In 2015, I began work on a series of essays exploring extraordinary new work that blends community development, equity and conservation into something new for our nation. In Salinas, California I wrote about efforts to create a new central park honoring the story of immigration, labor, and different peoples’ relationship to place. In Southeast Alaska I wrote about a collaboration between Native communities and conservation groups to build something new out of the end of the timber wars.  More recently, I've written about land justice efforts to share and return land.


  • Respect

    My core offering is that conservation and environmentalism -- justice of all kinds-- is only about relationships. When relationships between people are at the center of that work, then there’s the possibility of healing both for the earth and for the people.

  • Passamaquoddy Pavilion

    I chose to honor two relationships, an old one with Dickinsons Reach and a new one with the Passamaquoddy tribe.


  • Full Moon Rising

    A call to land justice for the conservation movement in North America. Why centering Indigenous voice and sharing and returning land are essential to repairing the earth and creating a stronger movement. 

  • Essential Lessons

    Reflections on the essential lessons I've learned from collaborating and building relationships with Wabanaki people through First Light Learning Journey. 






  • Transforming Conservation for the 21st Century

    Editorial  in Conservation Biology Magazine: "One cannot begin to meaningfully address loss of biological diversity or climate change without addressing human poverty, the destructive forces of the divides among races and classes, and the desire to improve one’s quality of life."


  • Toward a New Relationship

    From The Coming Transformation edited by Stephen R. Kellert and James Gustave Speth:

    Our conservation movement has been guided for more than one hundred years by this question: How do we produce a landscape that is worthy of our culture? But when we say “our” culture, who do we include or leave out? The language of conservation is filled with words about “preserving,” “protecting,” and “saving” places because we know deep down that we are fencing someone out. What we should be fencing out is unhealthy behavior, but not a whole class and race of people.

  • Conservation 2.0: The Case for Whole Communities Conservation.

    The changing demographics, land use patterns, and economic pressures in this country have put conservation at a crossroads. It cannot stay the same and survive; it must adapt and change. What is the role of people and community in conserving and in keeping land conserved? How well do conservation organizations represent the communities they serve?


  • Whole Thinking Journal

    In these 3 essays about the relationships between land, race, power and privilege, Peter explores respect, awareness, story and the challenge of facing one's privilege, and considers the intellectual foundation of the first 10 years of Center for Whole Communities.

  • What is a whole community?

    This is the time of our becoming. As a community of people who care about the land and about our relationship to it, this is a moment of opportunity. It is that community I address.


  • A Hand Made Life: In Search of Simplicity

    This is Bill Coperthwaite's fantastic manifesto on right livlihood. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Helen and Scott Nearing, Bill fashioned a livelihood of integrity and completeness-buying almost nothing, providing for his own needs, and serving as a guide and companion to hundreds of apprentices drawn to his unique way of being. He inspired much of what we do at Knoll Farm.


  • The Story Handbook: A Primer on Language and Storytelling for Land Conservationists

    In The Story Handbook, contributors Tim Ahern, William Cronon, John Elder, Peter Forbes, Barry Lopez, and Scott Russell Sanders present us with the power of stories, narratives of people and places, and how those stories can advance the work of land conservation toward creating meaningful change in our culture.

  • Coming to Land in a Troubled World

     What does it mean to truly conserve land and community life in this era? And why is this so vitally important if we are to heal the divisions in our culture and ourselves, change our patterns of consumption, and reverse the fate of our earth?


  • The Great Remembering: Further Thoughts on Land, Soul and Society

    The Great Remembering, my first book, is a young conservationist's exploration of what land means to our culture.  After travelling the country for 8 months on a research fellowship, I saw places and people that affirmed my basic philosophy that conservation ought to be about relationships: relationships between people and between people and place.