The machine behind Tim DeChristopher is churning as his trial, scheduled for Feb. 28, draws near. I caught up with his social awareness group, Peaceful Uprising, to see what they're up to in preparation for the trial.
Amidst what looked like materials for an art show, the group moved methodically through production of materials for its Countdown to Uprising Empowerment Summit. The focus and intent of the group was overarching. While Ashley Anderson, one of the members, pokes fun at many subjects and conducts his interviews on a board room table, the intensity of his idealism doesn't wane.
Uprising members Steve Wood and Cori Redstone lead the visual team with images of clenched fists and stencils of the number 70. To Redstone, the fist resprents a symbol of solidarity and the power of the group. The number 70 is significant as the bidder number DeChristopher was handed when he broke up the 2008 oil and gas leasing auction in Salt Lake. In fact, Wood sees the number 70 as a more universal symbol. "It's about us all having the ability to do acts that are aligned with our conscience," Wood said.
Another unique characteristic abound the impending rally was the group's desire for me to not call it a protest. I asked why the group didn't like the term protest. Anderson explained that the word implies demands and that the upcoming rally was more about social awareness and expression.
So with all the talk about personal freedom, expression and awareness, I wondered if this is the face of social change in a new decade. While the group certainly stands for positive environmental and social progress, do they have the power to create change and not be seen as a novelty? Or, do they share their ideas in a more practical and considerate way than say protest groups of the 1960s?
Wherever you stand on DeChristopher's actions, one thing is clear. He went out on a limb in 2008 and in a way is still on it, waiting to find the legal result of his actions. "I went into it thinking of it as a sacrifice, and I found that it was the opposite, that it's been extremely empowering," he said on Saturday. If the trial on the Feb. 28 proceeds as planned he will have his resolution.