The Red Line campaign, started in 2017 and is a national, educational and mobilizing awareness campaign with the final aim of blocking fossil fuels exploration in Portugal. And we did it! In four years, all the 15 contracts for oil and gas drilling were cancelled. We use craftivism to bring awareness and mobilize people into the climate justice movement. We use crafts such as knitting as a creative way to engage with non-activists on climate issues. We believe that arts and crafts are an extremely effective way of opening up people to new information, deconstructing it and making it more engaging and fun. The campaign was born so that we can bridge the gap between climate justice activists and ‘non-activists’. Knitting and crocheting serve as a social lubricant and can lower the political/capitalist barriers and preconceptions that people have.
We are a group of artists and activists that use craftivism to envolve especially non-activists, who are not so aware of this topic, into the climate justice movement. The campaign is promoted by nonprofit organization Academia Cidadã (citizenship academy).
For me, João Costa (mentor and co-coordinator), it means a lot because since the campaign started, I have changed my life completely. I left the bank where I worked, and now I dedicate myself, precariously, to activism. I have learnt a lot and the Red Line Campaign has served to add more people to the climate justice movement in Portugal.
Red Line was born because at an event we brought activists and knitters together and it was a magical moment! The knitters taught activists how to knit and the activists shared their knowledge about the climate crisis in an informal setting and the conversation flowed in an amazing way. Our mission started there, as we understand the potential that craftivism has to join different people together and at the same time breaking down prejudices.
The topic of the climate crisis is one that concerns all people but not all people are interested in it and we quickly understood that craftivism could be that spark that leads people to be more willing to listen and understand the other and subjects that they don’t understand very well.
We organized and co-organized events in cafes, schools, haberdasheries, in public places and we also visited senior universities. In every event we managed to bring together people of different ages and genders. At every moment we facilitated contacts and conversations between different people and generated understanding and compassion between people. We learned that knitting in public is a disruptive act in capitalist societies and even more so if it is cis men knitting!
We learned that knitting helps us to behave in a more human way and conversations flow better, as people’s willingness to listen is greatly increased!
We knitted 1200 meters of Red Line.
We gathered 40 informal groups to knit for the campaign >>
Flash mob in Web Summit with Tamera – 2017
Direct action at oil company headquarters
Our Red Lines in a demonstration
Activists and “non activists” sharing knowledge about knitting
The aerial action we did in partnership with Tamera and other movements where we brought activists from all over the world together was a magical, powerful and historical moment for the climate justice movement in Portugal.
The CAMP IN GAS (first climate justice camp in Portugal), organised together with local people and other organisations was an incredible moment. We were in the village of Bajouca for two weeks. We went to the local markets, to the cafés, talked to lots of people and were also present at a local craft fair. The climate justice camp took place and we welcomed over 200 people. We had workshops on pottery, carpentry, direct action, climate justice and various trainings for civil disobedience action. On the day of action we had over 400 people at the demonstration in Bajouca and we successfully planted several indigenous trees on the land of the company that wanted to do fracking.
Before CAMP IN GAS we went with 30 people from all over the country to the Australis Oil & Gas company site and knitted Red Line. This moment was one of the most remarkable because we allowed new people to meet, share rides between them and they were sleeping in the homes of local people. This moment consolidated our work with local people and ensured that we would never allow fracking in Bajouca.
Another powerful moment was when we took our red lines to the national demonstration of the FFF movement and people grabbed the red lines and showed them to the whole world! It created a very strong visual effect and also generated pride in the knitters!