:: Article

Rebel, Rebel

By Susana Medina & Roc Sandford.

Jkuls rlĒn ļ susana medina


On Saturday, 6 Jul 2019, at 09:16, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:

Dear Iceberg Babushka

Good to see you at the Galley Beggar Press event…
Wishing you a splendiferous XR Youth Pride

On Saturday, 6 Jul 2019, at 12:52, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:

Thank you, Susana! Hoping I don’t melt too soon!
Pity you can’t come along. You must feel so tired after your trip!

On Wednesday, 10 Jul, at 11:16, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:

Dear Fabulosa Iceberg Diva,

You did melt!!!
XR Youth … and your children, so lucky to have you!
Thank you for your endeavours … I just watched the XR Youth Pride video you posted on FB. Such a great idea to dress up as an iceberg for Pride! The evening green dress is beautiful, you’re so lucky to walk the pink carpet! It all looks so glam … but, yes, sad reality.

… I have a similar evening green dress … We could wear them together 🙂 … Maybe next time we meet? 🙂 You have to tell me about your last days … did you know you’d be performing? … And what about the police liaising?

Here, some progress with editing my novel.
And so, when are we going to meet next? … Missing your stories

Attached the first image I see when I switch on my PC … Jökulsárlón, Iceland, icebergs floating on lagoon, one of my favourite places … Best viewed on big screen [see above].


On Wednesday, 10 Jul 2019, at 11:50, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:

Hey Susana—really glad you like the melting iceberg!—yes would love to go out with you, both in our green dresses. Perhaps the melting iceberg needs a fellow lady berg.

I’m around this eve or tomorrow eve if you are free—come to mine for a cider if you like


On Wednesday, 10 Jul 2019, at 13:37, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:

Hi Roc

Today I’m going to work a little bit on the XR dialogue, then novel.

We need to bring our dialogue up to date, as things are happening so fast … & the Summer Uprising … Project Mushroom starting in five days’ time! … Good to hear about the secret location! Excellent! Wrote post on XR London Group suggesting locations along those lines, but it was probably decided much earlier. It’s the logical thing to do!

… I’ve just discovered that the pink used by XR designers is influenced by Paolozzi’s ‘angry’ pink. … So, we can keep the Paolozzi bit … Not so out of place, after all!

There are a few things I’d like to add to our dialogue … I’ll see where I can insert them …

… Keywords: Mangroves and bamboos … Mangroves can remove more carbon from the atmosphere than terrestrial forests, bamboos do so too, and protect forests … Trees, nature, rewilding … Having fewer or no children, essential to reduce carbon footprint … In a way, we’re talking about the UK having a greener Green New Deal, that is feasible … As part of the transition, cities should declare no driving and flying days … Insert some bad jokes? To prepare for the transition, we should start working on astral projection and quantum travel! … If only cow farts could be converted into benign energy! … … You know? The other day, thinking about the lack of pedestrianised areas in London and the need to transport things and disabled people … I had this vision of a car-free Oxford Circus, just buses, bikes … and rickshaws! I googled rickshaws and in India there are these new aerodynamic, ergonomic design rickshaws, both traditional and electric … They look great! And if they could be promoted as ultracool, and as an alternative to the gym … That could be part of the solution … Anyway! … … It’d be interesting if products carried carbon footprint information. Like with food labelling, you have red, which is high sugar. Or better, and following the logic of the landscape, it could be like with the health warnings and gruesome pictures on tobacco products, there could be pictures of environmental destruction on dirty goods … Pictures of devastating floods, towns of refugees and moribund bears projected on cruise ships, which produce hundred times the emissions of an average European apartment … Pictures of wildfires, burnt ancient trees and charred animals on the receipts from the petrol station … Pictures of hundreds of starving reindeer dead on a field on flight tickets … Close-ups of microplastics in our blood on beer labels and shellfish packets … On some products, there could be a message saying: ‘Instead of buying me, you may want to plant a few trees …’

See you tomorrow!

