Black Lives Matter


For a while now I've watched in horror whilst black people across America are slain by the police and by members of the public who feel the need to take justice murder into their own hands, feeling powerless to help. It seems terribly cynical, but I can't help but think that this happens all the time, just not as publicly. To a fair extent, we have social media to thank for keeping the killings of Mike Brown, Kajieme Powell, Vonderrit Myers Jr., Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner in the public sphere (and the list grows...) Even ten years ago, we would largely have had to rely on the mainstream media, which for various reasons, one of which is that it is overwhelmingly white, is possibly not the best source of information during a period of racial unrest.

The injustice, too, is overwhelming. Not only was Wilson, Brown's killer, not indicted for shooting an unarmed black teenager to death, he resigned, rather than was dismissed, from the police force (albeit without severance pay) after a period of paid leave, and almost $400,000 was raised by his supporters. Let me emphasize that; after shooting an unarmed black teenager to death, Wilson says that he has a clear conscience.

I am angry, I am horrified, I am frightened. Even after signing the petition to take the case of Michael Brown to the Supreme Court, I felt hopeless. I felt that I, and the other signees, were powerless to effect change, even if we were on the right side of history.

Then I saw this post by the inimitable Hanecdote. Ferguson and associated injustice has been weighing more heavily in Hannah's heart than some of us; her boyfriend is black. So she decided she was going to take action. She created 24 "Black Lives Matter" hand embroidered badges to sell, with all donations going to Hands Up United, an organisation that is seeking justice and supporting the community in Ferguson. With this beautiful act of Craftivism, Hannah has empowered us to make a difference, however small.


You can show your support by donating a minimum £5 for the badge with £1 for postage (so £6 in all). Email hanecdote@hotmail.com for details. 

Be the change you want to see in the world.

The Brentwood Belles get down to some serious Craftivism.

Last night I had to run to catch a succession of trains, so that I could lend the Craftivist Collective a hand at a very special Craftivist Jam event.

Sarah (of the Craftivist Collective), Sarah (of Oxfam London and South East), and I (of Significant Seams/Poesie Grenadine "fame") travelled to Shenfield in Essex to attend a meeting of the Brentwood Belles W.I. This isn't the Women's Institute as you may know it; in recent years women of all ages have been joining the organisation. There's a contingent in Shoreditch - the Shoreditch  Sisters - composed of young, hip, crafty East Londoners.

The women of Brentwood cover a greater age range than their East End counterparts, but lack none of the same enthusiasm! Soon after we arrived a hundred or so women poured into the hall where we were setting up; Sarah Pelham, a W.I. helper, and I, had to make a mad rush to get the tomato jam sandwiches ready in time.


Sarah Corbett gave a moving and informative talk introducing the Belles to Craftivism, and before the tea break the ladies had some time to consider Christine's story (and their reactions and thoughts about it), the world food crisis, and the message they might choose to stitch on their jam jar cover.


After the essential tea and cake break, we reconvened and got down to sketching and stitching. I had the pleasure of lending a couple of first-time embroiderers a hand, and was tweeting away on behalf of the Craftivist Collective throughout proceedings.


As is to be expected at any large W.I. gathering, there was a bit of a mother's meeting, but despite all the chattering, much stitching was done. We were presented with several finished jam jar covers at the end of the night, which the Belles promised to fill with tomato jam. There was also some (spirited!) discussion about the politics and quandaries of shopping and eating ethically. The ladies really did themselves proud, and gave us a very warm welcome - we were even presented with some gift-wrapped embroidery hoops at the end of the night! Thank you, Brentwood Belles!