This delightful little book was published last week. For those that don’t know craftivism is a mixture of craft and activism. Craftivists get together and do stuff to raise awareness about issues and attempt to change the world for the better. The link between craft and campaigning for a better world is long perhaps Gandhi (a keen hand spinner) and William Morris are the best known folk to combine both but many craftspeople take the skill up as part of a drive for a better perhaps slower more thoughtful life. That is exactly where the current craftivists fit in. They tend to be (though not exclusively) young and female and crafts are a means to an end, they are a way fo campaigning that is perhaps not as aggressive or in your face as some campaigning can be. It also suits folk that are quieter, more thoughtful less confrontational. The word craftivism was first coined in the USA by Betsy Greer and in the UK one of the most active groups are the craftivist collective started by Sarah Cobbett and Sarah is the author of the little book of craftivism. It’s a bargain just a fiver here
Sarah starts the book by relating the story of how she used to go on marches and sign petitions but…
“I felt many of the traditional forms of activism actually annoyed the very people they were trying to influence. I wasn’t convinced that shouting, preaching and demanding someone do a particular action would change their mind.”
The first letter she got from her local MP was to ask her to stop petitioning as it wasted everybody’s time.
So she discovered craftivism “I decided ti hand embroider her a message on a hankerchief asking her to use her power and influence to support the most vulnerable in society.”
That message now sits on the MPs constituency office desk showing the difference a gentle understanding approach can make. Craft and particularly the soft traditionally feminine crafts are great for encouraging cooperation, gentle quiet working together, they draw people in. The messages are hard hitting though, they typically campaign on issues like sweatshop labour used in the fashion industry, attaching small embroidered messages to railings at strategic points during fashion week.
Visit the website to find out more or better still buy the book, it’s only a fiver including world wide postage. It won’t take you long to read and it won’t change the world in one go but it is heartwarming to know that some people out there are trying to be the change they want to see in the world. And anyone that puts a Gandhi quote on the back of their first book has got to be OK.