The end of our travels, for now…

Posted on 08. Apr, 2011 by .


A lot of things went wrong in Europe, especially financially. We were already running low on resources in the US – South African Rands just don’t last very long in the West – and we were also both relying on our individual semi-regular incomes, both of which were unexpectedly cut off in early January.

In Europe, we received another blow; the cheap Eurorail tickets we were hoping for fell through and we thus needed to buy full price plane and train tickets. We also had a car for a bit, but even petrol and tolls add up quickly in the rich countries of the North. Another unexpected frustration was the lack of feedback from European anarchists; French anarchists especially were really hard to get hold of, even when we spoke French with them. Few reliable places to stay and only a handful of potential interviews made it impossible for us to continue along our planned route from Ireland to France and then onwards to Spain and Greece. The long waiting for replies also made it impossible to book flights far enough in advance; with Easter just around the corner, prices started shooting up rapidly. We just couldn’t afford 300 Euro per person flights to Spain and to Greece.

It hasn’t all been financial calamities though – we received a very generous donation of $1500 from Thoughtcrime Ink just when we needed it most. Even though we still ended up having to cut the Europe trip short, the Thoughtcrime money (as well as the other donations that filtered in to our PayPal account through the website at around the same time) helped us considerably with our travels to Germany, Austria, the UK, Ireland and Switzerland, and we conducted some amazing interviews in each of these places.

Finally, and perhaps most unexpectedly of all, we lost both of our grandmothers within just two weeks of each other. Sometimes bad news really does arrive all at the same time!

We’ve done our very best and stretched ourselves further than we thought we could, but for the next few months at least, our travels are done. Aragorn’s European Visa expires any day now, meaning he has to return to South Africa and cannot apply for a renewal until the end of July. Never fear though: even though this means we didn’t make it to Barcelona, Athens, Paris 0r Italy (or, indeed, Denmark, Amsterdam, Turkey, Indonesia, Russia or any of the other places that were suggested to us), that doesn’t mean we won’t still try our best to interview anarchists in each of these places!

For now, we’re content with the 101 interviews we have filmed so far in Africa, South America, North America and Europe. We didn’t set out to make a comprehensive ethnographic and representative study of anarchism in every country and every city of the world, but instead wanted to have a suitably diverse, internationalist, non-Euro/US-centric look at anarchism, and even if we don’t manage to raise more funding for further primary filming, we feel that we’ve succeeded in this initial task. We interviewed young and old anarchists, men, women and transgendered folks (even though we always struggled to find enough women who would commit to talking in front of a camera), anarchists from very diverse tendencies (although we had to ignore the emails from the occasional anarcho-capitalists and national anarchists enthusiastically offering themselves up for interviews), regions and ethnic groups. We have footage in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

So right now it’s time to sit down and transcribe, translate and edit the many hours of footage we have, to research archival footage, shoot more B-roll, write a narrative and – priority #1 – make a trailer! Once we have the trailer out we intend to use it as part of a second call for funding, which will hopefully allow us to at least get to Spain and Greece. Finally, if all goes well, the exciting 90 minute documentary on anarchism we both always wanted to see will slowly begin to emerge over the course of the next year or so!

We’ll keep you posted…expect a trailer soon :-)

PS: We couldn’t end this post without saying another heartfelt, humble thank you to everyone who helped us along on the journey so far. We wouldn’t have been able to get this far without the generosity and solidarity of the beautifully diverse international community of anti-authoritarians we’re just starting to get to know.

With love and hope,

Aragorn and Steffi

A lot of things went wrong in Europe. We were already running low on resources in the US. South African Rands just don’t last very long in the West.

We relied on money that was cut off from both of us at the same time (early January).

In Europe, we received another blow, as an expected travel help fell through and we needed to buy our own plane and train tickets that are incredibly expensive in Europe.

Another thing which was very unexpected is that especially French anarchists are really hard to get hold of, even when you try to speak French. Not knowing where to stay and who to speak to made it impossible for us to continue our journey from Ireland to France, then onwards to Spain and Greece as originally planned. The long waiting for replies made it impossible to book flights well in advance and then Easter shot prices up incredibly. We just couldn’t afford a Euro 300 return flight to Spain and another one to Greece.

