Gentle Protests

11th October 2019

If we cast our mind back to the heady days of the 1960s, the world was a changing place. All kinds of people were involved in protest marches about every type of social, political or war related injustice. Back then, people really felt that they could make a difference to the world around them, and through collective action, they did.

But do we feel that today? Or is there a sense of helplessness against ever more frightening forces in the world.

What can we do to make a change… how about we get our needles out?!

A movement known as ‘craftivism’ has been growing rapidly in recent years and through the careful and gentle processes of knitting, stitching and making, a new and unbelievably effective form of protest has arisen.

The term itself, coined by Betsy Greer, is now widely used to describe any craft activity undertaken with the primary motive to make a lasting and positive change to the world.

Sarah Corbett (source)

One of the drivers of this movement in the UK is activist and dedicated crafter, Sarah Corbett. She founded The Craftivist Collective in 2008 and soon attracted a following of like-minded stitchers who were also interested in committing their needlework skills to the cause.

‘Activism is the priority, but craft is the tool – the focus is to make the world a happier, more harmonious place.’

— Sarah Corbett

Like any movement, Sarah set up a manifesto. It might be political, but in reality, it simply summarises what most embroiderers, knitters, stitchers and crafters already think. Take it slow; find comfort in contemplation; share with others without judgement; forget about imperfections; work with others; be beautiful, kind and just.

A stitched commentary (source)

As good as this sounds, the question is – does it work? Can our stitching really make a difference in the world? Well, so far Sarah’s group has successfully campaigned to ensure 50,000 Marks and Spencer’s employees received a pay increase which exceeded the UK ‘Living Wage’ standards, protected migrating birds in Spain from dredging, and highlighted many other issues including voter apathy, and developed a strategy plan for a positive future. All this and more, simply by using needle and threads to engage in gentle protests.

Gentle protest with yarn and needles (source)

If this sounds like something you would like to be involved in, you can start by finding a local craftivist organisation. They are popping up all over the world as the movement gains momentum. There are also several books on the market that give advice, examples of projects and lots of encouragement.

Or better still, why not form your own group of like-minded stitchers? You need only focus on one issue to start, something you all believe in passionately and something you know would make the world a better place. You can also watch the TED Talk by Sarah Corbett where she explains her approach to craftivism and shares some ideas that have helped her be affective in making positive change.

Watch HERE

What a wonderful excuse to get together, chat, stitch and gently start to change our world. As Sarah Corbett says, together we can do it, ‘one stitch at a time’.

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