POC ZINE PROJECT

Posts tagged Bay Area

Let’s Talk About: Zines In The Classroom—Pros and Cons

EDIT2: Middle Schooler Liana Velazquez and her zine She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand" [DESCRIPTION: Liana Velazquez and her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand” at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy]

Words and photos by Liz Mayorga, POCZP West Coast Coordinator

I met Liana Velazquez while working at KIPP: San Francisco Bay Academy, a charter school. Liana came in to enroll as a 5th grader. She was shy, but her eyes did not miss a detail. She studied the office as well as the people in it. I soon learned that Liana was not normally reserved. She had just moved to San Francisco from Cuba. Liana was about to start school in a new country, where everything - especially the language - felt foreign. She suffered in school because of the language barrier. Not only did she have a hard time understanding the lessons, but she felt alienated from her classmates. Liana spent a lot of time in the office, where I tutored her. I translated some of her assignments and helped her with her English.

Three years have passed. In that time, I have witnessed Liana’s curiosity and persistence grow even more.  

This year, it came through in her writing. Her eighth grade English teacher, Mr. Patrone, encouraged her to continue writing as many stories as possible. He had his students keep a journal, and Liana’s was filled with a series of short stories (both fictional and personal). Patrone and I are good friends, so I always ask him about the kids. He was happy to tell me about Liana’s progress. “It would be awesome to see her and the other kids push their creativity. See where it will take them,” he said.

We brainstormed ways in which to encourage creative freedom, while following the school’s curriculum. I suggested zines. Patrone agreed that a zine workshop would be a perfect way to end the school year, so after the students finished their CSTs, he assigned a zine project. I came in a once a week (for the last three weeks of school) to look through the student’s work and give them feedback. I was impressed by everyone’s projects. They wrote book reviews, song lyrics, created amazing visual art, and told stories about the things that mattered to them. Even the kids who were “too cool” to care became interested in their assignment.

I asked Patrone if I could give one of these kids a zinester spotlight. He checked with the administration to make sure it was okay, and then he told me to look at Liana Velazquez’s zine. I was not surprised to know her zine was phenomenal. What did surprise me was how much her creativity had flourished in such a short amount of time.

Patrone and I set some time aside for me to interview Liana about her zine. Our interview took place on Friday, May 24, 2013.

THE MAKING OF ‘DIFFEGUAJIRA MIXRAND’ ZINE

Liana Velazquez embraces both languages, Cuban Spanish and English, and after three years of living in the United States, dealing with language barriers, and feeling out of place, Liana has gained the confidence she needs to let her creativity shine through.  Liana writes stories about love, family, and her ever-changing identity. 

Her final 8th grade English assignment was to create a zine, and it proved to be the perfect platform to portray the world, as rich and complicated as she sees it.

She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand,” and she explains: “Diffe stands for different and where I grew up guajiros are really humble (people). They’re poor, but they’re always going to give something to you. You can always trust them, and they’re my people – the people I grew up with.”

Middle Schooler Liana Velazquez and her zine She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand"

[DESCRIPTION: The cover of Liana Velazquez’s zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand”]

Each letter in the title forms a symbol. “Here I drew a little boat,” she points to the D, “because that’s what my dad really likes. He doesn’t have that anymore, since he lives here. We used to live by the ocean, and in Cuba, the ocean is beautiful.” Liana dotted the “I” with a candle light. “The candle protected us from the mosquitos,” she said. She looks at the “A” in “Mixrand,” which resembles a butterfly’s wing and says “The butterfly I put there because my mom loves them. I wanted to represent both my parents. And this…” She points to the bottom of the cover, “This is the address of the house I grew up in. I never forgot it. I forget a lot of stuff, like I forget names, and I always forget my address here, but I never forgot my address in Cuba.”

EDIT: Middle Schooler Liana Velazquez and her zine She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand" 

[DESCRIPTION: “Broken Ears,” from Liana Velazquez’s zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand”]

Liana combined all of the things that make up her identity and the daily challenges that come with love, family, and acclimating to a new country as young woman. When Liana first attended KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy, she spent her lunchtime in the office, turning to the only people in the school who spoke Spanish - the custodian, the secretary, and her bilingual peers – to translate her assignments for her. Communication was a struggle.

But three years later, Mr. Patrone (the eighth grade teacher), asked Liana and her classmates to write in their composition books every day, and Liana was surprised to see how much she had to say.

