08 Jun Craftivism Ingredient #1: Personal Reflection
We believe that there are lots of ingredients needed to create effective craftivism activities that benefit the maker as well as reciever/viewer of the final piece. Craftivism is a word being used more and more across the world. For us activism is the priority and craft is the tool to do this deeply engaging and transformative approach to campaigning to challenge unjust structures that harm people as well as challenge us as individuals to help and not harm others or the planet. We hope our approach to craftivism makes sense to you & we would love your comments on whether you agree or not
1. Personal Reflection
People sometimes ask me what is the biggest benefit of using craft as a medium for activism. I struggle to narrow it down to 20 benefits never mind one, but the first thing many people experience as a benefit of craftivism is that it is a form of ‘slow activism’.
It gives the craftivist a chance to reflect on an issue in a meditative, focused and personal way. I always encourage people to make time to do craftivism on their own as well as with a group of people so that they can reflect even more deeply by exercising their inner monologue, something we often don’t make time to do in our busy lives. There are some very moving testimonies on the website of the charity Fine Cell Work by prisoners who craft, the charity works with prisoners to help them gain a craft skill, some income and also to help with self worth and rehabilitation.
Activism is often so fast: sign this petition, click this ‘like’, hold this placard, march down this street. Craft helps us to stop, to focus on a single issue and take ownership of the issue we are stitching a message about. Doing craftivism gently disciplines me to think slowly about injustices. It reminds me that positive social change often has many elements to its solution, is a continuous challenge with few quick wins and that evil flourishes when good people do nothing.
Our most recent project, the Craftivist Jigsaw #imapiece project to support Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign, asks people to create hand-stitched messages on small fabric jigsaw shaped patches. We asked people to make three patches. One would be for an installation for anyone to see how we are passionate about being part of the solution to eradicate child malnutrition. The second piece would be for the maker to remind them to keep campaigning to eradicate poverty, to keep buying as ethically as possible and to keep thriving to be our best selves where we don’t harm our global citizens directly or indirectly through our actions. The third piece was to give to their local Member of Parliament (MP) to encourage them to be part of the solution to end world hunger by lobbying the Prime Minister, asking him to give the issue the highest priority at this year’s G8 hosted in the UK. With the jigsaw pieces posted to me I received very honest and thoughtful comments and links to blogs from people talking about what they were thinking when stitching their jigsaws and thanking us for offering them an activity to help them to ask themselves how we can all be pieces of the solution to world hunger whether we are an MP, mother, banker, shop assistant, auntie, craftsperson… that’s a big question that is hard to answer without a few hours to think about it and what better way to help ourselves focus and reflect on that issue than with a needle and thread in hand?