Even though we received a generous donation of US 1500 from Thought Crime Ink when we needed it most, we had to cut the Europe trip short and ended up only being able to go to Germany, Austria, UK, Ireland and Switzerland, where we had some amazing interviews.

The remainder of our personal savings we need to survive the next months of editing the documentary and until we have a job again.

In addition to this experience in Europe, we both lost our grandmothers within just 2 weeks of each other. Sometimes bad news come at the some time.

That said, we are happy with the 101 interviews we have of people in Africa, South America, North America and Europe. We didn’t set out to make an ethnographic and representative study of anarchism in every country and every city of the world, rather a diverse look at anarchism. And I think we succeeded at that. We interviewed young and old anarchists, men and women (even though we always struggled to find enough women and to persuade them to being interviewed in front of a camera), anarchists from diverse tendencies (except for the odd anarcho-capitalists and national anarchists that wanted to be interviewed) and regions. We have footage in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Now it’s time to sit down, transcribe, translate and edit the many hours of footage we have, to make this into the exciting 90 minute documentary on anarchism we always wanted to see.

This is also another thank you to everyone who helped us along this journey. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.

Aragorn and Steffi

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The rest of North America

Posted on 14. Mar, 2011 by .


It’s been a while. We did make a promise to update our blog more frequently, but we’ve failed miserably. Sorry for this! We’ve been very active though, traveling all over North America and meeting many more interesting people along the way. We also had a few days of rest in Florida before completing the final part of the US, the North East. We’re now in Europe, for the beginning of the final leg of our tour :-)

We finished our last blog in Seattle. In the few days we were there, some exciting things happened, including a rare snowfall…The city of Seattle doesn’t know how to deal with snow!

The night of the snowfall, we went to see a talk by a friend of ours from Anarchists Against the Wall from Israel/Palestine. It was held at the local university and we met a bunch of awesome anarchists there; we sought refuge from the cold in a local bar after the talk and shared stories of our travels.

The last day in Seattle was filled with interviews – most of the people we wanted to interview were only free on that one day. We are, however, technically limited to three interviews per day, so we had to miss out on some interesting people. We ended up interviewing the awesome Jen Rogue from WSA and former Common Action. We also interviewed Matt and Tephra from Seattle Solidarity Network, a new but very active group in Seattle (

The next day was a traveling day: getting up at 3am, taking a plane to Chicago, then Buffalo, then a bus to Toronto to attend the North American Anarchist Studies Network conference.

In Toronto we stayed with Mick from Common Cause ( and interviewed Alex, another Common Cause member. We attended the first social of the NAASN conference – an informal get together and film screening. We watched a new documentary on the G20 and a non-political movie shot during the Spanish Revolution (with novel ‘live’ subtitling by Jesse Cohn).

The next day, braving the snowstorm and freezing temperatures, we made our way to the NAASN conference in central Toronto. The venue was packed with people! In fact, every panel over the two days of the conference was packed and it was extremely hot inside. We’re sure you don’t see people wearing t-shirts during Toronto winters very often.

It was an interesting weekend in many ways. The conference itself was fantastic; we sat through some really inspiring presentations, including a surprisingly good and self-critical workshop by the oft-maligned CrimethInc. You can read more about the conference here: We met amazing people and had some great discussions about anarchism and about our documentary. We also spoke to some other filmmakers who were using very similar equipment and techniques, and exchanged a lot of ideas. We interviewed Jesse Cohn on the evening of the first day, just before the social gathering at a local gallery, which also served as the launch for the new issue of Upping the Anti ( The day after the conference we spoke to Jasmin and Ryan – two of the main organisers of the conference – as well as well known anarchist author and art history professor, Allan Antliff (

From the frozen wastelands of Canada, we made our way to the much sunnier city of Phoenix, Arizona, where we stayed with and interviewed Drew from Phoenix Class War Council. We also spoke with Stacy, who runs the big anarcha-feminist website, and Kevin, an O’odham anarchist. It soon became very clear to us that indigenous struggle is the main focus for anarchists in this area. Kevin told us about the new struggles indigenous people are facing, especially along the border between the US and Mexico.

