If you’re headed to the Hassle Flea this Saturday — and I assume if you’re reading this you will be! — please do not hesitate to stop by the Extinction Rebellion booth. XR’s an international organization, a movement, that actively unionizes and mobilizes local communities to fight against the multitude of injustices that define our climate emergency as we know it today.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan Lemont who’s a volunteer with XR who will also be available to chat at the flea! She is extremely knowledgeable and kind, and she came from a similar place of communal & global unrest. So if you’re just as disgusted with the negligence turned against our climate policy, regulations, and big money privileges, sign up for their email list, check out the Massachusetts chapter website, and talk to XR this Saturday!
Boston Hassle: Susan, thank you so much for your time! I’ve always admired the rigidity & realism that XR brings to the fight towards climate justice and against economic disparity. It’s crucial that we begin thinking about climate justice as it influences not just our political state but our ability to practice sustainable living & sustainable art. That being said, we’re ecstatic to have the Extinction Rebellion Boston chapter represented at the flea!
Why don’t you start off by giving us the basics of XR. What’s the organization’s mission and pillars that are most central to your community mobilization efforts?
XR: Extinction Rebellion Massachusetts is an autonomous chapter of the international grassroots movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), which started in London in 2018. The purpose of XR is to tell the truth about how dire the ecological and climate crisis is and spark immediate action in order to prevent complete climate and ecological collapse. We aim to mobilize people around the world to utilize nonviolent direct action to demand that governments take radical action to avert societal collapse caused by widespread climate and ecological disaster, and to protect front-line communities, biodiversity, and the natural world. This movement is non-political, and unites all of humanity behind a singular goal of a just and livable future for all.
Learn more about our principles and values: https://xrmass.org/about
See our demands here: https://xrmass.org/demands
BH: How did you come to be involved with XR?
XR: Mostly I work in social media and information technology infrastructure. I also enjoy protesting and manning outreach tables at events.
Last year, the climate crisis was upsetting me. So, I started taking part in a weekly Friday protest at Alewife last spring. Members of Extinction Rebellion joined us and I was a member of the Boston chapter by August.
BH: What are the most important facts to know about our climate emergency?
Check out the IPCC site for statistics from The Task Group on Data Support for Climate Change Assessments. As a committee selected of vetted members, they help to inform and guide the IPCC’s Data Distribution Center on all segments of climate research data. Take a look through their data site to get access to the databases they have supported.
BH: Tell me more about XR Boston specifically: What are your big events coming up that we should know about & be attending? What kind of community organizing and activism is XR Boston involved with in the city? How can we get involved? Is there a place that people can reach out and learn more?
XR: We have some big events coming up in April and another in May (the action in May will be part of a global call to action from the international XR team based on London).
In general, we offer NVDA trainings to teach people the power of direct action in order to demand that government and corporate powers take immediate and urgent action to stop burning fossil fuels and move to renewable energy sources.
We participate in ongoing campaigns against some of the biggest culprits supporting the fossil fuel industry. This includes four U.S. bank that are the top banks in the world for continuing to fund fossil fuel projects: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America. We also campaign against BlackRock, Liberty Mutual, Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil who continues to allow lawless and unregulated burning of the Amazon, and any other fossil fuel projects that put indigenous land and populations at risk of violent exploitation.
Locally, we work with Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS), demanding that the MassDEP and Gov. Baker and his administration stop the construction of the dangerous and polluting fracked gas compressor station in densely populated Weymouth.
Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to join XR as long as they are devoted to peaceful non-violent action. To learn more and sign up, please visit us at: https://xrmass.org/welcome/
Follow us on twitter and instagram @xrboston and facebook.com/ExtRebMA/
BH: Even though in many ways, climate activism transcends politics, the crisis is often ultimately controlled by corrupt processes and unregulated systems that promote for-profit destruction of our ecosystem. In what ways does XR work institutionally with other policy-focused organizations in pursuit of your mission and XR’s demands?
XR: We work closely with other local environmental actions and social justice groups in and around the Boston area, including 350 Mass, FRRACS, and Youth Climate Strikers. We also stand in solidarity with all XR chapters around the globe.
BH: What can we expect to see at the flea? What else do you want Hassle readers and flea attendees to know about XR and our climate emergency?
XR: Everyone is invited to join us! Although we are known for civil disobedience, we have something for everybody. Extinction Rebellion is more of a worldwide community than a hierarchical organization. In Boston, we have groups that focus on art, meditation, media, actions, outreach and singing just to name a few. Sign up for our mailing list at xrmass.org.
A huge thank you to Susan Lemont for contributing to this interview. Please keep this conversation going amongs family, Hassle folk, friends who claim to not care about politics, family, and our local community! We’re very proud to have climate justice representation at the BH Flea but, as we all know, change is about action.