Remembering Tenacious Anarchist Organizer Jen Angel

We mourn the passing of Jen Angel, a tenacious anarchist organizer whose efforts spanned the higher a part of 4 many years. Under, we’ll overview a few of Jen’s many contributions through the years and share some reminiscences from those that love her.

You may donate to a memorial fund for Jen here. You may learn a collection of her writing through the years here.

We have been lucky to know Jen. Her generosity and enthusiasm impressed us and we worked together in a wide range of methods.

Like many people, Jen acquired her begin in do-it-yourself print media and counterculture at an early age, earlier than the web introduced digital connectivity to the common North American family. Her profession prolonged from the excessive level of the do-it-yourself counterculture by means of the turn-of-the-century movement against capitalist globalization to the Occupy motion, the Trump period, and the George Floyd rebellion.

Jen had an ampersand tattooed on her wrist. You may say that this represented her strategy to organizing, taking over duties, and addressing variations and battle in her neighborhood: “Sure, and.”

She was a reliable pal, affectionate and curious, who introduced an excellent keel and appreciable stamina to her tasks together with an unpretentious Midwestern demeanor. She devoted herself to a variety of collective undertakings, offering thankless behind-the-scenes work and providing the type of warm-hearted hospitality that permits folks to place down roots collectively.

In highschool, Jen began out as a classical musician. Though the punk scene was to play a central position in her life story, this was the closest she acquired to taking part in in a band.

“I performed the bassoon. No person would let me of their punk band.”

Jen Angel

“I realized lots from punk,” Jen later defined in an interview: “to claim myself, to specific my opinion… these are all vital issues, issues which are additionally inherent in impartial media. Impartial media shops like Clamor permit common, on a regular basis folks, not specialists, to get their opinion out on the earth.”

Beginning in her mid-teens in 1991, Jen revealed the zine Fucktooth. Like many people, she reduce her tooth as an writer and organizer by bringing out a publication of her personal, studying by doing. This was how she developed the talents that she later put on the disposal of an array of social actions.

As a teenager, Jen additionally explored non-monogamous relationship fashions, at a time when non-monogamy was unthinkable for many individuals of her technology, particularly within the Midwest, the place she grew up. She was on the reducing fringe of a wide range of experiments that later unfold far and large.

Jen grew to become concerned with punk infrastructure the place she lived in Columbus, Ohio, together with the infamous Legion of Doom punk home and Columbus More Than Music Fest. In 1996, she participated within the Active Resistance gathering in Chicago, offering a counterpoint to the Democratic Nationwide Conference. Energetic Resistance was an vital forerunner of subsequent anarchist convergences such because the mobilizations in Seattle throughout the protests towards the 1999 World Commerce Group summit and, later, in response to the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Democratic and Republican Nationwide Conventions.

That very same yr, Jen acquired concerned with publishing the Zine Yearbook, drawing on her expertise in do-it-yourself publishing to gather the most effective of the underground press. The Zine Yearbook appeared yearly from 1996 till 2004.

On the invitation of Tim Yohannan — longtime editor of Most Rock’n’Roll, arguably essentially the most influential do-it-yourself punk journal — Jen moved to the Bay Space in 1997 to assist coordinate MRR. On the time, the journal had a month-to-month circulation of 14,000 copies. As Jen put it, “I’ve been doing zines for a extremely very long time and Most is the most important zine there may be.”

You may learn a energetic and entertaining interview with Tim and Jen here, and one other interview with Jen from that period here.

Throughout this stint within the Bay Space, Jen labored at Punks with Presses, one other traditional punk establishment of that point. However Tim died of most cancers in April 1998, and Jen was compelled out of her place at Most Rock’n’Roll shortly thereafter.

Jen revealed the twenty fourth and ultimate situation of her first zine, Fucktooth, in 1999. Within the intervening years, the punk underground and the zine tradition it helped maintain had developed into an enormous international community interwoven with different actions worldwide. This culminated in riotous demonstrations towards the 1999 summit of the World Commerce Group in Seattle, confirming the arrival of a brand new international period of protest. Jen moved again to Ohio, the place her associate Jason Kucsma was attending Bowling Inexperienced State College, and the 2 based a brand new journal collectively, Clamor. The primary situation appeared in early 2000, together with — like each like-minded publication of that point — breathless accounts from the WTO demonstrations.