From Phoenix we went to Flagstaff – where it was cold again – to interview two anarchists: the tireless Klee Benally, a Navajo anarchist who helps run the multi-faceted Taala Hooghan infoshop (, and Joel Olson from Bring back the Ruckus, and the old Love and Rage.

We left Flagstaff for Tucson, where we stayed with an old friend and interviewed Stormy Staats. Stormy, who hails from Northern California, told us about the struggles on the Klamath River and how the environmental destruction affects indigenous people there.

From Tucson we took a really shitty Greyhound bus to El Paso, Texas, where we interviewed the inimitable Steve Best ( We stayed with Steve and his five cats for two nights and then spent twelve hours onboard a bus to Austin, Texas.

In Austin we interviewed only two people: Carlos Perez de Alejo, who we met up with at the Monkeywrench Infoshop and who told us about Cuban anarchism, and Abraham DeLeon. Unfortunately we had to cancel two more interviews for personal reasons.

We then took a bus to Dallas (for which we were made to pay twice – fuck you, Greyound!) to meet with and interview Kenyon Zimmer, who shared a fantastic historical overview of North American anarchism. He spoke extensively about Yiddish and Italian immigrant anarchism, about the Haymarket and about Sacco and Vanzetti.

We spent the night in some godforsaken dingy Motel near the Dallas airport, expecting to take a plane to Florida the next morning, but were held up because of an overnight icestorm. Our flight was cancelled and we had to stay another night in Dallas. Dallas really drained our money – first the bus, then the hotel :-(

Anyway, we finally arrived in Florida, the mid-way point of the journey and time to relax. We really needed this break and ended up only having the energy for one interview: Frank Fernandez, a 73 year old Cuban anarchist and author of Cuban Anarchism: The History of a Movement (

After 11 days in Florida we took a plane to Baltimore, where we stayed with Flint Arthur and his partner Rebecca, both of whom were really welcoming and helpful. Baltimore is home to a number of cool projects, perhaps the most notable being the Red Emma’s bookstore and coffeeshop. We interviewed John Duda and Kate Khatib from Red Emma’s. Kate is also part of the AK Press collective ( and she gave us a guided tour of the warehouse. We filmed her in a very liberal Methodist church that works together with the anarchists there. Quite a surprise, as was the fact that their former pastor was transsexual.

We were particularly excited about meeting the venerable Howard J. Ehrlich, editor of the long-running journal “Social Anarchism” and author of numerous books on anarchism (including Reinventing Anarchy and, oddly enough, a book on baking bread – Howard gave us a signed copy of this latter work). We also interviewed our host Flint Arthur, a founding member of NEFAC, the North East Federation of Anarchist Communists (

Our final interview in Baltimore was with Kevin Tucker (, an anarcho-primitivist author and activist; we filmed Kevin in a beautiful park on a warm winter’s day in Baltimore, who spoke to us about green anarchy and the wild while squirrels cavorted in the background.

We then took a bus to New York - our final US destination – where we stayed with an awesome anarchist woman, who wants to remain anonymous (although her vegan cooking deserves wide recognition!) We interviewed her, but it remains to be seen whether we can use the footage, given her desire to remain anonymous.

We met up with Suzy Subways, a member of Love and Rage. Suzy generously travelled all the way from Philadelphia to meet with us and spoke to us about anarchism in a wonderfully clear and common-sense way.

The next day we interviewed Cindy Milstein again (our first interview in the Bay Area got cut short), in between their IAS (Institute for Anarchist Studies – congress. Poor Cindy was very tired after a long weekend full of meetings, but she still managed to give another great interview :-)

We also stopped in on Jim Fleming from long-time anarchist / counterculture publisher Autonomedia (, and spent some time speaking to him in his amazing apartment in Brooklyn that looks over the Manhattan skyline.

The next evening we drove to the Bronx to interview two members of NEFAC: Christine Karatnytsky and Wayne Price. Both were amazing interviews and we can’t wait to share them!

The morning after, we interviewed Joshua Stephens from the IAS in a quiet healthfood cafe, before taking a bus to Hartford, Connecticut. In Hartford we stayed with and interviewed Deric Shannon and his friend Chris Spannos. Deric and Chris shared their compelling critiques of capitalism and talked to us at length about anarchist economics, intersectionality and queer theory.

