Craft and Privilege, Part 2: Redefining What Crafty and Creative Mean

So to follow up to last week’s 5 Ways Crafters are Privileged… And What To Do About It post… Earlier today this lovely post by Pip Lincolne came up on my radar about prioritizing creativity. And truth be told, I was actually disheartened by the comments.

Because I started wondering, “How many people commenting are the sole breadwinners for their families?” And I felt like a jackass. And an effin’ giant pit grew in my stomach that literally made me nauseous. Because I do believe in creativity and beautiful things and that they’re important.

I also started wondering how many of the commenters have worked minimum-wage jobs. Then I checked out this survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put things in perspective and made that argument kind of moot, for the most part.

And talking about this sort of thing is so difficult in the creative (especially the craft) world because it is heavily divisive. Or maybe we just don’t want to check the weight of our own safety nets. Because many (I won’t go as far as saying “most”) of us have options. And like I said last week, we will never have to choose between the electricity bill and food.

Part of ingesting this means understanding that this is not about feeling (or being made to feel) guilty. We were all born into our unique circumstances with our own unique struggles. It’s not as if we orchestrated our own births, so there’s nothing to feel guilty over if we utilize what we have. If we give back. If we understand that not everyone has time to prioritize creativity. They might want to do so, but may not have the same resources or support network that we have.

We need to realize that that reality exists and then we need to give back where we can. Donate handmade (and bought, yet no longer worn) clothes of good quality to shelters and organizations so that others can wear something and shine and feel special. Donate your time to volunteering so that others (two-legged and four-legged alike) can benefit. Yarnbomb that abandoned lot so that it turns into less of an eyesore for neighbors. Make a basketball net for those empty hoops and hang it up. Speak up where others are afraid to. Share stories of how to help others within your networks.

The point here is to not demonize the craft community for having access to resources, but to realize that not everyone is in the same position. That through your/our enthusiasm to handmade things, you can show others how they can be more easily attainable by teaching them, donating supplies, and showing how being creative doesn’t necessarily meaning taking hours out of your day, but can take minutes.

Because many crafters and creatives have access to resources, those terms have become ones that some people believe they can’t otherwise embody. And as some people think, “being creative” doesn’t equal “wasting time,” because it is invaluable. We just need to help reframe it. You don’t have to have a degree or a 401k or a Twitter account or whatever to be creative.

We are creative when we take a different walk home from work each day or make tidying up a fun game or heck, find a new way to lace up our shoes. We are “creative” when we bring ourselves into what we are doing, which can cost nothing and take up no extra time. We are “crafty” when we do something fun with the empty toilet paper roll or weave pine needles into something or make a daisy chain out of flowers.

Therefore, it’s time to make “creative” and “crafty” more accessible again by remembering their roots. And in doing so, we can remind people that it’s not about having your own craft room or website, it’s about taking the time to make your day more enjoyable. But first, we need to realize our own circumstances, own that not everyone’s may be the same, and come up with ways to lessen that gap.

P.S. And, ha! Be sure that when typing in frustration/bewilderment, you ALWAYS check your titles! There was some rearranging, hemming, and hawing on this, but alas, “means” even though edited to be the correct “mean” in the title, remains forevs in the actual link!

P.P.S. I decided to write a third (and final) post about craft and privilege, which you can read here.

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  1. 5 Ways Most Crafters are Privileged... And What to Do About It - craftivism. - April 11, 2015

    […] ETA: I decided to write more about this issue; therefore, you can see Part 2 here. […]

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