I had never thought of activism as a form of culture. Whenever activism is mentioned, the images that come to mind are protesting, marches and in most cases a large vocal group of passionate people. Certainly not something that can be placed alongside museums, theatres and art galleries. But as I’ve been recently discovering, culture extends to more than one would initially expect.
Craftivism, I understand as being a mixture of craft and activism. The last such neologism to emerge from activism I remember being slacktivism (wherein you lazily share a social media post and not actually get involved in supporting the cause). Where slacktivism is seen as negative, craftivism only appears to have positive connotations. One gets to be arty and creative but for a good cause – literally a win-win!
It was great to understand the different types of banner-making. Where Ed Hall talked about big-scale posters, attention-grabbing and trying to get media coverage, Sarah Corbett spoke of the subtle, calm and thought-provoking approach to campaigning – both styles having their place in society. Perhaps the former for crucial, urgent messages, and the latter for ideas to get people to think about and bring it into a conversation point. As Sarah perfectly put it, activism is for introverts too!
Whilst one group were able to individually sew a piece of their choosing, with soothing music in the background, our group were brainstorming what the contents of our large poster shall be. It was an enlightening experience as that one poster had an array of ideas sprouted at it. We wanted to cover lack of talking to strangers in isolated London (which I thought might be cool to compare with the ‘five a day’ fruit eating narrative), peace and tolerance, embracing differences, feminism, university student financial woes and more.
The finished product is a fantastic collection of all those different suggestions and is splendidly colourful too.
This experience made me realise how although there is much to celebrate in the capital, there is always room for improvement and ways to push for an even greater city. The ways we engage with the lifestyles and happenings is so vital to a city’s success as without this powerful tool, we would not be able to do anything about companies exploiting their workers, universities exploiting their students, governments exploiting their citizens and even exploiting the natural resources of our planet. I never realised the extent of creative output that goes into such endeavours. We can mistakenly assume it is merely a bunch of big letters on placards, but the reality is far more thought out and considered.
I imagine most people have their favourite style of activism but I think both are great in their own ways. Campaigns could begin small scale before taking it large scale at crunch time.
I hope to try out some small scale craftivism soon, but will need to be wary of those sharp needles!