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"Here in L.A.," writes former midwesterner Jenny Price, "I've taken my own informal opinion survey, which is far from scientific. I just ask colleagues, friends, and family what they think of nature writing. When the most passionate environmental activists I know say 'yeechh' and the college students say 'huh?' then I suspect we have a problem."
Nature writing, she says, needs to climb out of its mile-deep rut, wherein writers engage in "personal meditations on the soul-saving power of wildness in our modern urban lives." That kind of writing just feeds "the popular American delusion, which nature writers have encouraged, that nature is where cities are not." Instead, she says, we need to see how nature is part of the city, even when it seems most artificial, and vice versa.
Read the whole thing, "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA," at The Believer, or the radically condensed version at Grist. By the way, Jenny Price, meet the late Jerry Sullivan (the Reader's "Field and Street" columnist for years) and William Cronon, both of whom stuck around the midwest and echoed your thoughts in different ways.