Craftivism: new year’s revolution!

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Posted Jan 17 2013 by Barley Massey of Fabrications
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New Year Revolutions! Revolution = A turning, change (dictionary definition). It’s the start of a new year again, many of us will have made resolutions, usually to give something up – like smoking. Or to lose something – like some weight! Or to do more of something – like spending quality time with family and friends. How about directing that positive energy into making the world a better and fairer place for everyone? Quite a tall order you may think – where would you begin?

If you think you are too small to make a difference try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito” – African Proverb

As a designer-maker and running my business Fabrications, I have held the belief that craft and design has an amazing potential for creating social and environmental change. It was a real inspiration to meet the likeminded Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective 3 years ago and I’ve subsequently been participating in and supporting a number of the Craftivist Collective’s projects in exposing and tackling injustice and poverty through provocative, non-violent action.

For those of you who have not heard of ‘Craftivism’, simply it describes the act of combining Craft + Activism = Craftivism.

Craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite” – Betsy Greer

Betsy Greer defined the term during her M.A. in Sociology from Goldsmith’s College in London in 2003. Her master’s dissertation was on knitting, DIY culture and community development. She identified how “Craftivism is the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes. By using their creative energy to help make the world a better place, craftivists help bring about positive change via personalized activism. Craftivism allows practitioners to customize their particular skills to address particular causes”

In 2009 the ‘Craftivist Collective’ was founded by Sarah Corbett who started off doing craftivism projects in 2008 under the name ‘A Lonely Craftivist’ as a reaction of feeling like a burnt-out activist, not feeling she fitted into many activism groups and wanting to do activism differently.

In a July 2010 interview Betsy wrote “I’m glad that Sarah has really understood what I was trying to get at all those years ago. The heart of the idea is so important to me that it makes my day when someone else sees the same power in it that I do”

On that note, as your 2013 resolution, I would love all you to get involved in the Craftivist Collective’scurrent project #imapiece in conjunction with Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign.

Sarah Corbett says: “Life is like a puzzle, it all seems a mess but when it gets finished it looks brilliant. There are some amazing small-scale successful projects happening all over the world that are tackling hunger and showing that the world doesn’t have to have malnourished children whose potentials are stunted. There is no one solution to the problem of injustice but we can all play a part in a movement for change. The G8 coming back to the UK is too big an opportunity to miss so why not have your New Year’s Resolution to be part of eradicating hunger through your love of craft? That would be a pretty cool resolution right?!”

How can you get involved? You can stitch messages onto material jigsaw pieces which will be put together to make a HUGE creative, crafty installation alternative to a petition that Save the Children will show off to our Government, the public and World Leaders showing that hundreds, even thousands of us, want, with world leaders, to be a part of the solution to hunger, not the problem. You can also give a jigsaw piece to your local MP to remind them to be a part of the solution too or at least tell them about the piece you made for the installation. If you have never approached your local MP in this way before Fran Swaine has written a really good blog post about how easy and useful it was to approach her local MP. You can also host your own ‘stitch-in’ event and get others inspired and involved in the project , sign the Save the Children petition, and spread the word online through Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc using the hashtag #imapiece.

As with all their projects, the Craftivist Collective have created really excellent tools to help and support you to get involved! Download the jigsaw piece pattern and instructions here, see some of the stitched jigsaw pieces created by fellow crafters here and a collection of Vlogs, posts and online streaming about #imapiece here.

What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is in the end of little consequence; the only consequence is what we do.” – John Ruskin