I Am…That I Am.


I Am...That I Am.

Today I am the face of Bamboo
Calm like the sea breeze
Deep like the ocean floor
I am the voice the moon
Loud like silent vibrations
Which echoes like a wolf’s howl
I am the statue among the Youth
Bold as bronze like the copper I was molded from
I am an original piece of Art
Photoshop can only kill me
I am Proud
I am Strong
I am the bars that criminals hold on to in jail
Who am I?
I am C. Dubb The Young Black Male
I Strive
I Flow
I Dive
Off a cliff like a hawk or an eagle
Vision strictly on my Family
Who am I?
I am C. Dubb The Young Black Male




By Drake

When my spirit stopped haunting me,

I could finally see the world around me.

Trying to find a happy medium betwixt here and there.

“Don’t go to far overboard,” My brain says. “I might not come back from this adventure.”

I keep my brain under lock and key.

My mind on track.

My consciousness in check.

I am conditioning myself to go to a different world.

Where thoughts disappear,

everything becomes one,

I become everything,

and then I feel better.

I can finally see.

Top 12 Zines of 2012

In the twelve months of its existence, Zine Project Seattle and its amazing homeless youth interns have churned out twenty seven zines!

It’s been a fruitful year and we wanted to share with you some of our favorites of 2012. These twelve are dense with eye popping imagery and soul stirring words. Happy reading! 

Click on each image to check out actual zine pages filled with original writing and artwork from youth on the streets:

  • A Day in the Shoes of Love, Family and Life by Michelle
A Day in the Shoes of Love, Family and Life
A Day in the Shoes of Love, Family and Life, $7.
(Click on image for a sneak peek.)

Complete with lush visuals and poems rushing with emotions and profundity, A Day is a must-read zine on the difficulties of coming of age. The author recounts her experiences with love, family and life with a devastating honesty, an inspiring optimism and a unique symbol set. As the zine’s pages turn, read how this young woman finds perspective on herself, the world and others.

  • Loved, Lost, Lived by Kristin
Loved Lost Lived Cover
Loved, Lost, Lived: Full Color $7
(Click image for a sneak peek)

This Zine is called Loved, Lost and Lived. It goes through a plethora of different emotions of a girl and the life that she has lived so far. From beginning to end there are many issues that are brought up. It shows a struggle to let go, and the release into happiness.

  • Bitter-Sweet ConfusionBy Natalie
Bitter-Sweet  by Natalie
Bitter-Sweet by Natalie
Full color $7

This zine is a collection of poems and pieces of original art created by a homeless youth . She interprets her battles, and personal struggles, including her determination to be free and sober. She puts interpretive twists on her travels and experiences. Read more to get the full experience.

  • Apocalypse Yesterday by Jan 2012 Interns
    Zine Project Seattle, Apocalypse Yesterday, Zine sample
    Apocalypse Yesterday, $7, full color

    Nov 2011-Jan 2012 interns band together in this Zine Project Seattle version of a post apocalyptic world. Apocalypse Yesterday contains imaginative group writings about hypothetical happenings in the wake of chaos, as well as individual perspectives trying to cope with catastrophe. For these young, homeless writers, their apocalypse forms a fitting metaphor for the re-envisioning of citizenship, leadership and group identity in the face of marginalization and disaster. A must read.

  • Killing Your Dreams by Sam
    Killling Your Dreams Cover Pic
    Killing Your Dreams, $7 Full Color
    (Click image for a sneak peek)

    In this zine, there are poems, illustrations, watercolor paintings, and a short story, centered around the author’s thoughts, fears, and preoccupations. With spare but tremulous prose, the author communicates a sadness and confusion, all the while coaxing the reader along with unique, art-mag quality layouts.

  • Dirty, Ratty Converse, by Jack
Zine Project Seattle
Dirty Ratty Converse: $7, full color

With titles like “F*** You June Cleever”, “I am the Monster in the Mirror”, and “God the Devil and Me”, this collection of original poetry and artwork represents an authentic, cynical, insightful and hilarious chronicle of identity, and womanhood.

