Unity for Ukraine. Advice for Craftivists who want to make change

28 Feb Unity for Ukraine. Advice for Craftivists who want to make change

Dearest Craftivists,

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 downloadour 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.

  • Carlo Jean Balsdon
    Posted at 15:02h, 16 April Reply

    Please can you tell me when this book will be published? My daughter and I paid and ordered nearly 2 years ago.

    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 12:29h, 06 May Reply

      Hi Carlos 🙂 Thank you first of all for supporting our crowdfunding campaign to create a large multi-formatted handbook with Unbound Publishers. It’s a complex and book to make and therefore expensive to make – we went with Unbound publishers because 6 other publishers wanted to rush the book and create it in a much cheaper way with much simpler content which does not fit our principles and not feel honest about how to do effective gentle craftivism. Your payment helped us reach the financial target in 2020 to get the green light to create the book. You should have received updates on the progress of the book via emails from me through Unbound.com (they may have gone into your Spam/Junk sorry)

      in 2021 We had to delay the book for one year because the editor had a baby and needed to be on maternity leave. I decided it was most helpful andstrategic to use this time to create and deliver our Canary Craftivists project in the lead up to the UN Climate Conference (COP26) hosted in Glasgow in November 2021 where we mobilised over 100 ‘flocks’ of people who had never done activism or climate action before to join the climate movement and gain lots of local and national media to show power holders that a diverse audience care deeply about global warming beyond who they might expect to be campaigning.

      I am in the middle of creating the book: writing the essay, making all of the samples to photograph, compiling words and images from Craftivist Collective members around the world and working with neuroscientist Dr Danbee Kim to explain how our craftivism projects engage the maker and receiver thoughtfully and deeply. It’s a slow process to get it right and create the best book I can for you, your daughter and other readers around the world. I hope you understand. I am working as hard and fast as I can to create this 20 project book before the end of this year to be in your hands. In the meantime please use our free manifesto, free e-course, our books, kits and tools you can find on this website as well as lots of interviews and talks you can find online in video, podcast and written format to help you both on your journey as gentle craftivists.

      I hope you can understand our limitations and how slow the publishing process can be to create this high quality book. If you would rather receive a refund you can do that through unbound.com and if you have any other questions please do contact me again and I will do my best to help 🙂

      In solidarity
      Sarah x


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