Audrey Peterman Has a Message from the Land
On July 6, 2023 the United Nations declared “climate change is out of control.” In 2009 Audrey Peterman and her husband Frank published the book, “Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care.” In it, they describe their 12,500-mile trip around the United States in 1995 and the stunning National Parks, Forests and Wildlife Refuges they “discovered” just off the beaten path. In multiple books, the Petermans show how they fell in love with the land and have been inspired to promote them for almost three decades. She firmly believes that connecting the American people to our natural wonders is the
fastest way they will understand the urgency of dealing with climate change. “Seeing the best of nature undisturbed by humans can be a transformative experience,” she affirms, as it worked that way for her. “Our public lands can be the clincher in motivating the public to deal with climate change.”
“From the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine, to the mesmerizing formations of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, to the rainforest wonders of Olympic National Park, we marveled at the astonishing richness and diversity of the natural landscapes,” she wrote. “I felt like some who had lived in an opulent mansion for years and had only seen the kitchen, then accidentally opened the door leading into the grand drawing room. . .It was hard to believe that these places exist in our own country and we hadn’t known about them.”
Thus began the Petermans’ campaign to publicize these lands to the American public. Together they wrote, published, consulted, served on non-profit boards, lobbied Congress and Presidents, and took groups on tour of the public lands. With a growing number of allies, they spread information about the history on public lands, including the history of Americans of African, Asian and Hispanic descent alongside the indigenous people. They emphasized that, as the public lands are the “birthright” of every American and are supported by our taxes, everyone had the right and responsibility to enjoy and protect them for the benefit of this and future generations.
Mrs. Peterman’s second book, “Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System” was published 2012. The travel guide shares her top favorite of 185 units and scores of forests and wildlife refuges, suggesting where and when to visit, where to stay and what to do. Mrs. Peterman showed the parks as glorious destinations which all Americans can enjoy for a modest price, alongside millions offoreign tourists that flock to them every year. She emphasized the diversity of lodging in the parks ranging from the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park where Queen Elizabeth II and Presidents Kennedy and Obama stayed, to a pop-up tent in a campground.
In her third book, “From My Jamaican Gully to the World and Back” Mrs. Peterman shares her life story; gives keys to her successful marriage of 31 years, and warns people how to prepare for the climate emergency we are facing. She traces climate change from when they first heard about it in 1997 and the effects they observed on the public lands. She grounds us in the carefree days of her childhood growing up in the Jamaican countryside and contrasts that idyllic setting with where we are today – over heated and in imminent danger from sea level rise.Her life story is a cautionary tale of how much has changed in her 70-year lifespan, which is about the number of years in the future (2100) when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says much of the world will become uninhabitable if we don’t intervene.