Monthly Archives: February 2011

Salt Lake City or bust!

There was a storm coming. We had been preparing so diligently for Tim’s trial and our trip to Utah that we couldn’t have even fathomed not being able to get out of Nevada City; so we decided to leave a day early. After some mad packing, quite a few trips down the icy hill on the red saucers, and a lunch of Shepard’s pie, we were just about ready to leave base camp. Around four o’clock, we piled in to Van Diesel (our 15-passanger, bio-diesel fueled, FtG semester van) and took off. There was a slight buzz kill after about three minutes of driving when we realized something had been forgotten at the house and we had to go back. Then, we were on the road for real. We took a short detour to Mother Truckers where Debra purchased a jar of pickles that she said would power her through the long hours of driving. We hit Hwy. 80 just before sunset and the colors were so stunningly beautiful. The oranges and pinks reflecting on the snow blended with the dark storm clouds looming overhead and kept us mesmerized until the sun disappeared. I feel asleep in Reno and was awakened a few hours later in Winnemucca where we made a pit stop and the boys were commissioned to wash the van windows. From there I slept until we rolled into Elko, Nevada, around midnight. We got the last room at a Days Inn and had a restful slumber; Tyler’s sleep talking only woke us up once. This morning when we were discussing his sleep talking, no one could remember what he had actual said. We packed up and hopped back on the highway; with about three hours of driving left. We stopped to take photographs of the Ruby Mountains and ran around a bit in the ice-cold wind. Debra read some of Terry Tempest William’s writings and we talked about how they related to what is happening with Tim and his trial. Much trail mix, dried mango, and cheese on crackers was consumed as we crossed into Utah, listening to the peace and freedom songs that will be sung at the midnight vigil on Sunday night – the eve of Tim’s trial. The miles to Salt Lake City are reducing with each mileage sign. The flat valleys and snow-covered mountains are flying by as Tom fearlessly sets the van on cruise control and points us in the right direction.
-Shona

The Men Who Could

Sure there were skeptics.  Sure there were the non-believers.  There were those who said it couldn’t be done.  But we didn’t do it for them.  We did it for us, for our integrity, for our manhood.  Tyler and I made cookies and we did it as men.  It started several nights ago when the ice cream ran dry, and we longed for the taste of sweetness but there was none to be found.  So we set our minds on cookies. I went down to the computer room and printed out what the Internet said was the biggest, moistest, chocolate chip cookies ever.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to test the claims of sizableness or moisturasity due to the fact that it was snowing lions and wolves, which caused the power to go out and our gas oven to cease working.  We tossed around the idea of putting the cookie dough into a pan and placing it atop the fire to try to bake them but it got too late and we were forced to retire to our quarters having only snow covered in peanut butter to ease our cravings.  We waited patiently bundled in our layers waiting for the opportunity when we could prove wrong the room full of women who had mocked our cookie baking ambitions, and that day came shortly after.  We pounced on the opportunity when a chance came for the men to once again take hold of the kitchen.  Tyler began rounding up supplies and cleaning the kitchen while I returned again to print the Internet’s best.  I searched the web for the recipe that would produce those sizable cookies but I couldn’t find it anywhere.  This frustrated me and I was forced to settle with the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. But this still wouldn’t produce the large cookie goodness we wanted, so I did what any logical sugar deprived 17-year-old male would do. I quadrupled the recipe.  I returned with a recipe that called for 7 ½ cups of flour and 5 cups of chocolate chips and this is when the real mudslinging began from the women.  They thought we didn’t have what it took to make chocolate chip cookies.  They thought that just having a Y chromosome somehow diminished our culinary skills.  We ignored the insults thrust our way and began “creaming” the butter with the sugar.  The butter was as hard as a rock so we baked it for a few minutes and after a little melting and some burned hands we agreed we wouldn’t use that approach next time.  Now that our giant block of butter was soft I added the sugar and Tyler took his potato masher and started “creaming.”  I took the reins and started instructing how to go about the next step in the procedure following the recipe exactly.  Some might say my demeanor was “controlling” or “bossy,” but it had to be done to keep kitchen order.  We added five eggs and dissolved some baking powder in hot water, which sounds unconventional, but it worked.  We got our flour, vanilla, chocolate chips and walnuts all in and whipped out the largest baking pan I’ve ever seen.  After putting the cookies in the oven at 350 we put on our favorite Kid Cudi and got to work baking.  We baked for maybe two hours only stopping to eat dinner and by the end we were almost sick from dough.  The last pan was ready to go in and it looked like it could get filled but instead of making yet another pan of regular cookies I devoted half the pan to one beast.  It took 20 minutes to cook this one and while it was in the oven Tyler and I assembled a great pyramid of cookies with the big one going on top.  The cookies were golden brown and tasted amazing.  After the daunting task of baking had been defeated we sat there for a minute and stared at the tower of cookies and thought: If we men could bake better than anyone ever thought possible, what else could we do? Did we have limits? I don’t think there is really anything women can master that men can’t replicate.  Who knows, maybe the next piece will be about our adventures breast-feeding.

-Forrest Blair

Climate Trial

It was the tail end of the Bush administration in December 2008, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was hurriedly auctioning off oil and gas leases in Salt Lake City.   The land up for grabs bordered on three national parks—Canyonlands National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and Arches National Park.  Outside the BLM office, 200 protesters were opposing the illegitimate sale.  One protester, Tim DeChristopher, was a twenty-seven year old economics student at the University of Utah who was not satisfied with just holding up signs and chanting slogans to no effect. Not having a plan, Tim walked into the auction with every intention of somehow disrupting it. When asked if he was there to bid he said, “Yes I am,” he was given a placard and thus became bidder number 70. He sat in the auction room for a bit not knowing what to do and then it hit him that he needed to start bidding on the parcels. Initially, he just intended to drive up the prices to reflect the true costs of drilling.   Soon, Tim realized he could really protect the lands if he actually won the bids.   With no money to back up his bids but every intention of throwing a wrench into the system, Tim outbid all of the private companies for thirteen straight parcels of land—totaling 22,500 acres worth $1.8 million.  Suspicious, the BLM paused the auction and Federal agents detained Tim for several hours.  During the questioning, Tim gave his reason for disrupting the sales—to derail further effects of climate change that would have been exacerbated by more drilling.  Not buying into his defense, the government slapped Tim with two felony counts—making a false statement to the government and violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act—which could carry a sentence of up to ten years and a fine of $750,000 if he is found guilty.  Tim’s trial has received a great deal of media coverage, and what has been come to be known as “The Climate Trial” has been postponed eight times already.  Finding the Good is heading out to Utah February 24th to attend weekend workshops and civil disobedience training held by Tim’s supporters at Peaceful Uprising.  The students are anticipating the outcome of Tim’s trial February 28th.

-Britney/Shona

Why We Want to Go to the Climate Trial

In a way Tim flipped my view of life upside-down.  I went to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival with the Finding the Good Traveling Semester Program with the assumption that I would be getting to know all of the people that were going to be on the trip, and watch a whole lot of films.  Which we did, but Debra surprised me with all the interviews that were planned for the weekend; it hit me with a BAM, “Tyler, I would like you to interview Tim DeChristopher because I think you will really connect with him.”  After that I scrambled to dig up any information I could on Tim.  Which was very little. I read about what he did at the auction and how the trial was going but knew next to nothing about him as a person.  Throughout the whole fifty-minute interview I was so captivated by him and his story that I only asked a few short questions. After we concluded the interview he came to shake my hand and thank me for MY time. By that point I was completely hooked on how this man sees me on equal footing with him in this ever-evolving fight for our future. After the interview, I had come to the conclusion that this was a man who deserved my support and I half jokingly said we should go and support Tim at his up coming trial in February. Then, much to my astonishment, when Finding the Good started I was told that we were in fact going to support Tim at his trial in Utah.  I was completely floored that they had listened to me and that we were indeed going to be able to help this man who is doing so much in an ongoing attempt to preserve OUR future.

