PEA Short Story Competition 2021

Updated: Feb 18

How permaculture can help us in an uncertain future

Illustration by James McKay - Bio City


In late January of this year, Russ Grayson asked the question “Where is Permaculture Fiction?” His blog post showed that most permaculture books are instructional non-fiction books or futurist predictions, but a gap exists in the area of permaculture fiction. Grayson speaks about the merits of speculative fiction and how it could guide us by example into an uncertain future. Speculative fiction imagines the future, but contains a story line to add suspense. Storytelling matters, it is how humans have learned for thousands of years.


Rob Hopkins follows the same line in his book From What Is To What If, where he speaks about the power of storytelling to guide us, and the need to imagine a future where things turned out alright. For if we can’t imagine it, how can we work towards it?


A few obvious answers to Grayson’s question can be found in his article. Kim Stanley Robinson’s books, among them the Science In The Capital trilogy and New York 2140, and Linda Woodrow’s 2020 release of 470 are excellent examples of authors imagining a future of new climate change realities and possible human reactions to them. Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia is mentioned as an earlier example. I would add James Howard Kunstler’s World Made by Hand series and Samuel Alexander’s Entropia. None of these books mention permaculture explicitly, but all authors are either permaculturists or at least familiar and aligned with permaculture’s ethics and principles.


It is time to add some shorter examples of how life in a future changed by peak oil and climate chaos, pollution and mass extinction will look like. We are looking for original short stories of up to 2,500 words about an imagined future in which permaculture plays a role. Whether your story is set in the year 2030 or 2300, whether it is utopian or leans towards realism, whether first person account or told by a narrator – we want to read it!


Submitting your story might get you published on our blog or even win you a prize. One ticket for our permaculture design course for you or someone you know, a ticket to one of Gaia Permaculture’s Introduction to Permaculture workshops and a copy of Linda Woodrow’s novel 470 are given to the three best stories.


Let’s imagine a future where things turn out alright. Where we use our ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share to create sufficiency for all instead of wealth for a few. Let’s use the powerful tool of storytelling to create beacons of light for a dark future.


Find out more and learn how to submit your story here

Illustration by James McKay - The car-free city

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