Will you be your global neighbour’s Valentine? The Craftivist Collective hopes you will.
“A Spoon Full of Craft Helps the Activism Go Down” is Sarah Corbett’s motto. She is the founder of Craftivist Collective: a group of activists whose chosen tools to protest for global justice is simple – craft. The team makes statement pretty mini-protest pieces, like banners, cards, face masks and then hangs them up in public spaces so passers-by read the messages. Statements on the pieces include issues such as climate change, exploitation of the developing world and many more talking-points about global sustainability. Now the group is turning its sights on hijacking the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day…
There are worldwide craftivists putting their homemade ‘sweetheart’ cards in red envelopes and placing them in random spots on the 14th of February; including cities such as London, Coventry, Newcastle and even Bangor and Vancouver. Inside each envelope the commuter will find a note that says:
“I don’t want your box of chocolates, card or flowers. Actions speak louder than those. In return for my love letter and gift to you please show your love by taking action. In the name of love, brighten up someone’s day and remind them of our global community. Inspire them to get stirred up to think about how the poorest people in the world are being affected by climate change, despite having contributed the least to the problem.
With love…Member of Craftivist Collective”
Sarah Corbett explains her motives for the unusual protest:
“There are so many distractions wherever we live, particularly on Valentine’s Day. Hopefully these Valentine’s cards are a friendly reminder of the difficult circumstances our global neighbours are facing every day. The ‘love notes’ are meant to encourage conversations about compassion to start; even after Valentine’s Day is long over. This is why each year we hijack Valentine’s Day to remind people to “show some love” for their global neighbours as well as the usual smushy stuff.”
And the fun doesn’t end when Valentines is over. Sarah has spearheaded the Craftivist Collective since 2009. She started as a blogger named ‘The Lonely Craftivist’ her main craft of choice being her favourite hobby of creating cross-stitch and embroidery. She had the idea of combining this with social activism and started making cross-stitch mini protest banners. People saw Sarah’s unique work online and asked to join. Now in little over two years the group has grown to 1000 members worldwide.
The Craftivists’ manifesto is “ to expose the scandal of global poverty and human rights injustices through the power of craft and public art; done through provocative, non-violent and creative actions.”
The group display their finished work in public so that passers-by on the street, who may not consider themselves ‘political’, talk about the issues presented on the banners.
Sarah reveals her reasons for starting: “I began as a burnt out activist who didn’t fit into more militant activist groups, I thought that their approach was too intimidating for some people. Using craft as a form of peaceful protest, aims to be fun and civilised, while also thought-provoking and sparking dialogue between people who might usually be apathetic about global injustices.”
This gentle form of protest has proved a hit with many people, even one banker. A craftivist supporter sent a high profile Goldman Sachs banker a print with the statement, ‘there is a gap in the clouds of unbridled capitalism, now is the time to act for justice.’ He emailed her back a few days later thanking her, saying: “It has led to a good discussion with my wife about what we’re going to do in 2012 in our privileged position to make positive change for all and not just the few.”
Sarah doesn’t believe in preaching to the converted and sees this kind of positive response as the craftivists’ aim. It’s not easy to run and organise a group that keeps growing and takes up a lot of her time, but Sarah’s faith fuels her work.
She ponders wisely, “Our world has so much potential to be the world God wants it to be so we should use our talents to improve it. The group welcomes people regardless of faith or non-faith so I don’t always make it explicit to people I’m a Christian. But I do take inspiration from Christianity. Micah 6-8 sums it up: “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God, this is what the Lord requires of you”.
Find the Valentines letter template, instructions video, images, press release and the design for the key-ring on their website,http://craftivist-collective.com/2012/01/30/join-us-in-hijacking-valentines-day-2012/
If you’d like to join in find out more by visiting the website: www.craftivistcollective.com
Words: Jameela Oberman
Picture: Robin Prime of the Craftivist Collective
Originally published in Reject Apathy magazine (USA) http://rejectapathy.com , front page website feature on Valentine’s Day 2012: