TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS: The first thing I want to
say to you, Tim, is thank you. Thank you for what you’ve
done for us, as an act of protest, as an act of imagination,
and an act of true, civil resistance.
TIM DeCHRISTOPHER: Well thank you.
TERRY: So let’s talk about your mother.
TIM: [Laughter.] Okay.
TERRY: You know, when I saw your mother, I had a better sense of who you are.
TIM: Why did you have a better sense of who I am?
TERRY: I watched her during the trial. And I imagined
what it must be like for her, who loves you so much, who
gave birth to you, who’s raised you—what that must
have been like for her to have to sit there, not speak,
you know, watch how political this was, watch your dignity, knowing what the consequences might be and, in
fact, are going to be. And I never saw her waver. I mean
the only person that I saw with as much composure in
that courtroom as you was your mother. You couldn’t
see her—she was sitting behind you—but she never
wavered. Her spine was like steel.
TIM: Yeah. I think that’s definitely what I’ve gotten from
her. I only have vague memories of when she was fighting the coal companies, when I was a little kid, in the
early days of mountaintop removal—I don’t know if
they were really my memories or stories that I’ve heard
from the family. But I think a lot of my activism has
been shaped by that. I remember hearing about when
this coal miner stood up at this hearing and said, “My
grandfather worked in the mine, my father worked in
the mine, and I worked in the mine, and you people are
telling us we can’t do this, and blah blah blah.” And my
mom just fired right back and said, “And if you start
blowing up these mountains, you will be the last generation that is ever a miner in West Virginia. You will kill
the family tradition if you try to mine this way.”
TERRY: And how old were you?
TIM: I was really young. We moved away when I was eight.
TERRY: And so was this in the ’70s?
TIM: No, it was in the early ’80s.
TERRY: And you were born?
TERRY: And what was the trigger point for your mother?
TIM: I don’t know. But then, as I got older, she got out
of activism. She told me once that she pulled out of all
the political stu= to focus on raising me and my sister.
And I think that’s always been something that I carried
with me. You know, that she had this role in the political
sphere in our community, and she stepped out of that to
put it into me. So I’ve always felt like I had somewhat of
a greater responsibility to pull not just my own weight,
but that extra weight that she put into me.
TERRY: And you were the oldest?
TIM: No, I’m the youngest. My sister’s two years older.
TERRY: And is it just the two of you?
TERRY: And what town in West Virginia?
TIM: I was born in a town called Lost Creek. And then
when I was really little we moved to West Milford.
TERRY: And has anyone in your family been in the coal
TIM: My dad worked his whole career in the natural gas
TERRY: So you and I have that in common.
TERRY: In what venue? Was he laying pipe?
TIM: He was an engineer, involved in the transmission
side of things. And then rose up and became an executive.