Tag Archives | definitions

I, Craftivist.

I’m going to admit it. Whenever I see people writing about craftivism in a “we” sense, I get a bit squirrelly. Why? Because of why the term isn’t copyrighted. Because of individuality. Because of concepts instead of constructs. I envisioned it more of a group “I” term instead of a “we” term. A group of individually reached “Is” who form a larger “we.”

But then again, ideas aren’t copyrighted, as they shouldn’t be. (Want an example? Read more about the Bikram yoga controversy.) It’s in the public domain, yes. But it’s weird to have an idea that you championed from scratch suddenly be defined by other people… in ways you don’t necessarily agree. And even weirder when theory is written of “craftism” which is a word derived from a misspelling!

It’s totally dumb to feel proprietary to something, but having it misused and misconstrued really does bother me. And I feel childish for getting annoyed by something so petty, although watching something that is so integral to your life and way of being (Because to me that’s what it’s all about. Embracing your life at the place between the creative process -craft- and positive change -activism- and going forth boldly and strongly to make the world a better place.) be misunderstood is hard.

At the end of the day, craftivism is just a way to explain how you feel with one word instead of many, and little else. Maybe I just have to formally realize that it’s all grown up and needs to make its own way in the world. I just feel bad I didn’t give it more of a solid sense of self earlier before it struck out in this world by itself, because it has deep and well-meaning roots. And I hope that on its way, its original values and ideals are not swept aside. And that it’s taken care of and moved forward with love and creativity and wonder and kindness.

That being said, receiving emails and reading about works that invoke just what I was hoping (using craft and activism for good!) warms my heart to no end. I am always so amazed when people tell me their stories or actions or whatever and how they are pushing the world to wake up, look deeper, love harder and are willing to explore the goodness that happens when creativity and wish for positive growth/change meet. This is what I hope stays with it going forward, that its aim remains true and good and chock full of love.

Definin’ Shrimpin’ and A Whole Mess of Seagulls.

It’s funny how quick we can cling to our ideals so much that we overlook stark realities. How we can wrap ourselves up in our own lives and thoughts and projects and fail to really truly see what’s right in front of us. Recently there has been some discussion online about what craftivism is. Is it this? Is it that? Who can use it? What can it be used for? To me, it’s an umbrella term that captures every movement you consciously make towards making the world a better place via your creativity.

It’s become something so broad and so open-ended that in some ways it’s caused problems instead of helped to identify or explain. So one of the things on my to-do list is to capture the various definitions I’ve used to define craftivism in one place, along with the definitions from others, with this collection made in the hopes that if you’re trying to figure out what this all means craftivism.com can serve as a resource with an aim toward making things more understandable and less amorphous. And there will also be this blog that is updated semi-regularly about the everyday aspects of what it can mean to live an ethical life in modernity.

I’ve also started drafting a FAQ document so if people want to know quick answers they can find them. Eventually, I’d like to have other things linked to the site that others have written about craftivism (essays, theses, etc.) but it’s all a work in progress, much like life itself. Have any ideas? Definitions? Queries? Advice? Things to include? Then please feel free to either comment below or email me, as always. And since it’s just me, myself and I round these parts, it may take me a bit to get back to you, but I will, I promise!

That all being said, here are a few photographs taken from a recent expedition on a former commercial shrimping boat off the coast of Georgia. After only two hours on the boat, I was struck by how difficult and raw and backbreaking the work was, and again reminded how it’s not always necessary to look half a world away to find those in different circumstances or situations or livelihoods. I spent a fair share of those scant hours talking to the teenage son of the shrimp boat captain who had been shrimping since he was 9 years old.

Not only are the coastal regions of southern Georgia beautiful, I had no idea how enriched they were with ocean life. Even though I know that lots of interesting creatures and crawlers live under the sea, given its all too often calm surface, it’s easy to forget just how varied and fascinating the findings are once you peek under the water. Hammerhead sharks, eels, horseshoe crabs, blowfish, flounder, crab, hermit crabs, rays and shrimp were just some of the animals that plopped down on the sorting table, all but the shrimp returned to the sea. Dolphins and sea gulls followed the boat playfully, jumping and screeching, respectively.

We talked about working from sunup to sunset to how hard it is to make a living on the sea to the cost of fuel to the dangers of what can lurk in the nets. It was the perfect analogy of life and all of its varied crevices, how nothing is as smooth as it seems or solely black and white, how every decision we make is based on the millions of events in our lives that have occurred up til now. But perhaps most importantly, it was a reminder of how to keep our eyes open to the fact that no matter how something or someone may look, they are always, without exception, more varied, more amazing and more surprising than what you may see at first glance.

So, with that in mind, I try to define a term that has many definitions and uses in a world that’s just as complex. But that’s what’s so exciting, that what I gain from it may differ from what you gain from it, and still at the end of the day, we are all heading towards the same place. Like the sea and our lives, it’s all changing and moving and evolving as time continues, which makes everything all the more delicious indeed.

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