Every Moment is Now – Part 2


Audrey Peterman

Here is Part Two of my interview with Audrey Peterman, author, Breaking the Color Barrier Conference Founder and inspirational speaker.
Rue: For some, physical mobility might decline after mid-life. What might you suggest to someone who feels they are not physically able to enjoy a National Park?
Audrey: Mobility declines after mid-life? It’s not a necessity. I was on blog radio this week with a 78 year-old black man who recently competed in two categories in the Senior Olympics. It really vexes me how our culture promotes the idea that you’re “over the hill” when you turn 40, and you can expect your physical attributes to decline.

Frank Peterman

I think in many cases it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if we were visualizing ourselves as the Christ within us, what an inspiring idea that would be. The parks are very accessible for differently-abled people. They are federal properties so of course they have to comply with federal rules. You know the amazing thing? Some of the parks are so huge – Yellowstone is ten times the size of New York City – so you can just drive around in your car all day if you choose, and just gape at the natural wonders if you didn’t have the luxury of getting out and hiking.
Rue: What do you think is the most pressing problem facing our National Parks today, and what partnerships are necessary to solve them?
Almost 50 percent of the American public does not know they exist, therefore, they can’t visit them. Fall in love with the Earth and fall in love with yourself! No matter how negatively you have been programmed, standing before the majesty of the Grand Canyon, you see and feel the truth of your being – that you are a minute, individualized portion of creation, ..”a child of the Universe…like the sun and the stars, you have a right to be here.”
Because people don’t get that experience, they don’t get to see how climate change is affecting the parks, from the rising sea levels eating away at Everglades National Park in Florida to the changing temperatures making it untenable for the 2000-year-old Giant Sequoias to survive in Sequoia National Park, in California. Because people don’t know, they don’t get the urgency to care passionately, and to try to do something about it. The love and care we feel as a result of experiencing them, the searing conviction in our souls, motivates Frank and me to keep on keeping on, keep on spreading the word.

Audrey and Former NPS Director Bob Stanton

Seeing the relics of the Anasazi Indians from over 10,000 years ago in Bandelier National Park New Mexico, we realize that one day our descendants are going to look back at our culture too. What are they going to think? That we used up everything and condemned them to an inhospitable planet? God knows I don’t want our great-grandchildren to suffer that fate. We know from the conference that there are multiple community based-groups reaching out to the public land managers, and these are the partnerships that need to be formed, strengthened, expanded: the public land managers using our tax dollars to support our organizations on the ground that has the ear and the trust of the community, that knows the needs, and literally, can do the work that is required that the agencies cannot do by themselves.
Rue: Thanks Audrey for sharing with the Outdoor Afro community!
Audrey: You’re welcome!
To learn more about Frank and Audrey and their journey to discover the  our National Parks, and help them to spread the word to others, show your support by buying their book:

Legacy on the Land

Also, check out her recent interview on a local PBS affiliate
What is your favorite National Park?

Great Books as Holiday Stocking Stuffers!

I have to disclose up front that I am pretty biased about these three book recommendations because I am privileged to know each of the authors as partners through the development of Outdoor Afro and our shared passion for people of color and the outdoors. But aside from my excitement and gratitude for these folks, they have each produced some pretty extraordinary work well worth buying for your loved ones this holiday season.

As many of you know, Frank and Audrey Peterman have been at the forefront of outdoor conservation and advocates for greater diversity in our National Parks. Their recent ground breaking conference energized and organized a constituency that supports more people of color to get out and enjoy our natural resources. The work of this couple, and their enlightening book, Legacy on the Land, will inspire you.

$19.95 USD – Click to Purchase!

Shelton Johnson has been with the National Parks as a ranger for decades, but his recent appearance in the Ken Burns Documentary and recent meeting with President Obama, brought his role as a conduit of historical Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldier to new audiences. His book, Glory Land, is a beautifully written historical narrative that’s fun to read aloud.
I blogged about Dudley Edmondson some months back, and since then we became good friends. But every now and then someone will come up to me with a copy of his book The Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places and ask, “have you seen this before?” Well, indeed I have! And it enjoys a prominent spot on my coffee table so my guests and kids can look at amazing photos of people of color in wild spaces whenever they want.
Three different books about similar passions to engage everyone in your family. Can’t decide? Go to your local, independent book store and buy them all!

Breaking the Color Barrier and the National Parks

I simply cannot wait until the Breaking the Color Barrier conference next month where I’ll have the privilege of sharing the importance of social media to transmit the “outdoor” message to wider audiences than ever before!
As an example of this, check out the interview below with tireless conference organizer and champion of the National Parks, Audrey Peterman. I hear registrations are selling briskly. Buy your package now so you and your organization are included in this groundbreaking event!

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The Medium is the Message

Digital Strategist Cheryl Contee, MC Hammer, and Rue, TWTRCON SF 2009

You should know by now that I am passionate about the outdoors, but I also go nuts over social technology that connects people with the messages they care about. The combination of these two non-tangible loves of mine was the genesis for this blog. And this week has been especially inspiring and productive for me around both topics.
On Thursday, I met with Dr.Carol Finney, a dynamic Professor in the College of Natural Resources at Berkeley. My jaw hit the floor after learning from her about all the many unsung African Americans who share our enthusiasm for the outdoors. For example, Audrey and Frank Peterman have been writing about the outdoors in a newsletter and leading tours of the National Parks for decades. A forthcoming blog will share more about this adventuresome couple and others like them in the coming weeks.
Yesterday, I attended Word Camp because I was thinking of moving Outdoor Afro from its current Google platform to Word Press, and wanted to learn more from developers and users about what was possible. Word Camp gave me the technical answers I was looking for and dozens of its attendees expressed enthusiasm for my advocacy of African American participation in outdoor activities.
Right now I’m sitting in TWTRCON, the convention for Twitter, which has quickly become the fastest way to connect with tons of people at one time. Thanks to panelists like MC Hammer, I have some new perspectives on how to use Twitter as one more tool to help black people get outside, 140 characters at a time.
I am deliriously excited about using social media to share the mission of Outdoor Afro, and am grateful you have decided to join me.