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Don't Frack with Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon or New York!

Photo By Richard Dally III

Yoko Ono is an avant garde artist, musician and author from Tokyo, Japan. Widow of The Beatles' John Lennon, she is also well-known for her philanthropy work with art, peace and AIDS outreach programs. Ono has two children, Kyoko Chan Cox and Sean Lennon. Her recent art exhibit at the Serpentine Gallery in London, "To The Light" was part of the London 2012 Festival in conjunction with the Olympics this summer.

Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, is a jack of all trades. Lennon sings, writes songs and acts. He has released three albums since 1998, Into the Sun, Half Horse, Half Musician and Friendly Fire. Lennon has made some TV and film appearances as well including Moonwalker and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Artists Against Fracking was created by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon in the summer of 2012. More than 180 artists have come together in the last couple months to stop the act of fracking in New York State. Fracking is when gas and oil is extracted from rocks deep below the earth surface. Wells are drilled straight down then horizontally. Water filled with chemicals is then blasted into the rock formation breaking apart the rock and releasing methane and other materials. This process uses 1-8 million gallons of fresh water with every drill.  The chemicals used are not biodegradable so once they're mixed with the fresh water they will stay there forever. Every time this process is done dangerous chemicals like methane are released into the atmosphere.


Introduction by: Meg Zrini

Interview by: Giacinta Pace

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your work with Artists Against Fracking and how it’s been working together as a team?

Sean: We work together quite a lot with music, with her performances, we produce her records together. We put them out on my record label so we’re used to working together. In terms of the Artists Against Fracking, it was incredibly painless actually. We just made a few calls and within two weeks we had a hundred members.

Yoko: Can you imagine that?

Sean: Now we have a hundred and eighty. It was all done through friends and texting and calling friends. There was nothing official because we had no entity. Artists Against Fracking was just a concept, it was just a website. We didn’t have an office to call people. We just called our friends and asked them to call their friends and that's how it came together very quickly.


Q: Do you guys plan on doing anything outside of New York State?

Sean: We’re focusing on New York now because the decision to lift the moratorium or not on fracking is happening this year and so Governor Cuomo is the person who has the power to make that decision. We’re really focusing all of our efforts on getting people to ArtistsAgainstFracking.com where we have an automatic email button where you can email his office. You can call him from there too. We think the more people who express their feelings about preventing fracking in New York State, the higher our chances of influencing Cuomo.

Yoko: Its amazing!  Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. They're not living here, but...

Sean: We have a lot of New Yorkers [too], Robert De Niro and Mark Ruffalo.

Yoko: Lady Gaga. She’s New York.

Sean: Lady Gaga. She is New York even though she’s kind of international these days, she's from New York. We knew her when she lived here.


Q: You talked about people needing to change in your press conference, how do you inspire that change?

Sean: I know a lot of people who didn’t stop eating certain food until they found out that they had diabetes or they had a heart attack and over night they became super healthy and were jogging every day. I think we’re at that point where we’re realizing that the climate is unhealthy and this summer is the hottest in history and the atmosphere is almost saturated with carbon and if we release more carbon or carbon dioxide or methane into the air, it would be a tipping point and suddenly we would have an unrecognizable planet. We’re at the point where we’ve had the warning heart attack and the summers are too hot and we should wake up and start jogging every day.

Yoko: I think that this is the best thing. We have pushed into this so we just have to rush and make sure that we make the change for the good.


Q: How does this cause differ from other artists causes?

Sean: It’s very different. it’s more specific. it’s very complex for people sometimes to get their heads around it. That's why we distilled all the information into a few bullet points on artistsagainstfracking.com because it’s a very complex issue with a lot of science involved. We've tried to make it as simple as possible.  That's what i sort of felt our job was, to simplify.

Yoko: Communication!

Sean: Make the bullet points easier for people to wrap their heads around. Especially in terms of what's at stake which is our water and our air. The thing is people don't realize is that water is more expensive per gallon than oil. It is a more precise resource than oil and we need to protect it. America has a limited amount of ground water unlike places like Columbia which are tropic where it rains a lot.

Yoko: You are very lucky that you're in New York state.  New York state is very good.

Sean: Right. It's famous that New York has the best tap water in the country and possibly the world of any city. That's something that we're proud of and it's integral to the health of our community. It's a major issue. Water's not expendable and neither is the health of our community. It's not worth it. Especially since we're looking at a fossil fuel system that's created global warming anyway so to continue that is a mistake.

Yoko: Artistsagainstfracking.com. You have to send your letter in there to Cuomo.

Sean: That's the most important  right now. We're focusing all our efforts on just expressing our feelings against fracking to Cuomo himself. He's the gatekeeper. He can make the decision. Vermont banned it. Its possible to ban it. It's not inevitable. They're trying to frame it as something that you just have to deal with, like a tidal wave and its not. It's something that we can stop.  France banned it and Germany's doing wind power and we can do it too.

Yoko: They're communicating with the government on both sides so we have to do more.

To help stop the act of Fracking in New York State and send your letter to Governor Cuomo. Visit Artists Against Fracking today!



Since our interview with artists and activists Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, the pair have launched the #DontFrackNY video contest to amplify the call on New York Gov. Cuomo to ban fracking. Ono and Lennon are asking people, particularly those in the creative industry, to use their talents to bring attention to Gov. Cuomo’s continued silence on the issue.

“The #DontFrackNY video contest is about empowering creative people and agencies to help protect our health, air, water, beautiful rural areas and climate from fracking,” said Lennon.

For more details on the #DontFrackNY video contest, see the latest statement from Artists Against Fracking or click Here to submit a video. All videos should be submitted by January 20.