Miss Cellenea xxx

On 14 Jul 2019, at 11:05, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:
Dear Susana,
The melting iceberg has been cooling off in the Gloucestershire countryside. But she is heading for London Fields presently, and Royal Courts tomorrow (but in the disguise of a police liaison person). Stendhal, on Napoleon’s March to Moscow, said he became a great connoisseur of fires. Likewise, I have become a great connoisseur of police. And set-piece scenes of conflict. Social orogenies. To me it feels like living in Shakespeare. Or maybe Homer—really. Or Kleist. It’s as if the epic has bled through the partition protecting it from the real, and drenched our lives.
Hope we meet! xxx

Requiem for a Dead Planet, Summer Uprising 2019, Photo Credit Susana Medina

On 14 Jul at 15:38 2019, at 19:35, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:
What a lucky iceberg!
Was beginning to think you had melted away! Or your phone!
Would love to go to London Fields … but can’t.
Been editing our dialogue … Will continue today … Have been having, arghhhhh, PC troubleshooting! Strange! It might be sorted now. Fantastic that all these beautiful XR boats will be mushrooming across the UK!
Will be at the Royal Court of Justice tomorrow … How can ecocide not be made law? It’s barbaric! Will message you if I don’t see you …

On 16 Jul at 15:38 2019, at 15:38, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:
You OK?
Did you go to Bow early this morning?
… Five people arrested … I hope you weren’t one of them … Pls answer asap!
… Saw the news. And then, the action pics on Twitter. A few hours later, as you weren’t in the pics, started thinking, of course, Roc was arrested first thing in the morning!!!
I won’t be able to go later to the XR Camp at Water Millennium Gardens. I’ll be looking after my mum from Saturday evening … so, the pressure of doing lots of things before then!

On 17 Jul 2019, at 21:05, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:
Dear Susana,
It was great to speak on the telephone yesterday, to hear how you got paranoid, and wondered what to do, how to find out about arrestees if I didn’t reply at all. Maybe we could include that in the dialogue? The relief when you heard I hadn’t been arrested (or the other way round?)
Head of Hammersmith Council said more or less exactly what we want to hear. Whether they convert that into action is another thing,

On 18 Jul 2019, at 11:35, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:
OK see you Friday… Youth strike & XR march? Well … good to hear about Hammersmith Council declaring Climate Emergency … Argentina has just declared a Climate Emergency too! … xxx
Something hilarious just happened … I realised, by mistake, eBay sent some transparent bra straps I bought to a fellow writer … wrong address…

On 18 Jul 2019, at 16:05, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:
Hammersmith and now Argentina!  Fantastic!
We are back home now taking it easy.  
Tomorrow I think I am going to Waterloo 9ish for a briefing and then travelling in wake of boat to Parliament Square, and should be there all day.  So yes, let’s try to hook up after for a cider and a chat, something to look forward to, and if not, before you take over your mum.  I might go away for the weekend but probably not.  
Was it a ‘male’ writer who got the transparent bra straps?  I hope so!
Roc Xxx

On 18 Jul 2019, at 19:35, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:
Dear Roc,
Yes, a male writer, Richard Skinner. By mistake (long story), my eBay had his address as the primary delivery address … … not sure whether my name was on the invoice. As I didn’t receive the item, I reported it as ‘not received,’ so he’ll be getting another set … but he’s now been warned! Of course, he said it was a surreal moment. But just imagine, it could have been any item!
… Tomorrow I’ll be going to Requiem for a Dead Planet action, then closing ceremony is in Parliament Sq soon after … Maybe we could meet for a tete-a-tete afterwards or … Saturday afternoon? … I’ll look for you during the closing ceremony … message you.


On Friday, 26 Jul 2019, at 19:08, Roc Sandford <rocsandford@xr.org> wrote:

Dear Susana,

Great to hear you’ll be coming along to the Moby-Dickery celebration of Melville.

Here is what I wrote down to say. It’s just a first draft which I haven’t edited, and I may say something else completely. Anyhow assuming David Collard, who is curating, is ok with this, if you wanted to come say something too that would be lovely. We have 15 minutes total—

Hello. David has very kindly offered to donate proceeds from this Evening’s raffle to XR. I think many of the people here tonight were at Finneganight, his recent celebration of Finnegans Wake, so I will try not to repeat myself in my remarks about XR, except very briefly that XR is a Rebellion protesting government inaction on climate disaster and mass extinction, either of which is sufficient to make humans history in an extremely painful manner.

