COVID has caused every business to reassess everything. For us, this has meant evaluating our entire business. We still believe in supporting local. More now than ever. And we still believe in building community through gathering, just not at this time. We've been cooking up a lot of things these past few months and are excited about what the future has to hold for UnderBelly.
Times may be strange but we are proudly stranger.
Before things started to get serious with COVID, we had the idea of re-creating some of our favorite images from past zines that we think didn’t get to fully shine. The reasons they didn’t shine varied. In some cases, they were unexpected favorites that were only ever supposed to be supporting characters (for me, this includes the Love Devils). For others our art director, Liz, hadn’t mastered the art of riso-fying the image to make it really pop in ink (looking at you The Cat). For some it’s just the simple fact that Liz is a fucking badass designer who has learned a ton and we want to make the original more… well, badass.
Our original vision was to print these images as we did the originals. And the current plan is still to do so, eventually. But, similar to the risograph, we thought we’d try to take full advantage of the medium and play with formatting. We hope you enjoy this digital zine. I’m sure we’ll look back in a year and see better ways of using the designs. But until then, here is our Due Justice for some of our favorite UnderBelly images.
If the Coronavirus has shown us anything, it is that the many cracks in the system are in fact gaping holes. This isn’t simply because quite literally millions of individuals have lost their jobs and any remote sense of security. But because those who are already most vulnerable in our community are the ones most affected by this pandemic and there doesn’t seem to be a knight on a white horse to come help them get back on their feet.
Unless you count Freedom Inc.
I had the privilege of talking with Jessica and Bernice of Freedom Inc during the eye of the COVID-19 storm. It was the first week of the shutdown and plans were already in place for continuing to provide aid to their clients. Freedom Inc. is a domestic and sexual violence nonprofit that aims to end violence within and against black and South-Eastern communities.
Freedom Inc’s programming is hands-on; the goal to build stronger communities and advocates requires more than a few brochures. The services are intentional and multigenerational, ranging from senior programs training individuals on how to be stronger advocates for their communities to weekly reading groups for youth of color.
All the work that Freedom Inc does is hard to encapsulate in a short, witty piece. Their in house programming is just the start. They help womxn who are in need of temporary housing to escape an abuser. They have a food bank that provides over 2,000 lbs of food every week which is run with the help of their teenage volunteers. They teach their clients about the importance of civic engagement and local politics. They help run a local Bail Fund which focuses on helping raise funds for individuals stuck in prison because they can’t pay their bail. And so much more. I don’t need to tell you how these efforts are hurt by COVID-19 or just why their clients could use a little extra hand during these trying times.
But I can tell you about the ways Freedom Inc is continuing their mission and how you can help.
Freedom Inc is checking in with all their clients to create safety plans and for some that means daily check-ins. They are providing housing support through financial aid to help people be able to safely self-isolate. They are providing regular resource updates through their Facebook page to anyone who follows them. It is all hands on deck, even if those hands are virtual.
Finally, they are continuing to run their food bank through food bags, which is where you can help. If you can, please donate non-perishables, household and hygiene products, fresh meat or grocery cards to the Freedom Inc office.
We are all in this together and sometimes it is our opportunity to be the knight lending a helping hand.