Write for Sustainability and Win $10,000 in Creative Writing Contest

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Unleash your inner Thoreau, show the human side of sustainability and and win $10,000 for a creative nonfiction essay.

Have you been lucky enough to Dance at the Dead Sea but then couldn’t help but notice its destruction? Or you’ve have had the rare chance to travel and surf through unknown parts of Iran. Perhaps you are just a wanderer or quiet philosopher type who has a rare knack for seeing natural detail the rest of us miss. If you have a “green” eye, a corresponding “green” pen, and an ecologically-minded story to tell or have told you can submit it to a new contest for sustainability writing and win a cool $10,000.

Creative Nonfiction magazine with the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona State University are looking for the best creative nonfiction essay on sustainability. The winning essay which will take home the prize will also be published in the magazine’s special “Human Face of Sustainability” issue.

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The magazine and the Sustainability Solutions Fair, one of the programs within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona U, launched this competition to grow the conversion on sustainability within the individual as a writer, and to enlarge the conversation about sustainability as a whole around the planet.

“As we face daily reminders of environmental challenges across the globe, our work here is to advance knowledge about the existing and potential solutions of sustainability, so we’re thrilled to be partnering with Creative Nonfiction to raise awareness and thoughtful responses to these issues that affect every one of us,” says Patricia Reiter, director of the sustainability programs at Arizona University.

Before you sharpen your pencils, we suggest reading a great primer: American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau. I’ve been reading this book edited by Bill McKibben over the last year and it gives the best lessons on how to write on sustainability issues that are in line with the times. It inspires.

And you also have to know the basic entry requirements for the contest: According to the contest rules your entries should be personal essays or stories that illuminate and present the human side of environmental, economic, ethical, and/or social challenges related to the state of the planet and our future. They need to be true stories, backed up with facts and research if possible.

From the editor’s desk: “We seek essays on topics that range from global to local, from “big” (e.g., Resilience after natural disasters; New technology solutions vs. common sense; Energy harvesting) to “small” (e.g., Personal decisions about consumption; Reuse, recycle, up-cycle, bicycle?; Green, clean—what does it mean?; What can we learn from past generations?). Whatever the subject, we want to hear about it in an essay that blends facts and research with narrative—employing scenes, descriptions, etc.

“Your essay can channel Henry David Thoreau or Henry Ford, Rachel Carson or (a literary) Rush Limbaugh; but all essays must tell true stories and be factual and scientifically accurate,” editors note.

Creative Nonfiction founder and editor Lee Gutkind points out: “There are so many with an interest or stake in this timely and important issue: including nonfiction writers, environmentalists, engineers, and scientists. I’m eager to read through these submissions and see how a diversity of voices are exploring and contextualizing their ideas through narrative.”

In addition to the $10,000 prize, the winner will be invited to attend a special launch event hosted by Arizona University’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. With a contest deadline at May 31 this year there is a little less than three months to get your work submitted.

An additional prize will go to an artist who is selected to illustrate the issue, so forward this call-out to your designer friends as well. Designers can win $3,500 but more importantly perhaps, have their work featured on the magazine’s website and inside the special edition on sustainability. Anything suited to a print format will be considered.

Complete submission guidelines are available at the Creation Nonfiction website here

Top image of girl and typewriter from Shutterstock

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