So, the first thing I’d like to say is it’s not very green, hunting whales, is it? But in Melville’s time, it must have felt as if the stock of whales was inexhaustible. We know better now, and the morality has switched. I’m old enough to have seen this happen over my life-time, and I feel it can sometimes be unfair to judge behaviour carried out under an earlier morality, by the standards of our own. So, I won’t talk about whales. But it does occur to me that many of the routine and mundane activities which our own society takes for granted, if they contribute to the climate apocalypse or the sixth mass extinction, will very soon be regarded with the horror, repulsion, disgust and incredulity with which we regard whale slaughter, say, or slavery. As Auden says: ‘Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.’ What he doesn’t say so far as I know is that’s because Evil is us.

Instead, I’ll talk about the baby-blue Extinction Rebellion boat, mascot of the London branch of the most recent Rebellion, which took place a week ago. The boat was called the Polly Higgins, after a tradition of calling our boats after environmentalists. Polly was an open and loving person, a barrister who dropped out in order to sponsor a law of ecocide. And ecocide is the idea that just as you have war crimes, you can define a crime of destroying an ecosystem on which humans depend, and make that too a crime against humanity. Individuals will be liable to prosecution, so that the chairman of an oil company, for instance, will find themselves indicted, just as Albert Speer or Admiral Dönitz were. To become law, it just needs two thirds of countries to ratify it. The Pacific island nations who are sinking as we speak are jumping on board and I’m hoping, in my optimistic moments, that this will happen fairly quickly. Polly suddenly sickened a few months ago, and died during the Easter Rebellion, so it was very moving to have this boat named after her.

So, we had this baby blue boat, the Polly Higgins, and our aim was to use it to block the Strand outside the Royal Courts of Justice, to focus the minds of the legal establishment on the merits of a law of ecocide. How it works is we talk to the police before a protest and tell them what we have in mind. On this occasion we didn’t tell them we had a boat, we said it was a mushroom. They guessed it wasn’t a mushroom, and were running sweepstakes as to what it actually would be. One officer told me he thought it would be an orange biplane, another an open-topped bus with a big number written on the side. One guessed it would be another hot-pink boat, and he was nearly right. They were pestering me like children for the secret. In the event, it was a baby-blue boat, the Polly Higgins.

The police have lost much of the sanction of fear of arrest, which some XR people, given our scary climate predicament, see as a badge of supreme of honour, so the police kind of have to just listen to what we want to tell them. But when they saw a baby-blue boat, imperfectly hidden under a tarp, being towed across Blackfriars Bridge, they had their suspicions, and stopped it. We just said, okay, if we must, we will block Blackfriars Bridge instead, so then they let it go again, and we parked it in front of the Royal Courts. That all went well, and in the end, nobody got arrested. At the end of the day we went in a very slow procession across Waterloo Bridge, which me and Susana here have a soft spot for, and parked-up in Waterloo.

That was all fine until Friday, when there was a bit of a stand-off between the police and the rebels. The assistant commissioner got up at 5.21 am on Friday morning to issue an order that, if the boat (or the massive pink dodo we also had with us) were to join a procession to Parliament Square as planned, it would be seized, and everyone involved arrested. Some rebels were jumping at this possibility. So, both the police and the rebels were angling for the boat, and my job, with a few other rebels, was to hold them both off as long as possible. Because another group also wanted the boat, having been tipped off by Clive, one of the designers of XRs amazing iconography, and this was the National Maritime Museum. So, I spent Friday soaking wet, haggling with police and rebels, playing for time, until, amazingly, a National Maritime Museum curator and marine surveyor suddenly emerged from the pouring rain, checked the boat didn’t have any asbestos for health and safety reasons, and then climbed into the tow truck with one of the rebels and drove away, leaving both police and rebels empty handed. They had moved with incredible nimbleness for a cultural bureaucracy, a sign perhaps of how much they wanted it. So, this revolutionary boat will now take its place in vicinity of Inigo Jones’s Queens House—that revolutionary building. At the last minute, a traffic policeman complained about the stepped mast overhanging the back of the boat being a hazard to HGVs. So, I took off my baby-blue vest and a nimble rebel hung that on the mast. And the boat sailed off down The Cut and out into history, my vest flapping out behind like a sodden Jolly Roger. That all felt important to me—that Rebellion should get mainstream cultural endorsement and so be progressively legitimised, and all the people visiting Greenwich will see the boat, wonder who Polly Higgins was, and maybe bother to find out. As another person very central to the XR art group puts it: it’s a culture war, and if it’s a culture war, we’ve won. Obviously, this kind of cultural legitimation won’t suit our opposite numbers in the fossil fuel and car and aviation industries, and their employees in governments and media, and we are expecting a rougher ride at the next major phase of the Rebellion, which starts on October 7th. All are welcome by the way, and judging how things have been so far, you are unlikely to get arrested if you don’t want to be. It really is worth being part of—like the events of ’68, or the Selma marches—imagine having the opportunity to take part in those! But this is like that, only more, because ‘we are life defending itself.’ So, thank you again David in your generosity in Supporting XR.


