Canary Craftivists FAQ

04 Jun Canary Craftivists FAQ

Canary flocks

  • Where to host a flock?

Choose somewhere you love. Think about the places and landmarks near you that you love. It could be a hill overlooking your community or near a historic building residents recognise or a park your community are protective of, or even at a less busy spot on the beach. Then choose a date that works for all of you (probably the trickiest part ;)) and plan whether you’ll be making your handmade canary MP gifts on the day, or simply having a picnic or chat. 

Next, tell the local press about your flock – here’s a link how and PDF version here

Then send us your photos of the day using #canarycraftivists

  • I’m too shy to join a Canary Craftivist flock, what can I do? 

Make a canary for your MP to deliver to them in person or via pos in the first week in September 🙂 

Although you don’t need to speak to the public or even to each other when joining a flock and you don’t have to make a beak, you could just wear a yellow top that you take off when not in the flock! This quiet, visually stimulating image of a flock will attract and intrigue passersby as well as those who come across your image of your flock in the local media and social media.

  • I’ve never connected the local newspaper before. I’m nervous. 

Don’t be nervous. Local newspapers, magazines and website are always so grateful for stories especially with lovely photos. Here is a press release (PDF here) you can fill out to send. It also has top tips for how to email them and what photographs to take. 

  • What do I do at my canary flock gathering?

Anything quiet and respectful: You can stay for a few minutes to capture the photographs you need for local media and social media and then leave. You can enjoy a cuppa or a picnic together or stay for hours engrossed in making your small yellow canary in complete silence! It’s up to you. Just remember to not be too disruptive of others enjoying the area by being in the way or making lots of noise. You want to intrigue people with your quiet gathering, not demand their attention. 

You can use this time in your flock to reflect on your crafter-thoughts (see below): you can choose to do this by yourself or as a group.

  • Taking photographs of your canary flock

Send us photos and short videos! We’d love to see how your day we, so please do take photographs and send them to us using the hashtag #CanaryCraftivists and/or email them to sarah [at] craftivist – collective [dot] com. Try not to overthink it, as long as the picture is in focus and you have daylight to help you’re likely to get beautiful photos. Need a little inspiration? Here’s a list of things to capture on the day:

  1. Photo(s) of your small, quiet canary flock with the landmark/place you love in the background
  2. Photo(s) of the flock crafting
  3. Photo(s) of your canaries
  4. 10-20 second video(s) of your flock while crafting or enjoying a picnic
  5. 5-10 second video of someone in a handmade canary cape in ‘superhero pose’
  6. 5-10 second clip(s) of someone talking through their crafter-thoughts
  7. 5-10 second clip(s) of your day as it happens

  • Why small flocks and not bigger protests?
  1. The strategy behind our campaign is to have flocks no bigger than 12 people. There are many reasons for this: so we are not in the way of passersby, we are not intimidating anyone or making noise, and people do not feel threatened at all. 
  2. We want our flocks to be of quiet gentle crafters who may never have taken climate action so we want it to be welcoming, accessible and not stressful. 
  3. It’s about quality of participants not quantity. It might sound counterintuitive but the more we curate our flocks of people of different ages, backgrounds, political persuasions and who have not taken activism before, the more we can show the UK Government that it’s not just your ‘typical’ climate activist holding them to account for their actions or inactions on the climate crisis. 
  4. Your ‘unusual’ group of climate activists make your happening more media-worthy for local media and social media. Local media love hearing voices of people they don’t expect to be talking about their concerns about global warming  especially if it’s done like we are doing: respectfully, visually stimulating and in a positive encouraging way that shows our love of our area and not fueling division or despair.

Who do you want to take par in this campaign?

  • Can my climate activism group take part?

This campaign will have the most impact if it’s taken part by people who are not already part of a climate campaign group and ideally who have not taken part in climate action before. Because we currently have a Conservative party led UK Government we want local media and centre or right-wing national news outlets to cover this story of ‘unusual climate activists’ taking part in quiet crafty ways to show their concern for the climate. If you would like to take part please do think carefully about who you could recruit to take part who is not already taking climate action and this gentle and crafty action might attract them to take part. Please do not co-brand the project as it will confuse people and confuse journalists we are already talking to to cover the campaign in the autumn. 

Crafting a canary for your local Member of Parliament (MP)

  • How to find out who’s your MP 

Visit theyworkforyou.com and enter your postcode. 

  • How to find your MPs email address 

Find your MP and their contact details here: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP 

  • What to send in your handwritten letter?

Template coming in July with lots of time to have it before sending it to your MP in the first week in September

  • Where to send your canary and handwritten letter?

The best thing to do is email your MPs office and ask their staff where to send the gift. Just send a friendly paragraph saying that you (a constituent) have handmade them a gift to encourage them in their role as MP. It’s a small gift that does not take up space and it’s not financially valuable so is not a bribe! They are likely to be intrigued, even excited to reply to gain their gift. FYI: If your MP is not in Westminster, the post is automatically forwarded on to them.

  • Why make a canary for your local MP and not the Prime Minister or someone else?

Members of Parliament (MPs) represent their constituents in government. Unlike the Prime Minister and other Ministers they have a duty to respond to your concerns and are influenced by what their constituency publically voice their concerns on. They can also write to the Prime Minister and cabinet members on your behalf and ask them what they are doing to address your concern. This is the most impactful and strategic way to engage the UK Government than contacting the PM directly who does not have to engage with your correspondence and has many more demands on his time.

  • Yet politicians are busy, and their inboxes are full. There are more problems to solve and few thank-you notes. So, how will your yellow canary and handwritten letter measure up to a river of emails? 

