Report From Christiania

Seventeen days in a Danish anarchist town

Emily Meg Weinstein
Oct 31, 2017 · 28 min read
All photos by the author.

Waste management is always the trump card of the opponents of anarchy. “Oh, yeah?” demands the smug square, You want to get rid of the government and all the laws? Then, who’s going to take out the garbage?” The anarchist garbage collectors, that’s who.

In Freetown Christiania, the self-governing anarchist town in Copenhagen, Denmark where I spent seventeen days in the summer of 2010, garbage collection is a festive affair. Like the rest of the town, the dumpsters and garbage trucks are covered in colorful murals. But the brightly painted equipment belies the serious mission of the garbage collection collective, one that, like many aspects of life in Christiania, is stated in a manifesto and evolved at weekly meetings.

Mural, featuring “no photography” symbol and Christianian flag (on door at right).

Worker in Christiania’s all-female blacksmith shop.
Christiania “goodie” bag for sale in Christiania gift shop.

The general store in Christiania.

“The more you get to planning, the more stress you have, and the more meetings you miss.”

Thomas apologizes for my being the only woman at the party. I assure him that I feel perfectly comfortable in the all-male environment, and this leads to a brief discussion of the unresolved gender issues in the machine shop.

View into the communal bath house.

“Life is so good here because people are so much more honest when they are naked.”

In the sauna, I chat with a salubrious gray-bearded man who sits in full lotus position on the highest, hottest sauna bench. He must have amazing circulation, I hypothesize. I am certain I would pass out if I even tried to climb up to the top level of the sauna.

A building outside Christiania.

“Enjoy your life.”

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store