In recent months, parts of my home town have suddenly sprouted technicolour crochet placards, hearts and flowers, much to my delight. Many have exhorted me to ‘Love Where You Live’. One has begged me ‘Please Do Not Feed The Seagulls’. But it was when I saw the instruction ‘Be Kind To Each Other’ that I knew I must find these mysterious yarn bombers and talk to them for the show. What does kindness look like to a ninja knitter?
It turns out their kindness is of the practical variety. Small actions taken consistently, thoughtfulness, neighbourliness, an awareness that what you do in the public realm affects everyone around you. There Is No Such Thing As The Dog Poo Fairy. They are not ones to get too sentimental, or overstate the case for compassion in their own friendships, but is undeniably there, expressed in concrete terms – helping with interior decoration, cooking meals, and of course their collective creativity.
Now, I am sworn to secrecy about the group’s identity, they are fully anonymous (although they will talk back to you if you message their Facebook page). They met at a local neighbourhood planning meeting, all of them having been active in local governance and/or community projects for many years. These are the people who will get down to the nitty-gritty of local improvements – what the signage should look like, where the speed limit should be reduced, who parks where and what to do with that bin. They care enough to bother with interminable meetings, inevitable in-fighting and the hell that is committees.
But they were also disillusioned and disheartened by it all. Bureaucracy is frustrating at the best of times, and nothing was getting done. They wanted to take direct action, to show love for their town, brighten things up for their community, and spread a message of kindness. So now, if you are lucky, you may spy them in the dead of night, hats pulled down low, collars turned up high, toting their stepladder and staple gun. They are not teenagers, they are mums and grandmums, and bloody fabulous with it.