“At first, I thought it was too much,” Liana says. “I have all this homework and then I have to write, and I was afraid I couldn’t handle it. But then I got into it. I started writing down things, and I showed it to my cousin. She thought it was good. I showed it to Mr. Patrone and he encouraged me to write more. And I couldn’t stop. I wanted to keep writing. I would stay up late, until 1, 2, 3 in the morning, but it was worth it.” 

EDIT: Middle Schooler Liana Velazquez and her zine She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand"

[DESCRIPTION: “My Admiration is touch,” from Liana Velazquez’s zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand”]

Even though Liana already had a love for words and storytelling, this zine project proved to be particularly liberating. The idea of showing her work to other people also encouraged her to put more thought into each piece, and the visual art motivated her to create something amazing. “I was thinking that color was important,” she says, “In the journal, I was just writing. But here, since it’s a zine I know that people do drawings, but I decided to do this because the colors, the red and blue represent flag. And everything represents Cuba and me and everything that I believe in.”

Middle Schooler Liana Velazquez and her zine She named her zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand"

[DESCRIPTION: Excerpt from Liana Velazquez’s zine “Diffeguajira Mixrand”]

Liana’s “Diffeguajiro Mixrand” is an example of how zines help teenagers express much more than words and break through creative freedom. With a mixed media approach to writing, teenagers also have a visual and tactile way to share their thoughts. The realm of communication expands, and people capture multiple pieces of their reality.

________________________________________________

WHEN ZINE-MAKING IN THE CLASSROOM GOES VERY WRONG

By POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano

Liana Velazquez’s story is a positive example of what a zine-making  classroom experience can be like. Her final 8th grade English assignment at KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy was to create a zine and it was clearly an affirming experience for her. I’m happy that POCZP member Liz was in the classroom to support students, as she knows her stuff, when it comes to zine history and contributions by POC in zine & DIY culture.

Unfortunately, this is not every young person of color’s experience when they are first introduced to zine-making, zine culture and history in an academic setting.

During last year’s Race Riot! tour, I listened to—among other things—stories by POC attendees who shared their first introduction to zines. Depending on their age, digital literacy and other factors, feedback ran the gamut of being introduced to a zine by a friend, at a punk show, through Tumblr or as a classroom assignment.

What I noticed was that the younger the person was (23 and younger), the more likely they discovered zines this way:

1) On the Internet (Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, intentionally searching for a specific title, etc.)

2) At a punk/DIY/house show

3) A friend gave them a zine or brought them to a zine event

4) As a (mandatory or optional) class assignment

From these four responses, a mandatory class assignment was the one that raised the most questions—and concerns—for me, and here’s why:

After one of our academic speaking engagements on the tour, a young woman of color approached and asked to speak with me privately. She didn’t want other students to hear her question, so we moved away from the crowd.

This young woman shared that she was experiencing a lot of anxiety around a classroom assignment given to her by a white male professor at the university where I was speaking with POCZP. She was supposed to make a perzine and include personal details about her “culture” and “experiences as a woman.” I didn’t ask her to clarify what the class was about because it didn’t matter—already this whole situation sounded really problematic.

What I did ask her was if her anxiety stemmed from this being a graded assignment, and she said yes. I asked her if divulging personal information about herself and her family for a graded assignment made her uncomfortable, and she said yes.  She looked surprised that I knew these were her biggest concerns, but unfortunately this is not a new story to me.

I then asked her if this was her first time making a zine, and she nodded yes. She leaned forward and whispered, with a nervous look on her face, “How should I make my zine? What should I put it in it?”

That is when I took a deep breathe and gave her a longer and more personalized version of what I am about to share with you all now:

"I am truly sorry that your first introduction to zine-making is through an academic institution. No one should be telling you that there is one set way to make a zine. No one should be requiring you to make a perzine as part of your overall grade.

The only way I could ever see this being justified is if you were a design, journalism, or communications major and enrolled in a class called ‘zine-making,’ and you knew that the expectation was that you would be graded on zine-making (within the parameters established by the instructor, which would be clearly spelled out in advance in the syllabus). That zine-making assignment would NEVER be a perzine, because the teacher would know and understand the history and culture of zines, and that grading someone on a perzine is like following a stranger into the toilet and grading the quality of their piss and shit. It is completely inappropriate

I am sorry that you are experiencing anxiety when you think about making this zine for your class. I wish that instead you were feeling excited and inspired to share your stories, art, insights—and to experiment with art and design. It must be really hard to get into a positive headspace about your first zine, when you know you are going to be graded on detailing personal issues about your life for a white male professor, who has no right to make this a requirement for any class, ever.

