Tim DeChristopher: Disobedient Green

Utne Reader visionary


Image courtesy of Tim DeChristopher

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Tim DeChristopher was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.

Tim DeChristopher Online Extras | 2011 Visionaries Home Page 

Tim DeChristopher knew exactly what he was doing when he slipped into a federal auction in Utah in 2008 and bid $1.8 million on oil and gas drilling leases that he didn’t have the money to pay for: He was, in Western parlance, risking his own hide in order to take a stand against fossil fuels and environmental destruction. DeChristopher ended up being sentenced to two years in prison for his brave, bold act, and in the process he became a folk hero to many fellow environmentalists.

One reason is that DeChristopher has resolutely stuck to his principles. He did not apologize for his actions in court, a simple concession that might have spared him prison time, because he doesn’t believe that what he did was wrong. He has been vindicated in a sense: The lease auction was in fact found to be flawed, and the land remains unsullied by drill rigs.

“What one person can do is to plant the seeds of love and outrage in the hearts of a movement,” he wrote in August in a letter from prison published at Grist. “And if those hearts are fertile ground, those seeds of love and outrage will grow into a revolution.”

Tim DeChristopher Online Extras | 2011 Visionaries Home Page 

168-cover-thumb.jpgHave something to say? Send a letter to editor@utne.com. This article first appeared in the November-December 2011 issue of Utne Reader.