A gentle form of activism. When I firstly came across the term couldn’t help but wonder; is there such a thing as a gentle way to protest? Doesn’t the phrase contain an oxymoron? Would gentle activism even deliver what it claims to? So I began my web itineracy…
The term was coined by the sociologist Betsy Greer who refers to it as the
way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper and your quest for justice more infinite.
It was she who encouraged Sarah Corbett -a professional activist and blogger - back in 2009, to gather her increasing number of followers and found Craftivist Collective. Since then their activities have been interwined through many dimensions. Their manifesto and list of goals for the main London based group and ten further active groups includes being positive, creative and non-threatening among other things. They have been characterised as ‘ guerilla crafting ‘; they leave crafted messages in public places. There was a nomination for the Arts and Culture Award in the Observer Ethical Awards 2013, TedX talk, lectures and book publications.
But do all of those things actually work? If you take a look at craftivism projects by the collective you would be surprised to see the outcome. I was. I couldn’t believe that high positioned people in sucessful capitalist business models would pause and listen. That a stiched piece of message would actually be considered as a form of protest.
I guess there is a big amount of power enclosed inside those carefully chosen yarns…there are people who decide that changes for the better can and will happen through generosity and kindness. That we should stand for what we believe by spreading positive viber rather than aggressiveness. That introverts who sit and create rather than yelling are powerful too, in their own way.
I believe in taking action. I believe in the definition of design as a means of creating beneficial change. I believe in the interaction between the body and the garment - on it or created by it. Why wouldn’t these be powerful tools for an effective form of protest?
Your thoughts are more than welcome.