How to bring people together

(A zine-maker’s perspective)

“My world has shrunk.”

I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard or read that sentence over the past two years. You probably have said it too. I know I have, more than once.

Where do we go from here?

I wish I could learn from introverts who say they are happy with this shrunken state of things. Unfortunately, I am not wired that way. I urgently feel the need to expand my world again.

However, I don’t yearn for the social whirlwind that it was before. I’d be happy with perhaps fewer connections than before, but deeper, better ones. (You know, that good old cliché of “quality over quantity”.)

And above anything, I’d like these connections to be tangible.

What does a tangible connection look like? In the non-virtual world, it involves action or movement. Walking around your neighborhood while paying deep attention to the life around you. Dropping fruits or vegetables on your neighbor’s porch, or a friendly note and a zine in their mailbox.

You can also make virtual connections tangible. You can give a whole new dimension to an Instagram relationship by exchanging snail mail, or by working together on a zine project, for example.

The last two zine projects I worked on are the fruits of this obsession of mine.

“Up and Down Allen Street” is a love letter to my new street, and an attempt to connect more deeply with my real-life neighbors and the local zine community.

The ultimate purpose of that little pop-up zine is to bring our neighbors together around a bonfire, for a “world-expanding” moment. We will share a soup (and marshmallows) in a covid-friendly way. Maybe we will hear incredible stories about the neighborhood and that might lead to a new zine, a collaborative one, this time. Who knows?

The other one, Life Next Door, volume 3, involved my virtual-neighbors, some of them real-life friends who are now far-away, some of them virtual art companions whose work I want to encourage and admire. I wanted all of us to “get together” by proxy, through that paper and thread object, expanding our worlds.

But that is another story.

(Zines are available here, on a donate-what-you-can basis.)

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