2011 Mountainfilm In Telluride: Tim DeChristopher, "Bidder 70"

[click “Play” to listen to Tim DeChristopher’s conversation with Susan]



Tim DeChristopher Tim DeChristopher could be the poster boy for the 33rd annual Mountainfilm in Telluride. Not only does he embody Mountainfilm’s motto, “Celebrating the Indomitable Spirit,” Tim is the exclamation point on the theme of the 33rd annual event: Awareness Into Action!

Tim DeChristopher was born in West Virginia, but spent most of his childhood in Pittsburgh, PA. He began his college education at Arizona State, but dropped out and moved to Utah to to work in a wilderness training program for at-risk youth. He then attended and graduated from the University of Utah.

Tim was moved to activism after attending the Stegner Symposium in 2008 and then speaking with Terry Root, PhD, one of the lead scientists on the International Panel on Climate Change and winner (with Al Gore) of a Nobel Peace Prize. Months after meeting Dr. Root, a little over three years ago, in December 2008, in the waning days of the Bush administration, a then 27-year-old Tim DeChristopher put it all on the line.

In the face of failing protests, Tim made an 11th-hour decision to halt a midnight sale by Bureau of Land Management of thousands of acres of pristine Utah land surrounding major national parks. Tim was ultimately escorted out of the auction by guards, because, once inside, he had made another life-changing decision: he would do much more than simply raise a red flag. By raising his paddle, Bidder 70 “won” over 14 parcels or about 22,500 acres of wilderness, with no intention – nor the means – of ever sealing the deal with a check for $1.8 million.

Despite the fact the Obama administration ultimately invalidated the auction, Tim was subsequently convicted by a federal court of making false bids on energy leases. He is scheduled for sentencing on June 23. If convicted, Tim DeChristopher faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of $750,000 for his peaceful act of civil disobedience. And he has refused to entertain plea bargains, wanting the jury to determine the legality of actions he described as driven by a “moral imperative.”

“I have no regrets. I have been ready since I took this action to face the consequences,” he declared recently.

In a world of sound and fury generally signifying nothing, Tim’s protest speaks volumes. And what he has to say is not pretty, because Tim is fighting mad.

Addressing an audience of his peers at an April meeting of Power Shift 2011, a rally involving the youth climate movement, Tim spoke about the  inevitable collapse of the world as we know it due to climate change and the (related) twin values of greed and competition that continue to dominate world headlines. He suggested these may not be our very “best values.” Tim challenged his peers to reestablish their priorities, shifting away from comfort, convenience, and career towards doing whatever it takes to effect positive change. He clearly believes we have more than enough power to stop the fossil fuel industry in its tracks. And like fellow activist Bill McKibben, Tim DeChristopher indicates the time for making nice is over. It is high time to try something else.

DeChristopher and Alec Loorz will be on a program at the Masons Hall, Friday, May 27, 1:30-3:30; Tim will also be part of the program which includes a screening of the George and Beth Gage’s documentary of the lease auction and its aftermath, “Bidder 70.”

To find out what Tim DeChristopher has on his mind and more about Peaceful Uprising, click the “play” button and listen to his interview.

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