Whenever Zuleica Zepeda sees a need in her native Santa Ana, she does something about it. Five years ago, that motivation manifested in Seeds of Resistance, an art and activist collective of, by and for women of color. Zepeda, an artist, poet and activist herself, wanted to create a space to life up the voices of her sisters. Every year since 2013, that vision has been bound by cardboard-cover zines of poetry and art.
Seeds of Resistance celebrates the fifth anniversary of its mission this Saturday in SanTana with the release of Birth, its latest Cartonera Zine annual issue. The whole cartonera movement started in Argentina when neoliberalism sent its economy crashing down in 2001. Everyday hustling birthed cartoneros, people who roamed around collecting cardboard for recycling as a way to eek out a living. In 2003, the scraps of cardboard ended up becoming covers for the alternative publishing of handmade books.
“It was almost like a collective between the artists, writers and cartonera pickers,” Zepeda says. The movement grew beyond Argentina’s borders stretching out to the peoples of Latin America, Europe and Africa. It traveled to OC by way of the Workshop for Community Arts, which invited a real-deal cartonera artist to teach people, including Zepeda, how to make zines with cardboard covers. “Instead of having just a regular zine, we asked how we could use this creative idea and aim it to something that is unique.”
Last year, Zepeda put a submissions call out for the Birth issue. “We mentioned it’s not only a physical birth, but also all these different kinds of births—artistic, spiritual—that happen everyday to us,” she says. “The theme around birth really has to do with transformation, how you birth yourself anew through art.” Adriana Lilus headed the editorial team and Zepeda worked meticulously as the layout designer. The finished product goes for $10 at the event.
Gallery 211 in downtown SanTana plays host to the release party and anniversary celebration. Melody Gonzalez and other mujeres featured in the zine will be on hand, reading poetry. Torch singer Irene Diaz  is also part of the event, offering her impassioned vocals to close out the night. Seeds of Resistance is also taking the time to honor Theresa Smith with their first-ever Womyn Warrior Award. Anaheim police shot and killed Smith’s son Caesar Cruz on December 11, 2009 with the city barely settling the resulting civil suit last year for $175,000 . She’ll be speaking about her experience from the day of the police killing, through the 2012 riots, to the present. “She’s a mother and activist who unfortunately lost her son due to police brutality, but within that pain of loss, she has been fighting ever since,” Zepeda says. “We wanted to honor and acknowledge her.”
“I want to put quality work out,” Zepeda adds, of the Cartonera Zine and the event. “How do you heal from the inside out? That’s also another form of birth.”
Seeds of Resistance 5th Anniversary “Birth” Flor y Canto at Gallery 211, 211 N Sycamore St., Santa Ana, Sat., 7 p.m., $10, $8 with student ID. All ages.