I think it’s a huge sign of unchecked privilege for a white male professor to require any student to make a perzine and then grade their output. Your private family life and “cultural” details are none of his damn business. Here is a person who is clearly trying to be “hip” without considering the fact that sometimes, a zine assignment is not the best or most appropriate way to connect with your students or articulate a concept. 

So here’s what we know: you’re going to be graded on this zine whether you like it or not. You could fight it—you could take it above his head and explain to the powers-that-be that this teacher has no business requiring you to disclose personal information for a graded assignment, but I’m not going to tell you to do that. You need to do what’s right for you.

But can I make a suggestion about how to approach this, if you do decide to make this perzine for your class to avoid getting a “bad” grade?

Don’t think of this as your first perzine or zine, because it’s not. It’s not really your zine. You are making something for a teacher’s unrealistic and inappropriate expectations. Don’t feel like you have to disclose anything you don’t want to in this zine—think of this like any other assignment you would have in a class where you know that the only way to get a good grade is to do what the teacher thinks is right, and to write that down. 

So, what has your teacher indicated is the “right” way to make a zine? If you’re unclear about format, size and content, there are plenty of tutorials online that detail this information. Ask your teacher to name an example of a perzine that he likes, try to find it (or the general equivalent) and then follow that format. This way, you know what he’s looking for. You can find many examples of perzines athttp://zinelibrary.info/english/personal.

Make sure that there is no way he can slash your grade based on design flaws. Give him something that—from a purely technical point of view—falls under the category of “aesthetically pleasing” and only include the most basic personal information you feel comfortable sharing. Don’t compromise yourself (only you know what that would look like). 

You could even make up an entirely fictional story and call it personal details from your life—that is what I would do, actually. How is he going to know? Let him believe what he wants to believe—he already believes that it’s acceptable for him to assume that everyone is just like him: totally free to share private details about their lives without any consequences, and grade them based on that presumed freedom.

If you don’t feel comfortable calling your teacher out privately or publicly, don’t. Do what make sense for you. Only you can make that call. Do what you need to do to feel safe.

After you turn in that “made in the belly of white privilege” fake zine and you get the A, you should feel free - if you want - to forget you ever made that zine. That wasn’t your first zine. That was the convoluted outcome of a teacher out of touch with his privilege. A zine is not materiality forced out of you by a white male instructor. 

A zine is an extension of yourself. You define that, not him or anyone else.

You don’t have to hate the zine you made for class—you may even end up enjoying the process and the final product. You may decide that this zine does in fact reflect who you are, but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself if you can’t make up your mind about it immediately.

Take what you can from the experience of what it’s like to make a zine for a class requirement, but don’t feel bad if you don’t like the zine either, or still feel anxiety when it’s done. What you are experiencing is the totally normal cognitive dissonance one feels when someone tries to quantify the value of your inner world through forcing you to make a perzine and then grading it.

Don’t let this experience of making a zine turn you off from the medium itself, or the practice. Imagine what your first zine experience would have been like if you had been sitting at a bus stop, and next to you was a small little photocopied, stapled book, and inside were hand-drawn comics, copies of photos, and personal stories that made you laugh, cry and think. You suddenly found yourself caring for someone you never met — all because you found their zine.

You took the zine home and placed it on a shelf in your room for safekeeping, and that night you dreamt about the zine YOU would make that weekend at home — the one that someone else might discover one day.

If you decide to refuse to make this zine and take your concerns to the administration, or to make it anyway—I support your choice. But don’t let white male privilege in the classroom damage your perception of zine-making or zine culture. It does belong to you, and you get to define what that means for you—not him.”

Educators: Be in tune with what motivates you to introduce zine-making into your lesson plan. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Why do I care about introducing zine-making and zine culture to my students? What relevant information should I be sharing with them about zine culture and history — and how do my own privileges inform how I prioritize this information?

2) Does it make sense for me to only talk about zines made by white people to a classroom full of primarily students of color?

3) Is it really necessary for me to grade the zines—can they simply get a pass or fail based on completing the assignment?

4) What am I leaving out of my retelling of zine history that is silencing and oppressive to my students of color? 

5) If I don’t have much information about zines by people of color, what steps will I take to educate myself BEFORE introducing zines to my students?

COMMUNITY: If you are an educator or youth workshop facilitator who uses zines in the classroom, send us your experiences to poczineproject@gmail.com with “zine teacher” as the subject line. We want to share a wide range of voices on this topic. Also, feel free to leave your comments in a reblog.

Want more? Read POCZP Midwest Coordinator Joyce’s recap of her zine-making experience with an all Native girl scout troop.

