“We believe an effective Craftivist uses craft as a tool for gentle activism aimed at influencing long-term change.”
The award-winning Craftivist Collective was founded in 2009 when after years of marches, signing protests and working as a professional campaigner for large charities, most recently Oxfam GB, award-winning professional campaigner Sarah Corbett had begun to doubt the effects of some conventional activism, uncomfortable with the demonising of power holders, slacktivism on offer and didn’t feel that she fitted in to many activist groups (especially as an introvert). She was also burning out as an activist, fast. The time felt right too add a slower, more humble, more loving and less aggressive approach to the activism toolkit not to replace other forms of activism but to add more tools to do activism effectively. Others agreed – after friends and strangers contacted Sarah asking to join in her craftivism it was an organic step to set up the Craftivist Collective.
Sarah saw how she could use some of the beneficial processes of handicrafts and the final products as tools for a gentle, respectful and more strategic way of doing activism. Although as a principle ‘Craftivism’ already existed (coined in 2003 by Betsy Greer), it took no time for Sarah to develop her own unique approach she calls ‘Gentle Protest’. One focused first on putting the contemplative moments spent stitching to work for the maker; exploring global issues and using craft for critical thinking. Then the finished craft piece are used in different ways to engage, empower and encourage people to become part of the change we need to see in the world because, in Sarah’s words:
“If we want the world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then shouldn’t our activism also be more beautiful, kind and fair?”
Craftivist Collective was born…
After struggling to find any craftivism groups or projects to join, Sarah started creating her own projects. Within a few months budding Craftivists all over the world discovered Sarah’s work and wanted to join in so in 2009 she set up the global Craftivist Collective.
Now with thousands of members, an innovation award from the UK charity sector, praise and respect from charities, academics and the arts sector, Craftivist Collective is thriving. Craftivism kits and tools are available to craftivists and intrigued people all over the world to support them to do some thoughtful, strategic and kind craftivism. ‘A Little Book of Craftivism‘ book was release 2013 and is now in it’s second edition. And a more in-depth book ‘How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest‘ is released October 2017. You can find our approach to craftivism in many different publications (and languages) around the world; 4 TEDx talks; over 300 workshops and presentations given around the world attended by over 11,000 people, and many successful partnerships with charities (including Unicef and Save the Children), art institutions (including Tate, Southbank, V&A) and universities (such as Bauhaus University, Falmouth University and Parsons New School NYC) have all helped carry our ‘gentle protest’ methodology to a global audience whilst our campaigns have also created tangible positive change. Worldwide project exhibitions and high profile collaborations, with the likes of cult jewellers Tatty Devine and Secret Cinema, have helped extend its reach beyond the normal bounds of activism.
Stitch by contemplative stitch Craftivist Collective continues to thread activism through all it does, prioritising social injustice and using craft as a tool not taskmaster to expose the world’s injustices and always striving to help people be part of the solution.
So pick up the thread and join us.
What we do (and have done…)
We’ve worked with, amongst others:
Some of the places we’ve spoken at:
#Humblebrag alert – We’ve been featured in:
See us in action…
Or download the chat we had with Lush’s Charlie Moores at the Lush Summit and convinced him to embrace his gentle side in the cause of change by clicking on the image below.
Want a touch of craftivism or gentle protest at your next event?
We can provide speakers, consultants and facilitators for workshops.