|The 'One Stop Shop' For Diverse Environmental Speakers, Trainers
|As a middle aged African American couple that was fortunate enough to "discover" and fall in love with our national parks., Frank and I have dedicated ourselves since 1995 to raise awareness about the publicly-owned lands system. Recognizing that few of our Black peers knew about them we strove to introduce them physically as well as through our writing, TV and speaking appearances.
Simultaneously we urged the country's large, influential environmental organizations to engage these demographic groups that they have historically overlooked. Many were uninterested and seemed incapable of accepting that Americans of color could have any place in environmental leadership. Still others said they didn't see the need to do anything, since the public lands are "open to every one."
Basking in the glory of Yosemite National Park, Frank and I saw the urgent need to let all Americans know that we are heir to these treasures and we have a responsibility to protect them for the benefit of this and future generations.
Fast forward to 2019 and the state of our environment is - well, politicized. There are Americans who support a roll back of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge even as salmon perish in Alaskan rivers with eggs inside them because the water is too hot. Many still refuse to connect the pollution we are pouring into the atmosphere like rebellious teenagers with effects such as Hurricane Dorian resulting in unknown numbers of people dead in the Bahamas.
Still, the environmental movement remains widely segregated as you can see here at Green 2.0. Just this week I had conversations with two young people of color who asked me how they can convince their leaders that they need to prioritize engaging a new audience since their membership is overwhelmingly white and older.
In response I said, "Please tell your 'leaders' that what they're leading is more similar to a high school clique than an organization that's trusted by the public to act on behalf of all of us. A leader looks ahead, sees the approaching problem and takes steps to head it off. You can't be called a leader when the problem is already affecting you and you still refuse to see it."
After a quarter century of involvement it is clear that we've reached a tipping point. If we are to keep the covenant made by our ancestors to this and future generations when they set aside the first parcel of land in the 1870's, each one of us needs to decide what side we are on and take action. We need to become more informed about the issues, how they affect us and what each of us can do to build the country's momentum that helps save our own lives.
Part of the answer rests with the team of experts of color who are leaders in the areas of climate, energy, environmental history, travel and ecology that we assembled in 2014 as the Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau. We even have a wolf expert/musher, a mountaineer who's climbed four of the world's Seven Summits, and a sailor who has circumnavigated the globe.
Today I invite you to take a stand for our environment and our future. Check out our speakers at DEL and make the choice to engage one or more of them to address your organization, academic institution, trade association or corporation. The more diverse voices and perspectives we have putting our knowledge and energies out there, the better the chances that we can help turn the tide.
Members of the Diverse Environmental Speakers Bureau gather for our launch at the National Press Club, August 25, 2014.
Here's an update on what a few members of DEL have been up to:
MacArthur Genius Award winner (above) Majora Carter's real estate development company is leading successful and visionary urban revitalization efforts that focus on economic, environmental and social benefits for low status communities.
Carolyn Finney, PhD, author and scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College has in the past two months alone addressed conferences in places as diverse as Tasmania; Utah and Bretton Woods' celebration of its 75th anniversary since forming the International Monetary Fund.
DEL Speakers (clockwise) Jose Gonzalez;Teresa Baker, founder of the highly successful Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge; author and film maker James Mills and Carolyn Finney collaborate on multiple projects across the country, most recently appearing together at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride.
Jose Gonzalez galvanized his Latino counterparts by founding Latino Outdoors and is expanding the involvement of diverse communities in conservation, speaking most recently at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, CO.
Bahamian Stefan Moss, professor at Georgia State University has been preparing students in STEM disciplines to address our changing climate, and is a member of the Bahamas 350 Climate Action currently dealing with the ravages of Hurricane Dorian on the island chain.
Chieftess of the Gullah Geechee people in the Sea Islands from North Carolina to Florida, Queen Quet has been traveling the country and the world sharing the adaptation techniques she has pioneered to prevent the rising Atlantic from consuming her island home.
Greening Youth Foundation's 2019 graduates interned in National Park units across the country and reconvened at Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia August 1, almost 400 years to the day when the first Africans were traded onto America's shores.
James and Angelou Ezeilo's Greening Youth Foundation has equipped more than 1,000 young people of color to work in the public lands sector and her book Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders comes out in November.
Daniel White, the Blackalachian who hiked the Appalachian Trail end to end without benefit of experience, cycled the 2,000 mile Underground Railroad Trail, hiked crosscountry through the Scottish Highlands and last month completed the Camino del Norte pilgrimage in Spain, is writing a children's book about his adventures.
Long distance hiker Daniel White, aka The Blackalachian pauses to enjoy the view before continuing across the Scottish Highlands on a route he plotted and navigated.
Whether you've been on this journey with us for the duration or you've just joined us, YOU can do something if you care. Please take the time to act on this request, to forward it or mention it to someone who can use it. We are interested and eager to hear your thoughts. You can reach us by email or at (305) 907-8369.
Audrey & Frank Peterman
Climate Equity Report Give Us Tools To Save Ourselves