbour and give away free flowers and postcards expressing beautiful messages and encouraging people to pass on the love. We dubbed the campaign 'Project Lily' in reference to the flowers we passed on, and Lily Potter's undying love. Thankfully, August 3rd found itself to be a day of sunshine and cool breezes. We set up our abundant stall with 300 (let's forget the 4 that broke in the car) roses. They were yellow, dappled orange, peach and bright pink. How happy they looked! We fanned out the gorgeous green postcards and draped signs and paper people holding hands from every visible vertical and horizontal surface. We hoped to receive donations on the day also if people were willing, to go to 'This Star Won't Go Out', the charity founded by Esther's parents that seeks to lighten the financial burden of families with sick children in order to give them more quality time with each other. The stall looked magnificent and we were so excited to have the chance to make a small difference in somebody's day. A difference that could lighten their perspective in one moment, which could lead to another, which could reassure them of love and of their place in this world.

The first lady to approach our stall was hesitant, but once she understood that the roses were free, and we were actually offering love from our heart to hers, her entire face lit up. It was evident that she felt special and appreciated and it all became worth it. Throughout the day people reacted vastly differently to our offerings of love. The majority of people accepted our offering with graciousness and promised to pass it on. Some highlights from the day include several toddlers who took roses and seemed to understand the gesture in the clearest and most beautiful way. They immediately turned to the parent accompanying them and passed the flower on with a smile.

We were overwhelmed by the number of people deliberately returning to our stall to empty their coin pockets. One woman cried, another fervently promised us she would remember Esther, several thanked us for making their day. Throughout the afternoon and into the night, pictures appeared on Instagram using the ‘AUSestherday hashtag, thanking us for the gift and wishing everyone a happy Esther day. A favourite among these was from a lovely guy who had been working at his own job not far from where we were. He was looking a little lonely and lost so we had approached him and offered him a yellow rose. He posted the picture of the rose later that day with the hashtag ‘#daymade’. Ours certainly was!

From coin donations on the day alone, we raised nearly $200 for TSWGO. We hope that donations will continue to come in through our Indiegogo page, so we will have a lovely donation to give to TSWGO by the end of the month. Most importantly however, we were fortunate enough to spread a tonne of love!

We truly hope all of you out there had as special an Esther day as we did. We loved laughing, chatting and smiling with strangers who needed the same affection as we all do. Thank you for your continuing belief and support. NEVER doubt your power to make a difference in someone’s day; it could be the difference that alters them for the better.

Much love and all the gorgeous roses in the world,


A Blog of Gratitude, by Rabbi Nicole Roberts

(A Deluminator would surely come up with more catchy title than this, but I’m only a rabbi, so bear with me…)

I want to say “thank you” to three of the most inspiring people with whom I’ve crossed paths in the past few months:
  Sean Landis, Sasha Landis, and Morgan Baynash.  Earlier in the year I witnessed their efforts to collect books and promote literacy in less privileged communities.  I watched them schlep said books around our synagogue into vehicles barely big enough to hold them.  And I heard that Sean was now speaking to groups of kids in other parts of Jewish Sydney about his efforts to “fight world suck.”  So I invited Sean to come address our group of North Shore Temple Emanuel teenagers and b’nai mitzvah students, so that he could shed some light for us on what all the fuss was about.  Next thing I knew, our congregation was gifted with not just one, but THREE (count ‘em, three!) Deluminators coming to address our group, along with an awesome PowerPoint presentation and a series of really fun YouTube videos about their amazing work.  These three Deluminators shared with us the story of how they created a Sydney Chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance where there wasn’t one before.  They told us how they had applied their passion for reading to tikkun olam—repairing the world.  And most importantly, they conveyed how much fun they’ve had in the process of doing all this, inspiring each of us to contemplate what it is we are passionate about, to embrace our inner nerd, and to put our unique talents to use in spreading more “awesome” to people and places in need.

So thank you, you three amazing Deluminators, for your awesomeness and nerdiness, of course, but also for your determination, your energy, your passion, your professionalism, your commitment, your compassion, your social conscience, your kindness, your cheerfulness, and your time.

Thank you for your presentation, which kept us all engaged for the entire hour, and made us laugh and want to get involved. Thank you for being “social entrepreneurs,” who didn’t just sit back and lament the lack of a Harry Potter Alliance here, but took the initiative to create one yourselves.  THIS IS A UNIQUE AND PRECIOUS TRAIT, and it makes me so proud to know you and be part of your congregation.

Thank you for thinking creatively.

Thank you for using your passions for good, and making social action fun.
Thank you for inspiring our NSTE teens to follow your lead.
Thank you for collecting 9,512 books for communities in need.
Thank you for the blood you gave, for Project Lily, and for Esther Day.
Thank you for sharing the awesome that’s in your souls.
Thank you for the light you spread, to a world so desperately in need.

Rabbi Nicole Roberts