By Edith Valle, Art Director at Deeds Not Words
I began my journey with Deeds Not Words 5 years ago only a few months before the 85th legislative session. One of the things I noticed is that many young people a) didn’t know the legislative process, including me. And b) they didn’t see how they could plug their voices and stories into the bills our legislators were drafting. At Deeds, we know how important it is to not only make something that is so intentionally inaccessible to young people accessible but also how to make sure that the laws that are being passed across our state are actually reflective of the Texas we deserve.
In order to bridge this gap, it was important to us to educate using the medium of zines because zines have long been a way for marginalized communities to record their stories, spread information, and organize. Through zines, people have the agency to create alternative historical narratives and prevent their stories from being erased. For this reason, zines have a rich history in organizing spaces throughout history.
Our zines disseminate policy in youth-translated ways and with beautiful artwork that can cross the boundaries of language. We do this by including testimonials communicated in various mediums whether it be illustrations, poems, or op-eds that show the true stories of the people impacted by the laws that are passed in our state and country. Most importantly, the language is reflective of the values in our movements and the people leading them. Most of our zines include a “say this, not that” section as well as a “how to talk about X topic with your friends and family.”
These zines have served a double purpose, they have not only been for our youth audience members who were building community in the reading, participation, and creation of these zines, but it has become a tool for change for our legislative visits when we use our zines as lit-drops where legislators take these stories and share them during their filibusters or as testimonies when presenting a bill.
Our goal has always been to go beyond just spreading awareness about these issues. Our zines have calls to action and tangible steps to take so people know how to move forward and be part of the solutions to these issues.
Our latest zine about Climate Justice does just that — from interviews with Texas-based environmental groups to information about the issues that intersect with climate justice, to art by Texas-based artists, there is a lot to learn from people doing the work on the ground and how you can help! I hope you join us in this fight changemaker.