  • Unhinged by Justin
    Unhinged cover
    Unhinged, $3

    Unhinged is a Zine about addiction, hope, cynicism, and the struggle for a junkie to learn what it means to become a man. Harrowing, honest, and unapologetic, this writer invites you on a journey, written in a minimalist “to the point” style, into the psyche of a troubled yet hopeful young man. What is optimism and where does the healing begin? Find out in Unhinged!

  • Culture Our Way: a zine on Pop, Culture and the People’s Response By Jan-March 2012 Interns
    Culture Our Way
    Culture Our Way, $7 Full Color

    Jan-March 2012 Ziners observe, satirize, and reflect upon major elements in American pop culture. Topics include cell phones, teen pregnancy, entertainment, advertizing, etc..Through original artwork poetry, prose and artwork, these youth authors move from passive receivers of pop messaging to perceptive critics, ultimately attempting to reclaim the culture. Read it to see if they succeed.

  • The Forest in my Brain by anonymous
The Forest in my Brain by anonymous

The forest in my brain is collection of struggles and accomplishments in the form poetry and art work. In this zine the author deals with issues of gender identity and belonging. Enjoy your time in the forest!

  • The Book of Life, From a Homeless Seattle Youth by Josh
    The Book of Life, from a Homeless Seattle Youth by Josh

    In The Book of Life, From a Homeless Seattle Youth, the author expresses his love and hatred for the wild things life has to offer – in his own original and magical form. Start with a violence laced upbringing in the first page, and watch the author’s journey through unsafe waters and weary personalities until the end, where all of life comes together in a beautiful and rugged climax of experience, knowledge and wisdom that may only have been learned with an open mind. This Zine includes non-fiction personal horror stories, delightfully colored illustrations of the world around us, and many wise words that are geared to inspire and introduce the reader to an enjoyable, manageable life that he or she is in full control of. Step into the life of a homeless, queer youth who has an abundance of things to say!

  • Broken by Michael
Broken, $7
Click image for a sneak peek

Broken is written by a young man who details his aversion to the modern Republican Party, despite being a registered member.  In his writings, the author covers everything from the United States federal budget to the partisan gridlock of the GOP that has strangled Congress. Further highlighting the plights of the Republican Party, the writer emphasizes the extremism that has taken a hold in American “conservatism” and what his personal opinion is of this. Despite this, his love for his country is vibrantly apparent and obvious in each page. Compassion, compromise and civility have long since been key factors in politics, and, unfortunately, those attributes have become lost in modern times.  Read this or else.

  • I Never Thought By Ester
    I Never Thought
    I Never Thought By Ester
    Full Color: $7

    “I Never Thought…” is a collection of poems by a young Ukrainian teenage girl who was sexually exploited in Seattle. The poems are a collage of past experiences (tragedy, fights, abuse, and hurt) versus the life she is living now (going to school, goals for future life, and family.) From poems that might shed a tear or two to poems that will make you laugh, this collection will move you. 

The Zine Project Partners with Urban Art Works to Complete Mural

Ziners and Teaching Artists with Murals

Ziners and Teaching Artists, Erin and Steph, with Murals outside of the Fremont Arts Council Building

By Shaun

The six mural boards stretch about six feet long and four feet high. There’s  a board per intern and, just like the people that crafted them, each is unique. One beams out at the viewer with bright, bubbly, cartoonish shapes of Americana. Another one depicts a sinuous rainbow, another is a splatter session of greens and reds, another depicts several silhouettes of the artist, moon walking across a club. All the brightness, creativity and positivity will be bringing some color and life to one of Seattle’s drearier blocks.

Along with several other infamous hotels dotting Seattle’s Aurora neighborhood, the Thunderbird was closed back in 2010 for being a chronic nuisance property—one connected with drugs and prostitution. Since then, Catholic Housing Services (an arm of CCSWW) purchased the land with plans to turn the site into a 71 unit affordable housing facility. Demolition on the Thunderbird is complete and the fences around the perimeter are ready and waiting to be clad in some colorful new skins.

Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCSWW) partnered with Urban Art Works to create the murals. The Zine Project, a program of CCS, was recruited to lend its creative muscle to the mural project. In turn, Urban Art Works set Zine up with two teaching artists, Steph and Erin, to facilitate the process.

The work was done at the Fremont Arts Council Building—the epicenter for the annual Fremont Solstice parade. The brick building sits halfway up Fremont hill and houses paper mache suns, moons and a tusked elephant.   It was the perfect—if packed— locale to create something in.

Ziner posing for a picture

Ziner posing for a picture

After an initial brainstorming session, Steph and Erin took pictures of the youth doing different posses. They then projected youth-selected pictures up on to each youth’s mural board. From there, the youth took over tracing, designing and painting.

Ziner posing for picture

Ziner posing for picture

The process took four days.

Zine Intern painting

Zine Intern painting

Out of the six Zine interns, only Michelle had done a mural before.

We bumped into each other. Fingers got pinched. Paint got on designer jeans. And shoes. The 6  ziners worked with the meticulous, unrelenting intensity of the great masters.

Some of us got distracted…

I got a parking ticket.

The third to last day ended with lots of white space still needing to be painted. There was some anxiety about completing.

Last Friday, the fourth and final day, the Ziners brought all they had. They packed away their perfectionism and attacked. Chelle finished first and leapt on to help others. Amber came to a place of acceptance of her piece sooner than she thought and took the rest of the time cleaning up and encouraging.

By 1:30pm, as the sun passed west of the studio, the last brush strokes fell, the last ink was put on and the project completed.

The interns took some victory shots and stacked their murals away.

The murals will be placed on the fence line outside the old Thunderbird location and, depending on their durability to weather and ware, the murals may be hung in the common areas of the CHS apartment for future residence to enjoy.

Blog readers get a sneak peak:

Stay tuned for a follow up post on when the public can admire these works of art and bastions of exuberance!

A special thanks to the following to make this happen:

Dan Wise: Division Director at CCS

Erin Maguire: Program Manager at UDYC

Kathleen Warren: Art & Projects Director at Urban Art Works

Steph & Erin: Teaching Artists. Click here to check out their work.

Zine Interns Advocate for Youth Employment to Council President Clark

By Shaun

Last Tuesday, The Zine Project went to City Hall.

The Zine Project In front of City Hall at Youth Summit 2012

The Zine Project In front of City Hall at Youth Summit 2012

 The Seattle/ King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) was hosting its 2012 Youth Advocacy Summit. The event was a two day effort to mobilize homeless youth to advocate for themselves to the City Council Members, who will soon be helping Mayor McGinn hammer out Seattle’s 2013 budget.

As youth benefitting from a pre-employment program supported by the city, our interns attended the Youth Summit, hoping to share their experience with decision makers in a meaningful way.

To make this hope real, Ziners showed up at the crack of dawn and road a bus downtown, then hiked up a hill to Yesler Terrace Community Center, to attend Day 1 of Youth Summit.

It was gear-up day.  Rather than just shoving the youth raw through the glass doors of policy makers, SKCCH takes a whole day to educate interested youth around advocacy strategies.  Youth listened to speakers like Jim Theofolis, founder of The Mockingbird Society. Theofolis, with his loud, gravelly voice and wisdom, stirred the room.

“If you’re not at the table,” Theofolis began. “You’re on the table.”

In his speech, he told the youth about the three R’s of advocacy, which state that citizens have:

  • The Right to say what needs to be said,
  • The Responsibility to say what needs to be said,
  • Even while being Respectful to policy makers who don’t understand.

    Ziners Debate

    Ziners Debate

Having been inspired, Ziners broke up into groups with other Seattle homeless youth. They brainstormed about pressing issues like employment, housing, and shelter and voted on the key topics they would present the next day.

