Voice of the Voiceless: An interview with the Twin Suns Foundation
Once upon a time there was a Star Wars universe very different from the one that we have now. A universe of stories that expanded upon everything that we knew about the jedi, sith, and all the other legends from a galaxy far, far away. When that universe suddenly ceased to exist, the fandom entered a period of unrest. Many fans lashed out in anger and hate. A small group of dedicated fans remained peaceful and sought justice in a more orderly way.
The Twin Suns Foundation are the team behind the "Give Us Legends" campaign. Amelia Haynes, event coordinator for the foundation took some time to speak with us this past week. Amelia Haynes has been with the Twin Suns Foundation since the initial billboard project in 2015. She has assisted as an editor and creative content advisor when the organization was officially founded in 2016. Amelia stepped into the role of board member in 2017, and continues to support the team with creative ideas for ongoing and future projects.
HTF: The Twin Suns Foundation has been speaking up for Star Wars Fans and the importance of literacy for several years now, how and why did this all start?
Amelia: Online! We were all part of some Expanded Universe groups on Facebook, had various Star Wars pages, and all gradually found each other. When the Star Wars Expanded Universe was first de-canonized and labeled "Legends" in 2014, many fans were understandably upset. After all, many of us had spent time, money, and years on not only the books, but also the games, conventions, and other fan memorabilia.
However, we also knew that the anger and negativity that many of our fellow fans were showing was not productive. We were trying to push for something that was productive, and that led to our letter-writing campaigns. Brian Borg (Twin Suns Foundation Founder and President), Matt Wilkins (Matt's Expanded Universe, YouTube), Dylan Kling (Twin Suns Foundation Vice President), Bill Adkins (Twin Suns Foundation Social Media Moderator and former Board Member), and many more started taking into account what was effective, and also what was not. I believe it was Matt Wilkins who suggested the billboard, due to the success of the 2015 campaign to bring back Crystal Pepsi. From that idea, Brian kickstarted the first billboard fundraiser, which got us our first billboard which went up in 2016! We also had some excess funds, so Brian and the others decided the best way to promote the billboard's goals with the extra cash would be to pay it forward--and thus the history of donating books began! Star Wars books were donated to Dobson Ranch Library in Mesa, AZ. That was the start of a chain reaction, and everyone involved realized that we would keep pushing for more Legends, and that we could do that through promoting literacy: Creating a new generation of fans by bringing Star Wars books to kids! So thus Twin Suns Foundation began, as a means to share our love for Star Wars through sharing it with a new generation.
HTF: Recently The Twins Suns Foundation has purchased two more billboards as a continuance of the "Give Us Legends" campaign. This year marks the 4th anniversary of your initial efforts to reach out to Lucasfilm. What exactly are you hoping to accomplish?
Amelia: Like with the first billboard, we want to communicate with Lucasfilm that there is still a desire from fans to see our Legends stories continued. And we can definitely see the effects of campaigns, like ours, in the latest stuff from Disney and Star Wars--the most popular being the addition of Grand Admiral Thrawn to Rebels, and getting a trilogy of books in the new continuity! However, we also want to clarify to Lucasfilm's employees that, while we appreciate they are hearing the fans and responding, there is a great desire to have the old Expanded Universe/Legends continued! There are so many stories that were left hanging, and while seeing fan-favorites in new Canon content is exciting, it does not replace the desire for new books that continue these stories, such as "Sword of the Jedi", that we never got closure to.
HTF: In 2016, the first set of billboards were heavily featured by many media outlets. However the narrative put forth by much of that coverage greatly misrepresented the organizers and your goals. What would you like to say about that and to your fellow Star Wars fans?
Amelia: To our fellow Star Wars fans, "Trust your instincts." We can make every move to try and communicate effectively, not just with Lucasfilm, but also the media and general public. But ultimately, we cannot change their minds or their perception of us. So try to look at the facts behind the surface as much as possible. After all, we are fans just like you!
HTF: Has Lucasfilm or anyone affiliated with it taken the opportunity to respond to the "Give Us Legends" campaign in any fashion?
Amelia: We had some Lucasfilm representatives re-tweet the images of the first billboard!
We also have been to Star Wars Celebration twice now in an official capacity, and we have our fingers crossed that if Celebration Anaheim 2020 is able to proceed (safety first, though!), that they will welcome us back again! So somehow we've managed to be professional enough to make this reality.
HTF: For years the Star Wars fans have been clamoring for a proper onscreen version of The Old Republic, yet it has recently been announced that The High Republic is the next era of Star Wars to be heavily produced. What are your thoughts on that and do you feel like the fans are being heard?
Amelia: That would likely depend on who you'd ask. Twin Suns Foundation is not just a charity, but a diverse community of people with different stances on how much time and energy they spend keeping up with new Canon content! But we have always advocated for more Star Wars for everyone, so overall? Probably a good thing!
HTF: Lots of Star Wars projects are in the pipeline for the near future for Disney's new streaming service. If Disney+ were to dedicate an animated series towards Legends, what stories should be presented first and why?
Amelia: That's a good question! The majority of Disney+ content is family-friendly focused, so it may be difficult to translate any of the books to screen, unless they did a new series altogether that happened to be continuous with the Legends timeline! So maybe a TV-G friendly telling of stories such as the "X-Wing" series, or even "Young Jedi Knights"/"Junior Jedi Knights", since these two series were written for younger audiences. The Jude Watson books would also be a good gold-mine of family-friendly stories!
HTF: Are there any current campaigns or fundraisers that Star Wars fans & supporters can look forward to in the near future?
Amelia: We've always got something up our sleeves! Right now, we're still fundraising for the third of three book drives that have been postponed, but fortunately not cancelled. While the Emperor may not share our optimism, we are hopeful that as soon as our hospitals are certain it is safe to resume events, we will be able to proceed with our book drives!
HTF: How can fellow Star Wars fans support The Twin Suns Foundation?
Amelia: I always love this question, because there are so many ways! The most obvious is financial, by supporting our most current fundraisers. However, even when we're not actively fundraising, we still have general fees to keep our site up and running, so our friends who support us on Amazon Smile are doing a lot to make that happen. But most of all, sharing. Whether it's sharing images we posted, updates, fundraisers--whatever trouble we're up to, even when you may not have pocket change to donate, you are spreading the word! Word of mouth has helped us get where we are, against all odds, so let's keep it up!
Thanks so much to Amelia and the rest of the Twins Suns Foundation for their efforts in promoting literacy and continuing to Honor The Force!