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“Let’s Talk About” is an experimental series by POCZP created to share communal knowledge, resources and reflections on a wide range of topics affecting communities of color.

If you are a person of color—or a white person with a history of supporting POC Zine Project— who wants to contribute to “Let’s Talk About,” submit to poczineproject@gmail.com with “Let’s Talk About” in the subject line. 

All submissions to “Let’s Talk About” will be compiled into a zine (print & digital) that will be released by POCZP in December of 2013.

_____________________

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

COMMUNITY SUBMISSION: QUARREL The Zine (2013)

image

TITLE: QUARREL The Zine

AUTHOR: Bay Area survivor led group QUARREL

REGION: Bay Area, California, USA

DATE: 2013

DESCRIPTION: Stories of survivor self determination, direct action, strategies for safer spaces and ripping patriarchy to shreds.  

QUARREL was a Bay Area affinity group that formed to take names and kick ass with an anti-colonial, queer, feminist, boot.  We support the Self-Determination of survivors and use harm reduction inspired techniques in survivor led actions to transform our communities into safer spaces.

We worked towards developing alternatives for addressing harm outside of the misogyny, racism, and classism of the police state. We support and value accountability processes, see them as critical to the practice of transformative justice, and believe they can take many forms. In this work we have found the tools of harm reduction useful for addressing people with patterns of abuse who are unwilling to be accountable. we have confronted perpetrators of assault, set boundaries, presented community demands  and shared information as an act of self defense.

READ NOW

QUARREL has made it possible to read the entire zine online and download it from their blog. A highlight for us was “insurrecto-eggers-esque” by Ralowe trinitrotoluene ampu (page 77).

POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano met Ralowe at the Anarchist People of Color Convergence in New Orleans in the summer of 2012, where we also met our first zine partner Xeryle of SlushPilePress!

 

DOWNLOAD

Booklet print layout: 

http://quarrelthezine.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/quarrel_zine_booklet_final1.pdf

POCZP will be making a read-only/web friendly layout available soon as an embed and download. Bookmark this page, as we’ll add the link here.

———-

Editor’s Note: A Community Submission post results from POC folk submitting their own zine or zine call to be featured on the POC Zine Project Tumblr and other digital platforms. If you would like to share your zine with the POC Zine Project community, here’s how to do it.

When you submit, feel free to add some background, a description of your work and art and your mission statement. If you just send us the name of your zine, we’ll simply link back to a source for purchasing it and use the language you already have on your site.

As long as the zine was created/co-created by a person of color, we will always share Community Submissions. Enjoy!

POCZP accepts anonymous submissions and zine donations from POC. Click here for submission guidelines.

Meet POCZP’s West Coast Coordinator Liz Mayorga!
Part of POC Zine Project’s advocacy is empowering new and seasoned zinesters of color in the U.S. (and soon worldwide) to share their stories while supporting other POC. Liz is the second official regional coordinator for POCZP (meet Joyce, our Midwest Coordinator, here). We are excited to share developments as this part of our experiment in activism and community through materiality unfolds. 
LIZ, IN HER OWN WORDS
Liz was born in Los Angeles, California, but moved back and forth between Mexico and LA throughout her childhood. She is the youngest of three and the only female in a traditional, Catholic, Mexican-American family. 
Though her brothers taught her how to throw a good punch, she was often confused by the strict gender roles in rural Mexican society, which told her to be passive and meek. Luckily, Los Angeles was a place where contradiction could exist, a place where you could an aggressive girl, and a Mexican Punk. LA and the influence of popular culture gave Liz an identity she could be proud of.
She moved to the Bay Area for school, but ended up falling in love with SF Zine Fest, and community of artists. They pushed her to pursue her passion for Art and Literature. 
Liz now writes fiction and non-fiction, makes comics (check out Inked), and is a working illustrator. Her inspiration comes from her crazy family and Chican@ Pop Culture. She is the Co-Director of San Francisco Zine Fest (SFZF) and is now happy to be a part of the POC Zine Project.
See Liz in action at a recent POCZP Youth Zine workshop in San Francisco, where she led activities with assistance from POCZP intern Itoro Udofia.
Liz hopes to expand and connect the DIY West Coast community and serve as a resource. She wants DIY projects (and zines) by people of color to be especially accessible to youth, because she needed community this open and empowering as a teenager. 
It is also a goal of hers to promote multi-media as a part of zine/DIY culture and expand the limits of what a zine could be, because artists, especially artists with a story to tell, need to be more visible.
Learn more about Liz here: lizmayorga.com
COMMUNITY: Join us in welcoming Liz. We are excited to support zine culture and POC storytelling on the West Coast! We will have several events in this region during the 2013 Race Riot! tour. Stay tuned for details …
DO YOU WANT TO BE A COORDINATOR LIKE LIZ?
If you want to support POCZP with Liz, other coordinators, interns and our touring members, let us know! 
We are also looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.
Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator” as the subject line.
If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.
SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT
If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.
DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

Meet POCZP’s West Coast Coordinator Liz Mayorga!

