With half of Kenyon students learning remotely, it’s very easy to feel alienated from the larger community. However, Mabel Jones ’21 and Abby Navin ’23 have decided to make the most of these strange times by reflecting on what is most important to them: nature, and specifically the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC). Their shared interests inspired them to work on creating a zine centered around the natural world. They plan on using the zine to connect with Kenyon students both on and off campus.
Submissions for the zine are due Nov. 2 and will include a variety of creative pieces, from writing to artwork to videos. “We want a way to incorporate literature and art into the BFEC,” said Navin. They chose to create an online zine because, according to Navin, “zines are super accessible to read, [so] it will be a good way to engage students.”
In an email sent out by Navin to Kenyon students, she suggests several prompts that could lead to potential submissions, such as isolation in nature, reconnecting with the Earth and what Kenyon students learning remotely miss about the BFEC.
Over the summer of 2019, Jones worked at the BFEC as a student manager. She is especially interested in “connecting students in literary groups with BFEC resources,” combining her English major with her passion for the natural world. She was looking forward to returning to that position on campus. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans. Jones is currently living in Cleveland, and Navin, as a sophomore, is on campus. The two meet online once a week to discuss their plans for the zine.
Although creating an online zine is a new experience for Jones and Navin, they seem eager to take on the challenge. “I was in a printmaking class in high school, so I had some practice with physical zines,” Jones said. She and Navin are optimistic about going through the learning process in order to get their zine off the ground. “We’ll get to learn together,” Jones said.
Being in nature is something that positively impacts Jones and Navin, and they want to connect with people who feel the same way. At Kenyon, Navin says that “there’s not much to do,” so she frequently finds herself outside, “cruising up and down the Kokosing Gap Trail.” In Cleveland, Jones shares similar sentiments. “Saturday is my hike day,” she said, and she has enjoyed being close to Lake Erie.
Jones and Navin know that although it is difficult to combat loneliness, “our relationship to nature in solitude is surprisingly fulfilling, and something we need right now.” Being in nature has helped them to cope, and they’re both excited to use the zine as an opportunity to learn about how others are dealing with this unpredictable world.
For those wishing to submit to the BFEC zine, contact Abby Navin at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to submit is Nov. 2, and each person can submit up to five pieces.