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. 

The final itinerary traveled, four continents, 20 destinations, two months.

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.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard after picking me up at the Bismarck, North Dakota airport and driving me 90 minutes to the Standing Rock reservation. I had asked how to get to her and where to stay, to which she responded, "Brian, you just don't get it, do you, we're in the middle of nowhere." So she came and got me and put me up next door to her at the Water Protectors House. After two hours of conversation, and a home cooked meal by activists living in the house, she came by at 11pm with her new great granddaughter. "Direct descendent of Sitting Bull." We toured the tribal council, the pipeline and protest sites, the local college and Sitting Bull museum, the tribal casino, and her ancestors' burial grounds.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard after picking me up at the Bismarck, North Dakota airport and driving me 90 minutes to the Standing Rock reservation. I had asked how to get to her and where to stay, to which she responded, “Brian, you just don’t get it, do you, we’re in the middle of nowhere.” So she came and got me and put me up next door to her at the Water Protectors House. After two hours of conversation, and a home cooked meal by activists living in the house, she came by at 11pm with her new great granddaughter. “Direct descendent of Sitting Bull.” We toured the tribal council, the pipeline and protest sites, the local college and Sitting Bull museum, the tribal casino, and her ancestors’ burial grounds.

I told Pastor Leon Ross of the Weeping Willow Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama that I had beers with four white fellows at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma the night before, and they said things were fine with race relations relations back in the day. He scoffed, "Sure for them they were. We were sick and tired and of being sick and tired." He worked in the Montgomery Improvement Association along with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., pivotal in the bus boycott started by Rosa Parks.

I told Pastor Leon Ross of the Weeping Willow Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama that I had beers with four white fellows at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma the night before, and they said things were fine with race relations relations back in the day. He scoffed, “Sure for them they were. We were sick and tired and of being sick and tired.” He worked in the Montgomery Improvement Association along with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., pivotal in the bus boycott started by Rosa Parks.

The Alley of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes, in the square where Ukraine's Maidan Revolution took place.  Over 100 protestors were killed as the protests grew in scope and intensity. I walked the scenes of the clashes and the moving, detailed exhibits on the streets honoring the dead and commemorating the events.

The Alley of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes, in the square where Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution took place. Over 100 protestors were killed as the protests grew in scope and intensity. I walked the scenes of the clashes and the moving, detailed exhibits on the streets honoring the dead and commemorating the events.

Tasnm and the Martyr. She walked me to the train like the mother of three she is, insisting on carrying my backpack, and warning me not to talk to strangers. We attended two protests that day, a second in front of the Central Bank as it was anti-imperialism day and students marched through the streets pushing past heavily armed police trying to stop them.

Tasnm and the Martyr. She walked me to the train like the mother of three she is, insisting on carrying my backpack, and warning me not to talk to strangers. We attended two protests that day, a second in front of the Central Bank as it was anti-imperialism day and students marched through the streets pushing past heavily armed police trying to stop them.

The palace at the far end of Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul where Koreans gathered every Saturday, first in the hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands until the president was impeached, turned out of office, and imprisoned with a 26 year term.

The palace at the far end of Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul where Koreans gathered every Saturday, first in the hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands until the president was impeached, turned out of office, and imprisoned with a 26 year term.
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