On Friday, 26 Jul 2019, at 21:07, Susana Medina <susanamedina@xr.org> wrote:

Hi Pond Rebel,

Here been a bit ZZZZZZ
Glad you enjoyed Philosophical Toys … You finished it so fast! … Merci for compliments, yes, we’ll talk about it!

What you’ve written for this evening is so good … So, don’t know what I could add, given the time limit and short-notice (I know you mentioned it when we met two days ago, thank you for thinking about me!) … … I mainly wanted to talk about ecocide, but you’re covering it … If I do say something at the Moby-Dickery event … it’d be along these lines …

‘… Moby-Dick is about lordship over nature … And now the time has come to transcend this type of lordship … Epigraph stolen from Roc’s dodgy memory-banks … W.H. Auden, the poet, said something like ‘The trouble with fighting evil is it generates evil. And there’s no time to create beauty.’ In most of its actions, Extinction Rebellion creates beauty. It creates fun. XR has a very strong sense of the importance of art in climate activism. In most actions, there are collective performances, and intellectually stimulating talks. Last week, it was the Summer Uprising. We parked the Polly Higgings ACT NOW baby-blue boat outside The Royal Court of Justice. A flag which read MAKE ECOCIDE LAW was raised half-mast by a dancer, while a violinist played music. It was beautiful. Many other beautiful performances and talks followed.

Requiem for a Dead Planet, TELL THE TRUTH, Summer Uprising 2019, Photo Credit Susana Medina

At the Royal Court of Justice, Summer Uprising, Photo credit Susana Medina

A couple of days later, we did Requiem for a Dead Planet, all rebels dressed in black, and there were a couple of skeletons sitting on office chairs reading The Daily Mail outside the offices of The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, London Live, the Evening Standard and the Metro. The demand was for them to TELL THE TRUTH and stop high-carbon advertising (cars, flights, cruises), which is a mammoth contradiction with some of the papers that regularly cover climate change. We ended the action with a die-in. Preparing for this action yielded good results, with the Independent and ITV agreeing to meet up with climate activists. You might not be aware, but it is only due to a lot of pressure, hard work and negotiating from activists, that there is more media coverage, such as ITV’s new regular slot on the 10pm news to highlight the devastating climate crisis happening right now. Of course, Channel 4 is good at covering it. But climate change deniers dominate YouTube searches on global warming. And the coming together of all these ecological movements is leading to an increase in disinformation campaigns and climate science denial data wars funded by big money, namely the sickening oil industry. The pressure has to be kept. We have to broadcast the fact that the public is not being told that climate change and loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats humanity has ever faced, nor about the urgent necessary measures to keep the planet below 1.5 C. We need to rebel for life.

We’re doing all sorts of actions to raise awareness about the issues ruining our planet irreversibly. Anyone can design an action. I would love to see some of you in these actions. Many of them are beautiful, moving. As artists and writers, we can all create art for these actions.

Will be raining around 6.00 …

So pleased the event is in the tin church! Didn’t know they were doing events there … must be recent!

Will wear mythological XR skirt. Will try to get there a bit earlier.

See you there …


This is an excerpt from We Are the Asteroid, We Are the Dinosaurs by Roc Sandford and Susana Medina. We Are the Asteroid, We Are the Dinosaurs is a dialogue about Extinction Rebellion and solutions to the Climate Emergency, conducted since the April Rebellion. A collage or ‘pastiche’ of different sorts of writing, it is a historical snapshot, literary experiment, intellectual exposition, and an act of love for the planet. For another 3:AM Magazine excerpt, please click here.


Susana Medina is an XR activist and the author of Spinning Days of Night, Philosophical ToysRed Tales, and Souvenirs del Accidente.
Roc Sandford is a farmer, environmentalist and writer.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, August 31st, 2020.