We returned to NY on the 24th; we were hoping to interview the post-structuralist anarchist Todd May, but time simply wasn’t on our side. Early on the morning of the 25th, we boarded our plane at JFK airport and said farewell to the US. We were both really sad to leave – we had a great time there, met many amazing people – lots of anarchists from every possible anarchist tendency – and saw some inspiring projects. We definitely hope to return there one day!

Right now, we’re wrapping up some interviews in the UK, before embarking on the final leg of our tour: mainland Europe…we’ll tell you all about it in our next blog entry!

PS: If you’d like to see some interview photos from this blog entry, visit our Facebook page:

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Argentina, Chile and the US West Coast

Posted on 12. Jan, 2011 by .


Hey there! We’re sorry we haven’t been able to update our blog recently – it’s been very hectic these last few weeks. In fact, it’s been over a month since our last update!

So, what’s happened since we wrote that last entry from Hotel Bauen? After we left the Bauen we spent another five days or so in Argentina and met with a number of different anarchists around Buenos Aires  (unfortunately, we were not able to interview the famous historian Osvaldo Beyer due to him being sick), of which we ended up interviewing two. First, Edgar from the FLA (Federación Libertária Argentina), a Tango teacher and archivist who talked to us about how important it is to dance to our revolution :-) We interviewed him in the amazing FLA archive, a collection of tens of thousands of books, magazines and other assorted anarchist publications from around the world, some of them as old as 1880.

We also interviewed Sebastian from the Red Libertaria de Buenos Aires, a very active especifist group with a great infoshop space. In fact, Buenos Aires has quite a few anarchist bookshops, infoshops and social spaces.

Our next stop – after a horrendous drive over the Andes on what we think must be the most dangerous road in the world – was Santiago de Chile, where we stayed with Pablo Abufom in his great social space in the centre of town. The space is home to the Libreria Proyeccion bookshop and also serves as a meeting place for lots, if not all, anarchist groups – and even some unions – in Santiago. We interviewed seven people in this house, sometimes struggling to find a new setting. Besides Pablo we interviewed Ignacio from Estrategia Libertaria, Silvana (a Mapuche anarchist), two members of the FeL (a big libertarian socialist student organisation famous for their amazing murals:, Pamela, and Mario from El Surco newspaper.

After Santiago we decided to take a week off for a break in Peru; after so many interviews we desperately needed some time off. We ended up spending a few days in Cusco and Machu Picchu, which was amazing, albeit exceedingly touristy!

We left South America energized and inspired, and ready for the three quarters of the trip that still lay ahead!

Next stop, Los Angeles, USA. The anarchists in L.A. didn’t give us any reason to curb our optimism – there are many groups and individuals doing great work, and we met and stayed with some really nice people! We interviewed members from Copwatch L.A. and RAC (Revolutionary Autonomous Communities): Joaquin Cienfuegos, D’Angelo (both on Xmas day!) and John A. Imani at their weekly “RAC Mutual Aid Food Programme” in Downtown L.A. where they feed about 100 families every week! We also met a dynamic group of young women who help organise the L.A. Anarchist bookfair, but unfortunately couldn’t convince them to appear on camera :-)

After only a few days in L.A. we headed North towards the Bay Area., stopping over in Santa Barbara to spend a night at our friend Zack’s. Apart from feeding and housing us, Zack was kind enough to receive two parcels of stuff we still needed for the documentary: better lights and a rack for our camera which makes mobile filming easier. Zack told us about all the stuff that’s going on in Santa Barbara and we were impressed. We really hope everything is working out for them there!

The Bay Area was mindblowing! Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco are home to hundreds, or more likely thousands of anarchists. We met with and interviewed people from many different groups and projects and were surprised by each one of them. It was a crazy time for us (and it was New Year’s) and we interviewed as many as three people one after the other on a few of the days we were there! Interviewees included Cindy Milstein from the IAS ( Tom Wetzel from WSA (, Lawrence Jarach from Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed magazine ( and two inspiring old anarchist ladies: Jean Pauline (age 87) and Audrey Goodfriend (age 90). Audrey, who is called a ‘black diaper baby within the local community’ was born into an anarchist family and met Emma Goldman when she was a teenager! We also briefly interviewed Tom Older from the long-standing Bound Together Bookshop on Haight Street ( and the well-known Ramsey Kanaan, founder of AK Press ( – probably the biggest anarchist publisher in the world) and now with PM Press (

