18 Oct Presenting… our A Craftivist’s Manifesto!
I sometimes think Craftivism is like the word Punk. Under that umbrella term you have The Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Blondie and so many other bands that sound nothing like each other but are all seen as part of the Punk scene. Similarly Craftivism (the term was coined by Betsy Greer in 2001) can be used to describe so many different activities and creations.
Here at the Craftivist Collective we focus on campaigning and activism where we question and challenge the root causes of poverty and suffering and look for long term solutions to those problems. The solutions might be a change in law, a shift in behaviour or a change in attitude. Our heroes are activists like Ghandi, Martin Luther King and the Suffragettes who all brilliantly changed our world for the long term. So the Craftivist Collective is not about fundraising, donating or simply awareness-raising. We use craft (mostly hand-embroidery) as a powerful tool to create slow, quiet, thoughtful and compassionate activism as a catalyst for long term positive change in our world and in ourselves. We believe craft, if done wisely, can be a powerful, change-making instrument to add to the toolbox of activism.
“If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind & just, then our activism should be beautiful, kind & just”
We are aware that good intentions are only the start and that we can benefit from guidelines so that we don’t harm others. When we are working for example alongside vulnerable people to help them out of poverty and suffering, we believe we have to be even more emotionally intelligent and sensitive than if we were working in another area that doesn’t focus on justice issues. All of our craftivism actions should be rooted in our values, crafted with skill, sensitivity and wisdom.
As part of my recent exhibition in Stockholm,Sweden I created this manifesto (pictured) as the largest piece in the exhibition room. It took 6 months to write, rewrite and reflect on before I thought it was good enough! For the Craftivist Collective and for myself, activism is the priority and craft is our tool where appropriate, never our taskmaster.
I hope our manifesto is a useful creation to help others understand what it means to be part of the Craftivist Collective community and maybe even be a useful tool to help with other forms of activism…. What do you think? Please comment below.
Hang on your toilet door, office, studio or craft room. Important for anyone who wants to do effective craftivism.
The wonderful team at The Letterpress Collective, Bristol, UK have letterpress printed our craftivism manifesto on recycled card to sell in our shop. That old-school method makes each one just a tiny bit different – a one-of-a-kind creation. Limited to 100 prints and all signed and numbered. Size A3 (29.7cm x 42cm) and arrives in a poster tube. Grab yours before they all go! So far we’ve had organisations buy prints for their office, a PhD student order one for his desk, craftivists purchase them to help with their craftivism as well as artists, writers and clinicians.
All profits go to help sustain and grow the collective’s activities to engage people in craftivism and support people to be the change they wish to see in the world.