Diverse Environmental leaders bureau shows: ‘The most effective way to do it is to do it !’

by Carma Henry from The Westside Gazette

Diverse Environmental leaders bureau shows: ‘The most effective way to do it is to do it !’

As beautiful as our natural, cultural and historic treasures are the leaders assembled in DEL, led by the Hon. Bob Stanton, Director of the National Park Service (1997-2001).


After a year of working to develop the Diverse Environmental Leaders (DEL) National Speakers Bureau, today we launched it out into the world with great anticipation and see
how it will fly. If you’ve ever sent your child off to college or launched a project from the ground, you know the feeling.

My primary thought is: WHO in the world of conservation wouldn’t want direct access to communities of color in a way that engages new constituents to explore and embrace our public lands?  Exactly! DEL provides “one stop” access to communities of color by aggregating leaders who have made the environment and public lands their priority. Our experts include a former Director of the National Park Service; the foremost expert on green infrastructure development who is jump starting local economies across the country; an actress turned professor, author of the hottest new book on environmental diversity, and a Navajo Teen Queen who uses original music and art to promote understanding of her culture.

Founders of decades-old environmental non-profits; millennial leaders in the movement to reconnect young people with nature; legendary explorers from the world’s Seven Summits to submerged wrecks in our marine parks, and experienced travel specialists who are heavily involved the $181.7 billion annual domestic spending power of diverse communities – the services of all will be available through one website at DEL.

Our vision is that these individuals will be engaged as paid speakers and trainers and as conduits between communities of color and the environmental sector. Thus, we will easily and strategically increase the diversity of Americans enjoying our protected lands and expand advocacy for its protection.

One of the best parts of this experience so far is the enthusiasm with which these renowned leaders responded to our invitation. Of more than 60 people we reached out to, less than a handful said no due to personal reason. The vast majority exhibited great pleasure in being asked and see the benefits from aggregating our energies rather than working in isolation.

The other pleasing development is the ease with which our team is working to manifest this dream. Our leadership team including Frank, Iantha Gantt-Wright, Carolyn Hartfield and Nadine Patrice have been unflagging in their dedication, meeting every challenge with poise and equanimity. Wow! It’s as though we’re all being drawn forward by a gleaming common vision of a healthier planet created by people who care deeply about Nature and by extension, each other. Celinda Pena, most recently Assistant Director of Communications and Advisor to the Director for the National Park Service (2009-2014) has come on board as a key part of our team.

So today we reach out to the third leg – our mission-aligned partners and collaborators with whom we’ve worked for close to two decades, inviting them to support the launch of this bold and much-needed initiative with their marketing and philanthropic dollars. We’re looking forward to an enthusiastic response as the dire observations of NPS Director Jon Jarvis ring in our ears:

“Some of the things we are seeing now are symptoms of waning relevancy,” says agency director Jon Jarvis. “The flattening of our budget, sequestration cuts, the political pressures on the Park Service to allow everything from extractive usage to more motorized recreation. Rather than continuing to treat the symptoms, we need to go for the cure – and make that connection with all people.”

DEL can be the antidote to this problem. Eerily, the arrival of this story via a friend on Facebook signifies that the time could not be more urgent.

Park Service: Development plans a major threat to Grand Canyon

As the greatest conservation President Theodore Roosevelt raved at the turn of the 20th Century after visiting the Grand Canyon, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

That question has never been more relevant than it is today. We need an energized constituency to rise to the challenge of the life-altering changes facing our parks. Yes, people have the right to build on private property, but as someone who’s visited Grand Canyon multiple times, it gives me the shudders to think of a development where once a peerless panorama was visible. People only protect what they know and love, so let’s get about the business of increasing the love through the expertise in DEL.

Today I stand with you and the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart who declared “The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

We’re doing it!! Now please do your part and take it forward!

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