Craftivism for the Climate: at Southmead’s Ranch and Beyond

Creativity, hope and joy are things often missing from discussions about climate and nature. They might seem like weird things to include given the seriousness and size of the issue. However, it’s been shown that without them the issue can sometimes feel so big that we freeze and take no action at all.  

Craftivism is a type of creative activism where we can explore big topics whilst creating something beautiful with a relevant and powerful message. Over the years this has been anything from knitting and sewing to using waste materials to make sculptures. The art of making something together whilst discussing a particular topic is a great way to bring awareness, feel solidarity and hope for the future, and be joyful. 

Craftivism at The Ranch (Southmead Adventure Playground)

For two Wednesdays in October, I visited The Ranch to run workshops as part of Southmead’s Community Climate Action Plan. Featuring the voices of our young people is important. They often go underheard, but with a full life ahead of them they are a vital part of putting Southmead’s co-produced plan together.   

In our first workshop we painted wooden hexagons which will slot together to make a big piece of artwork. We were discussing what we love about nature and what we’d like to do for nature in Southmead. In our second workshop we made a bike wheel chandelier. All the materials, including the bike wheel, were waste materials destined for a bin or recycling box. We were answering the question “what could we do to be kinder to the planet?”, writing thoughts on scraps and attaching them to the wheel.

I have to admit I’m someone who can get bogged down with the sheer size of the climate problem. I hadn’t visited The Ranch for a little while and everyone’s energy really cheered me up. Their interest in creating something together, little things they’d noticed about nature, and their ideas did bring me hope and joy. One of my favourite contributions was “Smile for a positive planet.” 

Craftivism at the Festival of the Future City

Last week Craftivism featured again in my October. I attended a session at the Festival of the Future City. It was run by community leaders and artists working in climate justice and the Community Climate Action project. Speakers spoke about the importance of creativity, joy and hope as Bristol ensures that the transition to a nature and climate friendly city is fair and equal to all. 

Together we made a giant dandelion clock using plastic bottles, tissue paper and willow sticks. We each wrote down hopes for what Bristol’s fair and equal transition could look like. The finished product was so pretty which is effective in itself. Knowing that it had been collaborative, and that others shared my interest in such a big-and-scary topic, also made me feel less alone.  

I’m now a big fan of crafts being a tool to have these conversations. Talking to an audience can be scary, and so can speaking up in front of a room of people. So, having a task where people can feel more comfortable is important. This way many people can have their voices heard, whether through their actual voices or their art.  

As the consultation for Southmead’s Community Climate Action Plan comes to an end in December, I’ll be running another workshop as part of Winter Celebration Week, so do keep a look out for that. 

There’s still time to contribute to Southmead’s plan. If you’d like to complete our community survey, then please click HERE.  

If you have any questions, do get in touch with me on 0117 950 3335 or email