As a firm believer in no-surprise journalism, we showed the film to the main subject, Karlos Edmonds, and asked him a few questions that arose from the film and got his responses. We edited his answers for clarity.
BR: The film has somewhat of a quick ending because we weren’t able to film with you since stay-at-home orders took effect due to the coronavirus. Can you describe the activities that you have encouraged others to take for Earth Day and Earth Week? What are we going to see?
KE: It will be a mostly “corona-typical” week of organizing and promoting activities, with a mix of a few self-taped videos of me on a 50-hour fast. I am doing what I’m calling “Fast and Forage”, to promote idea of growing food in neighborhoods would there be a sudden food shortage, and for sustainability. And I plan to plant a few more peach trees by April 24, arbor day. I’m also going to mention that there will be “Another Earth Day” on August 22, 2020.
BR: One of the things that is mentioned in the film is mental health. What do you think is the correlation between climate activism and mental health? Can you describe your own experiences?
KE: Throughout the climate movement, there is a spectrum of people who believe how bad and how quickly things are going to get apocalyptic. Some of us in Extinction Rebellion believe it’s going to get so bad fairly quickly that our species will go extinct, and our openness to accepting that as a very real possibility for our futures is both incredibly traumatic and also incredibly stressful because with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility. We feel very burdened to fight in very controversial, stress-inducing ways as we participate in proactive direct actions.
BR: Can you describe your relationship with Extinction Rebellion NYC now?
KE: I plan actions with Extinction Rebellion NYC and consider myself to be an adjacent internal and external force. We are still all connected for symbiotic reasons of their network staying active and the relationships already established along the way. Also, I was involved at the very beginning co-founding what morphed into XR NYC, so I feel a sense of care-taking, though I am less than happy with some of what XR international has succumbed to with participation with police, and at times agreeing with eco-fascists.
BR: Why is Earth Day, despite the coronavirus dominating the news, still an important event this year?
KE: Earth Day, especially a unique Earth Day like this year, to montage against all the other Earth Days, is an important day educationally, and as it provides a solid platform at least one day (and the week) a year for humans to have a space and time to speak about taking care of the Earth.
BR: What is missing from the film that you believe should be in there?
KE: More elaboration of the artistic motivations and the ideals of revolution as being part of what motivates this fight for the Earth. The aesthetic reasons for the fight.
BR: Everyone who has seen the film so far is curious and intrigued by your next steps. Do you plan on going back to mass gatherings after the coronavirus stay-at-home orders are lifted?
KE: I plan on continuing the fight for the climate in ways that seem like they will be maximum, and most potentially, helpful. If that includes mass gatherings, which may still be one of the main effective ways of getting the society to change, then I will certainly do that. I think mostly, I will become a tree-planting organizer, using my permaculture background to spread that as I go, too.
BR: You once said to me that you view yourself more as a revolutionary artist rather than a leader, but people still look up to you as a leader. How do you respond when people do that?
KE: I thank them, feeling awkward and flattered, and depending where the conversation goes. I encourage all of us to know we have a leader inside of us. I like leading and being respected for the niche of use I have in the climate movement, but I don’t have energy nor skill to lead the whole way, just within my own little niche in the organizing for social/environmental justice movement.