Originally posted on January 12, 2015
Adapted from John Tallmadge’s talk at the 2008 Glen Brook gathering
Rowland Russell, Whole Terrain Managing Director
Sydney Plum, Glen Brook participant
Image: Camp Glen Brook
In the early 1980s, Orion Magazine was emerging and nature writers were pleased to have an excellent place to publish their work, but they were still feeling somewhat isolated as a community. In 1986, writers John Elder and Bob Finch suggested the idea of a retreat at which writers published in Orion would gather. Parker Huber facilitated the meeting, which took place at Camp Glen Brook in Marlborough, NH. Under Parker’s skilled and supportive guidance, the Glen Brook retreat became an every other year institution for nature writers around the county.
In the early ’90s, Parker published the first volume of Writing Nature, featuring short essays, poems, photos, correspondence, and book reviews by members of the extended Glen Brook community. In the mid-’90s, seeking a less travel intensive way to bring together western writers, Glen Brook West was organized in Crestone, Colorado by Parker and writer Ann Zwinger and took place in alternating years. In 2006, another gathering of writers led by Charles Goodrich and Kathleen Dean Moore began at Oregon’s Andrews Experimental Forest. In concert with the Glen Brook, Crestone, and Blue River communities, the 2009 and 2010 volumes of Writing Nature were published online by the Rocky Mountain Land Library.
From the beginning, there has been a catalytic quality about Glen Brook that has influenced the emergence of American nature writing. Before there was ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, founded in 1992) and before Orion’s Forgotten Language Tours in the ’90s, Glen Brook was the meeting point for writers and artists whose creative work centered on the environment. Glen Brook fosters a spirit of affirmation that is quite rare: a community of nurturing. John Tallmadge speculated that someday, future scholars will be studying the impact of Glen Brook on the field of nature writing.