Jen helped to prepare the annual Underground Publishing Convention in Bowling Inexperienced, initially based because the “Midwest Zine Convention” in 1999 and later rebranded because the Allied Media Conference, which continues to today in Detroit. Jen and Jason moved to Toledo in 2002, the place they continued working ceaselessly on Clamor.

In the end, Jen and Jason revealed 38 problems with the journal. When their distributor went below, Clamor collapsed; the final situation got here out in fall 2006. Jen’s romantic relationship with Jason got here to an finish, as nicely, illustrating the dangers for activists who afford themselves no respiration room between their relationships and their tasks. You may learn all the problems of Clamor on their website.

With the tip of Clamor, Jen shifted her consideration to organizing publicity for authors. This developed into the collective Aid & Abet, by means of which she labored with David Graeber, Jacob Conroy of the SHAC 7 and Will Potter of Green Is the New Red, Margaret Killjoy, Frank López of SubMedia, scott crow of Common Ground, and lots of different authors, filmmakers, and organizers over the subsequent a number of years.

Jen moved again to the Bay Space in 2006, fostering a neighborhood by means of collective dinners and different conventional punk and Midwestern types of conviviality. Although many radicals who experiment with various household constructions withdraw to nuclear households later in life, Jen continued to take a position her power in residing collectively and nourishing a dense community of polyamorous relationships; these remained vital to Jen all through her maturity. At the moment, the Bay Space was quickly gentrifying, nevertheless it remained an epicenter of radical exercise, together with the motion responding to the homicide of Oscar Grant in 2008 and Occupy Oakland in 2011.

Along with public organizing, Jen made her dwelling into an area of encounter drawing collectively folks of a wide range of pursuits and walks of life. For instance, after we revealed After the Crest, reflecting on the waning section of the Occupy motion, dozens of the fiercest individuals within the Oakland Commune crowded into her front room to debate it. Years later, throughout the To Change Everything tour in the USA, individuals within the tour acquired to examine an early model of the sport Bloc by Bloc at a salon Jen hosted.

Revolutionary potential blossoms when folks give it area and sources the best way that Jen did.

Jen grew to become a core organizer of the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair, the longest-running anarchist ebook honest in the USA. Behind the scenes, she helped a number of radical tasks to stability their books, aiming to guard them from the destiny that had befallen Clamor. From 2013-2014, she helped arrange the Bay Area Radical History Project, a collection of shows specializing in Bay Space activism over the previous three many years, looking for to attach the wave of people that grew to become concerned in radical politics by means of the Occupy motion with veteran activists from earlier actions.

In October 2014, she joined Ryan Solely in debuting Anarchist Agency, a venture devoted to interfacing between anarchists and mass media.

The purpose is to boost consciousness of anarchism as an entire, and we’re fully ready to do promote various (and contradictory) elements of anarchism so long as the concepts, teams, and people we’re working with determine publicly as anarchists and share our core beliefs…

This isn’t an try and water down or make palatable the extra militant elements of anarchism or of the neighborhood. Some anarchists run child-care packages and a few anarchists smash home windows and have interaction in sabotage. Generally the identical people do each issues.

Serving to anarchists be extra clear about what they’re doing and why, and with what objectives, will make anarchist concepts extra accessible in hopes of permitting extra of us to grasp {that a} totally different world is feasible.

Jen Angel

With appreciable assist from the neighborhood that she cultivated round her, Jen additionally acquired her cupcake enterprise off the bottom and sustained it by means of a collection of challenges. This ensured that she may make selections in her activism on the idea of her values relatively than monetary pressures, whilst life within the gentrifying Bay Space grew to become almost untenable.

Organizing entails ceaseless challenges and, usually, an incredible quantity of heartache. Regardless of many years of stress, disappointment, and grueling unpaid labor, Jen continued ahead cheerfully. She helped to make the 2022 Bay Space Ebook Honest successful and was concerned within the organizing for the 2023 Ebook Honest on the time of her passing.

