It's been almost four years to the day since we shared in written word our beliefs/stance regarding the importance of diversity and inclusion with you. You can see that original post here. At the time, we made not only a statement of our beliefs, but also shared an action plan. We are long overdue for a review. How did we do with our action plan? What do we need to improve on?
Before we go further and update our statement, we want to head off any comments regarding the need for such a statement and the need for action on our part as a yarn shop.
1. We are more than a yarn shop, we are a place that hopes to build community, a community that reflects the diversity of the larger community around us. We want to be a place where fiber lovers can come and feel comfortable no matter what the color of their skin, their gender identity or sexuality, their religion, their abilities, their language, or their economic status.
2. This is not a statement about ‘politics’, it's a statement and action plan around how we as a business and as human beings will treat other human beings, and if this is uncomfortable to you we invite you to reflect on why. Please discuss that with us, but please know we are not willing to ignore oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, abilism to do business with you. We will not be moved by threats to remove yourself from our community because you don't agree with our stand on diversity and inclusion. Please don't ask us to just stick to knitting or crochet, and not do politics. These issues impact members of our knitting and crochet community and we are compelled to address them.
Without further ado, let's get into the nitty gritty. We started last time with the following acrostic as our guiding principles and believe this is still valid: As we address diversity and inclusion we will:
A – always center on the impacted L – listen & learn from those who live in the oppression L – leverage our privilege Y – yield the floor
We also made the following statement: If you love yarn, you are welcome here-it is important to us that our community reflect the diversity of our community outside, whether in skin color or ancestry, whether by wide range of cultures and religions, whether you identify as she/her/they/him/he, as straight, bi or gay, we hope and will actively work so that you identify as “Welcome” at Birdhouse. Bring your knitting or crochet and join us around the table and let’s love on yarn together.
While the above is a valid statement we need to expand it to include all ages, economic statuses, disabilities and abilities.
We identified some actions:
1. We can make sure that what we reflect on our social media platforms is representative of the diversity of the knitting and crochet community, so that all yarn lovers know they are valued.
Update: We did okay on this for a while, but need to recommit to this action.
2. We will not allow algorithms to dictate the beauty of design we see, but will consciously seek out diverse knit and crochet designers when highlighting designs because such actions counter the imbalance in representation and can have a positive economic impact.
Update: This is part of our ongoing discussion and we have been pretty consistent in this action.
3. Representation – When representation comes to modeling our samples we struggle as we predominately rely upon Rachel’s daughter Ila, and Sam, as our unpaid models, such is the reality of a small family business, but we recognise this as a problem and are actively trying to address this.
Update: While we have added the fabulous Tina and Harriet to our free models, that has not aided our efforts in this regard. We need to do better.
4. We will continue to reflect on our own bias and privilege, and listen and learn from those who have been subjected to racism in our community and will leverage our privilege to address these wrongs.
Update: This is an ongoing, life-long process. We are listening, we are learning and we trying to create a better community. We still have work to do.
We have identified the following as actions to work on:
1. Develop a program that we hope will increase access to fiber arts to a larger age-range and economic status of crafters or crafters-to-be. More on this to come. We're hoping to solicit crafter volunteers for this not-for-profit venture. We're envisioning a two-hour block once a week on Wednesdays, where crafters-to-be can pick out a few free skeins of yarn from our de-stash closet, and get some help and encouragement from a seasoned knitter or crocheter. If you're interested in being part of this effort please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
2. We want to up our Spanish and ASL skills! We have a resident polyglot, Holly, but we need to up our skills and resources as a team to serve those in our community who communicate in Spanish and ASL. (If you would like to help us increase our skills, please let us know.)
3. We recommit to diverse and inclusive representation in our social media stream.
4. We will continue to work on making sure the shop is accessible to those in wheelchairs. We have some restrictions regarding the space in the corridor, but we work to make sure that the space around displays is wide enough to maneuver. We do have a ramp to access from outside. We have that ready to go on the south door as there are less steps there - just call us and we will get it out there for you. We can use that same ramp for the small step inside the building.
We know there is more to be done. We want to make sure that this is a safe environment for all to love on yarn, let us know how we can make it safe and accessible for you.
Holly, Sam, Tina, Harriet,
Delaney and Rachel
Saturdays 10:30-12:30pm Close Knit and Crochet- knit or crochet around the table with fiber friends - register here
Thursdays 1pm- 3pmClose Knit and Crochet -knit and crochet around the table with fiber friends - register here
Saturday, Jan 28 3- 5:30pmNoro Yarn Tasting Currently filled. Let us know if you'd like to be put on the cancellation list.