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Improve! - Crafty Solutions

Luglio 2018
I progressi sociali si possono ottenere anche con un approccio gentile ed estetico. È ciò che propone questo movimento di protesta fondato da un'attivista piuttosto introversa ma estremamente abile nei lavori manuali.

di Rachel Roberts

Sarah Corbett
Sarah Corbett

Do you sometimes feel so angry about something that you want to protest? Perhaps your local council wants to cut down the ancient trees in your area, or your local hospital is closing through lack of funds. Maybe you’re angry about bigger social issues, such as poor working conditions or racism. Do you sometimes really wish you could do something to make a change in your world? Many of us have these strong feelings and then we do nothing.


Often this is because we are sure no one will listen to us and that we are too insignificant to make an impact on powerful people. British activist Sarah Corbett has the perfect solution to this frustrating situation and it’s a crafty one!


Corbett grew up in Everton, in Liverpool, in an activist family and was taken on various protests and campaigns from an early age. Growing up in such an environment led her naturally to a career in activism. In spite of this, Sarah describes herself as an introvert and says that she is scared by a lot of activism. She is uncomfortable with the violent images of protesters screaming at each other and holding placards with aggressive slogans saying ‘No to this!’ and ‘Don’t do that!’.


In her TED talk about ‘The Art of Gentle Protest’ Sarah asks the question: ‘If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then why is our activism often not beautiful, kind or fair?’ And this is her answer: she now runs the Craftivist Collective – ‘craftivist’ being a combination of 'activist' and 'craft' or 'handiwork' –  who produce art installations, street art, ‘wearable protests’ such as handmade jewellery with gentle slogans, or handmade gifts for powerful people and they have been active and successful all over the world.


In her talk, Sarah tells the story of how the Craftivist Collective convinced the famous British retail chain Marks & Spencer to improve their workers’ wages. Sarah bought 24 Marks & Spencer’s handkerchiefs and gave them to her craftivists to embroider and personalise. The aim was to give the handkerchiefs as gifts to each of the members of the M&S board of directors, to the top models who were part of an M&S advertising campaign and to the CEOs of the big investment companies that invest in Marks & Spencer.


It was vital that the message was not threatening in any way, but rather an encouragement to use power well. The handkerchiefs were accompanied with handwritten letters and gift-wrapped.
This empathic approach allowed the craftivists to engage with the people who mattered and the campaign led to fifty thousand staff’s wages being increased within ten months of the campaign action.
If you have an issue that is close to your heart and want to make a change for the better, you can find out more in Sarah Corbett’s book How to be a Craftivist: the art of gentle protest. Or, if you need a little more help, you can go onto the website and adopt a craftivist to guide you in your campaign.   



Some handy phrases to help you complain politely:

• Excuse me, but I’d like to make a complaint about...

• I’m sorry but there appears to be a problem regarding...

• I'm afraid to say that there is a slight problem with...

• I'm very sorry to bother you with this, but...

• Perhaps there was a misunderstanding but...


Some tips on how to respond to complaints:

• I apologise for the inconvenience.

• I completely understand why you are upset/angry. I'm sure we can work out a solution.

• I'm so sorry, I can assure you that this will never happen again.

• I'm really very sorry; we'll do our best not to make the same mistake again.

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