You are on page 1of 2

The Documentary Dilemma

I met Greg Capillo through my older brother; both of them had attended Western
Kentucky University in Bowling Green. I was happy to interview him at his home near
downtown Lexington, KY, the place I too had called home for my entire life. Greg was 27
years old, with a Bachelors degree in philosophy and mass communications as well being on
the Central Committee of the Kentucky Worker’s League (KWL). He was also still involved
with another grassroots, citizen’s organization called Kentuckians for the Commonwealth;
however, we chose to focus on his current work with the KWL and other issues for this
interview.
I really appreciated Greg’s perspective on activism and was excited to interview him
for my project. To me, his mix of experience and knowledge with grassroots movements
really fell in line with what I wanted to learn more about and share with others. Through
speaking with him, my hypothesis for this project that the road to activism, like success, is
long, winding, and filled with many unexpected turns gained more traction in my mind. Greg
originally went to school for print journalism but said that he abandoned his budding career
with the realization that the kind of informative, progressive writings he cares for cannot live
easily within the confines of popular media and the institutions of journalism that we have.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degrees in 2010, he began work as a professional
organizer with the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. But again, he felt unsatisfied with
the effectiveness of his efforts. Tasked with collecting the stories of citizens who were
effectively being poisoned by the actions of companies and trying to speak with
congressmen and women about these issues, it became clear in his eyes that the officials he
spoke with were less than willing to make any changes. In some cases, Greg felt that they
were complicit in the gross injustices that their constituents were facing. Through working
and gaining more experience with various groups and various causes, he founded the KWL
and now is heavily involved with helping to stand up for the interests of the less fortunate
against injustices.
I particularly liked the part of our interview which touched on, what Greg called,
‘organizing the unorganized’. In fact, when asked if he considers himself an activist, Greg
began by saying that he is more interested in organizing. A big part of the reason that I
chose to do this project was to really hear the voices of activists and explore what makes so
many different people act in a way that connects them all. Before I had gotten involved with
social and political issues, I went through a period of almost continuous documentary
watching. After exhausting the resources of Netflix, I found even larger pools of informative
movies that I could watch. At first I felt interest, then passion, then excitement that maybe I
could make changes. Eventually I ended up feeling frustrated and cynical. After learning so
much in the relatively short time of about a few months, I felt as though there were too
many problems in the world to tackle. Greg spoke about those people, exactly as I was, who
felt impassioned after learning about the world but who also felt powerless. What resonated
with me is that he was identifying exactly my own experience. Those who aspire to be active
and work in a way that helps to heal the world should also aspire to organize the
unorganized. Greg also used a term that I appreciate. When describing the way that activists
tend to only network with other activists, so enthralled by the very idea that there are others
who feel as strongly about issues as they do, he equated it to a ‘Dark Carnival’; the dark
carnival, busily humming along with its own agenda, but which is also invisible to anyone
outside of it. There is no amount of inward facing activity that can really be as effective as

reaching out to others who may not know anything about your cause, but who can be far
more helpful that another activist organizer that is ‘equally as tapped for time as you are’.
After our interview was over, I was very pleased with what I had learned from Greg. It
was raining when I left his home and I asked for a plastic bag to cover my laptop and camera
to walk to my car.

Related Interests