Arizona State University’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative invited people worldwide to write a short story on what the future holds based on current world events but an imagined future reality.
While the digital collection of five winning essays excluded science fiction and fantasy from the competition, the initiative received 43 submissions in April, from around the world, with 20 from the ASU community participating in the story contest in partnership with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, according to a press release.
Adaptation to a changed reality was one of the recurring themes among most of the stories, which ranged from 400 to 700 words, the release said, noting that the top five would be included in a new magazine displayed on Issuu: Envisioning the Future, Volume 1.
Winning stories were written by:
Two of the local women whose winning essays were published as part of the Envisioning the Future Story Contest hosted by Arizona State University shared their reasons for competing in the international contest.
“Writing is a form of therapy, which is why I penned this essay. I was inspired by Marcus Aurelius and the Stoic practice of anticipating the worst in order to be prepared for anything — so it’s definitely dark.
Yet, I don’t think it’s off-base because humankind is so tragically disconnected from nature. I hope that the uncertainty and upheaval of 2020 wakes us from our complacency,” said third place winner, Ms. Beyer, in a prepared statement.
She is a counselor and consultant with over a decade of experience in the field of personal growth, said the release, noting her expertise in psychology, mindfulness meditation and the contemplative sciences. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature, a master’s degree in counseling psychology and has traveled the world studying insight traditions.
“Having worked in baseball for years, I’ve had a lot of first-hand experience watching the general public interact in a mass setting, and I thought it would be interesting to envision how this would play out in the ‘new normal.’
I have empathy for the operations staff at every sports facility, who I know will put in countless hours trying to make fans feel safe while still enabling them to have an enjoyable experience. Trying to balance these two sometimes-competing interests is going to be a challenge,” said Ms. Forbes Bohn, chief operating officer of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University, in a prepared statement.
Before joining ASU, the Scottsdale resident who lives with her husband Brad, son Cade and daughter Carson, was a front office executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team from 2004 to 2016, the release stated about the fifth-place winner.
The Environmental Humanities Initiative and the Institute for Humanities Research contributed to Envisioning the Future, according to the release.
“One of the inspiring aspects of every submission, but particularly the winners, is how each of the authors grappled with and depicted the essential humanity of life, no matter how challenging or even bleak that ecological or social reality might be,” said Steven Beschloss,
Narrative Storytelling Initiative director, who is a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication professor of practice, in a prepared statement.
“That ingredient of humanity gives me optimism that we can face the future without forsaking the qualities that make life both livable and rewarding.”
During the summer, he and fellow judges, Joni Adamson and Ronald Broglio, who are professors in the Department of English and sustainability scholars in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation selected the five finalists.
Authors of the top three entries will receive cash prizes, and the top five will all get a signed copy of “Environment” by ASU Professor Rolf Halden along with publication in the new magazine. Each story in the magazine is paired with an original illustration by designers in ASU Knowledge Enterprise, the release said.
“Despite living in a world thrown into chaos by COVID-19, extreme fires and punishing hurricanes, each submission was an example of what writer Rebecca Solnit has called ‘radical hope,’” said Mr. Adamson, director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative, in a prepared statement.
“Each storyteller helped me imagine how communities and individuals will build resilience and insist that it is possible to flourish and live more sustainably in the future.”
If this contest sounds like something you’d enjoy participating in, you’re in luck.
“This is not a one-time thing,” Beschloss said. “This is necessary work, and we will create other such opportunities in the coming year.”
The digital collection containing the essays can be viewed at globalfutures.asu.edu/envision.