Reviewing Jen’s life, it’s simple to be reminded of Aragorn!, one other Midwesterner who grew up making zines within the do-it-yourself punk scene, moved to the Bay Space, labored on Most Rock’n’Roll, and distinguished himself as a writer and a fixture within the anarchist milieu. Throughout Occupy Oakland and its aftermath, Jen and Aragorn! lived only some blocks aside in Berkeley.

It has been nearly precisely three years now since Aragorn!’s premature passing — three years which have seen such a spate of tragedies that it’s onerous to not really feel desensitized. However the losses of Aragorn! and Jen are linked, for each erode our entry to the technology of anarchists who emerged from the crucible of the Nineties.

In perspective and strategy, the 2 couldn’t be extra totally different. Whereas Aragorn! pursued confrontational critique nearly as an finish in itself, Jen targeted on logistics almost to the exclusion of ideology. Popping out of the motley crowds of the punk scene and the heady optimism of the Seattle WTO protests, Jen took without any consideration that theoretical cohesion was not as vital as openness and inclusivity. Whereas Aragorn! wrongly interpreted Jen as an appendage of his perceived rivals at AK and PM Press, Jen couldn’t see what there was to achieve from sectarian debate — even when there have been actual strategic variations at stake.

The vital factor to grasp is that Jen’s and Aragorn!’s approaches to anarchism advanced in steady response to one another over a interval of many years. Every sought to appropriate the shortcomings of the opposite’s technique. Consequently, though neither would acknowledge it — or relatively, exactly for that cause — their efforts add as much as a complementary entire. Those that want to study from one in all them should additionally perceive the opposite.

“There’s this false impression that anarchism means chaos. However the time period means ‘with out rulers.’ We don’t anticipate folks to prepare for us. We arrange for ourselves.”

Jen Angel

Jen’s premature passing is a mindless tragedy. She misplaced her life because the consequence of an obvious theft try. As her family members emphasized, she could be livid if anybody have been to make use of this as an excuse to justify extra police violence:

Jen’s household and buddies ask that tales referencing Jen’s life don’t use her legacy of care and neighborhood to additional inflame narratives of worry, hatred, and vengeance. We don’t assist placing public sources into policing, incarceration, or different state violence that perpetuates the cycle of violence that resulted on this tragedy.

Anybody who has frolicked within the Bay Space over the previous decade is aware of that one of many major forces driving violence within the East Bay is the skyrocketing value of residing. The true property profiteers who’ve heartlessly crammed the streets of Oakland with determined evictees and the politicians who’ve funneled cash into the pockets of the police with no concern for the processes which are immiserating thousands and thousands bear the lion’s share of duty for the dangers that Bay Space residents face right now.

Jen spent her life working to create a world wherein everybody would have entry to the meals, shelter, medical care, and neighborhood that they want—a world wherein there could be no incentives for anybody to do hurt to others for the sake of fabric acquire. No quantity of violence from police, courts, or prisons may deliver us an inch nearer to such a world. We owe it to her to proceed her efforts to abolish capitalism, the state, patriarchy, white supremacy, and all the opposite types of hierarchy that contribute to violence and precarity in our communities. To the extent to which we make progress in the direction of these objectives, the world will likely be a safer place for everybody.

Nothing we will do will deliver Jen again, however we will honor her life and her unflagging dedication to social change by taking over the torch she handed to us.

“The core tenets of anarchism are autonomy, mutual help, voluntary affiliation, and direct motion. These are all optimistic issues.”

Jen Angel

I’m a young person at our native infoshop. I overhear two of the volunteers debating the worth of a brand new journal, Clamor.

“I believe it’s making an attempt to be too accessible,” says one.

“Yeah, nevertheless it’s Jen Angel’s journal. You already know why she has that identify proper? As a result of she actually is an angel.”