Like all political discussions, there was emotion. Even some lulls of indecision. But everyone made it through the day more ready to thoughtfully represent themselves.

Lulls of indecision

Lulls of indecision

Taking place on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, Day 2 of Youth Advocacy Summit hummed with energy and anticipation. Continuing on in their groups, the youth had two precious hours to hammer out their concerns before they had to present them to real, live Council Members.

Youth Hammering Out their Employment Presentation

Youth Hammering Out their Employment Presentation

Zine interns sat on Youth Summit’s Employment Committee. With the reality of sitting before a power figure looming over them, they wrote and rehearsed earnestly.

Then 1pm came and the Employment Group was led up the slab-like stairs of City Hall and ushered into Council Member Clark’s private waiting area.

Things about to get real

Things about to get real

Sally Clark serves on the Committee for Economic Resiliency and Regional Relations. She has an interest in internships and employment projects that put people to work; she also proved to be an approachable and keen listener. Council Member Clark sat the group around a large round table in a room with wall to wall glass windows. The brilliant September sun lit up the room and made the wood of the tables and chairs smell warm. Seated, well-groomed and ready, the youth cleared their throats and started to speak.

Youth who’d experienced Youthcare’s Tile Project, YMCA’s W.A.G.E.S., as well as Zine, were present. Each youth began by sharing with Clark three words that described their work experience in city supported work programs.

“Freedom, expression, creative,” said one youth.

“Integrity, fun, team work,” said another.

Fast paced, excellent, enjoyable, self-motivating, supported, hard-work, character building, hands-on. Worth the trip. The youth delivered their words with confidence and then began to get specific.

Youth at the Table

Youth at the Table

Council Member Clark gazed attentively as Michelle, Zine Intern, shared that for her, Zine gave her “something to wake up for”.

“We want you to keep supporting programs like Zine. We need this,” she said. “In the three weeks that I’ve been at Zine, I’ve learned a lot and without it, I may not have had the courage to present myself today.”

Council President Clark Listens

Council President Clark Listens

Others shared how employment programs like The Zine Project aren’t just jobs, their supportive resources for young adults with little experience and difficult situations to get basic needs met. Zine interns who show up early often shower or get a fresh change of clothes. And everybody gets breakfast.

“Zine is a jumpstart,” stated Zine intern Michael.

Clark affirmed many of their comments.

As with all good proposals, the youth had an ask. They asked Council Member Clark to not only argue for a sustained budget for Working Zone and other programs, but also to expand them.

“12-18 hours for 8 weeks isn’t enough to support ourselves on,” advocated one youth.

“A 6-8 week internship isn’t enough experience to get other jobs with,” said another.

Council Member Clark took in all of the youth’s comments. She thanked everyone and observed how rehearsed, well-spoken and confident they had been.

“This signals to me it’s money well spent,” she said.

Elated, the youth debriefed. Many felt encouraged and proud.

A Triumphant Exit

A Triumphant Exit

“It was refreshing,” someone said. “To get a new perspective on people in power. That some of them actually do listen.”

Flag half mast at Seattle City Hall in memory of 9/11

Flag at half mast at Seattle City Hall in memory of 9/11

Have you been listening? Feel free to write City Council Member Sally Clark about what work from The Zine Project has meant to you:

Council Member Sally Clark

City Council President





Advocacy is Fun

Advocacy is Fun

June-August Zine Group Graduation

Zine Graduation June-Aug 2012

Zine Graduation June-Aug 2012

The Zine Project has graduated yet another group of interns!

On August 3rd, four interns completed the project by reading their poetry to a small audience of family members, friends and service providers here at UDYC.

Zine Graduates, Jun-Aug. 2012

Zine Graduates, Jun-Aug. 2012

The interns read original, heart-felt pieces documenting their successes, struggles and hopes. As always there was laughter and tears, but also delight.

“I noticed their poetry was full of images,” says Audrey, a Wrap Around Facilitator for CCS.

