Ecofiction Challenge by WSF:WriFoSustFuture
Write the world the way you want it, and read the visions of others. Story! a powerful route to change.
Annual challenge to hold short story contests in our self defined communities, from a high school class to a town to a nonprofit or business. Stories must incorporate sustainable lifestyles or ecological strategies and be set in the community where they are held. This is the "Act local" half of the challenge, envisioning change in the very areas we have the most influence over.
These contests take place in March, with submissions submitted, read and selected in time to publish selections online or read at readings for Earth Day, April 22. Prizes are optional but popular and should highlight local resources for sustainable living, such as nonprofits and businesses.
Ecofictionchallenge.org will be the international coordinating website, where participants can see the basic template for a challenge, then find or add challenges in February and March. In April and the rest of the year, viewers can find links, lists and reviews re ecofiction created during the annual challenge, as well as otherwise. There will be a page of links to find tech and strategy information that can inform stories; these will be meta resources, including Writers for a Sustainable Future's more extensive pages for use by members.
A professional marketing firm offered their services for the next five years as of a week ago, so it is under construction, at that domain name.
For now, organizing and information is on Facebook, under Ecofiction Challenge and Writers for a Sustainable Future - Ecofiction.
What actions do you propose?
The actions are simply for people to enjoy writing stories (and screenplays) and sharing their visions of what we can or maybe could do with others.
The mission of Writers for a Sustainable Future - Ecofiction is to encourage, collect and then promote ecofiction as an alternative to old paradigms, to increase the body of such works. Ecofiction Challenge as an annual event is one strategy for doing so.
Fiction allows populations to absorb new concepts or address fears through the stories and films they watch for relaxation and entertainment. It is an underused strategy so far for shifting attitudes and behavior, and those are our primary stumbling blocks towards action to address climate change.
Who will take these actions?
The design of this Ecofiction Challenge is scalable enough so almost everyone can participate at a level that suits them. Currently we have a strong team of 4 people in 4 countries, spreading the word and organizing their own challenges.
This is very appealing to teachers and students in middle and high school, and easy to do in academic structures with teachers who have to read student work anyway. We also have one organizer who made her challenge to Portuguese speakers (Brazil) online on Wattpad, a forum for writers to post sections and get feedback as they go. We discussed how it might be possible to use online comments or votes as enough feedback or selection for a challenge.
It would be possible for the cultural services of a town or city to also organize a challenge.
Where will these actions be taken?
Anywhere desired, could be a living room with 3 friends or a family. Best to stay small, where we have the most influence, but can scale up. On a large statewide scale, we will suggest best to take the "winners" or best of smaller challenges and publish them, then select a state level winner. We definitely have high school kids interested in seeing what other kids write far away.
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
Not measurable, though if the stories inspire actions then there will definitely be an effect!
What are other key benefits?
Democratization and empowerment for voices that otherwise have limited access to the larger discourse.
The actions inspired are often easy to do quickly, being sized for families, neighbors, individuals. You don't have to get congressional approval! Those requiring government action are likely to have more people advocating for them as more people see what can be and what the problems and solutions are.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Minimal, right now all volunteer.
Eventually it would be nice to have a skeleton staff and some office, website maintenance and travel costs.
An inspiration and very similar model is NaNoWriMo, the annual event of National Novel Writing Month in November, which has grown to incorporate that amount of cost and structure.
In our first week of organizing, we went from 0 to 5 challenges in three countries, and expect to add to that before the event is over in April (posting this proposal is primarily to spread the word via ClimateCoLab!)
This is the first year, and it is intended to continue as long as needed or wanted by anyone, so may be around in 50 or have evolved into something else. We have a five year or more commitment personally.