Growing up in Cottingham, East Yorkshire, England in the 1960s and 70s, I always had an interest in human interactions with the environment, nature, cities and public spaces. But growing up as a biracial kid, being into nature, hiking, going bird watching at Spurn Point in the Humber Estuary, has given me a slant on these and other issues which differs from the mainstream. This has been my raison d’être ever since. Why was I different as a person of color visiting the British countryside? Why, in the 1970s, was I one of only two Black Britons in my university botany class? Why was the environment not seen as an issue for Black Britons like me?
My first step in beginning to answer these questions was to form the The Black Environment Network in 1988 with a group of like minded activists including photographer and friend Ingrid Pollard, Vijay Krishnarayan, Diane Warburton and Judy Ling Wong. I was its first chair until 1994. Since then, I have written widely on diversity, recognition, participation and inclusion issues which permeate the nexus between environmental quality and human equality, with the increasing conviction that the former is not possible without the latter.
I have a B.Sc. in Geography and Botany (University of Durham 1980); a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education in Geographical Education (University of Newcastle-on-Tyne 1982); an M.A. in Conservation Policy (Middlesex University 1987) and a Ph.D. in Environmental Education (University of London 1996). I have worked in high school as a geography teacher in Carlisle, where I took groups of students on field trips into the English Lake District; in an ‘urban studies centre’ in the voluntary sector in London; as a local government environmental education and policy advisor in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Islington; and as a consultant in communicating environmental and sustainability solutions to clients including local and national governments.
I moved to the USA in 1998 and now live in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.