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Crafting campaigns

Sarah Corbett

How to be a craftivist

Unbound (please note that I was originally gifted an arc from the publisher via netgalley but I loved it that much that I brought my own copy)

Unraveling the problem

Coming from a political family, I have always been political. Moreover, I took women’s studies, and took part in many campaigns, during my time at university. In addition, I work, as a volunteer, with the RNIB and Oxfam, on the campaigns that matter to me. As a disabled person, those activities have recently taken on a greater urgency. So, my campaigning life has become busier and more intense.

Recently, therefore I have been feeling tired, disillusioned, and unfocused. I am finding it hard to know where to spend my campaigning energies; which campaigns to prioritise when they all seem so important.

We live in turbulent times; Trump in the White House, Brexit, sexual abuse scandals, police violence, the deaths of black men, hate crimes against marginalized groups, global warming, and austerity still ruining peoples lives. The list goes on and on. This has led many campaigners, including the author of this blog, to feel tired and dispirited.

Sarah Corbett, mirroring my own concerns, speaks of the tendency of campaigners to spread themselves too thinly; to feel that they have to be everywhere, doing everything, fighting every battle. This leads to the temptation to cut corners and to complete tasks that can be undertaken quickly. These methods are often unsuccessful, leaving the campaigners angry and disillusioned.

Moreover, the author states that campaigners, often driven by anger, react in a knee jerk manner to situations that arise. This, Corbet tells us, can often lead to mistakes and knee-jerk actions can often lead to negative outcomes.

Crafting a solution

Sarah instructs us, not just to react to negative situations as they arise, but rather, to think about the world we wish to craft. In my case, that world would be one in which disabled people and other marginalized groups; would feel safe, able to live a productive life, have our voices heard, and live in a manner that respects both other people and the world in which we live.

Corbett argues that campaigners need to take a step back and think about; what campaigns they focus on, why they feel the need to campaign, where their skills can be best utilized, and what methods will get the best outcomes. We need to ensure, often in consultation with those individuals who we are seeking to help, that our campaigns will have a positive impact on the issues that we care about.

The author, also, challenges campaigners to break their addiction to quick campaign methods, i.e; the online petition and template letter. Campaigners are instructed to slow down our campaigning; to take time to craft methods that will create the best possible outcomes. For example, she argues that we should get to know our representatives and personalize our interactions with them.

This book came at exactly the right time for me and, while I will not take her every suggestion on board, I will slow down, both my writing and campaigning. I will see my writing as part of my campaigning. I will take time to write letters that engage the reader and not simply send a template letter or sign a petition. I will take time on my reviews, and other writing. If the book is good enough to write about, I should give it the time it deserves. If the issue is important enough to raise passion, I should be able to express my passions in a manner that engages the reader. The arguments contained within this book are too broad and too deep to express in a short post. Therefore, I have picked the bits that spoke to me and left other sections for the reader to find on their own. For example, I have left out any discussion of craft. You should really get hold of a copy and read it. I highly recommend this book.