Workshop Ethics

DIY, Workshop or workspace activities encourage people to undertake a wide variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. These activities require people to develop skills needed to complete these tasks. but they also require an ethical underpinning.

Workspace ethics empowers both individuals and communities. It encourages the use of novel solutions when facing bureaucratic or societal obstacles.

Many of the earliest examples involve punk music, notably the proto-punk band Death and the third-wave feminist band Riot Grrl.  Ideally, demos are recorded with amateur equipment in bedrooms, while albums and merchandise are promoted and distributed through nebulous channels outside the established music industry. Concerts are even held in house basements.

Betsy Greer invented the term craftivism in 2003: “craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite.”

Craftivism is especially noted for its assorted forms of needlework, including yarn-bombing and cross-stitch. However, the social aspects are more important. By combining collective empowerment, creative expression and negotiation, critical social comments are produced and spread.

One brand of craftivism is the knit-in, where knitters access a public space and knit. This might involving sitting in a park or occupying a public building. They use the knit-in to focus attention to an issue of concern.

Jack Bratich notes, “Knitting in public also creates a gendered question of space. It rips open the enclosure of the domestic space to public consumption, exposing productive work that has contributed to women’s invisible and unpaid labor”.  “The Other World Wide Web: Popular Craft Culture, Tacticle media, and the Space of Gender”. Revision for Critical Studies in Media Communication. That means that women gain power from an activity that previously symbolized their repression.

Ellen Lupton will be allowed the final words in this post. “Around the world, people are making things themselves in order to save money, to customize goods to suit their exact needs and interests, and to feel less dependent on the corporations that manufacture and distribute most of the products and media we consume. On top of these practical and political motivations is the pleasure that comes from developing an idea, making it physically real, and sharing it with other people.” D.I.Y. Design It Yourself, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006,p. 18

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