20 May “I hope people think about the words and what they mean, as I did when I wrote the banner.” Blog by Craftivist Maddy Baxter
An article in a magazine, a passion for cross stitching and fighting social injustices and a pair of sunglasses left in a Harvester (restaurant) culminated in me making my first ever craftivist banner. This is the story of how I came to be on the street at 10pm last night, hanging my banner on some local railings whilst a man in the social club opposite watched me out of a window.
During my teens I discovered cross stitching. I also discovered that there were people in this world who were starving, who were being killed or imprisoned because they stood up for themselves and their communities against brutal government regimes, that multinational companies were putting profits above people and the environment. I joined Amnesty International, I made regular donations to Oxfam, I signed petitions, I shared articles on Facebook. Now in my early 30s I was starting to feel defeated. What was the point? Nothing has changed, the people in power don’t care about anyone but themselves and their rich mates.
“Then a couple of months ago I read an article about the Craftivist Collective in a cross stitching magazine. As soon as I finished reading it I went online, looked at the Craftivist Collective website and ordered myself a banner kit and The Little Book of Craftivism. I felt inspired.”
The Craftivist Collective provide such a simple but brilliant idea. I was excited, pumped up, but at the same time had no idea what message I wanted to sew onto my banner. This is where the sunglasses come in……
I live in London and I have a very good friend who lives in the Northamptionshire. We were due a catch up so decided to meet for lunch in a Harvester in St Albans. After a very nice lunch I got home to find my prescription sunglasses weren’t in my bag. I phoned the Harvester and they said they had found them on the floor. So the following weekend me and my hubby went back to St Alban’s to get my sunglasses. “We might as well make a day of it I said” and turned to my trustee National Trust Book to see if there were any National Trust properties near St Albans. We ended up at Shaw’s Corner, the house where the playwright George Bernard Shaw lived. The only thing I knew about him was that he wrote Pygmalion which was turned into the film My Fair Lady. At Shaw’s Corner I discovered that not only was he a playwright but he was also a socialist and an activist and that he said some brilliant, funny and inspiring things.
“When I got home I looked up George Bernard Shaw quotes on the internet and found the perfect quote for my banner “A Government that rob’s Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul” It was short and snappy but at the same time held a key message.”
As I made my banner I started thinking about rich people and companies supporting parties that represent their interests and not caring about others interests. However I then began to think about the reasons we all decide who to vote for. I questioned myself about who I vote for and why. We all vote for parties that support our own interests and the things we believe in, be that capitalism, socialism, environmentalism etc. But we must all remember that using the country’s coffers to pay for the things we want, means taking money away from others, whose wants and needs are just as valid as ours, even if we don’t agree with them.
“I found that making the banner gave me the chance to use my creativity to get a message across but at the same time gave me time to really think about the message and to question myself.”
I decided to hang my banner on some railings in my local town that overlook a river. It’s just a normal bit of railing in a normal town overlooking a small river that runs under the road, and as I wanted my banner to be read by “normal” people it seemed the perfect spot.
I hope the man who was watching me from the Social Club as I hung the banner let his curiosity get the better of him and he went and read what I’d put up. I hope that people read it when they walk past, pause and let the river carry their thoughts. I hope people think about the words and what they mean, as I did when I wrote the banner. And when they next find themselves in the polling booth I hope they remember my banner.
A big thanks to Maddy for her time and thoughtfyl answers. You can join in our craftivism projects wherever you are in the world, on your own or in a groups. We sell craftivism kits on our Etsy shop amongst other items if you want to make one for yourself or encourage a group of your friends to make theirs together. Our book ‘A Little Book of Craftivism’ is also full of tips, advice and projects to help you in your craftivism. Craftivist Collective is a social enterprise that relies on your support. If you enjoyed this blog post, please comment, share or visit our shop