Glacier National Park, July 2014



Glacier is my first national park. Surprised? Audrey Peterman understands the awe I experienced for the first time. She described how she first discovered the national parks with her husband Frank: “From the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Main to the mesmerizing formations of the Badlands National Park in Washington State . . . we marveled at the astonishing richness and diversity of the natural landscape.” (Audrey Peterman, Legacy on the Land, ix)

I also shared and experienced Audrey’s observation concerning the lack of ethnic diversity. Yes, I saw Blackfeet, Native Americans, who still remained confined to living on a reservation, the worst of the lands, whose borders were circumscribed by whites. Even with the constraints, this will always be the land of Native Americans, even when stolen. Sadly, I saw few African Americans on the trails. Perhaps that will change.

All-in-all, I was transformed by my visit to Glacier National Park. Seeing black bear alone was worth the trip. It is hard to describe but I feel different. I stayed at Many Glacier National Park, crossed the border into Canada for high tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel, and walked in the clouds at Logan Pass along the Sun Road–also at Glacier. And that I saw the glaciers before they disappear were emotional moments. I hope that everyone takes advantage of visiting one of the many national parks in the United States!

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Photos by Dianne Glave


2012 State of Diversity and the Environment Blog Carnival

Another Blog Carnival Presented by Rooted in the Earth! Read the original call for blogs.

I am going to keep this simple: my hope is to join with each of you  to meaningfully and fruitfully gather together face-to-face focusing on people of color and the environment in the near future. In 2009, Audrey Peterman did just that with Breaking the Color Barrier in the Great American Outdoors.

Some thoughts on some wonderful work in 2011 and where we are headed in the future including 2012:

~ Andrea Roberts’ Extending our Useful Lives Being Honest About Sustainability and Mortality

~ Rue Mapp’s The Year of Relevancy

~ Dianne Glave’s She Wolf  Transitioning to the New Year of 2012

Go to the blogs to read thoughts, ideas . . . some are transforming thoughts into action.

Do contact me at if you would like to add your blog to this carnival.

She-Wolf: Transitioning to the New Year of 2012

Tulips in Bloom, Chicago

Right now I’m caught up in series of novels titled Game of Thrones, and the HBO series based on the novels.  Creatures called dire wolves–from the Ice Age and now extinct–are central to one of many over-lapping  story-lines, with dire wolves in symbiotic relationship with young royals. 2011 transitioned so quickly cart-wheeling into 2012, and I am embracing my she-wolf. I don’t bite but am running hard and fast down two different paths: the environment and health. Like the story-lines in Game of Thrones, the two paths have and continue to overlap. I’m including some of my favorite photos from 2011 some with and without rhyme and reason in relationship to the text. Put simply, these photos like so many I took last year simply touched me.

The first path is environmental. I continued my life’s work, a ministry to people and the earth, sharing the gospel of African Americans and the environment. Back in 2010, I published Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Continuing into 2011, non-profit organizations invited me to do speaking engagements, some of the content based in part on the book:

At Barnes & Noble with a Little Fan

I also did a radio interview with Groovin 1580 FM and a book-signing with the Wildlife Federation at Georgia Tech. In 2012, I will continue to share an environmental gospel, speaking at the Tuskegee Institute Historic Site in Alabama and Getty College in Pennsylvania.

From Fall 2010 to Summer 2011 when I  continued my environmental opus, I was in an intensive Clinical Pastoral Education Program training for chaplaincy. I managed to complete the program, while still blogging.

Interestingly, the Rooted in the Earth WordPress Annual Report differs from my favorite blogs “penned” during part of the program. The highest ranking blog going back to 2010 was (drum roll please) Predators: Survival of the Fittest in a Busted Paradise. Perhaps not so surprising since my blogs on film and television ranked higher than some of the historical blogs. People like popular culture. Well, so do I.

Grand Isle, Louisiana, 2007 (ok, not 2011!)

