What do arts and crafts have to do with mutual aid?

Creating Community through Crafting: Welcome to Mutual Morris’s Crafting Guild

Arts and crafts are fun, relaxing, stimulating of creativity, good for our health, and rewarding in many ways for individuals. Like most things, doing them collectively multiplies the benefits as people come together to learn new skills from one another, but also socialize, bond, and create community. In recognition of these benefits, Mutual Morris created a Crafting Guild this past year and is using it to develop a framework for relationships, long-term sustainability, and abundance.

Sharing knowledge with each other is a core part of mutual aid. Those who have something, give or share it with those in need of it. That is the heart of an abundant and caring community. And it’s not just for hand-me-down clothes or furniture you no longer need. Members of sewing and quilting circles have been practicing in community with each other for a long time. Members of small villages in our ancient past crafted items together in camaraderie and shared those items. Fast forward to now, especially post-COVID, where many people feel alone, disconnected from others, or are in need of a friend. They are looking for ways to connect with others, which is why providing opportunities to socialize and build relationships is so important to restore in a world of rugged individualism.

Mutual aid projects have long-term sustainability and self-sufficiency at heart. We seek to reduce the need for toxic, mass-produced, or wasteful products and the usage of polluting factories, warehouses, and extractive consumerism. The more items we have the time and knowledge for making ourselves locally, the less we will have to buy and ship. We can reuse items, upcycle, restore, repurpose, rescue from landfills, etc.

Arts and crafts skills are also free to practice and share. Members of our community have many skills, and we enjoy sharing them with each other. Plus many of the tools and materials are already out there, all around us, and can be donated or shared with us. Recently, we were gifted a Cricut Maker 3 machine! Volunteers with knowledge can teach us for free, and many of us in the community already have knowledge to share without us needing to go to formal institutions for learning. This gives us, as a community, the ownership of the means of production and the freedom to use them for our own material needs rather than for profit.

As a mutual aid project, building alternatives to the systems that oppress and keep us poor is the top goal. So we must always have an anti-capitalist purpose and understanding as well. The goal is not simply to make money to survive, but to build power, resources, skills, and relationships that allow us to no longer need money to survive. This is one of many steps we are taking on a long journey, and not an end in itself.

Since forming our Crafting Guild we have been:

  • Learning skills for individual and collective self-sufficiency
  • Socializing and building community relationships
  • Making items that we can sell to raise funds for our work
  • Having fun!

We dream of a community where we are all making the things we need for ourselves and for each other too. For economic, environmental, and social reasons, it is important that we find ways to reduce consumerism and take away the destructive forces of capitalism while building alternatives that provide for our needs without a financial requirement.

We can’t rely on charity or non-profits to take care of us. We can only rely on each other. Therefore, we need our own resources and opportunities. We need to work together for both our individual and our collective well-being. When someone in our community is in need of emergency funds, we aren’t always successful in our appeals to the generosity of the public, but we still have to make sure they get those funds because it is our responsibility to care for each other. By creating community through crafting and crafting together, we are expanding our support network so we can better help each other when one is in need of help.

Watch our social media for upcoming events!