The simple definition of Craftivism is: the use of craft to agitate for positive change in the world. This can be anything from yarn bombing a park with knitting or crocheted hearts to making a dozen pussy hats to distribute at a march for justice.
When I was in my 20s I did a lot of protesting in front of factories that made parts for nuclear warheads. We weren’t protesting the workers. They had a job and didn’t want to lose that job. We were protesting the factory owners themselves, for agreeing to make these parts (for untold billions of dollars) which would be used in weapons of mass destruction. We wanted them to turn down these government contracts and repurpose their factories to make things that DIDN’T kill people. I protested the first Iraq War when I was in college. We were scared, we were of age to be drafted if one was called. And we thought fighting a war for oil was outrageous and unjustified.
These days, in my late 40s, I’d like to be out on the streets protesting as well. I’d love to be part of the Women’s Marches, the March for Science, protesting against abusive, racist government policy and ideology. Unfortunately, I have a chronic disease which usually prevents me from doing so. As of this writing, it’s the day before the Women’s March 2018. I had planned to be out on the streets with my sisters in Oakland, CA, near where I live. But Lyme Disease had other ideas. This is where my craftivism comes in. For me, craftivism is my way of contributing to the endless fight for justice and peace through what I love to do the most, design and knit.
The use of craft as activism should not be an unusual idea. Art has been used to make statements, politically and otherwise, since the dawn of cave drawings (and likely earlier). So why should craft be any different?
We saw the massive movement of the Pussy Hat in 2017 and with the use of social media, that movement spread around the world. Craftivism is a way for us to join together for the cause of social justice and peace. It creates an additional thread (pardon the pun) of solidarity. It can be a badge of honor and membership.
Crochet Banner by Olek