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What Will Inspire You to Take Action? 5 Earth Day Photos You Should See

What will it take before we have a critical mass to move us toward a sustainable future?

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“There are plenty of horrors to make you weep this Earth Day,” Jim Hightower wrote this week. “But tears don't bring change. That comes only from the determined effort of ordinary grassroots people to organize, strategize and mobilize. The good news for our Earth and our own existence is that such people are on the move in every part of America. They're confronting the greedheads and boneheads, creating effective energy alternatives, forging fresh and sensible polices, lifting heads out of the sand -- and producing the change we must have.”

Today is a good day to take stock of the things that keep us going: the people who inspire change. Here are five images I’ve seen lately that are reminders of such things.

1. What Love Looks Like

Photo Credit: 
Ed Kosmicki/ Yes! Magazine

(Photo by Ed Kosmicki/ Yes! Magazine)

Today, after serving two years in federal prison, Tim DeChristopher was released. You may have heard of him, “ Bidder 70,” and how he disrupted an oil and gas lease auction, but perhaps you don’t know the whole story, or what motivated him. “When I jumped into that auction, I had no idea who would be there to catch me,” he said. “But people came from many different paths to form this activist community that holds one another.”

The activist community he helped to start, Peaceful Uprising, wrote, “Tim urged activists to take the long view, and be ready to go to jail to defend their principles and their cause. ‘We don’t need to figure out how to keep me out of jail,’ Tim explained to a concerned Santa Fe supporter. ‘We need to figure out how to get more people  into jail.’”

So what motivated Tim? His action wasn’t premeditated; it was an act of courage and love. Peaceful Uprising explains:

While Tim was taking his final exams at the University of Utah, advocates for Utah’s wilderness like Robert Redford and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance were attempting to bring attention to a controversial auction of Utah public lands, orchestrated by the outgoing Bush Administration. The auction included parcels adjacent to cherished natural resources like Canyonlands National Park. SUWA and other regional advocates brought a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in efforts to halt the auction pending further review and public comment. Through no fault of SUWA or their allies, the lawsuit could not settle the issue prior to the auction. On December 19th, Tim finished his last final exam and took TRAX to the protest that SUWA and others had organized outside of the auction. On arrival, Tim decided that the protest needed to be moved from outside of the auction to inside, where the action was happening. With no prior plan of action, Tim entered the building where the auction was held and approached the registration desk. When asked if he was there to bid, Tim made a quick decision. He registered as Bidder 70 and entered the auction.

Tim intended to stand up and make a speech or create some other kind of disruption. Once inside, however, Tim recognized the opportunity to stop the auction in a more effective, enduring fashion. He sat quietly with his bidder paddle lowered, until he saw a friend from his church openly weeping at the sterile transfer of beloved red rock lands away from the public trust and into the hands of energy giants. It was then that Tim decided to act.

At first, Tim simply pushed up the parcels’ prices (some starting as low as two dollars per acre, and were ultimately sold for $240 per acre). Once almost half of the parcels had been sold to oil and gas companies, Tim felt he could no longer bear to lose any more public lands. Tim bid on and won every subsequent parcel, until he was recognized as an outlier and escorted from the auction.

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