Accessible is a four-letter phrase to me, as a result of I like punk rock. However, one way or the other, as a result of I like punk rock, I’m additionally drawn to four-letter phrases and to that which is disparaged. Plus the journal is on the market at our infoshop, and our infoshop is cool. So I choose up a replica. OK, I believe to myself, it’s not dripping with sweat and slobber the best way Slug and Lettuce or Profane Existence are, however the articles are provocative.

It’s good. As a result of when Jen did issues, she did them nicely.

I’m in my twenties. My greatest pal from that infoshop invitations me to launch an anarchist communications collective with him and Jen Angel. I do not forget that identify.

“Clamor, proper?”

“Yeah, she’s acquired her shit collectively.”

She did. They each did, however I didn’t. After a number of years, I fell out of the venture, however I remained buddies with Jen.

I’m within the Bay Space and I want someplace to crash for a pair nights. Final time Jen was in my city, on a talking tour with a just lately launched political prisoner, she provided “Subsequent time you’re within the Bay and wish someplace to crash…”

I hit her up and I get to sleep in a padded and mirrored room subsequent to hers. She has at all times been sort to me, grounded, has had her shit collectively. However that is the journey we actually develop into buddies.

Her home is gorgeous. You may inform how a lot intention and collectivity goes into how the home features. Particularly the kitchen.

I can’t imagine it when she tells me that she was an editor at Most Rock’n’Roll — having been handed the torch from none aside from Tim Yohannan. We had been buddies for a number of years at this level, however I had no concept.

“Most Rock’n’Roll?!”


“You’re punk as fuck!”

“I assume.”

What an angel. We spend a night across the dinner desk swapping dumb punk tales about silly bands. My jaw dropped on the Most Rock’n’Roll reveal, nevertheless it fully detaches once I study that she based the punk home the place I skilled my first kiss with the primary lady I fell in love with: The Legion of Doom. She was the one who gave it that identify.

The subsequent day, I choose my jaw up from the ground so I can munch on one in all Jen’s cupcakes. It’s good, like actually good. As a result of when Jen did issues, she did them nicely.

I’m on the San Francisco anarchist bookfair. There was hella on-line drama for the weeks main as much as it as a result of the bookfair is large — thanks, partially, to Jen’s position within the organizing collective — and the most effective venue they might discover is a former armory belonging to a high-profile pornography firm. Some threatened to boycott, others threatened worse.

The day of the bookfair comes and I catch Jen for a second. She’s busy, I do know it, however she barely appears it. “How are you doing with all of the chatter?”

“Oh, it’s going wonderful. I put collectively a dialogue later to speak in regards to the decision-making that led to us selecting this venue, however frankly, we simply wanted extra space, and so they have been completely happy to have us.”

She’s grounded, relaxed, and appears to be having fun with the occasion — not burdened by duty, simply completely happy to be within the firm of so many comrades sharing, communing, collaborating. I see buddies from far-off and way back. I meet Gee Vaucher and Penny Rimbaud from Crass. I take my mother’s new boyfriend to a efficiency placed on by a few of my buddies and collective-mates, and he’s wowed by it. It’s every little thing an anarchist bookfair ought to be. When Jen did issues, she did them nicely.

I’m at Level Reyes, strolling alongside the seashore with Jen on her birthday. Her new boyfriend sees a pod of dolphins, strips down, and runs into the water to swim with them. We’re each like, “Whoa,” however I welcome it, as a result of the dude is type of, um, enthusiastic, and now we will actually discuss.

She simply appears completely happy. One other birthday, life goes nicely, she’s busy and entertained and fulfilled. I don’t bear in mind her fretting or worrying about her life a lot in all of the instances we talked. She was by no means distracted after we talked, and he or she was purposeful within the tasks she put her effort into.

Jen Angel had an excellent life, as a result of when she did issues, she did them nicely.

I’ll miss you, Jen.

I met Jen earlier than I knew I used to be an anarchist. I already was one on the time, and on some stage, in all probability at all times had been, however I didn’t have the phrases and even realize it was an choice till shortly earlier than assembly her.

