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"Imagine 2200": A new cli-fi essay contest that travels forward seven generations

We are in a climate emergency. And you were born at just the right moment to help change everything.

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Right now, we are in a liminal space as a country, as a planet, and as a species. We are emerging from the foundations of a civilization that has spent hundreds of years investing in white supremacy, in imperialism, in extractive capitalism – a civilization that clearly cannot continue like this for very much longer. What comes next is… unknown.

We, you and I, are trapped in the messy middle.

Never before in human history have our planet’s life support systems been at such grave risk of collapse. Never before in our country’s history have the basic ideas of justice and equality been so close to fruition for every person, and yet so far. Never before have we had to bear so much trauma on such a huge scale.

That’s part of why every single day seems bathed in anxiety, in misdirection and deceit, in terror. The leaders of the old world – the fossil fuel executives who poison our water and torch our futures for profit, the literal Nazis who seek to exterminate people for simply existing in a different way – want us to feel broken. That’s why some days it feels so much easier to watch the world burn than to do the slow and difficult work of building what comes next.

In this moment of chaos and uncertainty, storytelling about a better world is a revolutionary act. It tangibly makes those better futures more likely to happen.

We need visions of a better future that can anchor our courage and bring us through this troubled time, so that we can build a new kind of human civilization that’s grounded in ecology and works for every living thing.

The generations-long work of building a better world is urgent. And it can start by simply saying it’s possible.

Imagine 2200 – a new, hopeful, cli-fi essay contest

Today, I’m excited to help announce that Grist, my former journalistic home, is launching an effort to literally write the future.

Imagine 2200: Climate fiction for future ancestors is an essay contest designed to spur a collective storytelling project about the kind of world we are worthy of.

Tory Stephens, Imagine 2200’s project director, told me it’s more than just an essay contest, it’s also “a grassroots mobilization effort.” Here’s how he described it:

We especially want to see — and share — stories that center climate solutions from the most impacted communities and bring into focus what a truly just, regenerative future could look like.

Grist’s whole reason for being is to imagine “a planet that doesn’t burn, and a future that doesn’t suck.” That may feel a world away from what we’ve been putting up with on a daily basis the past few years, but it has a long history in radical creative spaces as a political strategy for profound change.

Imagine 2200 draws inspiration from Afrofuturism, as well as Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, feminist, and queer futures, and the genres of hopepunk and solarpunk. The project’s judges – adrienne maree brown author of Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism, Kiese Laymon author of Heavy and Long Division, and Morgan Jerkins author of This Will Be my Undoing – make this contest truly exciting.

The details:

Imagine 2200 seeks 3,000-5,000 word Cli-Fi short stories. Submissions close April 2021 and in July of 2021, first, second, and third prize winners will be awarded $3000, $2000, and $1000 respectively. Nine finalists will receive a $300 honorarium. Winners and finalists will be published in “a stunning, immersive digital collection” and celebrated in a public-facing virtual event.

You can find more details, as well as an FAQ and instructions for how to enter, at Grist’s website. Or if you’re ready to jump right in, here’s the direct link to submit your essay.