Bartlett Pond

‘Friends of Salt Creek’ explores the waterways that feed St. Petersburg. This project started as an experiment in nature writing, run principally by English professor Thomas Hallock (U. South Florida St. Petersburg). The initial focus was on the story of Salt Creek and has since expanded to include Booker Creek.

Dr. Hallock’s environmental literature course uses the creeks as a foundation to examine the natural world. This website is the product of those explorations, receiving generous support from the USFSP Center for Civic Engagement.

The study of such creeks provides a useful focal point for multiple reasons. It resists conventional categories of nature writing, differentiating from the likes of pastoral retreat or wilderness sublime. (Said professor was tired of reading papers about peaceful parks.) Salt Creek’s setting, a poorer, mostly black part of town, asks students to consider racial divides in past and present-day St. Petersburg. Booker Creek’s position enables a study regarding the consequences of altering the natural landscape.

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. Studying the creeks provides an opportunity to make an impact, which is an aspiration of all nature writing.

‘Friends of Salt Creek’ is not an incorporated group with bylaws, bank accounts, and regular meetings (but anyone with the energy and organizational skills to set up such a group is welcome to do so). Likewise, instructors of any discipline or academic level are welcome to use these materials or make contributions to the site. ‘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