They purposefully got arrested for blocking the entrance to a power plant, arguing in court that there are times – as in Selma and Greensboro, Alabama in the 1960s – when the greater good of society can only be accomplished by breaking the law.

“We have come to a point,” said their lawyer, Michael Sussman, in his closing statement, “where the perils posed by a plant of this sort cannot reasonably be debated.” The 650-megawatt CPV Valley Energy Center, rapidly nearing completion notwithstanding its involvement in an ongoing federal corruption probe, will be the largest fossil fuel plant in our state. It will increase emissions from New York State’s power sector in excess of 10 percent, according to expert testimony.

A judge found the Wawayanda Six, as the group dubbed itself, guilty of disorderly conduct, a decision they are appealing.

Who are they, and what do they know about the CPV Valley Energy Center that they want us so badly to make public? Dirt spoke to three of the Wawayanda Six, as they awaited the judge’s decision on their case.

James Cromwell: ‘It doesn’t take everybody. It takes a critical mass.’

Academy-award nominated actor, Warwick NY

Why’d you go getting arrested?

This is what I do, wherever I am. I first started out in the civil rights movement, then the anti-war movement, then the Black Panthers, the death penalty issue.

When I came here, because I’ve only been here about three or four years now, I said to my wife: so, do you want to get involved in something? This is what I do. I try to find out what issue needs to be addressed, because I think that’s the responsibility of every citizen, to look in their community and see how they can be of service to the community. Otherwise we’re neglecting other people and by extension, my own personal needs and the needs of people all over the world. Because this issue of ecocide is all over the world.

This power plant is the head of the snake. It is the justification used by the industry to sell a deadly and inimical technology to the public by creating a supposed need or necessity: ‘We need power,’ an argument which is totally spurious. We don’t need the power, that’s been proven.

I’m now involved in this because I happened to go there and because I happened to meet Pramilla Malick, but the citizens of Warwick and the neighboring communities have no idea of the impact of this plant, and nobody’s informing them, certainly not anybody in the local media, which has covered us horrendously.

How do you get through to people who are busy going about their lives?

That is the question. That’s why we did what we did. There was opposition within the community, that this would be incendiary, provocative, it would alienate people. Some thought that we should continue to peacefully gather at the plant and wave back to the people that honk their horns.

I believe in revolution. Now I’m not talking about a violent revolution because that’s a distinction that needs to be made; that’s part of the propaganda in this country.

We are a country that was formed by revolution. Since that time they have castrated this idea of revolutionary change, but there comes a time when conditions are so untenable that people have to resist. I tend to use the term – I like it better even than revolution – “paradigm shift.” Where does the paradigm shift occur? The paradigm shift can only occur in one place: in each human heart.

The mechanisms that the ruling class uses to disempower us, through advertising, through the mass media, through our entertainment, in our educational system, produces, I want to say eunuchs. It produces people who don’t see their individual responsibility for preserving and protecting and nurturing everything around us, the natural world, their communities.

We have to transform ourselves, and when enough people do that, when they are appalled, it will shift. It doesn’t take everybody. It takes a critical mass.

It’s like becoming a vegan.

What made you become vegan?

I went through feedlots in Texas on my motorcycle for what seemed to be an entire day. I could see the slaughterhouse, I could smell it. I could hear the cries. It smelled of death. I didn’t want to be part of that. It took 10 years to wrap my head and body around what it took to be a vegan.

I became a vegetarian and failed to see the contradiction. Oh yeah I’m a vegetarian but I eat eggs, I eat fish.

You know, I wear leather shoes. I know it’s part of the problem. It’s not about being perfect.

I have a friend, Moby, no matter what it is: black tie, whatever – he wears a black suit and the same red Keds. I’ve got to get a pair of those sneakers.

Do you envision the world in 2050?

I try not to. You know there’s a very dark vision that many people succumb to that human kind would not be capable of this transformation that is required, and that only a few will live and we’ll have to start again, or that all sentient life will be destroyed. That’s very painful to contemplate.

So much beauty, so many lives have been given, so much sacrifice has contributed to what we enjoy. For all that to disappear because of our inability to take responsibility is too bleak.

I go the other way, I say, my big hope is the children. I’ve been hoping kids, because of the connectedness through this terrible machine, would say, it’s up to us. The adults are never going to do it. They’re so compromised, misinformed. It’s up to us.

There are ways to do this. For us to have a national strike, to not buy anything that does extraordinary damage (everything we make does some damage). For us to pick and choose. I wouldn’t put Exxon-Mobil gas in my car for anything.

Isn’t it all kind of the same?

Conico is from Venezuela. I’d rather give my money to the Venezuelans.

What are you working on professionally?

I’m in a position as a middle class actor – not to say I don’t recognize I’m very privileged, because I do continue to work and have for many years. But I’m doing Jurassic Park. The fifth.

My character does have this line: We have lost control over our science, and instead of saving humanity it’s killing humanity. It’s about a T-Rex, having the scientific capacity to create something you have no ability to control.

It’s on an island, there are fences, what could possibly happen?

Even in Jurassic Park, there’s an opportunity. Even a 10-year-old can wrap his head around that connection. That connection is subversive.

