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Extinction Rebellion: Art As A Form Of Momentum

By Cory for Boston Compass (#126)

August 20, 2020


This is Cory with the Arts Working Group of Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR Boston). We're an environmental activist organization demanding truth-telling, immediate action, the creation of citizens' assemblies, and climate justice from those in power.

How are you?

I've been in a pretty big lull, honestly. Thinking about small actions as energizers for larger ones is helping though. Inertia is the property of matter wherein "objects in motion want to stay in motion, objects at rest want to stay at rest." Moving a giant rock is tough, but once you get it going, it's easier to keep it moving and picking up speed. Put another way, momentum.

Art is a form of momentum-building, a "small" action or statement that makes bigger things possible. I know some artists who claim art isn't action. But punching a Nazi doesn't end fascism, you know? Protest art works by grabbing attention, telling stories, and disrupting the everyday. It makes social change easier to attain by loading the air with the message.

Last month XR Boston staged a tax day protest outside of the Federal Reserve downtown. The goal was to draw attention to recent federal bailouts of fossil fuel industries. In a street theater performance, billionaires battled wildlife and young people for control of a bright pink boat that represented humanity's future course. Youth activists from the Sunrise Movement overtook the moguls and spoke to the crowd about the urgency of climate change.

Here's a recap of the action: And links to collaborators: Sunrise Movement: & BABAM, a HONK! style activist street band who lent brass to the event:

And this is the pink boat in turquoise:

Photo credit: Sara Singh

This was a huge effort but authored by many people with different work and roles. It went amazingly. Speaking from within the movement, we needed this. One of COVID-19's many devastations has been the slowing down of climate resistance work. My participation here was minor, but I still got a surge of relief, joy, and pride seeing it unfold. Things feel a bit more possible now.

If you're feeling stuck, my personal advice is to do one thing first. Maybe play a protest album while washing dishes: Guante and Big Cats' album War Balloons. Or join an anti-racism rally: Search "calendar" on for upcoming actions. Check out Dorchester-based Alternatives for Community and Environment: XR Boston has events coming up too, including a new "Emergency Everywhere" campaign: punch a Nazi if one is nearby.

You don't have to shift the world all at once, even if it feels like it. That's probably why it's called a movement ;)

In love and rage,

Check out all the art and columns of August's Boston Compass at


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