Dorcas - Social Justice through Craft
Over the past few months a new group has formed at the church called the Dorcas Group. They have been using crafting as a way to use their voice and have written a blog post for us to tell us a little more about what they've been up to.
Back in February I watched a programme on BBC4 about Craftivism
presented by Jenny Éclair (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rxn0 ) In it she explored Craftivism – the use of craft for gentle activism. This was not a new concept to me – I had heard a bit about the Craftivist collective on social media but I was particularly struck in this programme about how men and women all across the world were using their craft skills to raise awareness about a variety of issues. It also spoke about Dorcas
groups which in the past have been in churches and a way to make things such as clothing to benefit others whilst also engaging in conversation whilst making. I sent
the link to Val Donoghue, Jane Heath and Linda Burbage with the thought that we could perhaps do something similar at High Street.
Dorcas (or Tabitha) was a female disciple who is written about in the book of Acts – she used her talent to make clothes to assist the poor and make a difference in their lives. She found a way to make a difference within the constraints of being a woman in that time. We feel that if Dorcas was alive today she may still be using her needle and thread but that she might also be a bit more vocal in challenging injustice and using her skills in a variety of different ways to make her voice and the voices of the voiceless heard. A small group of us started meeting online with a desire to use our skills for the local area and as a form of evangelism, so linking in with parts of the Methodist way of life:
We will challenge injustice
We will speak of the love of God and share our faith with others.
Our first project linked with February’s social media theme of love. We made hearts in a variety of mediums and attached a message of love from the bible. These were hung in the car park in Waitrose for anyone to pick up. One lady who picked one up spoke to Rev Jason at the Community Fridge saying that she had been feeling particularly down and was grateful to be reminded that God loved her.
In March we thought about the environment and the local issue of flooding. Some of our church members had been affected by the flooding in Witney at Christmas and we wanted to ask the members of the district council what they were doing to prioritise this issue especially given the increased building of new homes in the area. We made Noah’s Arks and sent them to councillors with a letter and we were pleased to receive several replies addressing our points.
We have taken more time over our current project. This time we have been making Worry Monsters and hand puppets that can be used with children in nurture groups in primary schools and the counselling service with children who have suffered trauma. We hope that these will be able to go out into the local area in the next few weeks.
Due to Coronavirus restrictions we have had to meet on zoom every couple of weeks to catch up on progress and make plans for future projects. But we do hope to meet in person very soon to share our projects and in future we hope to be able to craft together – this gives us the opportunity to talk about why we are doing this and to share stories as well as perhaps teach each other new skills. We are currently quite a small group and would love to have new members join us. So if you are crafty and are interested in trying craftivism why not watch the BBC4 programme and then get in touch with Val Donoghue (firstname.lastname@example.org).