28 Feb Unity for Ukraine. Advice for Craftivists who want to make change
I’ve heard from many of you around the world that you are so upset, angry, scared, overwhelmed, despairing or maybe all of the above about what Russian President Putin is doing right now in Ukraine and you understandably want to use the soothing nature of craft to do something, anything (!) to help.
I’m not going to give you a specific craftivism project to do. You can see below examples of what people are already doing alone, in groups or with respected organisations that you can copy or be inspired by to do something that fits your context. We have projects on our website you can tweak plus our manifesto you can download, our free online courseto help you plan a strategic, gentle and effective craftivism action and our Facebook Group ‘Craftivists’ is a great place to discuss your ideas and get tips from our community of gentle craftivists around the world.
What I think might be most helpful is to offer some important advise from over a decade of experience to help you with your craftivism you wish to do to show solidarity with Ukraine:
1. Act from a place of calm. You want your craftivism to be proactive not reactive. Strong emotions can be helpful catalysts to take action but we need to make sure they are not driving our craftivism car. When we are led by our emotions we struggle to think clearly, strategically and think beyond our own immediate needs. Before you start crafting, breathe slowly, try 60seconds of mindfulness, be aware of your emotions without judging them and let your racing heart and head slow down.
I want to feel that I’m actually making some sort of change in they world, not just making pretty things and spreading then around for fame and glory. It comes down to the patience again, I guess. Be the tortoise! I am very grateful for your help in becoming more self-aware so I don’t burn out and so I can challenge myself to be a better craftivist. This gentle approach to craftivism has made me a peaceful and happy activist and a better role model for my child, teaching her a good way to change the world.”– Craftivist Jess (Sweden)
2. Prioritise the process of crafting for critical thinking. It’s tempting to use the soothing nature of craft to distract us from our worries about war whilst feeling like we are doing something good and helpful for the world. To serve the cause most effectively needs our head and heart not just our hands. Focus on quality not quantity (especially to mitigate risk of using more craft resources than needed or your objects ending up in a landfill). Use the process of crafting as a form of slow and thoughtful craftivism. Whilst crafting can you learn from credible sources explaining why Putin is invading Ukraine, educate yourself on the propaganda he is spreading to Russians and the world, and what you can do to be of best help to Ukraine as a voter, consumer, citizen etc to help bring about peace not promote polarisation? Alone or with other craftivists together can you craft some ‘crafterthought questions‘ before you start crafting to reflect on whilst crafting e.g. What realistic actions can I take to promote peace and hold politicians to account for their actions or in actions? How can I mitigate risk of polarisation or divisiveness with Russian civilian viewers of my craftivism object? What response or action do I want people to take when they see my Craftivism objective object and is it clear from my object or do I need to attach a tag or more information for people to engage more fully with it? Is it safe to do my craftivism idea or ask others to take part in their country or could it risk arrest or violence against them?
“The first ten minutes, I just felt frustrated at my terrible handiwork… I had to unpick my terrible stitching and start from scratch. But having to go back and start from scratch was the most important moment. It made me stop, I mean really stop, and think about what I was doing. In other words, it allowed me to be a fuller me as it didn’t stop my critical thinking to function. If anything, it makes my brain work better. It paces it, leaving space for even more connections.”– Craftivist Holly (UK)
3. Craftivism is a catalyst not conclusion. Now is a powerful time to show Putin that the world is watching and against him. Your visually provocative handmade objects show your love, unity and solidarity with Ukrainians. Your craftivism shows your local politicians that you want them to do as much as they can to protect lives and promote peace. Sharing your crafterthoughts and crafty actions encourage others to show their solidarity too. See your craftivism as catalysts for conversation online and offline with others about what non-craft actions we can do to help too. See your objects as physical reminders to be part of the peaceful world we want to keep being part of creating. See your craftivism as part of your journey as a Changemakers not the destination…
“The project encouraged and challenged me in many different ways. One example is that it caused me to slow down when engaging in activism. Now, before I fire off that email or angry post on Facebook, I take time to think, pray and consider how to engage in a strong yet respectful way.”– Craftivist Elizabeth (USA)
Some examples from Craftivist Collective community on our Facebook Group:
“These were left outside Bolton Ukrainian Cultural Centre yesterday morning. I wanted them to know people were thinking about them and their families in Ukraine. I kept it very simple as I think the heart says everything.”
– Kazz written in our Craftivists Facebook Group
“We [UK Girlguiding members] made cards for Girlguiding in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Hungary, Poland, Slovaki and Romania with messages of love.We lit a candle and listened to the Ukraine national anthem and thought of all people in conflict before singing Taps by candlelight-it was very moving and parents have said the girls talked of it when they got home.”– Louise Roberts written in our Craftivists Facebook Group
“These poppies are on a group postbox as toppers and yarn bombing“
– Niki Dlee written in our Craftivists Facebook Group
“I’m making yellow and blue hats and I’ll take them to the folk that are demonstrating every day at the Capitol building. Might get some pizza for them too.” [Please be careful that your craftivism does not increase the risk of harm or arrest of protesters]– Katherine Kusuma Donnelly- Anderson written in our Craftivists Facebook Group
More ideas from Craftivist Collective members:
“I’m going to try and make a banner of some sort incorporating sunflowers.” – Lyn Barlow.
“The Ukraine national flower is a sunflower and their national animal a nightingale. To show solidarity, I am asking friends to craft a yellow and blue sunflower in the national colours or to ‘use’ a nightingale symbol.” Sheila Webb
Join the conversations at www.facebook.com/groups/craftivistcollective
Let’s use craft as a tool to serve social change where it is helpful and encourage us to be part of the change we wish to see in our world in crafty and non-crafty ways
All my solidarity,
Sarah P Corbett
Founder of Craftivist Collective.