by Audrey Peterman
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a wildflower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. . .” Walking through the lavish garden where we live in Jamaica yesterday, surrounded by wild orchids, bougainvillea in every color, buttercups and ixora, accompanied by our two faithful dogs, one leading and the other trailing, I had a profound feeling of being in the Presence of God. I posted on Facebook that I sensed the “Allness of God” being the air, and everything differentiated from air being only a “cut out.” A friend responded that it put her in mind of the William Blake poem that he wrote near the turn of the 19th Century, published in 1863 years after his death. I shivered in awe at the mind that could distill such an astounding vision of a world of cause and effect, the microcosm containing the all of the macrocosm. It reinforced how humans have the same capability, for good or ill. I immediately applied this principle to the protection of nature and our national parks and publicly-owned lands in particular, totaling more than 630 million acres of the most scenic, historic, verdant and pristine areas. It is a privilege beyond compare and a human impulse to care for the land and to be part of solutions. On Veterans Day I sent a note of thanks to my niece, a Marine veteran. She sent me an ebullient note from Rocky Mountains National Park and pictures from Devil’s Tower, Wind Cave, Mount Rushmore and Grand Canyon National Parks with a note, “Turning me on to the parks was the BEST gift you ever gave me.” My newsfeed overflows with stories about the new groups being formed by Americans of color and the outstanding work they’re doing around the globe. Just looking at the recent activities and accolades earned by members of our Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau (www.delnsb.com) many of whom are pictured above, proves the point: DEL Speaker former National Park Service Director Bob Stanton and I were recently informed by the National Parks Conservation Association that we have been selected for their highest honors, to be presented April 6 in DC. Director Stanton will be presented with the William Penn Mott Jr. Award which recognizes a public official who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the protection of the National Park System and I will receive the Centennial Leadership Award, given to a public official or private citizen “who has made an outstanding contribution. . .” The organization’s annual Salute to the Parks at the National Museum of the American Indian will feature a conversation between us and Jack Goldstone, a member of the Blackfeet tribe who will receive the Robin W. Winks Award for “communicating the values of the NPS through the arts.” Speaker Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks In Green, (BIG) sent an email informing: “I’m in Venice, where the Biennale and Holcim Foundation collaborated to present programs and prizes for sustainable architecture and other design/build creative work. BIG is proud to announce we took the Gold Medal and $100,000 for our Net Positive ‘House as Garden’ Residential Design, for North America.” Speaker Queen Quet was featured on ABC presenting her community’s expertise in addressing sea level rise as a model for the nation. Speaker Dr. Carolyn Finney’s illuminating article “Who Gets Left Out of the Great Outdoors Story” was published in the New York Times. Speaker James Mills has been documenting the journey of the National Christmas Tree, “The People’s Tree” from its origin in Six Rivers National Forest to the US Capitol as he has done for several years. Follow the journey at Christmas Tree Tracker Speaker Captain Bill Pinkney was inducted into the Sailing Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to only nine of the 100 inductees since 2011. Sailing 27,000 miles by himself around the globe for 22 months in his mid-50s was only the beginning of his advocacy for our oceans. Speaker Stefan Moss was featured in the National Wildlife Federation's newsletter on the subject, “Is Outdoor Education the Future?" Speaker Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks was selected as an ESA Excellence in Ecology Scholar by the Ecology Society of America. Speaker and MacArthur Genius Award Winner Majora Carter led a seminar on “Energy Futures 2021” yesterday helping define what goes into successful, equitable solar energy products, Speaker Sophia Kianni will be addressing The Nature Conservancy’s First Annual Diversity Day for TNC’s global staff and community partners, November 18. Check out their stories at www.delnsb.com. This is but a sliver of what’s happening at this “All hands on deck!” moment for our environment, But by fully integrating the obvious capabilities of all demographic groups, we increase the chances of healing our world and securing the future for coming generations. DEL Speakers and other leaders of color are vitally important to complete the picture of "a World in a Grain of Sand."