Betsy Greer is a writer and maker who lives in Durham, North Carolina. For the past fourteen years, she’s written about craftivism, the place where craft and activism intersect, and she loves discovering the ways in which people use (and have used) the two together. Currently, her main craft project is You Are So Very Beautiful, in which people make affirmation signs then leave them out all over the world for others to find.
We talk in this episode about the value of letting what we need out into the world, and about being in a flow state when we create. If our conversation got you thinking, let us know how in the comments!
Show Notes and Links
Find Betsy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Check out this short video about You Are So Very Beautiful:
What a thing, the Women’s Marches, eh? What a day. What a force. What a feeling. (My photos from the Vancouver march are below.)
I first learned about the Pussyhat Project right after it launched in late November, 2016, and though I cast on for a knitted hat right away, it was only when the project reached its tipping point in the couple of weeks leading up to the marches that I felt compelled to do way more.
The crocheted Pussyhat pattern I released was downloaded a few hundred times before the march, and a few hundred times the actual weekend of the march. As of the time I’m writing this, it’s been downloaded well over 700 times.My blog traffic has nearly double over the last week. As far as I can tell, the Pussyhat is more popular than any crochet pattern I’ve ever published.
There was a time when I felt I had to be very, very subtle about my feminism in my crochet work, and I’m proud, relieved and downright excited that those days are over.
Don’t get me wrong – my work isn’t going to stop being about the fun of creative exploration and turn into 100% activism all the time.
It’s just that I may bring activism – which is a big part of my personal life and has been for a long time – into my work a bit more than I used to.
But also separately. If you’d like to get occasional emails from me about simple steps to take and about the intersection of art/craft and activism, sign up right here.
Anyway. It feels simultaneously like the worst of times and the best of times. I have so much to make, and so much to do.
I don’t usually copy my weekly newsletter into my blog, but this week is different from most weeks, and my email provider doesn’t make copies available for linking. To give you the full newsletter experience, I copied the text in full, including the links at the end. To get my emails every Friday, sign up here.
I smelled gas this morning when I was walking the dog. It was around the same place in the next block over that I thought I’d smelled it last week, but had dismissed it as a false alarm.
I walked back and forth a few times, trying to figure out if my mind was playing tricks on me. I couldn’t figure out where it might be coming from, but I smelled it. I did.
Too big a risk, I forced myself to accept. Too big a risk.
So I phoned the city’s non-emergency line, just in case they have a way to check in on things like this that doesn’t rely on emergency services. They don’t. They told me to call 9-1-1.
Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, even though I had the blessing of the city, I still hesitated for a beat. What if it’s nothing? What if I’ll have wasted the fire department’s time? What if my neighbours feel put out?
Stop. Make the call.
I made the call.
It was the right thing to do. Even if I was mistaken, even if I felt uncomfortable that I wasn’t certain. I did the right thing.
I got a concussion once. I was in college.
It was my first year, I think, and there was an upperclassman who liked to flirt with me. I didn’t reciprocate, but he was harmless.
He was the first (of, astonishingly, several) college men who would, at one point in conversation or another, interrupt to tell me, “Your eyes are green!”
No shit, Sherlock.
I didn’t date much in college.
One day I was walking through the common area of my floor in the dorm, and he was walking by in the other direction. He asked for a hug. I said no.
He demanded a hug. I told him I had somewhere to be. He was in my way.
He said aw, c’mon.
I was like fuck it. Fine.
He swung me around during this hug, and lost his balance. We both went over, him on top. The back of my head smacked the floor and I literally saw stars.
I didn’t get to wherever it was I was headed.
I left the dorm in a neck brace, strapped to a backboard.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that stupid hug these last few weeks. And about the hug a guy at camp forced on me when I was in high school, which I met with a swift and well-aimed kick to his genitals.
I’ve been thinking about what’s benign and what’s malignant. What’s acceptable and what must be met with even uncomfortable intervention.
What’s normal and what’s not normal. And what shouldn’t be normal.
We’re in charge.
We’re the only ones who can force ourselves to do the right, often very uncomfortable thing.
To use our words to assert ourselves. And if our words fail, to use our feet.
To suspect that something’s not right, and to do something about it even if we’re not sure.
We can convince ourselves sometimes that life can be convenient, but this past week became a stark reminder that convenience is an illusion.
Let us all accept the inconvenience, for failing to is simply unacceptable. Let us get our hands dirty in the mess.
It’s the only hope we have of ever cleaning it up.
In my haze of grief and dismay this week, I finally finished my new ebook. It’s a compilation of all the emails I sent to you in 2014, including all the links. That year was a big one for me, and many of the seeds of my whole creative life were planted during those months. Grab a copy now on Amazon or in my online shop!
(Patrons at the $5 and $10+ levels, you should have already heard from me with your download or discount. Let me know if you didn’t get the info!)
Try This Once:
I’m having a hard timing coming up with the fun this week, my friends. I’m going to skip this one, and get myself into better shape to bring it hardcore next week.
Items of Note:
If you enjoy the newsletter, forward it to a friend, and support it over on Patreon!
Last week I stumbled upon a campaign to distribute donated baby carriers amongst asylum-seekers in Greece, organized by a California-based organization called Carry the Future. I’ve had our old baby carrier hanging unused in our closet for three years, and when I looked into the work the group is doing, I did something I don’t ordinarily do and jumped on their bandwagon. Usually, it’s best not to send in-kind donations during a crisis, but rather to donate money to a reputable organization. In this case, these in-kind donations are fulfilling an immediate need, and CTF is delivering the carriers themselves, in person, on the ground to refugees traveling with babies and toddlers as they arrive by boat in southern Greece.
There are well over 3,000 volunteers now organizing local donation drives around the world and helping CTF to do this very valuable work. If you’re in the Vancouver area, here’s how you can donate a used or new carrier and get involved with the local donation drive.
I was on the radio this morning along with the PR director of CTF, and we had a very long conversation with the host, not only about the great work CTF is doing, but also about the challenging responses many Americans and Canadians are having to our countries’ commitments to receive refugees into our communities. Usually radio interviews are about three minutes long; this one lasts nearly twenty. So click here and listen to it as if it’s a podcast, or catch the part I’m proudest of starting at 14:30 minutes in.