Youth Imagine the Future- is a festival for youth in grades 7 - 12, who reside in the large Eastern Ontario region covered by both the Limestone District School Board & the Algonquin &Lakeshore Catholic School Boards. Youth are invited to create a short story or a piece of art, set in a positive future.
Note: In 2023 we have an Art Only category for grade 6 or younger students who wish to show us their vision of a better future. Please follow the same guidelines.
WHAT IS SOLARPUNK?
Feeling anxious or depressed about the future? You need Solarpunk.
Solarpunk, (called Hopepunk elsewhere), is a literature, art and social movement that envisions how the future might look if humanity really worked together to reverse our planet's direction of global warming. No more dystopias! A Solarpunk future will try to address the climate crisis, biodiversity, racism and social equity issues facing us now.
The writing and art could be set in the near future, perhaps 30 years ahead. Show us how people are working their way toward a green energy future, still struggling. As well, your creation could be set further in the future, perhaps 100- 200 years forward, when the Climate Crisis is basically under control-- show us how that has happened in your story, slip it in. Use ART to show us your vision of a better future!
Solarpunk is not utopian writing or art. We will still be humans; therefore, there will still be problems.
**Some Solarpunk writing and art will showcase renewable energy and tech solutions in their setting. Some will have more nature-based solutions in their future. Most, however, will be a mix. *
These stories/art must be set on Earth, not another planet. For our Youth Imagine the Future Festival , we encourage our youth to set their stories and art in our region, or in a place where they have actually lived. Here, in Eastern Ontario, we now have more frequent and more extreme storms, tornadoes, power outages, heat waves, wildfires, smoke advisories, and floods.
This is not set in stone. If a youth wants to set their art or story in British Columbia, PEI, or anywhere on Earth, we only insist that they research to understand what the area is truly like, now, and how the Climate Crisis is affecting that region. Clearly this would work better if the writer has lived in a different region for some time. Then the youth could research and invent believable solutions for that region. We do not seek only "climate protest" work. We know there are problems. We seek solutions, and a better future we can aim toward.
"Solarpunk" usually includes a diversity of folx of different races, religions, cultures, abilities and gender identities mingling at work and at play without the issues we sadly see too often in today's world. (Be aware of respecting but not appropriating someone else's culture.)
Repeat: this will not be a utopia, a perfect world. Everyone will not be always happy, floating about in clouds, eating purple licorice. Humans will still be humans. There will be friction, misunderstandings, anger, struggle, mistakes. Lots of ideas for a story!
We want solutions. Look up solutions’ ideas on reputable websites such as The Earthshot Prize website, the James Dyson awards, or “10 Unbelievable New Ways of Generating Electricity” (makeuseof), www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/why-fungi-could-be-the-future-of-environmentally-sustainable-building-materials” and others. Think about what solutions might work for the area you want to set your story in. (See suggested Research sites on Menu). Have your teacher book us to bring in a slide show of ideas to get you started.
***TEACHERS! Send us an invitation to give a slideshow & workshop in your class in September! We have a slideshow continually updated of amazing ideas being used around the world now to spark your students' imaginations.
* The festival's region is from Katarakwi/Kingston, north to Whitney, and east to Trenton. Students do not have to be enrolled in those 2 school boards. This is a rough geographical area.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF AS YOU CREATE THE FUTURE:
Will your future have "Little Urban Forests" all through the city to absorb extreme stormwater and bring the temperature down? Will wetlands and urban creeks be restored? How will your future move people and goods everywhere if fossil fuels are gradually phased out? How will electricity be created? Will the food and housing be different? Will schools look different? How can you show improved social justice? Will the local Indigenous languages be taught in schools? Perhaps Indigenous Elders and folx of various genders, abilities and ethnicities will be in top positions in every government.
Make the future better.
Will every home/apartment have a food garden; will urban forests be planted in parking lots? With over 80 million climate refugees in the world now, (people who had to flee their homes because of the climate crisis), what will multiple-family buildings look like in the future? How will they be heated, cooled, and electrified? What will the buildings even be built out of? How will Kingston and the villages and towns around us look differently?
Stories, FICTION, must stay between 500 to 2000 words maximum, ("Word" can count the number of words for writers) , and may be in any genre, except, sadly, Fantasy. We don’t want magic to be the solution for our problems. Write an adventure story, drama, mystery, romance-- the story needs an arc. We can only accept stories sent in Word or as a .pdf file. Do not send a link to a google document.
Create a believable, interesting main character or two. What kind of a problem could he/she/they have? Now throw them into that solarpunk future you designed and write the story!
**NOTE: We will not consider any story written, developed or assisted by "AI" writing tools such as ChatGPT.
Read all of the above to get a sense of what we are looking for. We want to see art, in any style or form, that shows the future, here on Earth, with green energy, restored nature, and positivity. If you google "solarpunk art" you will see a broad array of beautifully imagined places on Earth, most done in an Art Nouveau style. You may use this style, but you do not have to use this style. You are envisioning a better world. Use any style you like!
We encourage young artists to reimagine the area where they live, or another area of the world which they have researched deeply, in a better way, for the future. Consider a real place that needs reimagining for a Solarpunk future (eg. a massive parking lot, a row of warehouses, a polluted harbour.) Redesign it for the future! Have fun!
Art may be a drawing, a painting, a sculpture (eg. wood, clay, metal, fabric, weaving). No video or film yet, sorry. However, 3D art is amazing. Let your vision of a better future inspire the adults in your community. Wake us up. Make us think.
ART should not physically take up more space than a half metre cubed-- 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm. If your art is larger, just send us an email.
A FEW FESTIVAL RULES:
--This is not the place to have excessive violence, blood and guts,--or sex scenes, no matter how romantic. Keep it clean. These are stories written by Youth, for Youth. Repeat: Keep it clean. Also, skip the curse words. Be inventive. Create a new one for the future and have a sense of humour, you nerk!
·-Your story or art must be read (seen) by one adult (to ensure that you followed our guidelines and edited it). Show your adult the Criteria List posted on this website.
·- ONE FORM must be filled out with your age, school (or homeschooled), address, etc. If you are under 18, your guardian needs to sign this so that we can take your photo and print your story or a photo of your art in the paper or on social media. Photos will go out on social media.
·-We invite any youth who lives in the enormous region of Eastern Ontario covered by the Limestone District School Board and the Algonquin and Lakeshore District School Board (Trenton to Kingston and up to Whitney), to participate. You do not have to attend a school in those two school boards.
·- Sadly, the stories must be written in English. Translations from any other language are welcome!
--perhaps next year we will be able to allow music/songwriting or poetry? We are working on it.