Over the past year, many students and young adults have found themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Some used that time to play video games. Many binged Netflix shows or watched YouTube. Some took to keeping up with the latest news about the virus. Others simply couldn’t handle the rollercoaster of COVID-fueled headlines. All of these ways of coping with Coronavirus-induced isolation are valid, and no one should be expected to have used that extra time doing something “cool” or “productive.” With the many challenges being isolated from other people can have, simply living through these past months should be regarded as an accomplishment.

But some people managed to do more. From learning a new instrument or language, to adapting to and excelling in online schooling, to picking up an artform or other new hobby, some people were able to make the best of a bad situation. And for those people, congratulations are in order.

One such individual here in Sacramento managed not only to produce something positive during quarantine, but to bring others along in that journey with them. Lou Stein, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento (who uses They/Them pronouns), spent much of their time during quarantine starting a zine.

No, not a magazine, a zine. According to Merriam-Webster, a zine is, “A noncommercial often homemade or online publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.” Over the course of the pandemic, these zines have been gaining in popularity. Characterized by thrown-together collages, stream-of-consciousness essays, amateur art, and a focus on community, they have become a uniquely Gen Z phenomenon.

That is where Lou’s zine—named Hearsay Magazine—comes in. Started in March of 2021, the impetus for the zine came about through Lou’s experiences over the first year of the pandemic. Keeping with this generational phenomena, Lou draws much of their inspiration from zines others have created, but differs from them in one key aspect. “Over the course of quarantine I saw a lot of people start their own zines—but I also wanted a more collective experience than just a collage of my own work,” they said. That’s why they decided to involve more people than just themselves. Including Lou, there are eight people on the editorial board of the zine.

One additional point of inspiration is where the theme for Hearsay’s first edition—titled Teen Mental Health During Quarantine—comes from. “I’ve sort-of seen many of my peers quietly creating and then casting aside beautiful works of art. People who are struggling look to art as an outlet. I wanted Hearsay to be able to reflect the suffering we collectively were going through and show other youth they weren’t alone in their experiences.”

The zine is available now for free at https://hsayzine.com. Learn more about the zine on the next episode of Access on Air, Access Local’s podcast created for and by young students, activists, and journalists.