– Tyler

The first time I heard about Tim DeChristopher and what he did was at this year’s Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival. We were going to be interviewing him and I wanted to know about his background and what he had done that was sparking our interest. I was briefly told something about the disruption of an auction, civil disobedience and a trial, before he showed up to be interviewed. What I heard over the next fifty minutes completely blew my mind. It was the first time I had met this man and I didn’t know that much about him but his articulate way of speaking and the way you could tell how passionate he was about what he was doing, really drew me in and made me want to learn more. Tim and what he did is an inspiration for me. To willingly make the choice to sacrifice potentially a large chunk of your life for what you believe in and to hold true to it, is an amazing thing. Just as Tim said, there are not enough people taking action to protect the things that need to be saved. After our interview with Tim at the film festival we were talking with him as a group and someone mentioned the idea of Finding the Good attending his trial at the end of February. It was said with a bit of sarcasm at the time, since we didn’t think we could pull off going to Utah and Baja. As time went on after the interview, the idea of attending his trial turned into an actual possibility as Tom and Debra thought more about it and realized how relevant it was to our semester program. They decided that we could travel both to Utah and Baja, so we will be attending his trial. In the weeks since the program has started we have been intently learning more about the details of Tim’s trial and as each day goes by I get more excited to see how this whole thing will unravel. I am so excited to be participating in the protests, interviewing, reporting, and to really be immersed in the very heart of this trial that has been postponed eight times and that is now finally going to play out.

– Shona

I’m excited to go to Utah. I think Tim’s trial will be a landmark in the environmental movement. It will be interesting to see what tactics Tim’s lawyers will try to use.  His judge Dee Benson was appointed by George Bush Sr., which means he could be quite conservative and may not be very lenient on Tim.  I’m not sure how the fact that the auction was deemed illegitimate will effect how the trial will play out, or if the judge will even let that influence the final verdict.  There will be a jury selection happening in a few days and this can really affect the outcome.  The jury could be very right-winged and most right wing conservatives view environmentalism as something that is crazy and obstructive.  On the other hand, they could be a jury that is somewhat liberal or concerned about preserving the environment and/or the future.  This should be irrelevant because a jury is supposed to go into a trial open minded, but we all have our biases.  Tim’s trial has drawn a lot of attention as the “climate trial” with Tim’s actions showing how we can create change. There will be hundreds of people marching and supporting him, including some big name activists like Terry Tempest Williams, and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. I think the result of this trial will lay the groundwork and inspire even more people to go out and stand up through civil disobedience for what they believe in. Maybe we can create real change.

-Forrest

I arrived in California almost a month ago to be a staff intern for Finding the Good.  I knew we’d be traveling to the Baja Peninsula for about a month, but I had no inkling that we’d be traveling to Utah for a Federal trial.  As Annabelle drove me from the airport, she gave me the run-down on Tim DeChristopher, and had mentioned that FtG had interviewed him at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival for three years in a row.  She said that we were considering attending the trial and covering the outcome, but nothing was set in stone.  Having heard only the shortest summary of Tim and his actions, the journalist in me was already intrigued with the story and committed to going to the trial.  The deeper I dug into Tim’s interview archive footage and researched the case, the more respect I had for Tim and others like him in our generation who do more than spout rhetoric about “living green” while they drive SUVs that get 10 miles to the gallon to Starbucks.  I admit, I used to be one of those people, before I came to Finding the Good.  But Tim set an example the rest of us need to follow if we are to continue living on this planet.  In one interview, Tim was asked whether he was worried about the risks he was taking in breaking the law.  And in his usual composed manner, he responded something to the effect of “My future was already at risk… What choice did I have?  I could live with the consequences of going to jail for a few years, but I couldn’t live with myself if I were given this opportunity to make an impact and I didn’t take it.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of being bombarded with all of the problems in the world and to feel so overwhelmed that you feel powerless to make any difference, let alone a significant “single-handedly saving the world”-type of difference.  Bad news is everywhere.  The media tells us about it.  Politicians argue about it.  Cynics joke about it.  It’s time that we do something about it.  That is why I want to cover Tim’s trial.  Regardless of the verdict, his very actions send a message to all of us; we are all activists in some respect.  The story I want to tell everyone, but especially young people, is that we are all capable of affecting change in some way, and that the whole is only as great as the sum of its parts.  John Wooden once said: “I may be only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

