Joining the annual array of holiday craft shows is a brand-new entry – Craftivists. On Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 11 AM – 4 PM, you’ll find an array of socially conscious crafters exhibiting at The Union Project in the East End. We are pleased to be the social media sponsor for this intriguing new entry in our holiday activities.
TRCF wishes to break down traditional barriers to participation in craft shows for those makers with activist leanings (“craftivists”), or who have been shut out of mainstream craft shows by high fees, inaccessible spaces, or other reasons. This show is being put together to highlight the many crafters in our area who are feminists, queer-positive, body-positive, crafters with disabilities, people of color, and more, and to allow shoppers the ability to find meaningful gifts for the activists in their lives. The marketplace wants to create exchange that is based in social justice practice, and also create opportunity for attendees to meet local vendors that have justice as a core value.
Describe the Craftivist concept – who is a craftivist and what do they do? The Craftivism Manifesto defines “craftivist” as “anyone who uses their craft to help the greater good.” In this case, we’re playing host to craftivists who support social, economic, and environmental justice – the progressive end of the greater good.
The Craftivist event is essentially a craft show. Tell us more about it and how it is more than a craft show?
Yes, it is a craft show. However, we’re using that format to break down barriers both to crafters (not all craft shows welcome queer or feminist crafts, or are held in spaces that are accessible for people with disabilities, or that charge exorbitant fees to vend), and to people who want to purchase more socially-aware products. I’ve been at craft shows where I’ve seen some lovely pieces, but the makers are wearing MAGA hats. Immediately I’ve turned away. I don’t want to support the maker’s politics. At this show, it’s up front that the makers are activists and progressive, so I know that, as a buyer, they will align with my values. They will also have gifts that I know activist friends on my list will appreciate – like trans-flag cat plush toys, or eco-friendly body products.
We asked them to answer this question when applying: How do you as an artist connect to social justice, and how does it manifest in your work? (Examples: eco-friendly, low-waste packaging; products for LGBTQ folks; pay employees a living wage/benefits; openly feminist activist; donate proceeds to a progressive cause)
You explain that this market is a “to create exchange that is based in social justice practice” – beyond the exposure to and chance to purchase from justice oriented crafters, how is the transaction between the crafter and the customer changing the world? We realize that we can’t change the world with one craft show, but we can change our little corner of it. Even the products sold that aren’t explicitly social justicey – like jewelry – are supporting artist activists. They are being paid fairly for their creations. The person doing the gifting can see the incredible talent we have in our region. Maybe a gift can open up a conversation with a non-like-minded individual.
What criteria did you use to select the vendors? We asked them to answer this question when applying: How do you as an artist connect to social justice, and how does it manifest in your work? (Examples: eco-friendly, low-waste packaging; products for LGBTQ folks; pay employees a living wage/benefits; openly feminist activist; donate proceeds to a progressive cause)
We then went over their answers as a group (Union Project and TRCF staff/volunteers), and decided if there were any that didn’t meet our criteria of social justice. We have everyone from feminists to animal rescue folks, to queer activists to disability rights activists, to folks of color using repurposed materials. I’ve been organizing shows similar to this, and even I was taken by surprise to see just how many variants of incorporating social justice into their lives and work there were.
Why did you partner with the Union Project to host the event? The Union Project has received grants from Three Rivers Community Foundation before. They are firmly rooted in their community, and have a commitment to racial and social justice. The building is accessible to people with disabilities, and on bus lines. I thought we might not have the space completely full of vendors, so there’d be room to expand if needed and folks wanted another show. Well, we’re actually full now, so that’s a concern for the future – how to fit in more vendors if this takes off and becomes a regular event, but we’ll cross that bridge if we need to. Overall, it seemed the perfect location.
Is this a fundraiser for TRCF? Are the vendors paying a fee or a percentage of their sales to participate? Yes, it is a joint fundraiser for the Union Project and Three Rivers Community Foundation. Vendors pay a modest fee, then keep what they make there for themselves. There will also be a basket raffle and a bake sale at the event to raise funds for the two groups. Vendors are welcome to participate in either of those, but we have not made it mandatory, as that can be a burden on some potential vendors.
What will I find at this show that I might not see at other seasonal craft shows? Out-loud-and-proud products that wouldn’t show up in, say, a local church’s fair. Social change organizations such as the Center for Coalfield Justice and the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy selling things to support their work. “Yinz is a gender neutral pronoun” shirts (though Etna Print Circus does do shows like Handmade Arcade). Businesses owned by queer feminist witches (their words). Resources such as Inside Our Minds, which provides free, radical, mental health programming, and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, which gives second life to all manner of materials. Disability Pride buttons. Zines. Aerial yoga.
Please tell us about some of the vendors. We’re posting vendor spotlights (two a day) on the event’s Facebook page, and once we get confirmation from a few who have applied, we’ll post the full list in the event description. Here are a few:
IdiaDega – Sustainable adornment: clothing, jewelry, accessories and upcycled/recycled vintage clothing.
Rocket Art – Jewelry, stickers, accessories, with queer/POC/political themes
Crust Worthy – All-Organic Grain Sourdough Bread and Baked Goods
You describe the venue as accessible. Are you making provisions to offer seating for people who need a rest from walking around the tables, access to public restrooms, access to free water or a quiet room? Will you be recycling at the event? There will be a quiet corner, where two vendors with sound sensitivity will be (as it’s a large, open room, there’s no smaller room that we can use as a quiet space). There will be free water available. The Union Project has a lobby where there will be a few seats for folks to rest, and we will try to scatter a few chairs around the main room. There is a ramp into the building for folks in wheelchairs. There is access to restrooms. Service animals are welcome. We will be attempting to recycle what we can at the event, and I know that at least one of our vendors will be selling reusable cups. That said, if you have a water bottle for drinks, we encourage you to bring it.
What bus lines are accessible to The Union Project? The 71A, 75, and 87.
Do you see blogging as craftivism? As it is a creative act that can spark change, yes, absolutely! And we’re so happy to have Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents interested in this work, and there!
Where can readers find Craftivist or TRCF on social media? https://www.facebook.com/events/3183893581637523/
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? The Hummus Pittsburgh food truck will be parked outside, ready for business. Empath Sober Bar & Social Events will be serving creative, non-alcoholic drinks. There will be both vegan and gluten-free options in the bake sale. We hope you will join us to celebrate!
I’ve been at craft shows where I’ve seen some lovely pieces, but the makers are wearing MAGA hats. Immediately I’ve turned away. I don’t want to support the maker’s politics.
When: Saturday, November 30, 2019, 11 AM – 4 PM
Where: The Union Project * 801 Negley Avenue * Pittsburgh * 15206