Why We Made a Zine in 2018
Physical media still matters.
In fact, with the Internet becoming nearly ubiquitous and “on” almost all the time, many people are so overwhelmed by digital noise that a physical piece of media can have lasting and meaningful effects. And a physical piece of media often stays with a person or at a place (an office, a bookstore, a coffee table) for a longer time than you might expect.
Zines (shortened from “magazines”) are shorter physical magazines that are put together more roughly and quickly than slick, glossy magazines can be. Often zines have a specific or even a niche focus that can speak to more granular topics than commercial magazines can allow for.
Volume 1 of “The Constituents’ Guide to Civic Engagement” was launched in the fall of 2017. The idea was to create a easy-to-read short zine that spoke to civic engagement in the United States. What is part voter guide, part civics education, part original content — the zine was made to remind people what the U.S. government does, who their senators are, how to reach their public officials, how state legislatures work, who their city officials are, and in general guide and encourage people to get more involved in local, statewide, and national politics.
Specifically, Volume 1 included how to reach the mayor, how to reach your senators and Congress members, what elections were coming up, how various branches of government actually work, as well as original interviews with politicians and national organizations about where they see America headed now and what their plan is to serve the people. The original interviews were with State Assemblymember Laura Friedman and with the League of Women Voters.
Volume 2 came out in spring of 2018 and is in local Los Angeles bookstores currently. It includes original interviews with State Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and U.S. Congressman Jimmy Gomez.
The big goal of the project is to get more of the public engaged in civics and to understand that democracies work when people do.
To this end, we have held launch events to bring the community together and distribute the zine to interested audiences. (Some people are interested in what is happening on a national and local stage, but need a reason to get involved or even a little push). At these events, we have also opened up discussions around voting and the social justice issues of our time from civil rights to immigration to climate change to healthcare to homelessness and income inequality.
Ultimately, the zine represents a different way to reach our communities. And a small reminder to people that they are constituents — people with voices. And that they can and should have their voices heard by elected officials who make decisions on our behalf.
The zine also reminds people what their rights are and that what happens in your neighborhood and in your city matters. Politics are not just national, politics are also local.
It’s a guide to getting more involved. It’s meant to wake people up and perhaps find a new way to go from being passive to getting active in their communities and in civics more widely. To let them know how to sound off about issues that they care about.
Volume 3 is coming soon this summer and will focus on homelessness. Volume 4 will be published before the midterm elections in the fall.
**For more on The Constituents' Guide to Civic Engagement, visit: The Constituents LA.