Part of POC Zine Project’s advocacy is empowering new and seasoned zinesters of color in the U.S. (and soon worldwide) to share their stories while supporting other POC. Liz is the second official regional coordinator for POCZP (meet Joyce, our Midwest Coordinator, here). We are excited to share developments as this part of our experiment in activism and community through materiality unfolds. 

LIZ, IN HER OWN WORDS

Liz was born in Los Angeles, California, but moved back and forth between Mexico and LA throughout her childhood. She is the youngest of three and the only female in a traditional, Catholic, Mexican-American family.

Though her brothers taught her how to throw a good punch, she was often confused by the strict gender roles in rural Mexican society, which told her to be passive and meek. Luckily, Los Angeles was a place where contradiction could exist, a place where you could an aggressive girl, and a Mexican Punk. LA and the influence of popular culture gave Liz an identity she could be proud of.

She moved to the Bay Area for school, but ended up falling in love with SF Zine Fest, and community of artists. They pushed her to pursue her passion for Art and Literature.

Liz now writes fiction and non-fiction, makes comics (check out Inked), and is a working illustrator. Her inspiration comes from her crazy family and Chican@ Pop Culture. She is the Co-Director of San Francisco Zine Fest (SFZF) and is now happy to be a part of the POC Zine Project.

See Liz in action at a recent POCZP Youth Zine workshop in San Francisco, where she led activities with assistance from POCZP intern Itoro Udofia.

Liz hopes to expand and connect the DIY West Coast community and serve as a resource. She wants DIY projects (and zines) by people of color to be especially accessible to youth, because she needed community this open and empowering as a teenager.

It is also a goal of hers to promote multi-media as a part of zine/DIY culture and expand the limits of what a zine could be, because artists, especially artists with a story to tell, need to be more visible.

Learn more about Liz here: lizmayorga.com

COMMUNITY: Join us in welcoming Liz. We are excited to support zine culture and POC storytelling on the West Coast! We will have several events in this region during the 2013 Race Riot! tour. Stay tuned for details …

DO YOU WANT TO BE A COORDINATOR LIKE LIZ?

If you want to support POCZP with Liz, other coordinators, interns and our touring members, let us know!

We are also looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.

Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator” as the subject line.

If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

ZINE SPOTLIGHT: Chris Montez, teenage rockstar
CREATOR: Gabby Gamboa (who we met at the 2012 S.F. Zine Fest)
YEAR: 2011
ORIGIN: Bay Area, California, USA
DESCRIPTION: A mini-comic about obscure (but beloved) Latino pop artist Chris Montez.
In Gabby’s own words: 

My father told me a story about how growing up in the 1950s, he and all of the other Mexican American kids in his neighborhood would (falsely) boast about being related to rocker Ritchie Valens. That got me interested in researching the history and obscurities of Chicano rock, and sharing what I find.

When asked in this interview what advice she would give to aspiring comic artists and zinesters, Gabrielle Gamboa suggested the following:

Don’t limit yourself by studying only one technique or medium. Practice drawing from observation. Learn about art from before you were born.

Chris Montez isn’t presently listed on Gabby’s Etsy shop, but contact her if you’re interested in purchasing.

Interested in  learning more about some of the other selections in our physical archive? Click here.

ZINE SPOTLIGHT: Chris Montez, teenage rockstar

CREATOR: Gabby Gamboa (who we met at the 2012 S.F. Zine Fest)

YEAR: 2011

ORIGIN: Bay Area, California, USA

DESCRIPTION: A mini-comic about obscure (but beloved) Latino pop artist Chris Montez.

In Gabby’s own words:

My father told me a story about how growing up in the 1950s, he and all of the other Mexican American kids in his neighborhood would (falsely) boast about being related to rocker Ritchie Valens. That got me interested in researching the history and obscurities of Chicano rock, and sharing what I find.

When asked in this interview what advice she would give to aspiring comic artists and zinesters, Gabrielle Gamboa suggested the following:

Don’t limit yourself by studying only one technique or medium. Practice drawing from observation. Learn about art from before you were born.

