Betsy Greer of Craftivsm
This week Vickie sat down with the Godmother of Craftivism, Betsy Greer. They talked about what it means to apply your craft to activism, how she uses needlework to both protest war and promote positivity, crafting through depression, and being inspired by the Riotgrrl movement.
Betsy Greer is a writer and a stitcher who currently lives in Durham, North Carolina. Before arriving in Durham, which is near where she grew up in North Carolina, she lived in the DC metro area, New York City, and in various towns in England. In 2004, she received her MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths College in London during a year of study that began to define what she would fall into for the long term. Before arriving there, she was spending a lot of time knitting on her couch and not enough time engaging with those involved in the craft. Soon after arriving in London, she began to help out at public knitting events with the knitting club Cast Off, where they did things like taught people to knit on the Tube and in museums!
Doing this work not only cemented in her that the craft world was where she was meant to do work, it also showed her that if you keep looking for your tribe enough, you will eventually find it, sometimes with a handmade scarf in hand.
In 2007, she was approached by Roost Books to write her first book based on blog posts. The next year, 2008, saw the release of Knitting for Good! A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change Stitch by Stitch, which includes several knitting patterns for creating items for charity and guidance on how to use your craft to make the world a better place. A few years later, she worked with Arsenal Pulp Press and dozens of craftivists from around the world on Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism, which shows the depth and breadth of the craftivism community.
From around 2004 to 2014, she worked on an international graffiti anti-war project where she cross-stitched pieces of graffiti from around the world that were against war. After realizing that there are few very people who decide to go to war and very many people who are affected negatively by it, she created a series of pieces that show that all around the world, we are united in wanting peace. This project helped not only work out her range of feelings about war and foreign policy, but also learn how to discuss different topics with other people in a constructive manner through approaching them through the act of stitching.
Since 2015, she has been working on a project called You Are So Very Beautiful which merges the power of stitch, the positivity of affirmation and the joy that is guerrilla kindness to leave little handmade signs for strangers to find around the world. Coordinated drops, where dozens of signs are left around one city have been done in the United States, Canada, England and Australia and solo drops, where signs are left one by one have been left all in a host of different international locales. She also runs workshops, both stitchy and non-stitchy, helping people make signs for either themselves, loved ones or strangers. You can see some of their efforts over on Instagram at #yasvb.
After years of dealing with depression, stitching these little bits of joy has been revelational, not only to herself, but also to others who take on the task of creating work that is meaningful both in the making and in the giving. And it has shown her again and again that joy and happiness and finding beauty in tiny things is worth fighting for, because with work, you can even find it.
Currently she stitches at home with her dog by her side, dreaming up how to further take the good word of craftivism and her YASVB project around the world. She also is collecting interviews with craftivists from around the world in a craftivist interview series
Produced by: Vickie Howell
Edited & Mixed by: Dave Campbell
Music Provided by: Explosions in the Sky
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