“You don’t have to storm the state house or the White House to be an activist. You can sit on your living room couch and knit a blanket or make two masks for your neighbor”—Brookline, Massachusetts’ Hadassah Margolis employs craftivism to make real change in her community and beyond.
Modeling the importance of action in the face of injustice, Hadassah Margolis of Brookline, Massachusetts, credits daughter Ada as her own inspiration and force, stating that she desires to teach the 11-year-old to “breathe fire” as a woman.
Frustrated with the results of the 2016 presidential election, Hadassah began to get more involved in her community, canvassing to learn who lives nearby and what matters to them, and how the organizations she runs can best serve their needs.
“The way that I find breaks in the clouds is through these social action pieces, because it can feel so overwhelming. It can feel so futile; I could just stew in my anger for my daughter, but I can’t do that for her. I need to show her what is in my power, and what we can change,” she emphasizes.
“I am not one who knows all the answers,” she says. “I’m one who brings people together ... people who might not necessarily have an opportunity to come together” otherwise.
“It starts with my lens as a social worker, as a clinical social worker specifically focusing on group work. As impactful as individual therapy can be, there is a power to being in a group,” Hadassah elaborates, “so taking that idea of connection and figuring out how I can connect people—not just on a clinical micro level, but also on a communal macro level.”
While there’s a common theme of bringing people together, Hadassah’s work involves many different community projects. She’s the founder of an annual action fair called Inspo:Expo, connecting her neighbors to more than 70 social action projects in her area. She’s the organizer of Welcome Blanket Brookline, a group that knits blankets for distribution throughout refugee resettlement groups. And she has also created a streamlined system called Got Masks MA, connecting those who are in need of masks during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic to individuals sewing them.
Having her voice heard in Brookline is important to her, and she also participates in local government as a Town Meeting member and a commissioner for the Brookline Commission for Women.
Working with creative individuals, in particular, inspires her, and craftivism is a movement that drives her: “You don’t have to storm the state house or the White House to be an activist. You can sit on your living room couch and knit a blanket or make two masks for your neighbor,” she explains.
Hadassah’s clinical work as a social worker also makes an impact in her community. She is a staff clinician at Brandeis Counseling Center and the lead therapist at McLean’s Spirituality and Mental Health Department, where she has helped develop the hospital’s first-ever Spirituality and Treatment groups.
In the groups she leads, she works to provide a space for every individual to feel safe, welcome, and heard, but the discussions are still sometimes challenging: “For me it’s allowing people to realize that they can tolerate tough conversations, and they can tolerate having different opinions or different thoughts from their peers.”
Colleague and fellow collaborator Jayna Zweiman encompasses the entirety of Hadassah’s involvement when she remarks: "In all her work, there is a common thread. Hadassah creates civic infrastructure and makes it possible for people to transform themselves through dialogue, reflection, and common action.”
To read more about Hadassah Margolis’s projects and to get involved, please visit hadassahmargolis.com/my-interests-outside-therapy.