I recently attended a conference in Claremont, CA called Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization. The gathering had over 1500 very smart people who spend a lot of time thinking about the fundamental shifts necessary in our society. Over the course of the weekend, I ended up having a very similar conversation with several different people, so I figured it is worth sharing that conversation here.
The context of these conversations is the common and vital question of what will be necessary to awaken more people to the fundamental flaws of our industrial civilization and motivate them to make drastic shifts. The frequent assertion is that people will only wake up when they are hit by a serious disaster that rattles them out of their apathy. As long as people are at least minimally comfortable, they will hold on to their current paradigm until some kind of hardship makes it untenable.Read more
Friends, I’m excited to share some new developments for my activism. This year I’m taking steps to get more serious about communicating my ideas, integrating my public speaking with my organizing, and staying connected with the amazing people I meet doing this work – including you.
New Official Website
I’ve launched this new website to serve as the hub for my work and activism. I’m working with my colleague, Peter Bowden, on communications. I’ll tell you more about Peter in a later post. For now, just know that he’s helping me take my communication to a new level – this site, lead admin on my Facebook page, and covering events.
Most important, through this site we are building a new community and network to support my justice work long term. I hope you’ll join us.
Here’s the story…
Grounded In Community
Recently my work has included supporting others who engage in civil disobedience; helping strategize, mobilize and fundraise for various efforts; and constantly trying to deepen our understanding of what it means to stand up for climate justice.
I think I bring a unique holistic perspective and independent truth-telling to this work because my accountability is to a movement and a set of principles rather than to a specific campaign or an NGO. But this turns out to be a rather lonely kind of activism.
I appreciate my role in the climate movement, but also recognize that I can’t continue as an independent voice and leader on my own. I need my to be anchored in community. And that’s where I need your help.
Independence & Dissent
Will you help me build a community and network to support my work as an independent voice and leader?
The standard practice for our movement has been to appeal to a few foundations of concentrated wealth, set up nonprofit groups, and hire staff. But that model has left big gaps of truths that remain unspoken and risks that remain untaken. It has created accountability to a tiny group of funders rather than accountability to a movement. I operate within and among many of those organizations, but I try to maintain the independence to say the things that others won’t. If we are going to have a movement that speaks truth to power, we need to rethink how we fund that movement.
If you can donate $5 or $10 a month, I can do the climate justice work that I am called to do regardless of whether there is a paycheck attached.
What does this work look like?
Excerpt from the press release:
Planet Defender Award - Grassroots Activist - Tim DeChristopher
The 2015 Planet Defender Award (Grassroots Activist) recognizes Tim DeChristopher for his profound acts of civil disobedience to garner awareness and drive action on behalf of environmental protection and climate justice.
DeChristopher believes deeply in the critical role of civil disobedience in social movements throughout history and in the importance of employing those tactics in today's environmental movement. His acts of civil disobedience have garnered national attention for government auctions of public land leases in the final days of the Bush administration as retold in the award-winning documentary, Bidder 70. In addition to his work on advocating for climate justice, DeChristopher has expressed the need for employing civil disobedience to end mountaintop removal mining in his home state of West Virginia.
Grassroots activist, Tim DeChristopher, said, "I'm honored to receive this award alongside such awesome visionaries as Xavier Rudd and Hunter Lovins. Every day there are more of us standing up for climate justice, and we will continue to rise up in the face of the these challenges."
The following is an invitation to participate in the GROW climate justice training for UU Young Adults this Summer in Chigaco. Cross posted from the UU College of Social Justice website.
Learn more and apply here.
In the time that I’ve been a part of the climate justice movement, I’ve seen great strides forward in our organizing. I’ve also seen some important gaps that need to be addressed in order to deepen our work and support the people doing it. As activists we need to develop our own spiritual practices and shared spaces that ground us in our deepest principles and honor ourselves as whole people. We need ways of acknowledging the increasingly hard truths of the climate crisis without clinging to the fragile optimism that everything will be okay. We need the boldness to confront our privilege, engage with more marginalized communities, and empower diverse leadership. Of course we need to be constantly refining our organizing skills and developing creative new methods. And last but certainly not least in my book, we need more singing!