Zine Graduates June-Aug, 2012

Zine Graduates June-Aug, 2012

After reading, interns answered thoughtful questions by the audience about their process and experience. Several of the youth shared what a great coping skill writing had become for them and that in Zine they’d gone deeper with their writing than they had before.

If you’d like to attend a Zine Graduation and get the powerful experience of hearing our youth read, sign up to be on The Zine Project’s Grad Evite list. Click Subscribe to our newsletter and receive updates every 8-10 weeks on Graduation dates.

You can also check out our intern’s zines on our Zine Store page. Click each zine cover image to check out sample pages of youth writing and art work.

UDYC Program Manager, Erin checks out some writing by Natalie

UDYC Program Manager, Erin checks out some writing by Natalie

You Are Worth More

By Ester

Sparrow by Ester

Sparrow by Ester

People used to tell me money can’t buy everything,

Like for example


I’m priceless.

So are all the girls out there doing what I used to do.

Your body is worth more than a few racks,

A sophisticated car,

Or some Gucci purses.

That’s all materialistic shit.

You can lose all that and get it back,

But its hard getting your dignity and self esteem back.


When those men see you out there selling yourself,

They don’t give two fucks about you.

They just see you as a cash dispenser,

 You’re not that.

You’re worth more than a fuck

and all the money in the world.


Nobody cares about a ho,

But people do care about you when you have self respect.

If you have self respect, you wouldn’t let yourself

get taken advantage of.

If you don’t have self respect,

 This world does have places that WILL help you

get all your shit together.

You aren’t alone in this world,

People are willing to help women get away from prostitution,

Because you are worth way more

than a whole bunch of Benjamin’s.


Don’t forget you aren’t alone in this world,

I been there before,

And I overcame it.

You can too.


Pretty Brown

pretty brown pic by chevonna

pretty brown pic by chevonna

by Chevonna

I’m not the darkest and I’m not lightest, fortunately I’m brown.
It took long but soon I found I’m pretty brown, brown brown.
I’m on!
Layers of rough, tired, suffering.
Milk chocolate, smooth and soft skin.
Covered pores filled with
 Pain, love and broken promises.
Using my flaws as excuses was the usual for me.
My big brown eyes that sparkle and glisten the truth of the real me.
Not knowing, I’m letting my beauty stop me.
My dirt brown hair showing the strands that show everything from my strengths loving me to my weaknesses hating me all the way
 To my weeping split ends.
Not no more. This is me, take me or leave me.
Do you see how I see? No one is flawless!
Spooda is a pretty brown… Brown brown.

Writing with Street Youth in Crisis

Check out an article written by Zine Instructor Shaun McMichael on writing with youth in deep distress. Published on Pongo Teen Writing’s website, Shaun’s article details challenges and lessons learned.

It’s a relevant read for providers, writers and those interested in engaging youth through writing.


A blade made of truth

by Natalie

cthulhu stencil by natalie

cthulhu stencil by natalie

Drugs used to hurt me
 Stab me like a knife in the side
 all that is left are scars now, deeper
than any cut I’ve made before
but not one you can easily see.
 You see drugs,
they no longer rule me. 
I’m no longer a weak pawn that breaks
down and gives in.
I see the other side.
 I know it’s there but I’m strong now
like a blade made of truth
cutting through the lies I used to believe
 and the vile monster I used to hide behind.
I’m aware you may try to sneak back into my life
 But I’m prepared. 
I’ve got   something you never gave me
something stronger  than you will ever know. 
I’ve got soul
and it will outshine any darkness you try to cover me in
any it will ward off any evil you send my way.
I may stand strong and tall
shinning bright like a peaceful soul
but I still weep for the others that have fallen in this battle
for the others that are still fighting
for the others that will never stop fighting
and most of all for the ones that no nothing of our battle –
people that don’t know the experience
and don’t know that sometimes people don’t have a choice.
Drugs are just like war,
 you feel like it could never come to your land
but someday, they could show up on your shore.