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It’s been a long journey since that fateful day in late December 2008, when climate activist Tim DeChristopher derailed an oil- and gas-lease auction of federal land, only to be sent to prison for his troubles. Released to a halfway house in Salt Lake City in October 2012, DeChristopher currently works at Ken Sanders Rare Books and is planning his first public address in two years upon the official completion of his sentence in April. But the symbol of civil disobedience in the West has remained a potent figure for our readers even during his forced silence. He was the subject of the independent documentary Bidder 70, and activist groups inspired by DeChristopher’s actions have continued shaking up the status quo in support of environmental causes.
2. Homeless-advocate Pamela Atkinson
3. LGBT advocate Troy Williams
Best Environmental Power Play
Outdoor Industry Association's Call for Canyonlands National Monument
With Utah’s lawmakers burning through tax dollars in longshot lawsuits to try to grab public lands in Utah away from the federal guv’ment, another group is proposing the feds grab Utah land to preserve it. Following the re-election of President Barack Obama, the Outdoor Industry Association, a group that meets and brings more than $40 million annually to the local economy, petitioned Obama to use his executive authority to create a Canyonlands National Monument to protect 1.4 million pristine acres from the state’s drill-crazy developers. With a simple signature, the president can make such a designation without congressional approval, and that’s why companies like Patagonia and local biz leaders like Black Diamond and BackCountry.com are going all in to ask the president to pardon Utah’s most beautiful lands from the state’s drill & destroy crowd.
Best Political News Site
Utah Political Capitol
Formed by political junkies Eric Ethington and Curtis Haring, Utah Political Capitol looks to hook Utahns into the latest news, analyses of legislative bills, election coverage and more. Besides translating the dense double-talk of political laws and bills, the site also offers a podcast and a handy citizen-empowering feature called One-click Democracy, which allows users to simply type in their addresses to be directed to their elected representatives, where they can write a message about the bill affecting them most and send it off immediately. What this means to you is that taking an active role in the democratic process now requires the same amount of time as making a Netflix pick.
Jon Huntsman Jr.
He may not have set the national political stage on fire with his short-lived presidential campaign, but the perfectly coiffed Utahn remains dear to our readers’ hearts. He embodies the hope that many moderate Utahns have for a better political future. Who can forget how he dragged Utah’s antiquated liquor laws shivering into the light? As he continues to publicly push issues like gay marriage, he might struggle to get Republican buy-in. But he’ll certainly gets our readers’ vote for representing the best this state has to offer.
2. Gov. Gary Herbert
3. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker
Shannon Barnson, Geek Show Podcast
How does a mild-mannered(ish) podcast panelist and geek-trivia host beat out veteran Utah villains like Orrin Hatch and Gayle Ruzicka for Worst Utahn? At first, Shannon Barnson’s large-margin victory looked like a gag pulled by the Geek Show Podcast and their online minions. At second glance … yeah, still a gag. But, when you look at it from a different angle, it makes sense. As Barnson explains, Worst Utahn can also mean not complying with local stereotypes: “I don’t have a giant insulated mug that I fill with soda every morning. I hate snow. I’ve never been mountain biking. I’ve never been to Moab, Zion or any of those dumb outside places. I call one person ‘brother’—my brother. I’ve never stood in line outside a new chain restaurant after one opens in Utah. I’m 41 and have one child. I’ve never voted for a Republican, and my underwear isn’t magical.” See? He really is the Worst.
2. U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch
3. Gov. Gary Herbert
Best “Chi to Your Day” Personal Trainer
The female equivalent of Clark Kent, Lya Wodraska is an unassuming newspaper reporter by day, covering sports for The Salt Lake Tribune. But in the evening and early morning hours, Wodraska rips off her glasses and her tweed jacket to reveal her inner superstar as a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Not only does she lead 6 a.m. spinning classes at Bodywise Fitness at Foothill Village, but as a Paul Chek exercise and holistic lifestyle coach, Wodraska is able to help her clients awaken to their “chi” and learn what makes their bodies tick. Her emails about nutrition, whole-food discounts and free classes on how to use fitness products are further evidence that she’s a trainer with great concern for her clients.
Todd Nuke 'Em, x96
Everyone makes mistakes. While the radio bosses might not come right out and say it, it was pretty clear that the December 2011 dismissal of original X96 DJ Todd Nuke ’Em was a terrible move. Within a matter of months, it was evident in the response (and the ratings) that Todd’s removal fixed nothing and simply pissed off listeners. Within six months, Nuke ’Em was back on the air in his old shift, cranking out his endless supply of Depeche Mode B-sides and helping people make it home through the evening drive.
96.3 FM, afternoons, X96.com
Geek Show Podcast
Fighting off several other contenders to the throne, including a dozen other geek-related podcasts, Geek Show Podcast rose to prominence by gathering an A team of well-versed personalities who know their genres and can make fun of them, too. Holding hard the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra of “it’s just a show, you should really just relax,” the show goes beyond just covering geek news and discussing it. On top of all this, April 2013 will mark the show’s five-year anniversary, a major feat for anyone in the podcast medium.
2. The Let’s Go Eat Show
3. Hello, Sweetie!
More Best of Utah 2013: