“We are already dreaming beyond this current moment, these crises, these norms. Dreams are the foundation for what we attempt to turn into reality. . . . When we know things need to change, dreaming together is one of the places we can start."
adrienne maree brown, Foreword to Afterglow
For the 2023-2024 academic year, Community Reads will be focusing on the book Afterglow: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, an anthology of visionary fiction about climate justice. As time goes on, and the devastating impacts of climate change and environmental racism become more difficult to ignore, climate justice becomes an increasingly urgent topic of discussion and action. However, inspired by the concept of visionary fiction as a tool for imagining better futures, we choose to focus our attention on not only the ways things could go wrong, but the ways they could go right. The short stories in Afterglow imagine climate futures based on justice, community, and alternative ways of knowing. They are, as foreword author adrienne maree brown says, “a variety of attempts to decolonize our thinking of the future, particularly on this planet, and to show what hope and utopia look like through lenses beyond our own.” In our programming inspired by this book, we seek to use visionary fiction to ask the question: what could an environmentally just future look like?
Each quarter, we will focus on a different short story within the text, looking at the intersections of social and environmental justice with attention to how each story responds to issues present today. We will also emphasize the use of visionary fiction as our own tool, a way to decolonize our minds and challenge dominant thought patterns. We encourage our participants to think outside the bounds of what seems possible, using radical imagination as the first step towards a more just future. In keeping with this goal, we encourage community members to submit their own visionary climate fiction to our digital anthology project (more information below).
Throughout winter and spring quarters, we will be accepting submissions for our Climate Fiction Writing Awards! These awards are open to all UW Bothell and Cascadia College students. More information can be found on the Climate Fiction Writing Awards page.
Listen to seven of the stories, including Afterglow, on the Grist website.
This Winter Quarter, Community Reads is thrilled to host Lindsey Brodeck, the author of the short story "Afterglow," for a visioning event launching our Climate Fiction Writing Awards. Lindsey will be giving a short presentation about her own writing process and climate fiction, and then will be available to answer some questions and moderate a community brainstorming session for our own visionary fiction writing.
Date: Tuesday, February 20th
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Mobius Hall
In partnership with the Sustainability Offices at UWB and CC, we invite you to an event with Madeline Ostrander, the author of the book At Home on an Unruly Planet. Ostrander’s book covers climate change impacts and resilience in American communities. She challenges us to look at the climate crisis as an immediate and urgent crisis with tangible impacts, as opposed to an abstract and yet-to-come event. The event will also include local climate action groups tabling, a time for book signing, a pop-up bookstore, and refreshments!
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 20th
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM
Location: Mobius Hall
Please register: tinyurl.com/ClimateAuthorNight
Afterglow: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors edited by Grist with a foreword by adrienne maree brown. E-book available in the UW Libraries catalog. UW NetID required for access (for Cascadia community members who do not have a NetID, please visit the CC Computing Services NetID website to get started).
Grist’s Imagine 2200 contest challenged writers to think about how the world might look different in 200 years; Rich Larson’s “Tidings” imagines the roadmap to get there. Through a series of vignettes taking place all over the world, we witness climate justice solutions as they emerge bit by bit. From a plastic-eating machine in Niger to a swim with dolphins in Thailand, the stories portray individual and networked ingenuity and help us imagine how communities all over the world might begin to work towards a more just environmental future.
Rich Larson was born in Galmi, Niger, has lived in Spain and Czech Republic, and currently writes from Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the novels Ymir and Annex, as well as the collection Tomorrow Factory. His fiction has appeared in over a dozen languages, including Polish, Italian, Romanian, and Japanese, and his translated collection La Fabrique des lendemains won the Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire. His short story “Ice” was adapted into an Emmy-winning episode of LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS. (from https://richwlarson.tumblr.com/aboutme)
“adrienne maree brown grows healing ideas in public through her multi-genre writing, her music and her podcasts. Informed by 25 years of movement facilitation, somatics, Octavia E Butler scholarship and her work as a doula, adrienne has nurtured Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism, Radical Imagination and Transformative Justice as ideas and practices for transformation. She is the author/editor of seven published texts and the founder of the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, where she is now the writer-in-residence.” (from https://adriennemareebrown.net/book-me/)
“Grist is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future. Our goal is to use the power of storytelling to illuminate the way toward a better world, inspire millions of people to walk that path with us, and show that the time for action is now.” (from https://grist.org/about/)
During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Community Reads team created an open digital anthology site to welcome submissions of visionary fiction from our community members. This year, we will build on that site for submissions of visionary fiction with an environmental justice lens. Inspired by the short stories in Afterglow, we encourage you to imagine your own futures and submit your own visionary writing to our site, contributing to a community repository of shared dreams and radical imagination.
This quarter, we will also be launching a series of writing awards for community visionary fiction. View our Climate Fiction Writing Awards page for updates on these awards, prompts, and other information!
To learn more about this project, how to submit, and what open work is, please visit the “Share” page of the site. We hope you will feel inspired to write some visionary work of your own or be inspired by your fellow community members' submissions.