Chris Montez isn’t presently listed on Gabby’s Etsy shop, but contact her if you’re interested in purchasing.

Interested in  learning more about some of the other selections in our physical archive? Click here.

Scene Report: Exploring Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPS)

Words and photos by Itoro Udofia, Legacy Series Intern

Rock Paper Scissors Collective Feb 2013

The Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPS) is located in the heart of downtown Oakland’s cultural district. RPS holds one of the largest zine libraries on the West Coast and, as its mission statement says, it “fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage sustainable practices and alternative models.” RPS uses its space to hold many different aspects of creativity - from zines; to visual art; to performances; to art making workshops and (most importantly) forming collaborative relationships with the community.

During my visit I immediately noticed the friendly and open atmosphere. I was able to connect with Kristi, a collective member at RPS.

EDIT: POCZP intern Itoro Udofia & RPS collective member

Kristi does a lot of community work and coordinates the youth intern program. I observed several young women of color at RPC making zines as part of their internship.

Teen zinester of color at RPS, February 2013

RPS Collective 20

Kristi informed me that RPS is in the middle of cataloging all their zines. This made finding zines by POC during my visit challenging - but not impossible, and we understand their constraints as a grassroots, volunteer entity. Kristi was able to help me locate some zines by POC, which are listed at the bottom of this post.

RPS is an example of what a thriving, deeply grassroots alternative space can look like. This alone made the visit worth it, and I will be back again.

Here are five more things that you should know about Rock Paper Scissors Collective’s community space:

It’s a YOUTH SPACE

Part of what makes RPS so vital to the community is that it creates a safe and inclusive space for youth - specifically, I saw youth of color making zines and coming in for the youth intern programing. RPS is known for its youth programming, and thankfully it’s free or low cost. To see youth coming in on a Thursday afternoon and having a free space to hang out was a sight to behold.

POCZP: How does RPS serve the community?

Kristi: Everyone’s welcome here. It doesn’t matter who you are. We’re not a museum/hands off gallery…We only showcase emerging artists, we do open calls, group shows…everything is free and affordable…Anyone can teach classes. Community collaborations are a major component here. We also run programs at high schools and have a zine fest (East Bay Alternative Express and Zine Expo).

RPS focuses on the need for art within the community. Zines are a facet of that as, it is super alternative and accessible.

BAY AREA COMMUNITY: RPS is looking for volunteers to help catalog the zine library on Sunday. Contact them if you’re interested in helping out! <3

It’s an ACCESSIBLE SPACE

The classes offered at RPS’s are free or low cost. Anyone can teach a class, volunteer, and access the zine library. Its store sells clothing, artwork and zines from local artists. It also gives an open call to artists for exhibits. When inquiring further about zines, the staff member on site spoke of zines being “alternative” and “a way for anyone to get their voice out.” I was struck most by its accessibility in making art that responds to the community’s need and fostering dialogue. That was my biggest take away while being there.

It’s a COLLABORATIVE SPACE

RPS thrives most when it can collaborate and form relationships within the community. They do work with schools, offer free workshops to the public, and work with local artists (just to name a few of their collaborations). Also, they can be seen at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest where they are showcased every year!

It’s a COMMUNITY SPACE

A community space in the sense that it seeks to be a non-hierarchal, inclusive organization, that turns no one who wants to volunteer or become a member away. From speaking with some of the staff, the energy of wanting to build and form a sustaining community was present. A volunteer came in to paint the steps and there was an overall sense of camaraderie and joy for the work.

It’s a STRUGGLING AND OPEN SPACE

I am always aware of the need for a space where there can be love and struggle. And I would be remiss if I acted like everything is always “a walk in the park” within the movement. Or more importantly, that our spaces of struggle and those deep places where we need to decolonize cannot be openly talked about.

So here it is: RPS is a grassroots collective trying to do a lot with a little. Its zine library needs a lot of love and cataloguing. It also needs to have a space where zines by POC can be easily accessed, located and shared. Within our movement, this is a struggle, and I was happy at the level of openness and receptiveness to having support in that.

If you’re on the West Coast and in the Bay area, walking around in Oakland, check out the Rock Paper Scissors Collective. They are open on Wednesday-Sunday, from 12-7 and located at 2278 Telegraph Avenue. See for yourself and make your own assessment. Also, they are looking for Sunday volunteers to help catalogue with the zine library. If you’re looking for a place to support that is doing much needed community work, consider going to RPS.

In the meantime, here are five zines by or about POC that I would recommend. If you are ever at RPS please check them out.

