Welcome to Who The Fuck Is The Resistance, an interview series highlighting what the WTFJHT community is doing to resist and exist.
Action + Craft
Who are you?
I’m Kim Werker, and I help people have more fun exploring their creativity (kind of like a camp counselor for grown-ups). I write books and newsletters, and teach online and in person.
What are you doing?
I’m writing a weekly newsletter about arts/crafts and activism, called Action + Craft. After the huge impact of Pussyhats at the worldwide Women’s Marches in January, my goal is to explore the role of art and craft in the context of activism, to keep the conversation going with people who are trying to effect change through hand-making, and to provide makers with inspiration, information, and calls to action.
When did you start?
I started writing Action + Craft in January after several hundred people downloaded a crocheted Pussyhat pattern I designed before the Women’s Marches. I’ve worked in crochet for a very long time and was blown away that so many crocheters – a group generally assumed to be pretty conservative politically – were engaging in political action by making these hats. I didn’t want to just leave it at that, and since I’m a writer and suddenly found myself with an email list of hundreds, I decided to see if a newsletter would be welcome. It has been!
Why are you doing this?
I’ve been working in crafts and arts for over a decade, and have always been politically active, myself. As an expat American living in Canada for fifteen years, I watched the recent election with a feeling of horror, and of guilt for having dodged the bullet, kind of.
Pussyhats were like a giant invitation to realize that activism is not some kind of silo that is or should be walled off from the rest of our lives – we crafters and artists have a tremendous opportunity to be active within our respective mediums.
Not only that, but craft and art can transcend barriers of language and geography – because of the Pussyhat pattern I published, I’ve heard from people from all over the world who not only stand with Americans in solidarity against Trumpism, but who are committed to standing up for progressive ideals and equal rights where they live, too.
How did you get started?
Honestly, I fell into this by accident. I designed my version of the Pussyhat because I wanted to make one using a different technique than was used in the “official” crocheted version. I released the pattern for free on my blog with an option to download a PDF formatted to print. I made the PDF in part to get a feel for how many people were going to make the pattern – I could track the downloads easily.
I was shocked that by the end of the weekend of the Women’s Marches, over 600 people had downloaded it. That was when I realized I had an opportunity to start a conversation with them about crafts and activism, and try to keep us all engaged in both as the weeks and months progress. Because I set the download up using my email program (ConvertKit), I didn’t have to do anything at all to start sending the newsletter. Since that weekend in January, subscriptions have risen to about 1500 (both through continuing downloads of the hat pattern and one I designed for the March for Science, and through direct subscriptions).
How do you fight political fatigue?
In part, I fight fatigue by writing this newsletter – it’s a constant reminder that we’re playing a long game here, and hearing back from readers reminds me that I’m not just shouting into a void. Writing is how I make sense of the world, and the more confusing and baffling the world becomes, the more I need to write. Obviously, I make stuff to keep myself sane, too. I knit and crochet, carve stamps and do embroidery.
What are your three favorite books or websites you use to stay informed?
- The book Craftivism: The Art and Craft of Activism, by Betsy Greer is a terrific book (full disclosure: I wrote an essay in it).
- I get Vox Sentences, a news round-up email, which is also great.
- I pay for the NYTimes and Washington Post online, and for the Globe & Mail’s Saturday paper
If nothing else good has come from this messed-up time, the resurgence of outstanding investigative journalism is back at the forefront of our civic engagement, so at least there’s that?