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Kara Helgren, and the PDX Browncoats [Firefly]

i swear by my pretty floral bonnet i will end you

You’ve heard of Firefly right? Of course you have. Did you know that all over the country there are groups and organizations that have formed simply because of this amazing show? One of these is my local PDX Browncoats (PDX stands for Portland, OR in case you were unsure). I had a chance to sit down with board member Kara Helgren recently and talk about how she got involved and what the Portland group gets up to.

In 2005 Kara discovered Firefly through the local newspaper’s review of the movie Serenity. Within a very short amount of time she had watched the entire series and the movie and was in love. In 2006 she relocated from Boston back to Portland and she wanted to reestablish her life here. She says “I had always been a fan of the Sci-Fi side of life but was unaware of “fandom” and the community that can come from similar interests”.

She started listening to The Signal, a Firefly/Serenity centric podcast, got involved with the online PDX Browncoat forum and the idea of Can’t Stop the Serenity was born.

Can’t Stop the Serenity is the brain child of The One True b!X, a Portland resident and Firefly fan. If you are unfamiliar with CSTS; groups around the nation — and in some cases the world— hold showings of Serenity in theaters; donating the money from the events to Equality Now, a charity that director/creator Joss Whedon’s late mother was involved with. Equality now’s mission is to help stop discrimination and violence against women and children around the world. In March of 2006 they really got cracking on the idea with the hope to have it happen on Joss Whedon’s birthday in June. It is incredibly impressive to think of what they accomplished in 4 months time!

In those early days everyone was doing everything, now they have the board and specific jobs are an individual’s responsibility. All of that energy and fan enthusiasm paid off, their first year sold out, raising approximately $7,000 for charity. Not all of the Browncoat groups have formed as non-profits who raise money for local and global charities. Some groups are just there to hang out and have a good time with other likeminded fans, and that is perfectly fine. Of course, not all Firefly fans are able to help, or leave their homes; and some of those fans are the very people receiving the help provided as a result of the charity work done by these different groups.

The PDX Browncoats want to give back as much as they can, both locally and globally. On the local level they are regular volunteers at food banks and soup kitchens, they have their annual Geek the Halls event where vendors have booths and sell their wares; the money from the booth sales go to different local charities.

If you are a Firefly fan and want to get involved I encourage you to look up your local Browncoat group, or start one if it doesn’t already exist. There are plenty of groups around who would be more than willing to give you the pointers needed to make it a reality in your area. I know the PDX Browncoats are always looking for more volunteers to help out with their events. It is a great way to make friends with people with similar interests and give back to the community. If nothing else you can keep tabs on when events are and attend!

Marissa Nolan-Layman also blogs for Nerds in Babeland!

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