Your yellow canary is humble. It’s respectfully challenging. Most importantly, it’s memorable. By gifting a yellow canary to your MP your voice has a better chance of being heard. As a power holder, it’s pretty disarming to receive such a thoughtful and thought-provoking gift, especially if you’re used to being screamed at all day.

Details about this campaign

  • Who is funding this project? 

Our ‘Canary Craftivists’ campaign is a part of Climate Action: Race to Zero challenges. We are all in a race to zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. We were given £5000 to help with costs alongside from our generous and kind Craftivist Collective patrons and payment from Sarah’s talks, product sales and training sessions. This project is done on a shoestring so that we can be flexible and agile in our work.

  • Why a two-part campaign? [i.e. Sit together as a ‘flock of canaries’ (inviting local press for coverage) and hand make a small yellow canary to gift to your local MP with a handwritten letter]

There are two reasons why we are going this route: 

  1. We need to show the UK Government that it’s not just your typical climate activist you see in the news who are worried about the effects of climate change. Quiet crafters from across the political spectrum really care too and this is our way of coming together for a common cause showing that we are concerned in our quiet and kind way and want the UK Government to do more and quicker to address this urgent issue. 
  2. It’s strategic! It’s hard to ignore the power of a handmade gift made just for you as a warning about climate change and as a tool to encourage you to use your power in a responsible and positive way in your constituency. Plus you might not read the local newspaper but politicians do and the more local media we receive, the more accountable the UK Government collectively feels to deliver on their promise of a greener and cleaner future.

Competition Details

  • How do I submit to your competition? 

We are offering prizes to gentle craftivists worth £100 each for:

  1. The most striking image of your flock of friends near a local loved landmark in your community to attract local media 
  2. The most beautiful handcrafted canary  
  3. The best contribution by a young person (up to 25 years old)

The deadline for submissions is 1st November 2021

To enter the competition (optional) please email photographs of your #CanaryCraftivsts involvement, your answers to our 3 crafter-thought questions, your age and why you wanted to get involved in this climate action to Sarah [at] Craftivist – Collective [dot] com

  • What is Race To Zero? 

“Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This will send governments a resounding signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy”
More info at https://unfccc.int/climate-action/race-to-zero-campaign

Have more questions and need more support?

Things to do if you want to take part but feel anxious…

  • Breathe. Remember who won the race (it was the careful tortoise not the erratic hare). 
  • You’re one jigsaw piece in the puzzle – you’re not the whole puzzle being asked to save the world on your own. That’s not fair, realistic or a healthy thought for any of us to have. Your craftivism actions are part of a bigger movement for positive change to complement other actions people are taking, to add to the mix. To show that the climate movement is more diverse and there are more ways to show you care about climate than what people might expect. 
  • You’re not alone. This is one project you take part of that others across the UK not to replace other forms of activism but to join a larger movement of climate campaigning encouraging the UK Government to be bold leaders at COP26.
  • We have crafter-thought questions to reflect on so you don’t fixate on the problem and end up in a downward spiral. Answer them at home in your notebook or at a canary flock while making a yellow canary for your local MP

  • I’m not the best crafter, can I still take part?

Mistakes and imperfections can often be endearing too, so don’t stress about making them. It’s always good to try and make sure your craftivism object is as neat and attractive as you can, yet little mistakes show human hands tried their hardest to make it because they care about the injustice.

  • I have more questions, help!

We’ve got lovely craftivists who are taking part in the project to share their tips, advice and solidarity too. We’ve also got a series of IGTVs and videos to watch so do follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more info and support. Furthermore, we have the best community on our Facebook Group – join us!) Our friendly craftivists will be happy to help. 
Remember that I’m (Sarah) here to help if you can’t find the answers on our website or search engines. You can message me on social media or email me here.

Canary Craftivists GLOSSARY

  • Crafter-thoughts

At Craftivist Collective, craftivism is more than just the making and the final creation; it’s about the thought behind the action. The mindful activism that connects our hands and hearts with our heads gives us the courage to grapple with big issues through deep contemplation. We’ve got an affectionate term for the thoughts that influence our craftivism at every stage. These ‘crafter-thoughts’ are vital little things. They’re seeds from which our learning and understanding of the world grows. Each one we jot down empowers us to be more effective in all that we do. Why not help make the world a better place one stitch at a time by using craft as a way to engage people in global issues to think, act and be the change they wish to see in the world.

Use the slow stitch-by-stitch nature of craft to help you consider the complexities of injustices. The crafter-thoughts linked to our #CanaryCraftivists campaign are listed below. More about them in our campaign page here 

1. What do you enjoy about your favourite green space in your area? 

2. Where do you think you might be able to reduce your own carbon emissions to protect our world?

3. Imagine you are a politician: how would you feel about receiving a beautiful, handmade yellow canary from a constituent?

  • Gentle Protest

A ‘Gentle Protest’ is not passive or weak. It’s a protest against harmful actions that are delivered in a careful and compassionate way, encouraging, inspiring and holding power holders to account in a kind and attractive way.. 

Martin Luther King Jr said that we all need to campaign with ‘a tough mind and a tender heart’ to be effective. We need to be strategic, realistic, carefully plan our campaigns and we need to thread love through our activism.

  • Canary Flock

A small group of 2-12 people (ideally who are new to climate action), wearing a handmade yellow canary cape, gathered at a local landmark which politicians and residents recognise and treasure.

  • Race to Zero

Race To Zero is a global initiative, backed by science-based targets, to commit businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest. Visit the Race to Zero website for more information here

  • COP26

The COP26 (Conference of the Parties) event is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. COP26 will be biggest summit the UK has ever hosted. It is being described as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. The 2021 meeting in November will be the 26th meeting, which is why it’s called COP26. More about COP26 here

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