Zines and building a radical student community

‘Zine workshops support Community Action Centre’s vision for student communities

Poster of Zine-making workshop.

Poster of Zine-making workshop.

With the rise of the internet, use of online writing platforms has become commonplace. However, there is still room in the world for print media like books, magazines and newspapers.

The Community Action Centre (CAC) at George Brown College (GBC) demonstrates this with their decision to hold monthly ‘zine-making workshops.

For those who are unfamiliar with the ‘zine concept, Siva-Jeevini Sivarajah, the CAC assistant, compares them to traditional print media saying, “the word ‘zine comes from the word magazine. However, unlike magazines, ‘zines are independently published and are the grassroots and are community based. ‘Zines are a do it yourself, do it together culture which helps harvest community among marginalized people who are seeking radical change to oppressive social norms.”

Comparing this type of publication process to the usual magazine process, she says that “mainstream publishing is often inaccessible, and the dominant voices in them do not reflect oppressed individuals and our communities. ‘Zines are a radical way to get our voices heard and represent ourselves in ways that are true to our spirit.”

Holding ‘zine-making workshops is not a new phenomenon at the college and past ‘zine workshops have resulted in the creation of a ‘zine library.

Established in 2013, the CAC holds a space to support and showcase the work of ‘zinesters, and their ‘zine library is also an accessible way for students to acquire knowledge that is often left out of mainstream educational institutions and publications.

Facilitators for these workshops share a passion for ‘zines, and like Sivarajah, upcoming facilitator Clementine Morrigan, an artist, writer, essayist and community organizer, sees ‘zines as an important form of expression that for her can’t be replaced by another form.

When asked to facilitate a ‘zine workshop for a second time, Morrigan accepted saying, “I am always happy to share my knowledge of ‘zines because I think it’s a great form of expression.”

She also encourages everyone to tell their own stories in whatever way feels comfortable to them, and believes in the power of art and storytelling as a way to build community and create change.
Sivarajah explains that monthly ‘zine workshops fit with the CAC’s vision, and says that they are, “a great way to build radical student communities within GBC, and it is also a way to share stories, knowledge and skills with one another that is often left out of mainstream educational institutions. It can also act as a supportive healing space for students who otherwise don’t have access to such a space on campus.”
The next ‘zine workshop we be held on Jan. 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in room 165B at the St James campus.

Zines and building a radical student community