DeChristopher and Williams Bring Environmental Discussion to Clark Community

Monica Sager, Scarlet Staff

A New Earth Conversation hosted the event “Tim DeChristopher and Terry Tempest Williams in conversation” Thursday, March 28 in Tilton Hall in front of about 50 students, faculty, and guests.

DeChristopher is a climate activist. He co-founded Peaceful Uprising, which works to create a healthier world. DeChristopher has protested a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction as well as many other federal initiatives, even serving time in prison for his actions.

Tempest Williams spoke at Clark 15 years ago for an open space talk about democracy, according to Sarah Buie, a member of A New Earth Conversation’s board and the announcer of the night. She is an activist, conservationist, and author of many books, including “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice.” He has fought for the environment, women’s rights, and wilderness preservation.

The two discussed what is A New Earth Conversation’s topic of the season: “how we live with what we know.”

The event was simply a conversation, as the title indicates; DeChristopher and Tempest Williams spoke of their ideas and thoughts on the topic, not turning a blind eye to possible solutions however.

“Terry and I don’t have the answers,” DeChristopher claimed.

He also spoke of national and global challenges, such as the fact that by 2030, if we don’t reduce global emissions by 50 percent, there will be only ever be a maximum of a 66 percent chance of lowering climate change’s impact.

“We’ve done so little to preserve,” DeChristopher said. “We’re always a few years away from our last chance…Climate change is fundamentally a form of oppression of the young from the old.”

Tempest Williams spoke of her home in Utah as well as how she got fired from the University of Utah partially for taking a stand at an auction selling oil and gas stocks.

“I live in an erosional landscape…love where I live,” Tempest Williams said. “It’s the most frustrating place that I know.”

Tempest Williams also mentioned what is happening currently at Harvard Divinity School with a tree that was torn down.

“We are not the only species that lives and breathes,” Tempest Williams said. “I cannot breathe or walk without destroying something.”

While many were upset and distraught with Harvard Divinity School’s decision to tear down the tree, Tempest Williams realized that while The Divinity Tree was cut down, it was giving the gift of space as well as over 100 new seedlings to be planted on day.

“We cannot forget this story,” Tempest Williams said. “They think it’s over. It’s just starting.” The tree is simply in a different part of its life and its purpose, Tempest Williams explained, stating what the tree said to her as she embraced it for the last time.

“I’m just changing form. I’m just changing into something else,” Tempest Williams said. “Just like you.

The two spoke of how passion and courage can affect the path of climate change in the future. “What we need so desperately now is for people to be open and courageous,” DeChristopher said.

DeChristopher mentioned how no one has lost their governmental position for not speaking enough about climate change, but the opposite has occurred. This, he said, demonstrates the power and effectiveness of halting climate change discussions.

But this cannot deter any progression, DeChristopher said, adding how the newest generation is becoming so active and effective with this issue. He mentioned how we cannot define success as “someone with a ‘D’” next to their names rather than “getting shit done.”

“More than anything, we just need to rattle the cage of the establishment,” DeChristopher said. “It’s not just personal.”

The audience was welcomed to be involved in the talk, as the conversation took place in a circle, instead of having the two speakers on stage in front of an audience. DeChristopher said the reasoning behind this is that the conversation on climate change and its impact is not one direction but instead a community grappling with a difficult topic.

“Each of us has a voice. Each of us has a path,” Tempest Williams said. “We might not know it, but when it arrives must take it.”

A New Earth Conversation is an open-ended collaboration between members of the Clark University community. It is made up of both faculty and students with the aim of cultivating new responses to environmental degradation and climate disruption questions. The program started in 2015.

A New Earth Conversation’s next event is on April 4 with DeChristopher again, but this time he will be joined by Susi Moser. The talk will be at 7 p.m. in the Higgins Lounge in Dana Commons.