Ecofiction Challenge

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Ecofiction Challenge: Change the stories we tell to change the world

Eugene, United StatesVittoria, BrazilLangosta, Costa RicaGainesville, United States
Year Founded:
2016
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Change our stories to create change! Ecofiction Challenge dares communities to imagine and write stories set in a sustainable version of where they live, ecologically and economically sustainable. 5 writers or a whole town! Contests in Feb/March, stories readable online by April 22, Earth Day.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if this became a yearly aid to community planning, and we could relax with new paradigms instead of old?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This addresses inaction re climate change due to OVERWHELM, CONFUSION, FEAR and DENIAL. Change is scary, change you can't imagine is scarier, and end of the world or humanity scenarios scariest! Even for those committed to change, integrating many changes into systemic change is overwhelming., and big picture changes seem out of our ability to influence. These feelings contribute to denial or refusal to look at the problems.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

By creating short fiction set in our spheres of influence, we create and share integrated visions of ways forward, with the elements of HOPE, CLARITY, and SUPPORT. This encourages desired actions, even for climate deniers, because many scenarios multiple benefits. CLIMATE DENIERS might want fresh food, clean water, or lower energy bills. It shares information on possible solutions in a FUN way, EMPOWERS writers and readers of all ages, and encourages citizen participation in their communities.

Awards

none - only one month old
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

#1 I see faces light up when they hear about the contest, they are cheered up by being invited to write what THEY want, or wanting to read what is created. More people are willing to think about solutions and therefore also about the problems. #2 Examples: a piece about neighbors going in on the cost of an expert in rainwater catchment systems might actually result in real rainwater systems going in, then the community connection formed there can lead to more change (practical, hands on, disaster preparation,or influencing government). A "Letter to the Editor 2019" might inspire college funds for treeplanting teams of young adults, private sector and public.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The Ecofiction Challenge is one month old, designed to be every year, Feb to April. In one month, it has gone from an idea to 4 existing announced contests in 3 countries and 3 languages, and more communities interested. This first year still has a very short window for organizers in other communities but the scalability of the project means it can be a group of 5 writers, one high school class, or bigger. The self organizing flexibility in guidelines means that so far we have 3 high schools, 1 town of 150, 000, 1 state, and an online writers' community participating, with some variation in word limits or focus (the town is requesting stories set in a specific month as well as in the town, extra points for including events or activities common to that month). Website is being built and managed, pro bono, by a marketing firm. Potential is the same as NaNoWriMo and 350.org.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Please share this proposal NOW with those who might still want to participate this year. Spreading the word through social media, sites LIKE CHANGEMAKERS and Climate CoLab, leaders, to school systems, more. Partner and promote others with similar work. WSF group on Facebook already inspired a Portuguese version for Brazil, so geographic spread is wide, but actual contests local and replicable. Within 5 years, a skeleton budget and staff for the international sharing website, and a rapid increase in books published, films made and video/TV shows using these paradigms.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Right now, all volunteer, including logo, artist permission for graphic, website. Primarily it is a citizen participation, volunteer proposal but to maintain a coordinating/sharing website plus optional extra promotional work will require patrons or donations. Since this encourages creative work that others want, it should be possible to get percentages donated by creators who go on to sell their work, or other donations and patrons.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Have been looking for ecofiction writers for a long time. It is a genre finally recognized and increasing. The focus of the Ecofiction Challenge is on local and somehow positive, not necessarily utopian but definitely not dystopian end of the world. This is fiction that inspires change by presenting real actions possible to many of the readers. Disasters and worst case scenarios have to include at least coping strategies! Decades of warning people, of motivating through fear, only go so far. This is the carrot more than the stick.
Team

Founding Story

Writers for a Sustainable Future was originally a group on wiserearth.org, that was fairly inactive and yet kept attracting new members. My original blurb was "what if you could relax with a TV show like Friends but the characters lived in a green city?". That network was dismantled. My motivation was probably more as a voracious reader than my writer side. I wanted to read and watch more stories like Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing or Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia! WSF restarted last year on Facebook with the stated mission of encouraging, collecting and promoting ecofiction. Started a blog where frustration and ideas are relieved by writing fiction. The Ecofiction Challenge was next.

Team

Alison Halderman in Eugene Oregon, probably CEO, also Aloma and Shaylor Murray (Eugene Mindworks co-working providing events space, Limelight Dept website, marketing expertise). Leona Abrahao in Costa Rica, Karina Rocha in Vittoria, Brasil, and Timothy Neeno in Cairo, Egypt. All part time, volunteer, informal so far. Some help from professional writers and writing teachers, Melissa Hart, Tim Hicks. Reaching out to other projects and potential partners/supporters. Will incorporate as nonprofit in time. 6 March 2016 Update: Kate Wilhelm, 87 y.o. grande dame of science fiction and mysteries, endorsed this effort in a 2 paragraph email. I have invited Mary Woodbury from Vancouver B.C., Canada to join this team, but sharing the resources she has created now.. Mary is the originator behind eco-fiction.com, a catalog site for all kinds of eco-fiction. Mary started a Google newsgroup (shortcut link: http://eco-fiction.com/chat) about a year ago that has 868 members and some lively news and discussions. She is also the publisher at Moon Willow Press, and "Two years ago I ran a contest for short stories on climate change, which eventually (because the entries were so great) turned into the anthology Winds of Change, praised by Bill McKibben. " This year she is offering a contest for "SolarPunk", a new genre where stories move into a sustainable future that embraces technology, visions that steampunk fans of the Age of Steam will enjoy and endorse. That contest's deadline is in July, and it can be found on the front page of eco-fiction.com (scroll down if needed). We are both very thrilled to find each other!