These are some of the factors that drove me to Harvard Divinity School as the next step in my activist path. As part of my field ed there, I’ve been working with the UU College of Social Justice to develop a climate justice workshop for young adults as part of the Commit2Respond initiative. We’re calling it GROW Climate Justice, the Grounded & Resilient Organizers’ Workshop. I’ve pulled together some of my old friends and allies to facilitate 5 days of trainings, exercises and dialogue about what we as young UUs can bring to the climate justice movement.
If you share my commitment to working for climate justice in spiritually grounded ways that reinforce our UU principles, please join me in Chicago this summer. I’m organizing GROW Climate Justice because I think powerful things can happen by bringing great young people with shared values together with some of the deepest thinkers in the movement. We want this to meet your needs, so let us know in the application what you’d like to get out of this workshop. This is about building our movement, so there will also be plenty of time built into the schedule to collectively figure out what kind of network structure and resources will best support our work moving forward.
I hope to see you in Chicago!
Half way through the April 2015 Harvard Heat Week, Tim DeChristopher offered this inflammatory talk calling out hard truths about Harvard. This was part of the Faith Day rally and was intended to help fire up the Divest Harvard blockaders and their supporters after days of protest.
This article was first published in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Winter/Spring 2015 (Vol. 43, Nos. 1 & 2).
Recently, there has been a growing discussion of climate change as a moral issue, both in academia and in religious communities. This past fall I spoke at three religion and climate change conferences in as many months, including a conference at Harvard Divinity School, “Spiritual and Sustainable: Religion Responds to Climate Change,” and in June 2015 I will join many global thinkers at a process theology conference on climate change in Claremont, California. The highly anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change will undoubtedly contribute and bring attention to this discourse.
This Summer, I am leading a week-long climate justice training for Unitarian Universalist young adults called the Grounded and Resilient Organizer’s Workshop. This is part of my field education for seminary and is part of the national Commit2Respond campaign.
If you share my commitment to working for climate justice in spiritually grounded ways, there are a number of ways you can help advance this work:Read more
The following is my statement of support for the Flood Wall Street activists who, after their arrest, refused a plea deal and moved forward with a necessity defense in the New York courts. This message was read to the defendants at their trial lunch break by Rev. Billy.
Flood 11 Statement of Support
By Tim DeChristopher
March 1, 2015
The Flood 11 represent the cutting edge of the climate justice movement, and they deserve our respect and support. As part of Flood Wall Street, their action highlighted the important systemic connections between capitalism, the corporate control of government, and the climate crisis. They helped focus national attention on the structural nature of a crisis that demands revolutionary structural changes. Their action used people power, creativity, music and beauty to nonviolently send the message that to truly combat climate change, we need to dismantle the power structures of oppression.
"It is especially encouraging that the #Flood11 did not let their civil disobedience end with a mere photo-op. They are taking their case to trial to continue demonstrating the necessity of drastic action to respond to the climate crisis. Since our corporate-controlled political leaders have failed to hold Wall Street and fossil fuel executives accountable in court for their “disorderly conduct” on a massive scale, the #Flood11 are risking their own security to force this issue into the courtroom. In a world where a tiny elite can prevent the solutions necessary to defend our civilization, there is nothing disorderly about committed nonviolent resistance to that economic and political injustice. The very necessary actions of the #Flood11 are an example to our movement, our leaders, and our society, and I hope more will follow in their footsteps.
Sending my love to you and them,
There's an excellent article in the January 19, 2015 special issue of High Country News on the future of environmental ideas:
"Keystone XL helped galvanize the national climate movement. But there are mini-Keystones all over – smaller pieces of less politically and environmentally significant infrastructure that are the foundation for a new rush on fossil fuels right here at home, including tar sands. Grassroots activists have taken notice, loudly opposing developments of all sizes and consequences."
Activist Tim DeChristopher speaks at the Massachussetts State House during the #DivestMA Global Divestment Day event on 2/12/15 organized by 350 Mass. For more on Global Divestment Day visit http://gofossilfree.org.Read more