The ‘discovery’ phase of Surmountable, a two month jaunt through scenes of historic protests plus interviews with activists, academics, journalists, people on the street, thinkers, trouble makers, and witnesses is done. I arrived in Bangkok 2am from South Korea, after the final international leg of the trip that took me to Berlin, Kiev, Paris, Tunis, and Seoul.
Now for the writing.
We have a wealth of raw material. Public thinkers like AEI’s Norm Ornstein, C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb, Adbusters/ Occupy Wall Street’s Kalle Lasn, Columbia University’s Todd Gitlin, historian Stephen Schlesinger. Journalists and authors. Front line activists who put their bodies on the line like Standing Rock’s LaDonna Brave Bull Allard who gave her land and was a leading figure in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Kiev ‘squad’ veterans like Anna Kovalenko who led an all-woman group to physically resist attacks by secret police and militia, Tasnim of Tunis who shed the veil to take to the streets and launch the end of long-time dictator Ben Ali and the beginning of the Arab Spring.
It’s a privilege to gather these stories and be in the process of remarkable women and men, sometimes via choreographed interviews, sometimes via odd moments of serendipity as when I wandered into a Tunisian protest from the front door of my hotel into a weekly communist rally honoring the death of a martyred civil society activist.
Adam Edwards and I go into projects like this with certain foundational ideas and the outline of an editorial structure, but with open minds and a fierce desire to explore what is true, what is just, and how citizens might live the American founders’ vision of an active engaged public.
We intend to publish this year. I will be publishing photos and interview excerpts in the coming weeks. Here are a few memorable images from the trip.