Making the world a better place

I have recently added a new word to my lexicon: CRAFTIVISM. It’s quite nice, isn’t it? A combination of craft and activism, meaning:

a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite (Betsy Greer)

It’s not just about beautifying your surroundings, like yarnstorming (yarn bombing), nor is it simply about using your craft skills to create an object that delivers a direct political statement, such as a strand of bunting with words on it; it’s about any craft activity that makes the world a better place.

A charitable donation: coats I knitted to support a dog rescue centre

A charitable donation: dog coats I knitted to support an animal rescue centre

Through activities such as teaching knitting lessons, crocheting hats for the less fortunate, and sewing blankets for abandoned animals, craftivism allows for creativity to expand previous boundaries and enter the arena of activism… instead of using solely one’s voice to advocate political viewpoints, one could use their creativity.

How fantastic is that? The craftivism.com web site goes on to say:

In a world that was growing increasingly large and unfamiliar, craftivism fought to bring back the personal into our daily lives to replace some of the mass produced. In promoting the idea that people can use their own creativity to improve the world, craftivism allows those who wish to voice their opinions and support their causes the chance to do just that…but without chanting or banner waving and at their own pace.

Building community by crafting together

Building community by crafting together

I’m smitten by the fact that what I do (what lots of us do) has a name. I don’t think that this makes it any more valid, but it does feel like an acknowledgement and delivers a sense of community. I’ve written before about civil disobedience through creativity and the small actions we can take to make a big difference, and now I discover it has a name. I’m delighted that some many things, from my green bath puffs to writing about the ethics of knitting yarns are part of this bigger movement and that others too think we are making a difference.

So, what are you going to do this week that could be considered ‘craftivism’?

Just chicken-feed

It has recently come to my attention that, in the UK, it is illegal to feed kitchen scraps to chickens. According to the latest edition of The Organic Way*:

the law against feeding kitchen scraps to poultry of any sort has been in position since the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. It was produced by the then Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs**, to reduce the risk of spreading disease. The same rules apply even if the household is vegetarian

Chickens acting within the law by eating worms and insects - no (illegal) kitchen scraps in sight!

Chickens acting within the law by eating worms and insects – no (illegal) kitchen scraps in sight!

So, now you know – if you live in the UK and you give your vegetable peelings or toast crumbs to your hens, you are breaking the law. If, however, you make a piece of toast specially for your hens, I guess you are behaving legally. It’s a fine line… if I take leaves off my brassicas in the garden and feed them directly to my hens then it’s ok; but if I’m preparing dinner and discard a few leaves of kale I picked 20 minutes ago because they are a bit tatty then give these to the hens, I’m a criminal.

I have visions of the ‘hen police’ coming round to check that any kitchen scraps go to the worms or the compost bin or the dogs and are not surreptitiously diverted to the chickens.

It appears that the law, in fact, is the UK’s interpretation of the EU animal by-product legislation. Interestingly, other European countries have interpreted this law differently, so in Belgium there is a project that actually promotes keeping hens in order to reduce waste. Sigh.

Ah well, it looks like I’ve found another outlet for my civil disobedience!

-oOo-

* The membership magazine of Garden Organic

** Always known, in our house, as the Department for the Eradication of Farming and Rural Affairs

“Flat-pack” crafting

As is clear from many of my posts, I love making things: from bottling a surplus of apples, to knitting socks, to crocheting bath puffs (yet more on that in a later post… I have a new yarn to try out: a recycled cotton and acrylic blend). I accumulate scraps of ‘stuff’ – fabric, yarn, old packing material, envelopes, buttons, shiny things – and enjoy turning these into something useful or lovely or just fun. I do buy materials, particularly knitting yarn and wool for felting, but one of the enjoyable aspects of crafting and cooking for me is using things that would otherwise go to waste or have a very short useful life.

A few of my homemade cards... made with this and that!

A few of my homemade cards… made with this and that!

So, I’m not keen on packs containing everything you need for a particular project… partly because I want to make use of things I already have and partly because I like to make something that is unique. If I go out and buy a pack of “everything you need to make this lovely birthday card”, then I’ll just end up with something like everyone else has made, and I might as well have gone to Hallmark. I want to be individual and express my own creativity – even if it is a bit wonky sometimes! I know that things like knitting patterns should result in end products that are standardized, but there’s always room for creativity whether in using a yarn from your ‘stash’, choosing a new yarn, or just doing things a little bit different (for which there are endless opportunities when knitting!). I do buy nice ‘bits’ to use in my crafting, but I don’t want the whole thing handed to be in a pack.

But my current bug-bear is something pretending to be a craft when it isn’t – things that are pseudo-homemade. Just like a cake mix isn’t, to me, really homemade – a pair of slippers that come as two single flat pieces and are each fastened together with a lace (the colour of which you can choose) are not homemade. I don’t think I am a carpenter because I can build an Ikea bookcase, so constructing a pair of ‘flat pack slippers’ isn’t craft!

I guess that the issue is that craft is now ‘big business’. You only need to visit Pintrest and Etsy to see the massive interest in handmade items. And, of course, as part of the increasing drive towards consumerism, there are ample opportunities for big companies to take advantage. So, in another act of civil disobedience… cast off your desire to make the perfect card/cake/dishcloth/whatever and use up some of the things you have around the place to express your creativity. You never know, you might create a masterpiece… and you will certainly end up with something unique!

-oOo-

Many thanks to my friend Tracey for inspiring me to write this post… she blogs about her permaculture diploma at What Grows from a Seed

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