Craftivist Collective: Activism through crafts speaks volumes

Craftivist Collective is a collective of people using crafts as a tool to help themselves and encourage others to be the positive change they wish to see in the world.

Set up by campaigner Sarah Corbett in 2009, Craftivist Collective provides projects, tools and services to individuals and organisations wanting to learn effective craftivism or to combine crafts with activism.

Sarah Corbett says: “My approach to Craftivism is to tackle issues not with anger and shouting, but with gentle protest. Gentleness is not weak, it requires self-control in the face of anger, injustice and sadness. Gentle protest lets us have conversation instead of an argument, debate instead of shouting, and collaboration instead of opposition.

“Gentleness, conversation and collaboration can make our world a better place, and the road there less angry, aggressive and divisive.”

The craftivist and author’s own venture into craftivism started when Sarah Corbett picked up a craft kit for a long train journey, and noticed how the process of creating craft helped her to stay calm and in the moment.

She began to leave small pieces of provocative street art in her area, and those pieces started conversations on and offline. She then embroidered a hanky as a gift for her local politician with a personal message: “Don’t blow it…” .

Sarah Corbett adds: “It felt much more respectful than shouting at her. We became critical friends rather than aggressive enemies.”

Today the Craftivist Collective has thousands of members. The Craftivist Collective founder supports members by developing tools and projects that they can undertake as individuals or by organising their own small group stitch-ins.

One campaign that Craftivist Collective was involved in even got retailer Marks & Spencer to pay the living wage. Speaking to Time Out, Sarah Corbett explained: “We bought shares in the company so we could attend their AGM and made each board member a bespoke hanky, into which we stitched a message asking them to pay their staff the living wage.

“They really were bespoke: we googled the crap out of those people, used their favourite colours, decorated them with things that they liked… the hankies were even from M&S. They were totally overwhelmed and ended up working with us. One of them recently told me that her hanky has gone into the M&S archives in Leeds.”

Craftivist Collective

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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