28 Oct Introducing our ‘Gentle Protest’ Craftivism on Children’s BBC and streamed on BBC iPlayer…
Craftivist Collective Founder Sarah P Corbett (me ;p) was invited to deliver a talk and workshop to Year 7 students (aged 11 – 12) in their school lunchtime ‘Cross Stitch Club’ to introduce them to the power of our ‘Gentle Protest’ approach to Craftivism (craft + activism).
Filmed for Episode 19 of ‘Our Boarding School‘ on Children’s BBC (CBBC) and streamed on BBC iPlayer. The BBC ‘Our School’ TV series features the everyday lives of Year 7 pupils and their teachers in secondary schools across the UK to help young viewers who are in Year 6 of Primary School and Year 7 of Secondary school as they go through the transition into a new school institution which can be scary for many of us.
Watch the full episode here (available for over a year): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001d7q9/our-school-our-boarding-school-19-prom-planners?seriesId=m001c1h4
I brought my tin chest of samples to show the students a few different ways they can use handicrafts strategically and empathetically to protest issues they care about. I displayed the objects out on our bespoke tablecloth alongside flowers and a bowl of grapes to share. That’s what I do for all of our workshops whether its for 10 people like at the school or over a hundred people at other events. Since they are a Cross Stitch Club I thought they might like to see the large cross stitch I placed in the centre saying:
In a gentle way, you can shake the worldMahatma Gandhi
We started the lunchtime workshop with them cross-stitching their letters they were allocated by their Teacher Aditi (for a decoration for their school prom) whilst I talked about how we the Craftivist Collective us craft as a tool for kind, quiet and small protests that can have a real positive difference in the craftivist and in the world. For their upcoming prom, their Headteacher encouraged all students to avoid buying new and fast fashion outfits and instead think about how they could upcycle some of their existing clothes, create small clothes-swap swishing events with each other or ask loved ones for items they could wear to their prom.
With this in mind I was clear with the students that craftivism should not be seen to replace other forms of activism but to add more tactics into their activism toolkit and that other forms of activism are just as important especially when campaigning against fast fashion. I redcieved lots of smiles and nods throughout my talk which was encouraging especially from the shy crafters in the room.
Then we got down to some hands-on craftivism together! I chose our Stitchable Changemakers letterpress printed cards to stitch as they are the easiest and quickest to make and they could finish their cards off in their own time to keep in their rooms.
I had an hour with the students- enough to give them a taster of what gentle craftivism can be and how they can use their passion for craft to also help them as good global citizens be part of the positive change they wish to see in our complex and fragile world.
The show is 22 minutes in length and I’m pleased to say that our craftivism section was a healthy 3minutes in the middle of Episode 19. Feedback so far from viewers has been really positive *phew*
I’m always worried that our work will be oversimplified in media and the nuance involved will not be presented clearly or worse, we will be misrepresented. However I think in this show they got the balance right for the age range of the viewers (11-13 year old students) with hopefully enough intrigue for viewers to want to find out more.
My favourite part of the show is the feedback from the participants:
“Activism is like, normally it fights for your rights and that’s what Sarah’s doing but through crafts. She was very inspiring, because she could make a lot of movement by doing a very subtle thing like cross stitch and I think that’s very interesting… Before I did think that cross stitch was for, like, flowers and animals and cards and not really for protesting and being an activist, but this session changed my mind and now I think that craftivism is a really cool thing to do.”Raquel
“I feel like some activism can be very violent and I feel that’s not really necessary… I learnt that you can use peaceful protest in craft as well, like, not just sending letters to people, like saying, “You should do this.” It’s, like, much more peaceful.”Belle
“What I got is how you can use craftivism to, like, it’s not rude or anything, but it’s really nice and gentle and you actually get something good out of it.”Unnamed student
“Before the whole session I didn’t know, like, this was an actual thing so it made me, like, learn.”Talia
“She made me think of craftivism and now I can’t stop thinking of it. It’s much more relaxed than activism.”Crystal
After the workshop I donated our book How To Be A Craftivist to the school library which the students and teacher seemed excited about. I also shared that I helped create the activities and training resources for the GirlGuiding UK Craftivism badge that they could look into if they are interested.
Of course I wished them all the best of luck with their cross-stitched banner for their prom and thanked them for having me join their club for the day.
We will never know what impact this one-off workshop has hadd for the students, teacher or viewers but I just hope it planted a seed in their lovely hearts and minds that they can do activism in a beautiful, kind and crafty way and there is a collective of gentle craftivists they are welcome to join.
Lastly, I have to thank the support and trust of my patrons who generously give £10 a month or £120 annually to subsidise this type of work that I do. Without their help, I could not do all of the free or low-paid work I do to help the Craftivist Collective survive, thrive and continue our gentle protest work. You can become a patron here
In solidarity as always,