1. The Combination by Ashley Nelson in collaboration with the Neighborhood Story Project

A moving personal-political soul trip of  one of the oldest housing complexes in New Orleans.

RPS zine library item: The Combination by Ashley Nelson

2. Polarity by Ras Terms

A metaphysical mind trip that explores the duality of spirituality and its metaphysical roots.

Polarity by Ras Terms

Ras Terms was born and raised in Miami. As part of the BSK and FS crews, he was a pivotal figure in the Miami graffiti scene. Terms is a gifted illustrator and painter who has provided many images for the Rastafarian community. Since his arrival in the Bay Area he has established himself as a character graffiti artist and has lent his talents to serve the community.

3. EZLN Communiques: Memory from Below

A zine about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas Mexico. Zapatista thought and knowledge on the struggle against neoliberalism and predatory financial institutions.  Published by Agit Press (formerly known as Porcupine Press)

EZLN Comminques: Memory from Below

4. ML

A zine featuring the distinctive artwork and design from West Coast based visual artist Marcus La Farga. http://marcoslafarga.com

RPS 44

5. Murder Dollhouse by Teppei Ando

Based in the 1920s, a beautifully illustrated comic book thriller about a man who lives in an attic. Published by Volcano Productions. http://murderdollhouse.com

Murder Dollhouse by Teppei Ando

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Rock Paper Scissors Collective

rock paper scissors collective is a volunteer-run organization that fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage sustainable practices and alternative models. We promote the sharing of ideas, skills, and resources through the celebration of art, craft, education, and performance.”

questions -[at]- rpscollective -[dot]- org
510.238.9171
2278 Telegraph ave., Oakland, CA 94612
Hours: 12 - 7pm, Wednesday - Sunday.
Closed Monday and Tuesday.

ABOUT ITORO UDOFIA

Itoro is the first dedicated intern for the POC Zine Project’s Legacy SeriesItoro’s excited to support POCZP because ”it is a collective that uplifts and cares about what people of color have to say and acknowledges what they have always said.” Learn more about her here.

ABOUT ‘SCENE REPORTS’

Would you like to help us create Scene Reports for every state? Contact us: poczineproject@gmail.com.

If you would like to invite POC Zine Project to your upcoming event, or collaborate on a joint event, let us know!

Editor’s Note: Itoro will be creating weekly Scene Report round ups. Make sure to send us your zine event details so we can share! If it’s not zine-related but possibly of interest to zinesters of color, we will share that as well.

I think the idea of collecting and gathering history because we want to preserve it and share is crucial, especially when we want to hold organizers and writers accountable for the choices they make in how they write about a community like zinesters or organizers when they plan events.

We have been around since the beginning and we are very diverse group writing about all kinds of things and not just race. And there is no excuse not to be aware of this! Also we’ve done some pretty amazing things! - Tomas Moniz, Rad Dad zine

POC Zine Project Q & A with Tomas Moniz

When we found out that Tomas was one of the organizers for this year’s East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest (going down TOMORROW, Dec 8!), we decided to ask him a few questions about his history with the fest, thoughts on the relevance of Riot Grrrl, the future of Rad Dad, and more. Enjoy!

image

POCZP: How did you get involved with the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest and why did you decide to take the lead on organizing this year’s fest? What does your role entail?

Tomas: MK Chavez, a bad ass chicana poet, and I were at the SF Zine fest and we realized so many of the tablers were from Oakland and Berkeley and other parts of the East Bay, so we said we should do something 6 months from the SF zine fest. And we did.

We wanted a space to highlight the local writing community particularly because we like to get and read zines but mostly so we could create a community here, get people to mingle, talk, and as a result I think there has been a strong growth in writing groups, monthly literary readings and events!

We each took leadership responsibilities and each year new people step up to help get the work done!

POCZP: You started Rad Dad after becoming a parent at 20, right? In terms of radical/DIY resources for dads since that time, what have you seen emerge that you’re excited about and what is in store for the future of Rad Dad zine?

How long to do you plan on continuing it and would you hand it off to someone else, or will it just stop when you stop?

imageTomas: Funny you should ask about handing it off; I have been contemplating the transition because all along I’ve wanted Rad Dad to be about community rather than an individual or me.

I also though think it’s important as a father whose gone through it to pick up some of the work that new parents often times simply can’t do because of the differing demands on their time; I like to think of Rad Dad as a bridge, as the light at the end of the tunnel, reminding especially new parents that you will get through the struggle and you can come out a better person!

