Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, explains how she’s fighting climate change – and how you can get involved
Our world is amazing: it blooms with remarkable people; art that can make us laugh or cry, and technology that connects us to loved ones the other side of the world. The growth in social enterprises and cooperatives shows that business can benefit people and the planet, not just profit. I could go on.
But then there’s the elephant in the room: climate change. When I worked for a large NGO, I met Kenyan farmers and tribes whose livestock and crops were being killed by droughts directly caused by global warming. I’m sure we’ve all listened to the warnings. It can feel overwhelming: too complicated, too many problems to overcome. But now there’s an opportunity for us craft-lovers to become eco-warriors rather than weary worriers – and make a direct difference.
At the end of this year, global leaders will meet in Paris for the UN climate talks to sign new agreements on sustainability: agreements that will determine what kind of future we’re shaping for our children. We need our leaders to show vision and ambition to create a better future – and that’s where our new Heart on your Sleeve campaign comes in.
I founded the Craftivist Collective five years ago with the aim of helping myself and other people to practise effective, gentle activism using craft as the tool. I was inspired by life-changing activists such as the suffragettes and Nelson Mandela – people who showed that campaigning works. We stitch mini protest banners; embroider messages to send to MPs, create huge crafty installations and lots more.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that we crafters can have real impact. Politicians and businesses take note when we stand up for what we believe – our stitched messages for influential people can encourage them to become part of the change. The time and thought that goes into our pieces shows genuine commitment and questioning. The media want to cover our attractive campaigning; people nervous of activism join our stitch-ins, and passers-by are intrigued by what we do.
The Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change, launched its ‘For the Love of Climate’ campaign this year. It has 11 million supporters through a network of over 100 organisations, and we thought craft lovers would be a good addition. “Unless world leaders know that people from across the globe with different passions, hobbies and backgrounds all care, they won’t have the mandate to take strong action on climate change,” explains Clare Fussell, campaigns manager at The Climate Coalition.
Love our world
Let’s re-imagine how we can live, and help world leaders recreate our society. Join us. We want you to make and wear a green handmade heart on your sleeve, with whatever you love stitched in the middle. Upload a picture onto social media and tweet it to your MP. It’s a small, positive and influential act for at least three reasons.
Firstly, it’s personal. Craftivism is a thoughtful approach to activism: it’s about slowing down and using the comfort of craft to really grapple with world issues and think critically about how we can help solve them. Secondly, craft can be a catalyst for open, honest and friendly discussion. By stitching what you love on your heart banner, you’re showing people that you are genuinely concerned about our world, not ignoring the problem.
And lastly, craftivism unites. Make your hearts as attractive and intriguing as possible; wear them every day and share them online. Let’s create an inspirational vision of our world to excite, empower and encourage others to join us.
So grab your fabric and your scissors, and start shaping our world into a more sustainable, beautiful place for all. Craft alone or with friends and family, or even set up a public stitch-in and bring the discussion to passers-by. Join Craftivist Collective and Mollie Makes at our workshops at Crafty Fox Markets, tag @craftivists on your social media and get involved with the #fortheloveof conversation. fortheloveof.org.uk,
Featured image, clockwise from top left: Katie Wagstaff, Jane Hughes, Laura Howard and Marna Lunt’s hand crafted hearts