Behind the Scenes on the Aussie Critters Facebook Page
Updated: Feb 18
This blog post is to congratulate the amazing small town of Crieff, and the region Strathearn, on having such big hearts and talented people.
In this post, I thought it could be interesting to look back at editing our temporary Facebook page, Crieff for Aussie Critters, which helped bring so many local people together so quickly. I'm conscious that simultaneously, all round the world the social media platform Facebook was uniting new communities of craft groups - and spreading vital information straight from the ARCCG (Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild) about patterns, requirements and instructional videos both instantly and internationally.
It is the first time that I've been involved in any global movement like it, and I was impressed how social media played a vital role.
Starting a Facebook Group
It is one month since we turned our English language School Blue Noun into a pop-up drop-in workshop, inviting people to come to sew, knit and craft the bedding urgently needed for the animal victims of the Australian bushfires. We began the Facebook group to share information (many of us had initial difficulties in following the patterns and instructions, and, to save time, we wanted to quickly get advice and information both from and to other group members).
Our header image was taken from elsewhere on Facebook. It melted my heart when I first saw it, and it still does. Amongst so many dramatic images of the fires raging, this baby koala made me feel like I could do something - and must do something.
Creating a Facebook group page is easy: click and add a header image (optional), add a description and then invite people in your own contacts to become administrators if you want some help. Here's our description.
We posted images of the first workshop, hoping to encourage other people to get involved. I then shared this post (which was on the Crieff Critters page) around onto local community group pages, which made it as visible as possible. Tip: if you share from your group page, it is easy for people to click the link and get onto your Facebook page. In contrast, if you just post directly onto the group without leaving a link, it is much less effective.
Once people requested to join the group - and (of course) were accepted, they got all new updates immediately into their own news feed. Information sharing made easy!
Many people contributed to the Crieff for Aussie Critters Facebook group, posting links to useful information such as video tutorials, or posting messages of encouragement or sadness. People even used it to book a spot on the sewing machine we had set up in our space.
Fortunately local journalist, Lynn MacGregor saw what our group were up to online and ran a print article in the Strathearn Herald. This helped get word out about what we were doing to any non-social media users (who tend to be the generation who can knit and crochet fast).
From the morning of the article's publication we were busy.
All around us in our small Scottish town, people were feeling moved and helpless by the news coming from Australia. Now people who perhaps didn't have extra money to give could donate time and skills to this cause, and make an impact.
For anyone who doesn't already know, there is a great website called CANVA (www.canva.com) which makes it really simple to create adverts for different online platforms. A few years ago an advert this basic (below) would have taken about an hour to produce on Photoshop software - (assuming you have both access to and expertise in the software).
Thanks to CANVA anyone can drag and drop images and arrange both graphics and font over the top. It offers a basic (free) service (which we use), or a monthly subscription, which includes cross platform editing and superior graphic templates.
Incidentally, CANVA is an Australian company, and currently, if you do buy one of their graphics, that money is donated to Australian bushfire relief charities. They've also got a set of free fundraising graphic templates here.
Thanks to CANVA, our group was able to quickly thank local companies who supported our project, which in turn generated more local public awareness. Our project began to feel like the actions of our whole town, rather than just a few crafters.
After 4 days of cutting and sewing and handing out wool and materials, it was a real treat when things started taking shape in our workshop (we had decided on an efficient factory-style production line, rather than one person sewing each item from start to finish).
We posted a video of the very first item getting assembled.
From this point on, the doorbell rang regularly, with people handing in beautifully made finished objects. It was such a joy to be receiving these donations, that I decided to take photos and share them on Facebook as they came in. Perhaps some more people would be inspired. Ultimately I hoped anyone already beavering away in isolation would share the buzz from seeing these remarkable pieces, and feel part of a larger community .
For the sakes of a good photo, sometimes we added our little assistant in to help model the work...
A special mention should go to the kids who got involved and sewed up a storm to hep the Australian animals: it was fantastic you wanted to help. You are amazing.
Here's Blue Noun gang members having a shot!
Personally, my most remarkable moment was when a lady called Fiona dropped in this collection of little nests: I take my hat off to anyone who can do this. It's wonderful.
The Final Push
Out last workshop day was spent labelling and packing all the different items.
All together the town of Crieff (and region) made around 200 items, which were collected up at Blue Noun and delivered, by Mo and Kath, of the wonderful Moka Pottery, to a collection hub in Falkirk, where they were part of an international stocktake that oversaw the distribution of all UK produced items, getting them straight to the parts of Australia in most need.
I love to know that somewhere, in Australia, there are young orphaned marsupials sleeping in tartan pouches, produced by the wonderful community around Crieff, Scotland. It's equally wonderful that towns and communities around the whole world came together to craft for this cause. People have such kind hearts.
Crieff & Strathearn: WELL DONE and THANK YOU to everyone involved!
Special thanks to Moka Pottery, who made it all happen and took time out from opening their new studio at Tullybannocher (just outside Comrie).
The Big Picture
Although the immediate need for crafted bedding has been satiated, we can't forget the continuing horrific damage to people's homes and livelihoods - and across the ecosystems and habitats as bushfires still burn. Please donate financially if you can (click the WWW image below for the link).
Lastly, we all need to remember that Australia is feeling the brunt of man-made global and catastrophic climate change that we all have a hand in creating.
Protect our planet. Reduce your impact: Find out how you can live a greener lifestyle with this 9 step animated guide by Imperial College, London.
If you are in the Strathearn Region there are lots of local groups and ways of getting active. Message us at Blue Noun if you want more information.
Live language learning!