POCZP: You have two teenage daughters. Is Riot Grrrl something they relate to/have explored? Also, what is their relationship to zines and how do you encourage them in that regard?

Tomas: The definitely have their own musical tastes and interests. They know riot grrrl and know the music but it certainly is not theirs; they have their own likes and sometimes those likes are pretty problematic, but what I think is so important is that we can talk about those issues, talk about that contradictory place we all find ourselves in from time to time in which you like something but recognize its contradictions, its flaws and from that make informed choices.

They don’t make their own zines but they read them and they come with me to the events…

POCZP: What are your top 5 tips for someone who wants to start a zine fest in their town?

Tomas: Call a meeting and get started…I think you really only need like two or three people. Start off with just getting a day and twenty tables and a space. Don’t try to do too much at first.

Later you can add speakers and workshops. But I also encourage you to try something different — make it a skill share, do it at a park, drop-in style, remember the point is community not commerce.

Keep it affordable for people; reach out to people and ask for help or what you need; you’d be surprised how often you get it.

POCZP: What are your top 10 favorite zines right now (can be old, new, doesn’t matter)?

Tomas:  [provided a list]

• Wonder & Wander by Annie Yu — so awesome it’s this mix of her finding a used typewriter, how to gude for using a typwriter, maps of walking the streets of San Francisco

• Boob Juice by Mindi Jackson – a young mama wrestling with big questions and a little baby

• Dreams of Donuts by Heather Wreckage – a really strong comic zine dealing with occupy Oakland and other issues

 Kerbloom by Artnoose — just plain wonderful and consistent

• Book of Ladders by Jacks Ashley McNamara — a beautiful mix of essays and poems dealing with class and identity

• RACE (revolutionary anti-authoritarians of color) — a one-time zine from early 00s dealing with race and anarchism!

• Illegal Voices — came out of the APOC community with so many powerful essays

• Tenacious: Writing by Incarcerated Women edited by — Vikki Law’s zine for and by women prisoners

• The Nerve of These People by Anna Quinonez — drawings of revolutionary women

• Without Words & Without Kneeling by Tomas Moniz – a serialized zine novella about an anarchist study group

POCZP: You said you’ve been following POC Zine Project for a while. What did you think when you first heard about it, and why do you think it’s important (if you do at all)?

Tomas: I was and am excited. I think the idea of collecting and gathering history because we want to preserve it and share is crucial especially when we want to hold organizers and writers accountable for the choices they make in how they write about a community like zinesters or organizers when they plan events.

We have been around since the beginning and we are very diverse group writing about all kinds of things and not just race. And there is no excuse not to be aware of this! Also we’ve done some pretty amazing things!

POCZP: Some zinesters of color have had experiences with feeling unwelcome in zine spaces/DIY communities. Has that been your experience at all?

Tomas: My experience of feeling kind of isolated rather than unwelcome was more in the activist/anarchist scene here in the Bay. It’s was very white but that has been changing.

But I realize my privilege in living in a very diverse region so there has always been other zinesters and also there has always been support. When we felt there was an issue, we seemed to quickly get together and address it.

But I still get letters from parents who live in very homogenous communities and that is why I still do zines, I still write letters, I still work to gather voices in Rad Dad form those who don’t always get a chance to tell their story: parents of color, young parents, queer or trans parents because it’s important to let others know they are not alone.

- Q & A by POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano

ZINE EVENT [CA]: East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest - Dec 8!

The 3rd Annual East Bay Alternative Book & Zine Fest (EBABZ)

Tomas Moniz (Rad Dad) and Rock Paper Scissors Collective members Ara, Jamie, Olivia and Crystal are responsible for this year’s East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest. Planned are tabling, speakers, workshops and an event proceeds from which will benefit RPS.

1001 Black Men is tabling (here’s their community submission to POCZP) at this year’s fest. We’re also excited about Endless Canvas, Jennie Yim, Rad Dad (obvs), and others. Check out the full list of folks who are tabling.

DETAILS

The 3rd Annual East Bay Alternative Book & Zine Fest (EBABZ) welcomes all zine-makers, cartoonists, self-publishers, and all DIY crafters. EBABZ is proud to host a panel of speakers and a handful of workshops celebrating the spirit of independent creativity this year!

You are also invited to a dance pre-party on Friday, December 7th, the night before EBABZ to meet fellow tablers and to support EBABZ event organizers. Please be aware that the majority of items for sale should be handmade, with the exception of commercially- printed publications.

DATE: December 8, 2012

TIME: 10 - 5 PM PST

LOCATION: 2050 Center Street, Berkeley, CA

COST: Free!