Making good: Five ways to be a Craftivist

Sarah Corbett - Craftivist Collective

Sarah Corbett explains how you can use craft to make a big difference…

Despite all the conflict and division in the world right now, you can still make a difference – and even use your skills as a maker to help make the world a better place.

Founder of the Craftivist Collective Sarah Corbett has spent nine years teaching people how small, kind actions can make a huge difference and why gentle protest can spread a message just as well as big, bold statements.

We caught up with Sarah to discover the five simple steps you can take to help our world be a fairer and more understanding place for everyone…

Malala Yousafzai making with the Craftivist Collective

1. Inner Craftivism

Start with yourself. I recommend all craftivists to start their journey by making a piece of craftivism to keep at home somewhere visible as a physical reminder to encourage yourself to be a kind and considerate global citizen. Our Footprint Kits come with ‘crafterthought’ questions to lovingly challenge you to see where you can improve your own actions and habits as a constituent, consumer, friend or colleague.

Craftivist Collective - Footprint

2. Plant seeds with your craftivism.

You don’t need to make a huge statement to be heard. Reach out to members of the public by creating small, beautiful and handmade craftivism objects that you then place in public places to provoke thought and action (as well as those who might see your pieces on social media). People engage more deeply in social change issues if they’re intrigued rather than made to feel patronised, judged or shouted at. One way you can start straight away is by joining Fashion Revolution Week, which begins on 24 April – the anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh in 2013. Join craftivists around the world to make Mini Fashion Statements to ‘shopdrop’ for fashion-lovers to find.

With the general election approaching, you could also create Craftivism objects to encourage people to vote for and research, which candidates and political parties come closest to fitting with your own morals.

Craftivist Collective - Mini Fashion Statements

3. Make a gift for a person in a position of power

Activism isn’t easy if you want to make long-lasting, positive change – The Suffragettes didn’t gain the vote through their hunger strikes alone. Campaigns are strong when many approaches are taken by lots of different people and groups. This includes engaging in dialogue with people in positions of power and not by shouting from the sidelines. One of the most powerful ways I’ve seen craftivists make a difference has started with offering a bespoke handmade gift to a local power-holder – perhaps a local Head Teacher you think could help solve an injustice, a local politician, business or religious leader – to encourage them to use their power for good. Your craftivism object can be a powerful catalyst to converse with them as a critical friend, not an aggressive enemy.  The ‘Don’t Blow It’ Hanky is a fantastic example of how the message remains powerful despite its size.

Craftivist Collective - Don't Blow It hanky

4. Make hope possible not despair convincing

If we just shine a spotlight on a problem our brains only think of the difficulties, not the solution. As a maker, you can make something to remind yourself and others that we all create the future, so let’s aim to make a beautiful, kind and just world. One way to encourage others is to set up a ‘stitch-in’ with a few friends in a public space. Make it pretty (I always bring bunting, jam sandwiches and a flask of tea) and small in size so your gathering doesn’t intimate people and instead shows people how creative, harmonious and joyful our world can be.

Craftivist Collective - Stitch-in

5. Be the change you wish to see

My fifth way you can be a craftivist is not a tangible action. It’s important you see your craftivism as actions aiming for transformational change personally, politically or both. Activism is about changing structures, systems and habits that stop people from fulfilling their potential. Injustices are often messy and complex, so to have real positive change we need to be careful, courageous and compassionate in all of our craftivism work. There isn’t often an easy answer or quick fix, but it’s important we stand together in solidarity with vulnerable people and strive to help make our work a wonderful place for all and pick up your craft tools

Craftivist Collective banner

To find out more about the Craftivist Collective visit www.craftivist-collective.com, Follow them on Twitter, download the manifesto or pre-order Sarah’s new book

Craftivist Collective Manifesto