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?


Reconnecting at Mammoth Caves

The Tennessee Aquatic Project is a youth organization that engages at-risk and inner city youth with a wide range of outdoor and civic activities to enhance personal development.


After meeting up at the Breaking the Color Barrier Conference last September, Ken Stewart of the Tennessee Aquatic Project (TAP) and Jerry Bransford, a Mammoth Cave National Park guide, decided to join forces and send over sixty youth on a trek up to the Caves. The youth were able to hear first hand the intriguing story of Bransford’s slave ancestors who were important contributors to the cave site.

“African Americans played a vital role in the development of cave tour routes and the visitor experience throughout the 19th and early 20th century. The first black guides were slaves, and through their efforts opened up the golden age of cave exploration for Mammoth Cave” (NPS website) The TAP youth camped out the rest of the weekend, enjoying outdoor activities led by Stewart during the day, and joined by Jerry Bransford in the evenings to hear more about his family history at the caves.
Learn more:
Tennessee Aquatic Project
Black History at Mammoth Cave National Park:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough!

Chelsea Griffie

Chelsea Griffie

I took a climbing trip with Outward Bound in my early 20’s, and it changed my life. It was a physical accomplishment I did not think I was capable of achieving – and my awareness of possibility and faith from that successful experience remains with me today.
Chelsea Griffie was similarly inspired by rock climbing and the outdoors. Her Chicago parents were not campers, so she climbed for the first time as a young adult on a trip to Brazil, and was hooked. In the years since, Chelsea’s skills grew through her participation and leadership in  NOLS, the National Outdoors Leadership School.
In additional to reaching her own climbing goals over the years in the Yosemite Valley, considered the climbing Mecca, Chelsea teaches backpacking skills and yoga to women of color through the Balanced Rock organization. She is also currently the Program Director of Bay Area Wilderness Training, an organization that offers basic leadership courses and advanced seminars to prepare adults to lead youth safely into the wilderness. Here is more about BAWT:

If you are interesting in learning to climb, Chelsea suggests taking a trip to your local climbing gym, where you can test out the sport before deciding if it’s right for you, or if you are up for more of a challenge, consider Outward Bound or NOLS courses. These rigorously rewarding courses are organized around nearly every age group and located all over the world. Try climbing at least once — it just might change your life!
Listen HERE to my talk with Chelsea, which follows an delightful interview with Audrey Peterman, organizer of the Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors Conference.
Photo by Dudley Edmondson

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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