Tag: campaigning

Crafts, Social Justice and Social Media #makingforchange

Craftivism Making for change

A couple of weeks ago we spent a whole week out of the office working with a group of 16 – 25 year olds  on the #MakingforChange project –  using Craftivism for social justice campaigns. The project was developed by Craftspace a Birmingham based organisation that creates “opportunities to see, make and be curious about exceptional contemporary craft.”

So what is Craftivism? Craftivism is a form of activism that is centered on practices of craft.

It is low level, often non confrontational activism that allows people to participate, slow down and discuss the issues at hand.

The making for change project introduced Craftivism as a way for the young people to talk about the things they cared about, and they had a week develop a campaign and a craft project that they could deliver to an audience. They worked hard to understand what social justice meant, what it means to campaign using craft, and to experiment using different craft techniques before their showcase on the Friday evening

The campaigns they ran included many topics from environmental concerns, with recycling and the declining bee numbers to loneliness and race issues, such as immigration and stop and search.

So where did Podnosh come in?

Well we’re obviously not artists or social justice campaigners in our day jobs, so we concentrated on what we knew best. Data and social media. For any campaign to be successful you need to have the facts and figures to back up your claims, and have a audience to share them with. So that’s what we worked on.

We introduced the idea of data, search and social media early on, before the group had even decided on what campaigns they would like to run, and then stayed around throughout the week to offer one on one support to help them with their specific projects .

In actual fact the one on one support was particularly useful because while we didn’t plan for it to be this way, as the groups and individuals were exploring issues and coming to us for help finding data we were able to help them refine their ideas and their message.

For instance one group Vishal , Rahul , Sanam  and Terell, came to us wanting to look at some very broad issues around stereotyping and racism, with a desire to do something that reflected their experiences, but they didn’t know what. They were thinking big, but didn’t know what they wanted to say. It was only by sitting and talking to them about issues they had faced and showing them some available data that they narrowed it down to stop and search – and the disproportionate amount of minority youths that get stopped – something they had first had experience of – and that refining of their message shaped their campaign.

Stop and Search Data

On the other hand another individual, Siandana came to use with a fully established idea – she wanted to to run a campaign about waste, but focusing on how litter can kill wildlife and had already developed a craft project around recycling plastic bottles into bird feeders.

Recycled bird feeder

She just wanted help on finding facts and figures to help prove her point and hopefully spread her idea further. We looked at what numbers would help her and we settled on data about the amount of time it takes different types of rubbish to break down, which she displayed on her table and hung off her feeders as discussion starters for whenpeople we busy making.



We also helped her consider using hashtags to share her reuse or recycle for wildlife message if she was to continue with her campaign, and she decided that #GoodRubbish would be a nice play on words – she actively encouraged people through the showcase evening to tweet pictures of their makes using the tag,


These are just 2 examples from the week, in all there were 6 different campaigns we supported, and all of them just as interesting.

Sarah ran a campaign to Save the Bees, Mahnaz on integration in communities and what it means to be British. Heather looked at the stigma around mental health and Jaswant  explored issues around isolation and loneliness.

We supported all of them in one way or another and it’s been really pleasing that since the project has finished both Mahnaz and Sarah have been in touch for some extra support as they are both interested in taking their campaigns further – and continuing making for change.


How to lobby – 10 tips from our new podcast on the Grassroots Channel

Active citizens do it all the time, but what does it take to lobby effectively? This programme hears from two people about their experience of lobbying politicians and councillors. David Babbs works for Friends of the Earth and belongs to their group in Hackney. Georgie Bigg lobbys as part of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England – expecially in their efforts to resist the expansion of Bristol Airport.

Please scroll down to listen first. Here is a list of their most important tips in the order they emerged in the conversation:

1 Understand who has what power. Lobby the people who can make a difference and aks them to do things they have the power to do.

2 Find out what people think. The first step of lobbying is to ask those in power what their position is. They may already agree with you.

3 Work out what’s in it for them. What incentive might they have to help you? Do they have a personal passion which may be relevant?

4 People in power don’t always appreciate where public opinion is. If you believe the public is forging ahead of those in power tell them so, and most importantly prove it, perhaps with a petition?

5 Know what you want to achieve. This should probably be number one on the list. Be clear about what change you want to see before you meet someone. Stay focussed on that in the meeting.

6 Facts are critical. They persuade. Politicians are usually generalists so provide them with the information and ammunition to be experts in your subject. If you win their support show them how to act – give them the tools to be on your side and make your case.

7 Link the lobbying to a wider public campaign.

8 Don’t get angry – use the right tone of voice.

9 Try and get any commitments make in public – either in the press, at a public meeting, perhaps in parliament or on the minutes of a council meeting.

10 Be human – they are (I added that one – you may not agree!).

Lobbying and the blogosphere, some slightly random links:

Legitimate LobbyingBulletinthehead, Richard Edelman, PR Speak, Ray Collins (dead link), Digital Destiny (dead link), Paul Linford, PRWatch, David Maister (dead link).

Pavement to Parliament – Marcia Lewinson of WAIT’s podcast.

Programme 9 on the Grassroots Channel tells the story of the Birmingham based group who use techniques developed in 1930’s Chicago to revitalise individuals, families and communities. We talk to Marcia Lewinson, the Chief Executive of Women Acting in Today’s Society, a South Birmingham based charity.  Waits was established in 1992 to: “support women to address issues such as welfare benefits, employment and education, domestic violence, isolation, health, crime and the fear of crime and many more.”

Women Acting in Today’s Society
Digital Birmingham
Saul Alinsky of Community Organising – Wikipedia

Update:  June 2009.  Waits now also keeps this useful Database of women’s groups in Birmingham:

The W.A.I.T.S. City-Wide Directory contains details of group meetings on various women’s issues throughout the Birmingham area. To use the directory simply select the group issue you are interested in along with the area.