October 14, 2020
Cory here with Extinction Rebellion Boston ("XR").
How are you doing?
Fall is such a time of reflection. It can feel really heavy, but sometimes it can also be energizing. This month I interviewed Jason Rudokas, another artist/maker involved with XR, about an action he took part in on 8/10. A small team scaled the CITGO sign during a Sox game and unfurled a banner over it reading "CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW".
XR Boston's official statement: www.xrmass.org/news/xr-bostons-citgo-action
C: What was the inspiration for this action?
J: We wanted to illuminate the climate crisis in a major way and cast it as an issue around justice. The Citgo sign is a beloved landmark, but a landmark to a huge oil company. People venerate that without really thinking about how destructive the fossil fuel industry is.
C: Your group anticipated being arrested. What made you take that risk?
J: I think we have to model the attitude that we are willing to risk our freedom to accomplish the radical change our society needs, even though we are very likely already lost. That can move people who care about the world to really begin seeing and constructing a whole new society because that is what it will take.
C: This action has received more media attention than any previous XR action in the US. Why do you think that is? What has the response been like?
J: Short-term, it was a huge feat to accomplish and the sign is iconic.
I think the lasting impact has been to inspire our chapter and others to press onward. We need to do stuff like this continually. The mainstream media should be covering the climate crisis as headline news every day. It looks very likely that we are going to get "mode locked" into a hothouse earth, meaning the world will enter a physical state that can not be reversed no matter what we do, period.
C: That's terrifying, and also really abstract. What do you think is needed for this to seem real to people?
J: It's hard, especially here. I've lived in a "spaceship" my entire life, but through education I have come to see how the climate crisis is already killing people, and those people are the most vulnerable. That makes me cry because our systems were designed to do that. I think civil disobedience is what we need to get people to take this seriously. We need to get lots of people to refuse destruction.
C: You're a member of the Arts Working Group within XR. How do you think art can help?
J: Art helps you imagine something beautiful and then make it. That's good practice for what we need to do for the world.