Zeph Fishlyn
make a new story

Organizing

Cultural Organizing Work

Much of my work is collaborative and involves unsexy things like spreadsheets, email lists, phone calls and overly long meetings under flourescent lights. In pursuit of collective projects, I have stuffed several tons of trash into dumpsters; maintained websites; cared for an elderly cat; built and painted walls; made peace with neighbors; organized events; written bylaws; and fixed washing machines. None of those things get photographed. The following things did.

From 2013-2016, I was part of a coordinating collective that ran Lobot Gallery in Oakland until it succumbed to gentrification in 2016. We managed 24 artist studios, a print shop, a wood shop, a music studio and a large gallery space that hosted everything from noise shows to art installations to clothing swaps to Seder dinners.

In 2012, with nine other San Franciscans facing eviction, I founded a housing coop in an empty Oakland triplex. We designed a collective home and a financial structure prioritizing permanently affordable housing for activists, POC and queer/trans folks at high risk for displacement. The house also makes regular microgrants to community organizations. The coop is now a nonprofit managed by residents.

From 2008-2011 I was a core member of the Beehive Design Collective, a wildly motivated, all-volunteer, activist arts collective dedicated to ‘cross-pollinating the grassroots’ by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images for use as educational and organizing tools. The Beehive works as word-to-image translators of complex global stories shaped through conversations with affected communities. I worked as a researcher, illustrator, and educator and co-organized two tours, including a West Coast bicycle tour. (More on the True Cost of Coal project)

Theatrical street interventions can shape the media, inspire the public, put pressure on bad actors, and build community. Past collaborators include Leslie Dreyer and Heart of the City Collective, the Housing Rights Committee, the Anti-Displacement Coalition, SF Pride at Work, and a multitude of small temporary groups.

Sometimes the best way to throw down for your community is to host an art build.

Sometimes all that’s left is tinsel.

Sometimes all that’s left is tinsel.