Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

Can Everyday Creativity Change the World?

Can baking save the world?

I’ve had two ideas swirling around my head for a couple of years. The first Patricia McKillip gave me in her book Solstice Wood. The book features a group of women who use their arts and crafts to keep the land of Fairy at bay in their woods. This led me to think about a group of primarily women who use their arts and crafts to keep evil at bay in the world. Instead of fighting evil things like demons, mages gone bad, or their local alderperson (sorry, I live in Chicago) with swords, guns, or magical monsoons, they fight with their knitting needles, crochet hooks, wooden spoons and Dutch Ovens, paints, pottery wheels, and/or sewing machines.

This idea became extremely personal to me in March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the world. When I started thinking about cracking a bottle of wine open and 10:00 am, I knew I was going to have to come up with a better way to deal with the stress. As I had been maniacally binge-watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and I love to bake, that’s what I did. A couple of months earlier a friend had shared a sourdough starter with me, and I was already learning that, so I continued to learn and bake. My incredible husband found me 50 pounds of flour and a stock of yeast when everyone else jumped on the baking bandwagon, and off I went.

Of course, I thought that I’d bake for a couple of months then life would go back to normal. Two years later I’m still baking to keep my sanity and to make my friends happy. In December I baked and gave gift boxes to my friends, and saw firsthand how much an everyday craft can bring happiness and joy to our bleak world (and winter in Chicago is bleak my friends).

These two ideas keep feeding each other: that the everyday arts and crafts we do in our everyday lives, not only make our lives better but make our world a better place to live. This idea shouldn’t be so revolutionary to me. After all, I’m a Christian who believes that God is the Creator of everything. I also believe that this God made all human beings in her image. So of course we are all creators–we are made in the Creator God’s image.

But the connection that God’s creative action that changed The Void into something else in Genesis 1 could be connected to my baking (or knitting) changing the world into something else has only been an idea that clicked with me in the last couple of years. But I’m discovering that being made in the image of God means exactly that: our creative work, no matter how small or ordinary, changes the world we live in: it makes creation more of the place God intended it to be. (The crazy thing is I wrote an article about how writing does this in Writing the World Right years ago. I never thought to apply it to baking and knitting.)

This idea is what I’m going to be exploring on this blog for the next few months. I will be telling my stories and hopefully telling stories from friends and family as well. And I want to hear your stories. How are using your creative ability, your arts and crafts, to make yourself, your family, your home, your community, and your world a better, more beautiful, and divine place?

Amy Krouse Rosenthal and The Beckoning of the Lovely

On August 8, 2008 Amy Krouse Rosenthal invited people to come make an 18th lovely thing with her after posting 17 beautiful things she had made. She told them to meet her at The Bean in Millenium Park at 8:08 p.m. Over a thousand people showed up. The film of what they did that evening can be found here (I have yet to figure out how to embed video). She and her friend, Steve Delahoyde decided to make a film of lovely things that we have made, and they are accepting submissions at Amy’s website. They literally want you to submit something you have created that you think is lovely: fim, art, poem, stories, dramas, music, photographs, and journal entries, to name a few.

I am going to submit my poem, “I Want These Things Written on My Body.”

What lovely creation can you submit?

Hat tip to Gapers Block.