Craftivism: Getting crafty for social causes

Valentine in the city

There was an interesting post on Treehugger earlier this week, highlighting a movement calling itself "Craftivism". The folks involved define themselves as doing "projects to make people think about global injustice, poverty and human rights through the seeds planted by public [craftivism] art."

In 2009, crafter Sarah Corbett started a blog looking to combine her activism and crafting to forge a new way to raise awareness of social issues. That blog eventually became the London-based Craftivist Collective, with members now all over the world helping each other complete projects, providing crafting kits, connecting and running events and installations. In the collective spirit of the craft community, Corbett credits knitter, writer and activist Betsy Greer with originally coining the term craftivism and lending a guiding hand as the movement has gained momentum. 

Projects have ranged from making and handing out hand-stitched handkerchiefs with the message "Don't blow it" to local politicians, to hacking Barbie dolls to promote awareness for maternal health issues

A current project underway is "Alternative Valentine's Day" cards. The cheery red envelopes are tucked enticingly into various cracks and crevices to be discovered by passers-by. When opened, the card contains a little handmade gift and letter gently requesting that people think about those who are suffering in the world. Not especially crafty but want to get involved?  No worries -- the Craftivist Collective site provides resources to help make the project happen, including a letter template, craft design and instructional video. More project templates and photos of past projects can be purchased on the craft site Folksy.

At PopTech 2011, both Dominic Muren (whose talk we highlighted this week) and Erik Hersman (whose talk we highlighted last week) drew our attention to the work of "makers," folks who are working to create outside the traditional, big-scale production model. Perhaps 2012 will bring crafters to the stage, demonstrating the simple, understated power of something handmade.

Image: Craftivist Collective

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