I also love history and my personal favorites included Kentucky, African Americans, and the Environment, Harriet Tubman Working Nature, Barack Obama: An Alternate Environmental History, and 2011 MLK Day: Remembering Martin Luther King, the Environmentalist. Hey, I’m a historian. What can I say. I’m back on the steep happy hill–that’s the she-wolf in me on the move–blogging again in 2012 with a call for blogs for a State of Diversity and the Environment Blog Carnival.

So what’s that second path as I continue loping on winding path?  Back in 2010, I never imagined that graduating with an M.Div. in “Faith, Health and Science” at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University would be life changing concerning my health. Over the last year I lost 17 pounds and hope to lose about 20 more. No rush. One pound at a time. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers . . . make it happen like Mariah belts out in the recent Jenny Craig commercial.

I continue being heart healthy with nutrition and exercise. I serve as a pastor at Crafton United Methodist Church and some of the members have followed my example joining Weight Watchers. Others have been serving healthy options like veggies at Coffee Hour after church. And yes, I found time to blog about spirituality and religion at

Korean War Memorial, Washington, DC

I am grateful to everyone in my personal life who patiently listened to my stories about being on paths of the environment and health. In addition, so many colleagues invited me into their institutions trusting me to share one vision of  an African American environmentalism. I did not take that trust for granted because many of the people in the audience were college students. I honored to continue working with young people, my favorite “demographic.”

Now I stand among many talented and committed in an environmental family with shared interests in diversity. One kind and generous person in stood out in 2011: Na’Taki Osborne Jelks. I knew Na’Taki for years going back to 2005 when I went on a hike with Keeping It Wild in Georgia. It wasn’t until she organized several events for me that I got to know her better. I am grateful for Na’Taki and so many others devoted to the cause.

I invite you to continue with me embracing your inner-she-wolf (or whatever creature works for you) on paths to protecting the planet and good health, with a dash of science. Thank you for coming along with me.

Photos by Dianne Glave

How I Got Into African American Environmental History!

That's Me on the Right

I have been doing diversity and environment since the  early 1990’s. It started for me in the M.A. program in the History Department at Stony Brook University. When I transitioned to the Ph.D. at Stony Brook, I said to my dissertation advisor that I wanted to write my dissertation on African Americans and the environment. She gave me a blank look and said there was no one in the department, probably the whole country, who could advise me concerning my topic. Well, I forged ahead, struggled really. I finally finished my dissertation with some help from Mart Stewart, an outside advisor on my dissertation committee.   


 What is African American environmental history? 

Carl Anthony gives us a definition: “African American environmental history is concerned with questions of environmental justice in the past; patterns of exploitation within society that have limited African American access to nature and the fruit of the community engagement with the environment; African American resistance to that exploitation and mobilization to confront environmental injustice; ways that African Americans have acted on the environment and have been affected by it in everyday life; the historical environmental health exposures and risks to African American communities; the role African Americans have played in helping to build sustainable societies. (ASEH News, American Society for Environmental History, Spring 2006, 9)    


When I began doing the work on African American environment there were no definitions. Even today, if you google African American environmental history, a definition does not pop up. That’s so unlike google.  One of my early efforts in working towards defining African American environmental history was an article on African American women and gardening

In  my personal and professional struggle, I have been an academic for many years. There were few people of color I could count on, and that I knew of who working in various areas concerning diversity and the environment . So my cohorts and primary audience were mainstream academics. I was frustrated and alone, often asked, “Where are the white people?” in my narratives and analyses. 

From Black Enterprise

I still teach. I still think like a historian. In many ways, I still write like a historian. What’s different though is I have more people to connect with now that I’m writing for a broader audience with the upcoming book and my ongoing blog. 

I have Rue Mapp, Jarid Manos, Rona Fernandez, EcoSoul, James Edward Mills, Evonne Blythers, Phoenix Smith,Danielle N. Lee,  Audrey Peterman, Dudley Edmondson, and so many more. And thankfully, I have all of you!

