Ecocriticism is the idea that culture mediates the relation with land and nature.  Pastoral land, or man-made parks and gardens, are somehow from a simpler past. This land — or simpler past — of course never existed.This effects the way that we see nature in books, the way we talk about nature and the way nature is reflected in our everyday life. This relationship between man and nature can be seen very clearly by paddling up Salt Creek right outside of the bay area on the USF St Petersburg campus.

Paddling down the river, it is clear that this place is a dumping ground for most of the trash in the area. Boats surrounding the bay could care less whether or not their oil, beer cans or empty trash bags gather among the trees on the shoreline. Not one care is given about the rights of the natural world. This habitat obviously does not matter as much as that of the “holy pastoral lands of the past.”

Pastoral lands of the untouched. Our language, the way we speak of these National Parks and “holy grounds” gives way to the way that we treat them. No one can live on these grounds, nor can they take anything from it, nor can they eat any of the “naturally” grown foods. Someone in a uniform may reprimand you for these things.

But what’s the difference in Salt Creek? The difference is culture and our relationship with land and nature. National parks and forests are not treated in the same fashion as the little ol’ creek that leaves people on the south side little access to the ocean or boat docking. There is no one in uniform, standing on the side of the creek to say “Hey, don’t throw that bottle in there!”.  Will everyone decided to throw their beer bottle into the creek? Probably not. But, would someone choose to throw their beer bottle into one of the Yellowstone National Forests springs? Never.

I say we stop throwing things in Salt Creek, but hey, that’s just an idea. Maybe we would have to go as far as turning Salt Creek into a National Park to do that. Or maybe we could just call it a protected area have volunteers yell at people for doing things they already shouldn’t be doing to nature .… Anyone up for putting on a uniform and reprimanding people for throwing beer cans in the water?


Post Script: Check out the extensive rules on littering at Yellowstone National ParkI say we enforce some of these rules for protection of plants and animals everywhere!