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  • The Craftivist Collective Guide to Craftivism
  • Sarah Corbett (bio) and Sarah Housley (bio)

Our manifesto is “To expose the scandal of global poverty, and human rights injustices though the power of craft and public art. This will be done through provocative, non-violent creative actions.” We are a group of people, based all over the world, who use craftivism (a term coined by Betsy Greer to describe the combination of craft and activism) to raise awareness of social injustices and human rights issues internationally. 1 From a central Web site we organize projects and events that anyone is welcome to join in with. We encourage craftivists to send us photos and accounts of their projects for the Web site, so that we can show the world the global effect of our efforts.

Our History

We were set up in 2008 by Sarah Corbett, a seasoned activist and beginner crafter who started doing craftivism projects in 2007 under the name “A Lonely [End Page 344] Craftivist”—expanding the idea to a collective when people showed huge interest in her craftivist activities. 2 Sarah writes:

In 2007 I felt like a burned-out activist. After being part of many activist groups, going on demonstrations, and coordinating stunts, I was exhausted. When you campaign to disarm the world of weapons, you are asking a lot of yourself and fellow activists, and often you are aiming for impossible things, so you never feel that you have succeeded.

When I moved to London in 2007 and joined a few independent activist groups there, I found many of them extreme in their views and methods. I’m not an anarchist and can’t condone sabotage, violence, or demonization. In summer 2007, armed with a bag of arts and craft and some literature on human rights and global poverty, I thought of a new way to protest. I came up with the idea to cross-stitch mini protest banners (Figures 1 and 2) to be left around specific public areas using cable ties. These banners are cute, kitsch, and unthreatening and hopefully leave seeds in people’s minds rather than telling them what to do.

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Figure 1.

Mini protest banner.

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Figure 2.

A mini protest banner on display outside the Treasury, London, 2010.

Each mini protest banner highlights a particular issue, whether it is the unfair wages a factory worker stitching for Topshop receives or the number of protective masks worn worldwide to prevent swine flu spreading as opposed to the number of condoms worn worldwide to prevent AIDS spreading. The statement on the banner aims to provoke thought on the topic, in the hope that the viewers will then research the issue further and see how they feel about it. There is not usually a direct call to action contained in the message but, rather, an urge to consider the issue in question more actively.

The Craftivist Collective is made up of an international group of people who have very different lives, interests, and beliefs; our common thread is that we all want to tackle human rights injustices. We want to raise awareness of the atrocities taking place worldwide every day and motivate the general [End Page 346] public to become involved in activism through positive means rather than through bullying or preaching. Craftivists read Vogue, they have a great sense of humor, they care about culture and film and fashion and everything that makes the world fun; but they also believe that the world has to change—to become fairer for everyone.

We now have individual craftivists working all over the world: scattered all around the United Kingdom and as far away as Los Angeles, Berlin, Vancouver, and Melbourne. Some people work individually; others meet up and complete projects as events or in groups. We encourage all of the above. Sarah delivers presentations and workshops all around the United Kingdom, and we work in partnership with organizations we admire, such as War on Want, LadyFest, Sheffield DocFest, Climate Rush, People & Planet, and Oxfam.

We always make sure that activism is the priority in our projects and that we...


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pp. 344-351
Launched on MUSE
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