Every minute we are losing an opportunity to address this. If we tell the truth about it, it will disappear. Tell the entire truth and the false and inimical will disappear. The power is gone.

We can’t take one more ounce out of the ground now. We have no idea of the feedback loops that are evolving, and they cannot be shut off. It isn’t a question of the 46th president, it has nothing to do with that. We need a complete re-evaluation and rededication to the principles of democracy, otherwise there will be no world.

Pramilla Malick: ‘There’s no place to escape’

Co-owner of a family tech company, mother of four, 2016 state senate candidate, Westtown NY

When did you get concerned about CPV?

When I received a letter in the mail in 2011 that said our new neighbor was going to a compressor station, I thought it was junk mail. My husband opened it, demanded I look at it. I read it and was completely taken aback. We live in agricultural district, how on earth could they put an industrial facility up the road from my home?

I started to research and found out that federal process preempted local zoning laws. That’s how I learned that our entirely energy supply in this country is becoming dependent on fracked gas, and we in Minisink are ground zero.

Don’t you get exhausted?

Exhausted, yes. Hopeless, no. I know it’s a matter of time before the absurdity and the insanity of this project and of this policy in general dawns upon everybody, because we are facing a public health crisis right now as a result of these energy choices we’re making.

There was a new article out just the other day about infant deaths in Pennsylvania being linked to fracking. In heavily fracked counties there was a 29 percent increase in infant deaths. In counties that did not have fracking there was a decrease. [Editor’s note: A report, “There’s a World Going on Underground—Infant Mortality and Fracking in Pennsylvania,” published in April in the Journal of Environmental Protection, found that in 10 heavily-fracked counties in northeast PA, the number of infant deaths in the first 28 days of life rose 29 percent, while the overall state rate declined 2 percent. The study, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, suggests drinking water contamination is to blame.]

Those of us who live on the front lines of these facilities, we’re the canary in the coalmines, but it’s just a matter of time before this impacts everybody, because water and air pollution are not confined.

We are fighting for life itself. The impacts are real and they are immediate. We will be seeing the health impacts right away, and the climate impacts.

How do you live lightly in your own life?

We’ve reduced energy consumption dramatically – by 50 percent - just by reducing the heat. It was something my father talked about in the 70s, he would turn down the thermostat and make us wear sweaters. I was so annoyed. I thought he was crazy, as a 10-year-old. He was a scientist. He predicted that if we don’t take these measures we are going to have a catastrophe upon us, and now we are living with those impacts: we’ve had hurricane Irene, Sandy, sea levels rising, coastal cities are getting flooded.

Look, we have a very short window now to turn this around, maybe less than a decade. We need to heed those warnings. They’ve been right in the past, and we can see it before our very eyes.

What are the chances of shutting down this plant?

Yes, I want this plant shut down tomorrow, today, yesterday actually. But the long term strategy is we have to implement energy and climate policy that does not deem human life expendable – life expendable, period.

My mother had a phrase: cut your coat according to your cloth. Which means consume the amount of energy you can produce safely and responsibly. And let’s build our life around that, instead of the other way around.

We waste a lot of energy in this society, a lot. People have lights running all the time. In New York City – this plant, let’s be very honest, is being built to serve NYC, to replace Indian Point – and think about all the energy wasted in New York City. It could be 70 and the heat is running. Buildings are not weatherproofed. There’s a whole lot we can do as a state that can be legally mandated that can greatly reduce energy consumption.

There are many, many ways to go after this project. And I intend to use every single possible strategy and tool I can think of. It’s not only that life in Orange County is at risk, life in New York State is at risk, life in the world is at risk if this plant is allowed to become operational. And there’s no place to escape.

You can’t just sell your house and go away somewhere. Where are we going to go that isn’t impacted by climate change, even if we could escape from the immediate toxic exposure of plant? So I really don’t see any other solution besides hunkering down and fighting.

I have neighbors that have left and I don’t blame them. They made choices that are right for their families. I just don’t see that as really truly solving the problem and guaranteeing my children the future they deserve.

Terri Klemm: ‘Today’s history is not yet written’

Professor of social work at Centenary University, Branchville NJ

Don’t you get exhausted?

There are a lot of legitimate ways to take care of yourself, but personally I think too often we tend to equate self-care only with things like getting your nails done rather with things that actually nourish your soul. Activism often creates a sense of community. It can be joyous, affirming, empowering. I feel more hopeful on the weeks I show up for the Saturday pickets than on the weeks when I miss it.

The realization that today’s history is not yet written is incredibly empowering. We tend to look at the past as if it was inevitable, as if women’s suffrage, the social safety net programs from the New Deal era, Civil Rights legislation, promoting fair housing and voting rights, protections like Clean water actor or more recently, marriage equality or greater access to health care, as if all of these things were sure to happen. But of course the people fighting for these changes didn’t know at the time if they would be successful, and sometimes they weren’t.

If you’re paying attention these days you know that the advancement of human rights, social, economic and environmental justice is not a steady progression forward. We have a lot of work to do, folks.

Working for change is not a one-time event. We need to make it a way of life.

- Quotes condensed and edited from multiple conversations by Becca Tucker