When a 29-year-old Edward Abbey first set out into the remote canyon country of southern Utah's Arches National Monument (now National Park), he probably had no idea the impact the experience would have not only on his own life, but on the environmental movement as a whole. But the young backcountry ranger would grow up to be a famous author, and, 11 years later, Desert Solitaire became his world-famous ode to the unspoiled reaches of red-rock desert and a missive against the dam-builders and developers who would spoil it.
And his 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang—about a group of environmentalists who used sabotage to stop environmentally damaging projects—created a blueprint for a new kind of fringe environmentalist who didn't just march in protests, sign petitions and lobby politicians. Instead, these self-styled eco warriors took radical, direct actions that crossed legal and ethical lines: Earth First! conducted tree sits to prevent clear-cuttings in the Pacific Northwest; Earth Liberation Front used arson to fight everything from logging to rural development to genetic engineering of plants; Sea Shepherd played high seas chicken with Japanese whaling ships to put an end to the whale hunt; and last year, in an Abbey-esque act of civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher disrupted a federal auction of oil and gas leases and was sentenced to prison (his appeal was denied this September). Defending the Earth, they argue, is an act of self-defense and self-preservation.
Now filmmaker ML Lincoln is creating a film—Wrenched—that traces Abbey's radical influence on the environmental movement from The Monkey Wrench Gang to these modern-day monkeywrenchers, and he uncovered rarely-seen archival footage of the man himself to tell the story. Like so many other projects these days (including made-in-the-USA outdoor apparel, bike fenders, headlamps, argon jackets and other films), Wrenched needs your help, by way of a donation via a crowd-funding website, to get off the ground. It still needs more than $30,000 to be fully funded, and they're looking at a deadline of Nov. 15.
Check out the Wrenched indiegogo page to help fund the project.