We also got to meet up with “the other Aragorn!” of AJODA / / fame :-) That’s right – for a brief time the Bay Area was home two Aragorn’s, both named Aragorn by their hippie parents and both vegan anarchists! There must be something about this name. All you anarchist breeders out there: name your children after LOTR characters ;-)

Aragorn!, a longtime staple of the Bay Area scene, graciously showed us around and introduced us to local folks. He also invited us to attend the Berkeley anarchist reading group, which has been meeting every week for 13 years! The reading group attracts people between the ages of 19 and 90 and it was great to see such diversity amongst the 20-odd people gathered in the room on a rainy Tuesday night.

Just before leaving the bay we took a day trip to Starhawk’s ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere and conducted an amazing interview with this well-known activist, anarchist novelist and pagan.

We could have stayed another week in the Bay Area to interview more inspiring anarchists but alas our schedule did not allow for it. We are very sorry to have missed out on some of the people, groups and projects there and hope we can return sometime.

After we left the Bay Area we made our way to Grass Valley to interview veteran anarchist Barry Pateman, a walking encyclopedia of anarchist history and ideas who houses the Kate Sharpley Library (; Barry was an amazing (and really humorous) interview subject and a generous host.

We left Grass Valley in the early morning light and drove north to Crescent City to speak to renowned ecological activist and writer Derrick Jensen ( Derrick was exceedingly accommodating in helping us find the perfect location for the interview, which we ended up filming at sunset on the beach :-) We know that Derrick is a highly controversial figure, even within anarchist circles, but we felt we had to include his voice in this documentary because of his powerful and sweeping analysis of contemporary environmental issues and their causes. Even though he might not always call himself an anarchist (although, after speaking to him, he’s certainly comfortably close to anarchism in our minds), his message is of profound consequence.

After Crescent City we drove up to Eugene, Oregon, to meet with and interview John Zerzan (, another controversial yet important figure in the anarchist movement. We were relieved when John and Alice offered to put us up for the night (even cheap hotels are pretty expensive when you’re paying in South African Rands) and thoroughly enjoyed being guests on his radio show, Anarchy Radio, even though one of the call-ins was a bit strange!

Packed peanut butter and jam sandwiches in hand, we left Eugene for Portland the next morning to spend a few days with David Rovics (, an anarchist singer and songwriter who is sometimes affectionately called ‘the musical version of Democracy Now’. David shared some of his seemingly endless knowledge of labour history and even played a few songs for us, which we hope to use in the film.

Our time in Portland felt as short as our time in the Bay – we checked out Red and Black Cafe (, drove past Black Rose Infoshop to discover it closed, and spent some time trying not to spend money at the world’s only vegan ‘mini-mall’ (home to Herbivore, Food Fight, Sweetpea Bakery and a vegan tattoo shop) around the corner from the Red and Black.

While in Portland we also interviewed Lara Messersmith-Glavin from the Institute for Anarchist Studies ( and the Parasol Climate Collective. Lara, a lifelong adventurer involved in a whole string of projects, did a great job at explaining core anarchist principles in a powerful, no-nonsense way that would have surely made them seem like simple common sense to almost anyone listening :-)

This brings us to today, the 11th of January 2011. We’re currently in Seattle, staying with some ex-Common Action folks and planning to speak to people from Seasol (, Left Bank books ( – an amazing worker-run bookstore) and former members of Common Action. Yesterday we met Zimya, a veteran anti-nuke / civil rights campaigner who shot a short film called Older = Bolder: Anarchist Elders in the early 90′s. The film features interviews with Utah Phillips and five other longtime anarchists, including two people we interviewed in the Bay – Audrey Goodfriend and Jean Pauline. Watching the film, it was really heartening to see that Jean and Audrey are still as passionate and eloquent now as they were twenty years ago.

Today is a day of decision: we’re not sure where we’re headed next – perhaps Toronto, perhaps Arizona. We’ll keep you all posted though and promise to update our blog more frequently now that we’re back in the swing of things.

Aluta Continua!

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