Craftivism Reminders from a Cat and the Buddha

It’s officially spring, but I’m watching the snow fall outside, the biggest snowfall we’ve had all year at three inches and counting! Even though it’s just gone 8am, I can hear the voices of neighborhood children yelling outside as they play in the last visit of winter this year.


I snapped the photo above in my bedroom the other weekend. I found it particularly amusing as sometimes I find that my cat teaches me as many lessons as the Buddha as I go along this thing called life. She teaches me to take a minute and just sit there for the pleasure of just being able to sit there for pleasure. She reminds me that it’s perfectly okay to take naps. She confirms that snuggling is really the best thing ever when I’m feeling a bit lonely. In short, she reminds me what it is to just be in the moment.

I started because, at the time (2003!), I was passionate about both crafts and activism. And I still am. People have asked me why I did it and where was I going. And I guess I was inspired by the “just be” attitude about craftivism, i.e., the notion that if you wanted to make crafts that were political and not crafts that were utilitarian, just do it. So I did it.

I was also inspired by passion, what drives someone to do something most of the time. If you and I aren’t passionate about the same thing, fine. I just want everyone to be passionate about something. And for them to hopefully take that passion and see how they can use it in the service of others and to change things for the better. Because that’s what our crafts can do and our hands can make, they can help others while also changing things!

On my most dorky introspective days, I really want people to understand their place in the world and realize how even the simplest changes and choices can do so much! When you start to become aware that your choices equal power and can constitute, foment and effect change there is not only growth within you, but also in your community. Because whether you do something craftivism related for a charity across the world or just make something for someone you know and pass it on, you are changing things.

Therefore, for my next 3 posts, I’m going to talk about the 3 “-tions”** of craftivism, as mentioned in a tweet I made recently.


In short, why these three? Because:

*DONATION: giving to anyone but yourself (using your crafts to help others)

*BEAUTIFICATION: making your public surroundings less banal (reminding others that your city is your own)

*NOTIFICATION: teaching others about the causes you believe in (making pieces that speak out against injustice in its myriad forms)

These three “-tions” as it were as the three spokes that craftivism was built upon in 2003 and continue to be today. Maybe you agree? Maybe you don’t.

But, either way, just remember that your actions can bring change, even if they seem tiny like a cat and a buddha in a bedroom. They have lessons to teach, and those lessons, depending on how you want them to sound, can be big or small, anonymous or public, or loud or quiet. You just need to remember to look and listen to what your hands want to make and to what your passion is saying to you.

**ETA: Spring 2015, I’m changing the “three -tions” to the “three tenets,” because “-tions” just sounds weird.

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5 Responses to Craftivism Reminders from a Cat and the Buddha

  1. Laura Bucci April 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    That makes sense how you’ve broken down this -ism into donation, beautification and notification. I definitely encountered all three forms when I was researching the topic for my class presentation on craftivism. I fall within the definition of ‘notification.’

    • Betsy April 8, 2013 at 6:33 am #

      Many thanks for the kind words, Laura! I’m going to write more about this soon, but I think the 3 different areas also relate to how much people want to expose themselves, going from possibly anonymous to the least anonymous, as with donation you can be anonymous if you want, but with the other two, there is an element of exposing ourselves, whether or not it’s for just a second (i.e., putting the work up) or longer.

  2. Knitting Journal April 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Nice post. I also like “Craftivism Reminders from a Cat and the Buddha” for the title. Well put Betsy.

    • Betsy April 8, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      Thanks for the kind words! That darn cat teaches me so many things! :)


  1. craftivism. » Blog Archive » JP Flintoff’s TEDx Talk, Conversations That Change Everything - April 8, 2013

    […] I’m putting together some longer posts on the three parts of craftivism, donation, beautification, and notification, I wanted to share with you a very lovely talk with the very lovely JP Flintoff, called […]

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