Academia Cidada-Citizenship Academy – Knitting for climate justice

04 May 2023 | Members' Corner

The Portuguese NGO, Academia Cidadã – Citizenship Academy, created the campaign Linha Vermelha – Red Line in 2016.  At that time there were fifteen active contracts for potential oil and gas drilling in Portugal and we were inspired by the “Red Line Action” in Paris, during COP21 to create this campaign.

We decided that we would knit red lines to symbolise the 1.5°C warming “limit”. These red lines would be knitted in public by different people from various parts of the country and would also symbolise the “STOP” we wanted to give to the companies’ contracts and plans to extract fossil fuels. Our goal was to reach people who normally don’t talk/think/worry about these issues.

We use knitting in public as a methodology to bring awareness and mobilize people. We are bridging the gap between ordinary citizens and activists for climate justice.

Since 2016 we organized more than 120 public events in bars, schools, public parks, elderly centers, libraries, etc. In our events we invite several informal knitting groups to inform them about climate crises and also to knit. In total, more than 2000 people knitted 1200 meters of Red Line.

And we, together with the rest of climate justice movement in Portugal, were able to stop all the 15 contracts for fossil fuel extraction, in Portugal.

Figure 1 knitting in a public garden


As the climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions increase, we recognise that climate justice movement’s groups are radicalizing their tactics. This can result in people who empathize with the cause walking away because they do not identify with these actions. By knitting in public, we create empathy and use an inclusive tool (craftivism) that mobilizes other citizens who do not recognize themselves in actions they consider more “aggressive” or disruptive.

Craftivism fosters a sense of belonging and empathy while increasing knowledge and understanding of the phenomena on which it focuses. Our “knitting radicals” events, provides an informal and creative environment to reflect and engage people who do not know each other and wouldn’t be mobilized with other activities. Our goal is to fill the gap that exists between activists and ‘non-activists’ by creating a sense of belonging and identity, enhancing dialogue, talking about the urgency of action to tackle climate crisis, and making visible the intersection between social causes that people do not identify as being related to the climate crisis.

We teach people how to knit and talk about climate justice, its agenda, and give information about the work of the several organizations that are part of the climate justice movement – with whom we work very closely.

We will mobilize people to make active solidarity when there are legal processes against activists. Knitting in public is a symbolic but powerful way to show solidarity, in addition to the visual and disruptive impact it has.

At this moment we continue implementing our strategy and plans while also searching for funds to assure that we have a full-time coordinator to scale up nationally and internationally.

Figure 2 Red Lines in one FFF’s demonstration