Audrey Peterman: The Hardest Working PERSON in Diversity and Environment

Audrey Peterman and her husband Frank Peterman have been working, often by themselves, for years encouraging people of color to take in the outdoors through trips to national parks. Their book Legacy of the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care is a much welcomed and anticipated product of their efforts.    


In her own words in this guest blog . . .    

I’ve noticed the word “heaven” a lot in my communication lately. My dear friend Iantha Gantt-Wright, lavishly referenced in our story, Legacy on the Land first introduced the concept of living in heaven while we are here on Earth. I’d mentioned in one of our meditation sessions something about a future in heaven and she shocked me when she said, “Why not live in heaven right now?” Pursuing that thought and consciously living in the present moment, enjoying the glorious activities of life all around me, I do feel that I am living in heaven.

But the feeling was intense when I visited Dry Tortugas National Park on Friday, April 23, with a group of friends from across the country, and accompanied by our dearest, longtime friend and committed Community Partner, Park Ranger Alan Scott. I didn’t know how fateful it was, but his friend, Debra Hess, naturalist on the Yankee Freedom, joined us at the dock at Key West on Friday morning, and told us she had devoted her (precious!) day off to accompany us on the trip.    

Is this a gorgeous sea fan or what? But we take nothing off the islands but pictures.

You’ve got to read the chapter in to learn the fascinating  story of Dry Tortugas, and suffice it to say, the raucous call of a million shore birds as we coasted past Bush Key, and the sight of the magnificent frigate birds floating over the fort, their nine-tip raven black wings distinguished by white head on the females. I held my breath looking for a male, distinguished by his huge, bright red pouch, and didn’t see one. I was confident I’d see one by the end of the day. Meanwhile, some of the females actually came and hovered over the boat, seeming just as curious about us as we were about them.   

Frank Peterman

I could rhapsodize for hours about our time in the courtyard, where we watched a rare Merlin grooming in a tree, with a yellow crowned night heron nearby. One friend and I sat under a tree and talked in front of a bird bath, where a profusion of warblers enjoyed themselves four feet away from us. Several brilliant orange-and-black American Restarts flew by our shoulders, and an intense-yellow prairie warbler flitted by. Later, while I went back to the boat to eat, the others went out and saw the prize of all prizes, a life-list and the Holy Grail for most birders, the Painted Bunting. They said they watched it for many minutes as it fed on orange peel. Frank told one friend who’s new to birding that she’s literally starting at the top.    

Being that close to wild animals, being in the presence of the rhythm of life as it has evolved for millennia, my soul took flight. I cannot even express how being surrounded by nothing but  the sound of  birds’ wings and bird calls remain with me even now, two weeks later.  

So it felt quite tragic when I called Deb on Monday to thank her, and heard her voice literally shaking. It turns out that the very area which we experienced in this most pristine setting may now be in jeopardy from the wayward tide of oil seeping down from the spill.  God forbid, my mind screamed.    

Deb said the park is likely to release official information by today, Wednesday, May 5.    

The suddenness with which our priceless natural treasures can be endangered as a consequence of our own actions is a cautionary lesson. The fact that it happened when the experience was fresh in my feelings makes it poignantly clear to me: How evolved exactly are we when, so many decades after we have known we need to transition to clean energy, we’re digging even deeper into the firmament, with disastrous consequences? The magnificent frigate birds, noddy terns and sooty terns that have nested and bred on these islands for millennia, get their food from the sea. If the water is laden with oil, there’s nothing to warn them. And the first time they dive in, it’s over.   

Frank and Audrey

Since I’m living in heaven while here on Earth, I’m putting all my energy into visualizing the islands remaining just as I experienced them, and praying that the current of oil is miraculously or scientifically (it’s all the same to me) shut off.  Please, let this be a wake-up call. We all have a lot to gain by becoming involved with our natural resources and doing what is necessary to be good stewards. The natural world is relying on us.    

Guest Blog and Photos by Audrey Peterman  

Final Photo from Issues Wire