Tim DeChristopher

  • Bloody Sunday and Infinite Potential of Grace

    I recently wrote a review of Andreas Malm’s new book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, which makes a compelling case that in light of the very limited success of nonviolence for the climate movement, we ought to branch out into more violent tactics. While I do believe in the sympathetic sentiments for his argument that I expressed in that review, I also hold those sentiments in paradox with these views expressed below. I invite others to read this reflection in the spirit of knowing that things are never just one way or the other, particularly in the complex work of social change.


    Today is the anniversary of the first march from Selma to Montgomery, otherwise known as “Bloody Sunday.” Reflecting on this landmark moment in the civil rights struggle invites a mix of grief, solidarity, disgust at our violent legacy of white supremacy, and deep respect for the courage of those who resisted that violence. In addition, there is one particular detail of that historic day that calls me into humility and fidelity to the work of justice-making.

    An oft-repeated sentiment among activists is that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Personally, I have definitely critiqued other activists for naively continuing to use strategies and tactics that have failed time and again. But for this aphorism to really make any sense, we have to think of ourselves as isolated, individual actors in a static world. When we look at our ever-changing selves in an interdependent relationship with an ever-changing world, it becomes clear that it’s actually not possible to do the same thing over and over. 

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  • Court Appearance and Planning for Mass Grave 6 Trial

    I appeared in court in West Roxbury, MA today with my #‎MassGrave6 codefendants Nora Collins, Karenna Gore, Dave Publow, Sophia Wilansky and Callista Womick.

    All six of us continue to refuse a plea bargain and are eager to take our case to a jury trial. Our next court appearance date has been set for September 6th.

    Personally, I'm excited for a jury trial in which everyday people can decide if our actions were justified after hearing all the evidence of our government's inability to stop Spectra's assault against both West Roxbury and our global climate. Every elected official representing West Roxbury opposed this project, but they have been unable to stop it, so this is a clear case where civil disobedience is necessary to protect our communities.

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  • published After Bidder 70 - A New Chapter in Home 2016-04-25 08:44:34 -0400

    After Bidder 70 - A New Chapter

    Bidder 70 Poster



    This week was the official end of my federal probation, after seven years of being under the control of the Department of Justice.  This release marks the end of the Bidder 70 chapter of my life and feels like the beginning of a new chapter for my work.

    At this momentous turning point, I want to share this reflection on the direction of my activism and to ask for your support.

    A lot of my work still involves civil disobedience against the fossil fuel industry, such as the training and strategizing that I’ll be doing May 7-12th at the Keep It In the Ground action camp in Colorado.  But I’m also engaging in a variety of efforts to deepen the spiritual resilience of all of us who do this critical work for climate justice.  I’ve been trying to catalyze that conversation in faith communities, secular activist communities and with students and young people. 

    Tim DeChristopher speaks on behalf of the Climate Disobedience Center at the Keep It In the Ground press conference in front of the White House as a coalition of more than 400 organizations and leaders deliver a historic letter to the White House calling on President Obama to stop new federal fossil fuel leasing on public lands and oceans in the United States.

    I’ve found myself in a uniquely independent role in the climate movement, in part because of my unusual path to influence through an individual act of high-profile civil disobedience.  I work with organizations and institutions like the Climate Disobedience Center, Unitarian Universalist churches, and the Keep It In the Ground campaign, but I’m not working for any of those entities.  That unique role allows me to push the boundaries, experiment, take risks, and make mistakes. 

    I think the foundation of a social movement needs to be in organizations and institutions, but I think there is also a critical role for a few independent movement catalysts who can say and do the things that established groups cannot. I have found myself in that position, and I think it is important that I can keep serving that role. 

    That’s why I need your support.  I’ve decided the best way to fund my work and maintain my integrity as an independent activist is to build my own network of supporters who can contribute $5, $10 or $20 a month so I can continue to push the boundaries of this movement.

    A lot of my efforts at empowering a culture of resilience and resistance don’t fit into traditional funding structures.  Sometimes the truths I need to speak don’t have direct “deliverables” or “measurables,” but need to be spoken anyway.  It has always been important for me to maintain my accountability to the broader climate movement, to my principles, and to future generations, rather than to funders. 

    An independent network of sustainers allows me to pursue whatever opportunities or engagements I think are going to be effective at moving us toward a more just world, regardless of whether the communities I’m working with can afford to pay me.  

    I know that requires a certain level of trust in my judgement and integrity, and I hope that after seven and a half years in the spotlight, I have built up enough folks who trust me that I can sustain my work.  If you are one of those folks who trust me to do the work that I am called to do, please sign up here to pledge your support.

    Your donation will be considered a gift, and received with gratitude.  It won’t be considered a purchase or investment to be received with obligations.  I deeply appreciate any money you can donate, but not so much that I would prioritize the interests of those who give money over those who are just being born into a broken world. 

    If you know of other folks who are familiar with my work and would be interested in supporting me, please share this post with them and encourage them to donate.  

    Every bit of support helps. Most important is to know if you value my work enough to help fund it.  If so,  please become one of my monthly sustainers. 

    Thanks for reading and for being a part of this journey with me.

    This post was adapted from my Friday email briefing for April 22, 2016. To receive weekly email updates on my work and activism subscribe here.

  • published The Paradigms Lying Around in Home 2015-07-07 11:42:13 -0400

    The Paradigms Lying Around

    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.

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  • The Unusual Occupation at Utah’s Book Cliffs

    There's an excellent article in the January 19, 2015 special issue of High Country News on the future of environmental ideas:

    The Unusual Occupation at Utah’s Book Cliffs in High Country News
    by Cally Carswell

    "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."

  • published Subscribe 2015-03-17 12:07:47 -0400

    Subscribe - Get Updates from Tim DeChristopher

    Subscribe to receive email updates on my work and activism.  After you signup, consider becoming one of the sustainers making my work possible.  Thank you.

    - Tim 


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  • Lannan Foundation Presents Tim DeChristopher with Terry Tempest Williams

    From the Lannan Foundation:  Tim DeChristopher talked about his act of nonviolent civil disobedience in which he disrupted a government oil and gas lease auction in 2008 in order to protect fragile lands in southern Utah from long-term damage, an act that led to his imprisonment for 21 months. The talk was followed by a conversation with Terry Tempest Williams. He then traveled to Chicago and on September 27, 2013 continued the conversation with Terry Tempest Williams at the Chicago History Museum, the video of which may be found below.

    These events were part of the Lannan In Pursuit of Cultural Freedom series.

    Tim DeChristopher with Terry Tempest Williams, Talk, 25 September 2013


    Tim DeChristopher with Terry Tempest Williams, Conversation, 25 September 2013


    Tim DeChristoper with Terry Tempest Williams, Conversation, 27 September 2013

    Recorded at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

    Additional photos of this event are available on Flickr.

  • published Flood 11 Statement in Home 2015-03-09 16:26:28 -0400

    Flood 11 Statement

    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.

    Photo cc midianinja/Flickr

    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,

Activist working for fossil fuel and prison abolition. Featured in award winning @Bidder70film. Founder, Climate Disobedience Center @ClimateDisobey.
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