What is Gentle Activism?

Emma Temple from our Craftivists group tells us about Gentle Activism and it’s value as she sees it…

Have you been feeling burned out by the news recently? It seems like every time we tune in, or scroll through social media, we’re being bombarded with horrific images and stories.

Whether it’s global conflict, poverty, oppression of marginalised groups, or the climate crisis unfolding before our eyes, there are so many reasons to feel hopeless and helpless.

I often wonder what good craftivism is doing. Any action we take can feel insignificant against the swirling chaos outside our four walls, and threading my needle or putting paintbrush to paper can feel counterintuitive. It’s slow, it’s gentle, it’s deliberate – it doesn’t feel like an adequate response to the scale of any of these issues.

And yet, I have faith that craftivism is an essential string in the activist’s bow.

Looking at the long thread of human history – or just logging on to X (Twitter) for more than two seconds – you can see that for a lot of people, their response to the fear and overwhelm these issues bring up is to turn to hate, aggression and violence.

Craftivism, on the other hand, is a subversive act that allows us to turn to creativity, love and patience instead.

I often imagine what it would be like to be a person in power right now. A politician’s inbox must feel like all the aggression of social media, condensed and targeted directly at you. A lot of this anger isn’t unwarranted when we look at the problems at hand – but when we put ourselves into their shoes, is
this really the best way to ask them to create a better world?

At a time when polarisation and opposition are at an all time high, we need activism that takes seriously the humanity of the people we’re asking for change. What would it look like to campaign if we assumed that politicians and business owners wanted the best for our community and our planet, just as much as we do?

The spirit of craftivism is to intrigue, to spark ideas and conversations in a way that busts the myth of a polarised ‘us and them’. In a world that’s screaming, a gentle whisper can stand out against the crowd and gently encourage someone to make a better choice.

So if you’re looking for a way to combat the burnout of the news cycle, craftivism might be a helpful place to start. Turning to creativity, love and patience is nourishing for ourselves, motivating for those in power, and transformative for our community – the perfect antidote to our polarised world.

Visit the Leeds Craftivists or Events pages for details of our current campaigns and upcoming meetings.

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