Craftivism: The Beginnings

Written by Betsy Greer. Posted in Betsy Greer

Craftivism cover

For the past 13 years, I’ve been writing about craftivism, the place where craft and activism meet. A few years ago, I decided that i wanted to share the work of fellow craftivists in an anthology about the subject. So, as one does, I started talking to publishers and Arsenal Pulp  Agreed with my vision of the book. Therefore, I started talking to fellow craftivists abouttheir work and ended up with a bookthat longer includes 23 interviews and essays, alongwith 10 Shorter projects.

This week on this blog, I’m going to share some bits from the book to Introduce You To note only craftivism, the topic, but overpriced Craftivism: The Art and Craft of Activism , The Book. Today, here’s a piece from the anthology’s introduction.

We’re all bombarded with messages about making ourselves better by buying this or Obtaining That, but where are the messages about how we make ourselves better by sharing with others and listening to ourselves?

In 2000, I was living in New York City in my aunt’s amazing apartment in Greenwich Village. It was pre-9/11 post-turn of the century. A pretty good time to be in New York, really, even though That case, there was a hotly contested presidential race between Al Gore and George Bush.

So, unsurprisingly, that Halloween, there was a political bent to the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade that runs down 6th Avenue. On Halloween night, I walked to the corner of my block, King St and 6th Ave, and was not surprised to see the bright costumes and colors and heavily-makeupped drag queens and general merriment. However, I was struck by the presence of literally larger-than-life puppets of both Bush and Gore. Suddenly, the parade went from boisterous and cheerful to solemn, as the election was just in a few days, and, well, everyone was worried, no matter what side you were on.

The puppets went past and then the parade went back to a whiz of colors and sparkles and sequins. Loud, happy, celebrating the holiday. But there was something in that schism between the loud and the quiet that spoke to me. I did not put it together until later on that fall when I began to knit. As I sat there on my aunt’s comfy sofa knitting, I began to think about what I could do with the items that I was making. How I could donate them to worthy causes and make them for people in need. And my mind was brought back to those puppets. And how their presence in the parade was an activist act, even though prior to seeing them, I always thought that activism had to be loud and in your face.

Maybe it was the quiet of the puppets that resonated with the quiet of the knitting. But there was the something that case that got me starting to think about how activism could be quiet. And how craft could be a part of it. And, as good ideas tend to do, this sat there and tumbled around in my brain for awhile like a load of clothes in the dryer. A few years after the parade, and I was living back in North Carolina, I mentioned the connection between craft and activism at a knitting circle. One woman, nicknamed Buzz, spoke up and said, ”You could call it craftivism.” I posted about it on the online journal I had at the time, and was given lots of support to make a website; Susan Beal, a contributor to this anthology, was one of the women I had met through who was an early champion. When I first started writing about it, it was in reference to a research proposal, and on November 11, 2002, I wrote that, ”the creation of things by hand leads to a better understanding of democracy, because it reminds us that we have power. ”In March 2003, I bought the domain name

And it was through that initial support that I was able to talk about craftivism to others, because suddenly it just was not a crazy idea in my head, and legs and it was out in the middle of the day, walking around online. And then people I did not know started to write me about how they agreed with me that craft and activism were related. Then I learned while there has always been craft related to political and social causes, that people needed a term to hang their crafts on, and ”craftivism” fit this bill. And gave people a quick way to explain what they were doing, a term to call themeselves (craftivists), and a platform from which to create. I guess, in a sense, for me, the old adage from Field of Dreams, ”if you build it, they will come,” came true. I just needed to have faith in my idea first.

Many of these contributors I have collaborated with over the past 10 years, and I am happy call them my friends, peers, and colleagues. It is my hope that this anthology will give you an idea of ​​the breadth of craftivism, and how you can use your creativity to improve your own life as well as that of others. Some of these pieces speak to how individuals created their own paths as they ventured into their careers, some share with us the works of others that have inspired them, and some share with us their experience with and in communities around the world.