Bartlett PondFriends of Salt Creek is an experiment in nature writing, run principally by English professor Thomas Hallock (U. South Florida St. Petersburg). Hallock has made Salt Creek the focus of a class that he teaches every Spring, environmental literature. This website comes from those courses, and has received generous support from the USFSP Center for Civic Engagement.

The creek provides a useful focal point for several reasons. It resists conventional categories of nature writing, like the pastoral retreat or wilderness sublime. (Said professor was tired of reading papers about peaceful parks.) The creek’s setting through a poorer, mostly black part of town asks students who are often white to consider racial divides in past and present-day St. Petersburg. The interface of nature and city redirects our attention to daily, lived experiences in our immediate environment. It is accessible, which simplifies logistics for an outdoors-based class. And lastly, the creek provides an opportunity to do good work, which is something that all nature writing aspires to do.

Friends of Salt Creek is not an incorporated group with bylaws, bank account and regular meetings, though anyone with the energy and organizational skills to set up such a group is welcome to do so! Likewise, instructors in any discipline or at any academic level are welcome to use the materials on this site or make contributions of their own. Friends of Salt Creek does not believe this waterway is singular or distinct. Indeed, most any city in America has a body of water just like this one — overlooked, surprisingly rich in history, awaiting discovery, and in dire need of better care.

A few sources and inspirations:

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment

William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness

Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Friends of the Los Angeles River

Jenny Price, “Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA

Anne Whiston Spirn, “Restoring Mill Creek

USFSP Florida Studies Program

USFSP Master of Liberal Arts Degree