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There isn't a better time to look at conflict and strategies for peacemaking. There isn't a better time to explore new techniques for understanding how we experience the built world around us. There isn't a better time to witness the rise of a new force, a storm of unbridled and unbeholden creativity. Do-it-yourself zine energy is very alive and well this season as a trio of unique publications make their play for your attention and considerations. They're not after your money--all are free--and they aim to be forums for dialogue; local print lightning rods of culture and politics.

Durham's Daniel Casey approached a dozen representatives of various faiths and denominations with the idea of polling their views on conflict, how to observe it, react to it and how to evolve it into constructive peacemaking. Casey has just published his interviews in Of Soul and Strife, a 30-page booklet that's just appearing on freebie racks in the Triangle.

This is oral history in its most helpful form. Casey had no idea that the interviews he conducted in September on the general theme of "conflict" would be so timely and valuable today, five months later, with war clouds looming. His, that is, our spiritual leaders come through with grounded, considered responses.

The Rev. Lori Pistor counsels, "Persevere. I can't think of any situation that doesn't seem to get much worse before it gets better. Remember in those times there's a probability of reconciling."

The Rev. Mel Williams adds, "It's important to cross boundaries, and not to be intimidated or thwarted by people who may be so-called enemies or adversaries."

A conscientious objector from 60 years ago, Calhoun Geiger, challenges us, "We must not talk about what is practical. We have got to continue to seek the absolute right of what we're about.

Thomas Ryan and Adam Brakenbury printed only 500 copies of their pocket sized zine theegg "to encourage the portability and impermanence of the issue." Grad students at N.C. State's School of Architecture, Ryan and Brakenbury published theegg to "incite" artists and architects, students and designers in a "rejuvenated" dialogue about the built environment. Like all effective, pushed-out print zines, their little mag isn't meant to just sit there and look cute or even cool (but it does.) The editors add, "We hope to have a more immediate effect on the community by simply getting the conversation going."

Issue one squeezed in pieces about "place and the highway," a photo essay of bus crowds, an interview, a great photo collage of all roads leading into Raleigh, even some Lewis Carroll. Look for issue two in May, on "Narrative in Architecture," to include "dreams," drawings, sketches, sculptures and stories, facts and fictions."

Next up, The Blotter. Are you ready for this? This is the storm of unbeholden creativity we were talking about earlier.

There are never enough free newsprint monthly magazines for this print junkie. Describing his zine, Hillsborough editor I. R. Butterfly went off. "Once upon a time, a magazine like this would have been called 'underground,'" he says. "But is there such a thing anymore? Were there a 'counterculture,' we would strive to offer the finest counterculture words and art. At any rate it will not be television."

The premiere issue, with a print run of 5,000, drops mid-April. They're still taking submissions, though the deadline's tight (March 5). Look for the works: short prose, comix, photojournalism, poetry, science fiction, hot rods and natural history. You'll find it all over the Triangle, with bundles hitching rides out of town in vans of touring bands.

Asked how The Blotter staff was going to make it work, Butterfly didn't miss a beat, answering with heartfelt DIY zeal, "There are three of us, and each has his own complementary strengths. We have skills and enthusiasm, but are having to make it up as we go." With regular write-in features like Wait Staff Horror Stories and Bad Band Names, this is gonna be good. EndBlock

Of Soul and Strife: daniel_casey_99@yahoo.com,

theegg: theeggnc@hotmail.com,

The Blotter: ironbutterfly@throughthemoon.com

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