Bringing people together is a priority and prerequisite for change for One Billion Stars. Since the project’s inception in 2012, the value of community mobilisation to make any progress in women’s safety, awareness raising and education has been centred around our ability to find ways for people to engage, relate and stay connected.
Our star weavers pride themselves in being able to share something creative and therapeutic with anyone willing to learn. Star weaving helps to set the foundation for a safe and welcoming environment that locals can learn to depend on and be inspired to pass on and share with others in their own families and communities.
Bringing people together physically or virtually is critical in helping to build solidarity and a combined effort to address something as complex and pervasive as violence.
The power of craft making
We have some incredible stories of people share our star weaving craft with their local communities to raise awareness about One Billion Stars but also to support local conversations of inclusion, community resilience and gender based violence.
In Kilkenny, Ireland, Siobhan McQuillan, Project Lead for One Million Stars to End Violence in Ireland, ran a star weaving workshop recently with Kilkenny Volunteer Centre for Amber Womens Refuge as part of Go Purple Day.
“Participants from an amazing 10 countries today, all weaving together in solidarity against gender based violence. What an example of how creativity connects us!!”
Not only has Siobhan been actively running and supporting star weaving workshops across Ireland but these stars also form part exhibitions for communities to enjoy and celebrate their connections and new relationships.
In Austin, Texas, Project Lead and star weaver Melissa Knight wove stars with St. Andrews Episcopal School community as part of their day of service in November last year. 10th grade students shared star weaving with 5th grade students. Together the St. Andrews community wove 481 stars! They also had a star installation in their chapel before delivering the stars to be included in their next star installation.
Our Texas star weaving community has now woven 9099 stars!! This means we are just 901 stars away from reaching our first milestone goal of weaving 10,000 stars together!
“Star weaving has brought our community to life: it allowed for connections across grade levels, it has promoted meaningful conversations about peace and non-violence, and it has given us a beautiful installation to enjoy.” – Austin Davis, Upper School Director St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.
The power of craft making, whether it’s weaving, knitting or paper crafts, has wide spread impact, benefiting individuals as well as wider communities. The more opportunities we can offer our communities to come together and to make with our hands, the more pathways we can create to have open, respectful and nurturing conversations.
Crafting for a Cause
Star weaving isn’t the only craft activity that’s being used to amplify voices of the marginalised or persecuted.
The Monument Quilt project (2013) is a collection of thousands of quilt squares made by survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
The project has grown to include thousands of individual squares from survivors, their loved ones, and allies and is displayed publicly to raise awareness about violence and support survivors.
Created by the organisation “Force: Upsetting Rape Culture” with the aim of creating public healing spaces for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence the project involves collecting and stitching together thousands of red fabric squares, each containing personal stories and messages of support for survivors.
The project also provides workshops and educational materials to help communities understand and address issues related to sexual and gender-based violence. They also continue to collect and display the quilt in various locations around the world to promote healing, awareness, and advocacy.
The Peace Paper Project, founded in 2011 by papermaker Drew Matott and artist Jana Sim in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, involves working with communities affected by conflict, trauma, and other forms of social and emotional distress.
The project encourages people to create handmade paper from their own recycled clothing or other textiles. The aim of creating paper provides a therapeutic and transformative experience for participants, allowing them to express and process their emotions and experiences.
The paper art is used and displayed as exhibitions to symbolise the participants’ stories and experiences, including healing and awareness about social issues.
The Peace Paper Project also offers workshops, training, and educational resources to promote empathy, connection, and understanding across diverse communities and cultures.
Art and craft has a long history of mobilising people for action and change. It should never be underestimated as a tool for community development and resilience. The more we embrace art and craft as a vehicle for empowering ourselves and supporting each other, the more successful we will be as a diverse and thriving community.
Building Community Connections
The biggest ambition of One Billion Stars was to build hundreds of thousands of community connections across Australia and around the world. This was by no means an easy task, often more challenging than the task of weaving and collecting millions of stars.
Anyone can learn to weave a star. The craft and technique of star weaving is straight forward, as outlined in our instructions. But we always knew that to make lasting impact on people’s attitudes about the treatment of women, healthy relationships, healing from trauma and collaboration, we needed to believe in our communities ability to problem solve and experiment and offer something simple and accessible like star weaving, a beloved Pacific Island weaving craft.
And there are so many more community connection examples, inspiring and validating our creative work for meaningful change:
The Craftivist Collective, like One Billion Stars, promotes “gentle protest” through crafting. People are invited to create small, thought-provoking crafts, like stitched messages or hand-painted banners, to spark conversation and build community connections.
Yarn bombing, another form of street art, brings people together to create colourful, unique coverings for public spaces, like trees or park benches. By displaying the work publicly, “yarn bombers” (knitting and crochet) are marking spaces as safe for everyone by imprinting their values using colourful thread and wool.
Next time you view craft in workshops or group settings we hope that it inspires you to think broadly about the impact of making with your hands and with others. The outcomes are more than creating beautiful stellar installations, these craft activities, like our treasured star weaving, is building stronger, connected and more purpose driven communities. And that, is a beautiful thing to witness.
Long live crafting!
Yours in weaving solidarity,