I bear in mind her asking me what made me assume I WASN’T an anarchist, and once I stated that I didn’t agree with among the issues that a whole lot of different anarchists thought and did, she laughed and informed me that disagreeing with different anarchists might be the one factor all anarchists agree on.

She helped me perceive that settlement isn’t what makes us anarchists, a lot as how we go about disagreeing, and whether or not we respect that different individuals are nonetheless free to do as they are going to even after we don’t agree with it.

It nonetheless took me some time earlier than I used to be prepared to think about myself an anarchist, however I don’t know if I’d ever have gotten there with out these early conversations with Jen.

Jen and I labored collectively for a very long time, however I’m struggling to search out something to say about these years as a result of regardless of how a lot of herself she poured into the bakery, she was greater than the enterprise she constructed to outlive below capitalism.

Jen needed to stay in a world the place we may bake cupcakes and lovingly share them with our neighborhood as a result of we needed to, not as a result of we have to promote them to earn a residing.

-Elle Armageddon

Jen wasn’t normally the loudest individual within the room or the focus in Bay Space anarchist and activist areas. However she was nearly at all times working behind the scenes to construct, maintain, and promote the essential infrastructure that all of us relied on (and typically took without any consideration). She not often let sectarian infighting distract her from her ongoing work or undermine her long-term imaginative and prescient.

Jen was at all times a champion of the tasks her buddies and comrades pursued, a relentless supply of encouragement and sage recommendation. She was an early supporter of Bloc by Bloc (the board sport impressed by social rebellion that I designed) and arranged among the first playtests of the sport at her home in 2015. Jen’s optimism, perseverance, and consistency ought to be an inspiration to us all. She will likely be missed.

-T.L. Simons

Jen’s legacy to political hardcore punk began as a Midwest emo child who made it OK to be emotional and passionate and political, however most of all, good. She gave the most effective hugs. She was a author’s author, somebody you can sit with discussing which phrase match greatest right here or there. She gave workshops within the Nineties on the Columbus Extra Than Music Fests and Chicago Energetic Resistance, drawing folks in and explaining essentially the most troublesome issues in on a regular basis language. Maybe her largest influence got here by means of publishing indy-media, anarchist and political punk zines and magazines, from the photocopied Fucktooth to the shiny hardbound Zine Yearbook and Clamor. Tim Yohannan even selected her to take over publishing Most Rock’n’Roll earlier than he died. She used phrases to attach us and concepts as sinews for our neighborhood. For Jen Angel, it was at all times about greater than music.

-Eric Boehme

Jen Angel was loving, was cherished, and was love. She exuded a presence which was magnetic and highly effective. It was an invite for like-minded souls to affix arms together with her and collectively attain ahead into a greater world.

As I’m typing, the very writing of this eulogy is unnecessary. Jen isn’t presupposed to be useless. This world isn’t presupposed to go on with out her in it. She is meant to be right here as she was final week, and each month and yr earlier than this one. I began typing this pondering that discovering the correct phrases could be potential, however all of that is fallacious. All I can say is that connecting with Jen was pure hearth.

I’m holding her shut tonight. I’m in shock that each one this has occurred. And I’m hoping anybody studying this feels, amidst the shared ache we’re all experiencing, that you’re not alone. We are going to bear in mind her collectively. And mourn collectively. And we’ll hopefully, on no matter stage we will, assist make the world higher collectively. This could be a becoming legacy. None of this is sensible. However realizing that Jen would need us all related, does.

-Greg Bennick

Jen Angel believed in my work and took it and me critically earlier than I even actually took myself critically. She was at all times doing thankless behind-the-scenes work, however with a watch in the direction of being strategic, in the direction of constructing the higher world we’re preventing for, and particularly, in the direction of constructing one another up, offering venues for sharing concepts and coming to know each other.

-Margaret Killjoy

Over the past 30 years, Jen Angel has been a visionary affect and pioneering participant inside a number of actions and subcultures which have considerably knowledgeable and formed our world within the right here and now, from punk rock and anarchism within the Nineties, by means of the International Justice and anti-war actions of the early 2000s to Occupy in 2011 and modern fights for racial justice, local weather justice, financial justice, and past.

Ryan Only

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