In 2003, Betsy Greer coined the term "craftivism" to encompass gentle, beautiful ways that creatives can make a difference in the world. Art has long been at the forefront of activist movements, challenging accepted norms and provoking thought and discussion. Crafting can do the same. Crafts can be used to raise awareness of a cause or to meet a practical need. Makers can also sell them to raise money for their favorite charities or projects. If you have a hobby that you love to share with others, starting a craftivism group with other members of your congregation is a great way to make new friends and make a difference.
Find a Medium
Most small groups that form within the church start with a common interest. You may be talking to people after a service one day and discover that you all like to quilt, knit or cross-stitch. If you like to make pottery or do woodworking, you may be surprised to find out how many people in your church enjoy the same pastime. Sometimes, just finding each other is all it takes to get a group started.
If you don't know anyone else who enjoys the same craft you do, take heart. While having the same medium may make some aspects of the group more coherent, there's no rule that says your craftivism group can only do one activity. You may expand a sewing circle to include all fabric or needlework. Your workshop can have multiple stations where people can work with different materials. You can still have a solid group definition without narrowing your focus to one task.
Choose Your Purpose
Next, you want to find the particular cause on which to center your efforts. What or whom is your activism going to benefit? While there are no wrong answers, you may have an easier time attracting members to the group if you work to support a local nonprofit organization or an established project within your denomination, such as Lutheran World Relief's quilt program. Keeping an open mind is especially crucial at this phase of planning. There are many different ways to give back through crafting. Don't be too quick to dismiss opportunities just because it's not immediately apparent how your hobbies can lend support.
Successful small groups typically have two kinds of events. The first is a regular meeting. Choose a time and place to meet on a consistent basis. For example, if your group consists of five to eight people, you may decide to get together on the second Tuesday of every month at your favorite coffee shop to knit and socialize. Having a regular meeting time gives you not only a chance to make announcements and plan but also the opportunity to get to know one another better and establish solid relationships.
The second type will require a little more planning. At least once a year, host an event that puts your hobby to good use. For example, you may hold a stitch-a-thon to raise awareness and collect donation pledges for your partner organization, or you may set up a booth at the local community market, selling the pieces of pottery you've made throughout the year to raise money for a local food bank. This is where your cooperation with the organization you wish to benefit comes in handy. Such events often take a lot of volunteer hours. While your group may be committed to handling the bulk of the work, it's nice to have representatives from the target organization help out, too.
No matter how much you enjoy your hobby by yourself, sharing it with other people can be even more rewarding. Add some activism to your crafting, and you can have a good time while doing good for others.