Sarah Corbett spoke at Do Wales last year when we learnt about the Craftivist Collective's story. She started doing craftivism (craft + activism) in 2008 as a reaction to traditional forms of activism. Due to demand Sarah set up the global Craftivist Collective in 2009 with huge success. We wanted to catch up with her and get some juicy advice for anyone wanting to start anything.
What’s your favourite memory of the Do Lectures?
Listening to speakers and attendees talk so honestly and openly about their fears, failures and feeling like an imposter was a revelation and relief for me. It was a great reminder that we are all equal human beings, no one is a superhero so we can all strive to do great things.
The Craftivist Collective is has now been running for eight years, what inspired you to start?
I’ve always been passionate about empowering and encouraging people to be the change they wish to see in the world. I grew up in an activist family and community in West Everton in the 1980s (sadly the fourth most deprived ward in the UK) squatting to save local family housing, marching against apartheid etc. My whole career has been in campaigning and public engagement for large international development charities. I was worried a few years ago that lot of campaigning was quick and transactional clicktivism, slacktivism or angry activism. I didn’t see any tools in the activism tool box that provided opportunity for transformational change; silent contemplation, respectful conversations or small creative introverted activism. So I looked for alternatives and found that craft could complement activism. People wanted to join in my craftivism so the collective was born in 2009.
What has been your biggest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
Boring answer but it’s capacity. 5 years ago I was experimenting with how I could use craft as a tool for gentle activism. Within 6 months I had people around the world finding my craftivism projects online and asking if they could join in. Within a year I had large charities and art institutions wanting me to work with them too. 5 years in I’m working around the world with large and small groups, individuals and institutions. Knowing where to best put my focus to have the biggest positive impact is always tough when you are being tugged in lots of directions and don’t want to burn out.
What sort of people inspire you?
People who use courage and care in equal measures where they see opportunity to improve the world: Courage to speak out about injustice when it’s not popular and does it in a careful, emotionally intelligent, loving and compassionate way.
Looking forward, what advice do you have for anyone who is starting out with their idea?
If the idea is niggling inside you for a long time, if it’s something you think will help more than harm people and our planet and if you think you are the only one with the right balance of understanding, passion, experience, courage and right context to deliver on it - you have a duty to turn those ideas into action.