While scrolling through Pinterest recently, I came across a cross-stitch kit from an ETSY seller that said, “Warning: This is proof I have the patience to stab something 1,000 times.” While I definitely don’t condone violence, I Craftivism: a gentle way to speak volumes totally get this sentiment! If you’ve ever crafted, especially sewn, knitted, or crocheted, you know it can take a great deal of persistence and precision to finish a project—so much time and energy goes into your creation. When it’s complete, you may share it with others so they can admire your efforts, or you may quietly keep it to yourself.

The same is true when engaging in craft activities. It is often a singular activity, but can also be done in a group setting where you can enjoy the fellowship of like-minded creatives. Our motivations for crafting can also vary. Some of us engage in making as a hobby because it brings joy and relaxation to our lives. Others use their maker skills to create items that generate income for their families. Despite skill level or intent, crafting can be an outlet of expression when words may not work. It has been described as cathartic, necessary, and imperative; an activity that brings a sense of purpose for the better.

Embroidery, cross stitch, and other sewing activities have been a big part of my life since childhood.

I learned to embroider from my Grandmomma when I was in second grade. It was summer vacation and she decided I needed something to keep me occupied. I fell in love with hand stitching and continued to work on projects throughout the years. But as what happens with hobbies when one becomes very busy (like working on a doctorate), I put down my hoop and needle to focus on other things.

When I began this internship with Shakti in the Mountains, crafting suddenly became a big part of my life again.

Kim introduced me to her idea for School of the Lost Arts and the Makers Space. She also shared a new concept with me that has become an integral part of my internship work—craftivism. This term was coined by Betsy Greer in 2003 and is defined as a way to join the love of crafts with activism. Since then several project books about craftivism have been written, and one in particular by Sarah Corbett encourages the quiet activism that can come from creating for a common good.

In learning more about craftivism, I feel it could not have come at a better time.

Turn on the television, log-in to social media, or listen to one of the latest podcast episodes and you’ll soon encounter a divisive opinion. Liberties are challenged, sides have been taken, and protest begins. This dissent may be warranted, but approaching activism in a quieter, gentler way may speak volumes more than shouting. You’ve likely seen examples of craftivism before and not realized it. Yarn bombing trees in neighborhoods can demonstrate protecting natural resources. Mending worn clothes with patches that promote recycling can bring attention to conservation over consumption. Leaving an encouraging sticky note on a dressing room mirror can be a reminder of body positivity and may make someone’s day.

If you’re ready to try a gentler approach to activism, I invite you to join me for a Craftivism Workshop on Friday, November 11th in the Makers Space.

We will have a few options for craftivism projects that involve various levels of sewing skills. I’ll demonstrate some basic embroidery stitches and we’ll create together in an effort to bring awareness to causes that are important to the Shakti community. And as a reminder, the Makers Space is open every Friday afternoon from 2:00-5:00. All are invited to come together to work on the craft activity of the week, or bring their own projects. Have an idea for a Makers Space project? Send me an email at minnickcy@etsu.edu.

Hope to see you soon,

Christen Minnick

Christen Minnick has joined Shakti as an intern through early December 2022. Christen is a current Doctorate of Public Health student at East Tennessee State University. Christen lives in Johnson City with her husband, David, and fur baby Lucy. She enjoys reading, crafts, and spending time with family. Christen learned to sew from her mother and grandmother, enjoys growing flowers and food, and drinks Pal’s tea on a daily basis. Her intern hours will be focused on launching a Shakti in the Mountains Cookbook. This cookbook project will serve as a living document that includes entries from women in the Shakti community. It will contain recipes, experiences, and support women have experienced throughout their lifespan and demonstrate what Shakti leadership and community looks like in action.

What reminds you of the remarkable women in your life?

The Shakti in the Mountains’ Cookbook is almost complete!

This e-book will be available for download in mid-December and is full of yummy recipes and heart-warming stories. All proceeds from the sale of this cookbook go to a new Shakti Scholarship fund, which will provide financial aid to folks who need help attending the Shakti Stewardship Program. Minimum donation of $25 will grant you access to this beautiful e-book. You can now pre-order the cookbook here. 

A big THANK YOU to Christen Minnick for collecting the recipes and stories and to all the folks who contributed.

P.S. The Shakti Cookbook makes a great Winter Solstice gift!!

NOTE: Your e-book download will be sent to the email you use to donate. Please be sure this is a working email.

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