-Britney

I met Tim for the first time three years ago, at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. I was a student in the Young Filmmaker’s Documentary Project, and we had lined up an interview with him. Undoubtedly, after hearing his story from Debra, I was incredibly excited. I pictured him as a bold revolutionary, letting nothing get in the way of the fight to save our future; willing to preserve it whatever the cost might be. Finally, when I actually met Tim, he was everything I thought he was going to be – except that he was also one of the most humble and positive people I have ever met. Unlike many other filmmakers and activists we interviewed that weekend, Tim has always stuck out in my mind because of his unique outlook on the climate crisis, as well as the situation he was in. He was fully aware of the legal consequences that he was to face in court, as well as the more devastating environmental consequences for our planet, if no action was taken. However, he was also well aware that in a time of crisis, one person could make a difference.  Tim clearly articulated that even though at times the world seems bleak, people can rally together by supporting one another in their decisions to have a positive impact on the earth.  Over the next few years, I got to know Tim more in depth by annually interviewing him at the film festival. His message endured, growing stronger and attracting a larger following. As his trial date was pushed back multiple times, he was presented with the opportunity to speak at different events and reach out to more people. During this time, Tim also established Peaceful Uprising, a non-profit organization committed to defending a livable future through empowering nonviolent action. I am overjoyed that people like Tim exist, people who see the world’s potential and are dedicated to shape and mold it into a better place.  Knowing him has inspired me to be extremely conscious about the world around me and to do my best to defend the causes I believe in. I am really looking forward to being part of a demonstration dedicated to supporting Tim’s selfless effort to take a stance on the impending climate crisis.

Luz Brown, Feb 2011

Luz Brown is joining the Finding the Good crew on our trek to Salt Lake City for Tim’s trial. She is a junior at Nevada Union HS and has participated in the Young Filmmaker’s Documentary Project since 2008. The YFDP is a collaboration between Finding the Good and Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

Gold and the Point of Destruction

I’m sitting at Malakoff Diggins and it is simply gorgeous.  There’s a marsh with a layer of ice topping it, and cliff sides painted rusty with minerals.  Bird songs pierce my ears and echo. The valley I’m viewing is beautiful.

But I can’t sit here without feeling sad.  This land is not supposed to appear the way it does.  This marsh, these colorful cliff walls- they should be under the earth.  I’m about 70 feet below where I’m supposed to be naturally.  When I sit here and just feel the earth’s atmosphere around me, I feel its resilience, but I also feel its fear and pain.

What could have made this valley so sad?  Where are all the gargantuan trees which used to stand tall here where I now sit?

Corporate greed.  The very beginnings of it, in fact.  The concept that

we, as powerful, righteous human beings, can own this land.  That because we paid for the ground that contained the millions of dollars worth of gold means we can tear it to pieces until there is virtually nothing left.  Essentially, this land has been raped.

Now this beautiful land is “protected”, which means that gallons of 4th graders can come pouring through here every day and have a grand old time, dressed as miners and pioneers to pan for gold and play around in a “saloon”.  I remember that trip very clearly.  It was cold there, and we lost our rubber ball in a creek.  We drank root beer and played poker and felt very hardcore.  We even panned for gold in water that the staff warmed for us and put gold in.  They put our little treasures in glass vials as souvenirs.  We went home and bragged to all of our friends about the amazing glittery stuff we found and how fun it was to find it.

Needless to say, this is not the real gold miner experience.  After the easily panned gold was gone, corporations had gotten a taste for gold.  Miners then became disposable pieces of a giant machine that used diverted water from rivers to wash away mountains and find gold.  It was not a happy life.

Why do we glorify days like this so much?  Days of ruining the earth to reach our petty goals while many die.  I speak not only of the humans and their diseases, but of the virus that is the human species.  We killed thousands of animals  and trees on our paths to fortune.  What is the point of it?

My mind can’t quite figure out when money became more important than life.  Right now we have depleted our resources for the sake of material wealth and tried to do anything we can to get more of it, without the slightest regard to the earth.  Who are we to say that we as humans have more rights than anything else?  We are just one kind of organism out of billions and billions of kinds of organisms, and as we claim to know what is best we begin killing things in the same breath.  We are not superior to anything else on this planet.

By Amelia Tauber

Photo by Tyler March