Our new resource library (not yet opened – being catalogued and collated by the lovely Erin – watch this space!) will include a range of “zines.” What are zines, you say? Well, they are small, independent, self-published mini-magazines.
Zines are zany, cheap and beautiful. People who write zines are all kinds of people, and because it doesn’t go through a corporate publishing house, the material can be as critical, creative, political, and messy as the author likes. Zines often look arty, alternative, and handmade, with type-writer-style script and mis-aligned cut’n’paste paragraphs.
Diverse City, the new Changing Minds quarterly publication released this month for the first time (amazing Winter 2013 edition) is kind of like a zine. (Most zines are super cheap to produce and therefore sell for an easy $1 – $5 each.)
I picked up one of the new zines that arrived recently and opened it to a random page. I found the following quote, which I think is possibly my favourite quote of this whole year so far:
“Friendship should not be a way to pass the time, a way to kill time, a distraction. Friendship should be the beginning place for the revolution” (page 18).
I love this.
The zine is called Doris 25: Questions and it’s written by a person who has been writing zines for like twenty years (so this is the 25th zine, I think). I haven’t read the previous ones but Erin assures me they are as fantastic as this the one in my hand now.
One of the reasons why I think Changing Minds needs to buy zines for our resource centre is because they so often demonstrate intersectionality – the myriad parts of personhood (class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, etc etc) that overlap and make us who we are; and political collaboration – working together across many different social justice sectors and areas of life.
So this zine, Doris 25, includes a whole lot of personal-political reflections and recommendations… it’s like distilling the author’s extensive wisdom into 28 small pages, passing on knowledge and experience that is so necessary and so not “marketable” in the capitalist marketplace. (And therefore not “publishable” by most publishing companies.) I need material like this, I need the knowledge and reflections of people who have been doing these struggles for longer than I have. Or who are doing the work in different ways, in different places, from whom I can learn about what might work here, in this place.
You might wonder how a zine like Doris 25 relates to what we call “mental health” or “the mental health sector.”Well, it is clear to me that my health is impacted by the world I live in, and the zines that I am most excited about are the ones that talk about how we can challenge the structural inequalities of our social and political contexts, from a personal and emotional perspective. Not only do I feel encouraged, lifted up, inspired, and comforted by these zines – I also feel like I’m gathering tools for the revolution!
Friendship, for example. Friendship is necessary for my health and wellbeing, and it is necessary for creating social and political change. Here’s another gem from Doris 25:
“Know the difference between self-righteous politics and a politic of compassion and love… prioritize friendships… talk to your friends about your hopes and dreams and fears and secrets that you usually save for your lover. Let them close to you. Commit yourself to them. Move to maintain friendships, not just to maintain relationships” (page 18).
I have more than my fair share of self-righteousness. So being reminded that compassion and love are better grounds for politics and relationship-building is very useful for me. It is also helpful to be reminded that the script of “everyone has one partner, who is the most important, and then some other friends, who are less important” doesn’t work for me. And it doesn’t work for a lot of people. I want to value all my connections with my loved ones.
So that’s why zines are awesome. And Changing Minds will keep you posted on the progress of our fabulous little resource centre, which will contain zines like Doris 25 and so many more, as inspiration and encouragement for us all to keep pushing for positive social change.