Previous Competitions/Winning entries

Winners of Stage Play competition – ended April 2019

1st prize Welcome to the Village by Ellie Taylor

Living Your Values production company hope to start with a rehearsed reading of this winning play.

The villagers of Hatton West are thrilled when their small Yorkshire home is awarded the prestigious title of ‘Britain’s Greatest Greenest Village’, and will be featured in Home and Garden magazine. But as competition rises amongst the residents for who will win the coveted spot, and be featured on the front cover of the magazine, the very qualities which won the residents their award – their sense of community, unity and neighbourly spirit – begin to be tested.

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Tensions rise when Cherie dares to challenge the village stalwart, Mrs. Marsden, at the start of the annual Spring fête, a confrontation which forces Cherie to ask some very difficult questions, about duty, sustainability and what really constitutes a good and healthy life. Still wracked with grief, and trying to recover from the death of her mum, Cherie seeks solace in the newest visitor to the village; the Home and Garden photographer, Philip.

Meanwhile, the simmering tensions in the village eventually boil over, resulting in a very different act of ‘community spirit’. But as the dust settles, and relationships are repaired, the residents of Hatton West realise that their success is down to their togetherness, and that their futures lie not in themselves, but in the kindness, generosity and love of one another.

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2nd prize Greener Pastures by Sally Lewis

The beef farm has been run by the family for generations, but now the father is dying its future is unclear. Should they develop the land, adopt the latest green innovations to create a diverse and sustainable environment or keep it as it is.  As the family settles down to play their favourite Christmas game of Monopoly, the questions of land and who owns it and wins and who loses come starkly to the fore.

3rd prize.  Going Wild by Peter Snoad

Small-town librarian Meredith Stafford and her husband Beau are losing the struggle for the perfect lawn. Invasive weeds and pesky moles have made an unholy mess of their front yard. Meredith decides to “go wild”, replacing the decimated lawn with a “natural” landscape. Bees and other pollinators love it, but not everyone is thrilled. When she’s fined for violating a local lawn ordinance, she’s incensed: their son, Johnny, a Marine, gave his life in Iraq to defend their rights and freedoms.

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Meredith decides to challenge the ordinance in court. While she loses the case, she becomes a social media sensation. And that launches her on a bizarre journey that shakes her faith in America as a bastion of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Unbeknown to Meredith, a multinational corporation allied with corrupt politicians is poised to make millions from marketing a highly toxic new lawn treatment called New Dawn. By spreading the “go wild” gospel, Meredith is seen as a threat – and she becomes the target of an orchestrated smear campaign. She is falsely accused of a staged terrorist attack on her own home. She loses her job. And she and is shunned by members of her church.

But with the aid of an environmental group and sympathetic neighbors, Meredith clears her name and helps expose the New Dawn scam. With the “going wild” movement fast becoming a national phenomenon, Meredith and Beau give their now lush and wild front yard a new name: Johnny’s Garden.

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Winners of Radio Play competition – ended July 2019

1st prize: Voices from an eco-future by Adrian Ellis. 8 x15 minute radio drama

A strong winner. This is a series of 8 x 15-minute stories, all of which have interesting ideas, and anti-consumption messages wrapped up in humour, great characterization and snappy dialogue. Each one made us laugh out loud in places.

2nd prize: ‘I am your dress by Yvonne  Sampson. 45-minute drama

This draws on the idea of a dress going through many hands, and smuggles in green solutions such as washing cold, drip-drying and clothes libraries.

3rd prize: The Roof Gardenby Jill Hucklesby. 45-minute radio comedy

This was very sweet, with lots of drama and richly drawn characters. It promotes very subtly love of nature, solar panels, electric cars.

Winners of novel competition – ended August 2019

1st prize The Woman who Planted Coral by Sophia Jones & Gideon Simeloff

This story is about a woman who changes the direction of her life to become an environmental activist and a restorer of the distressed natural world.  This change is inspired by her meetings over several decades with a hermetic woman who has dedicated her life to the remarkable scientific art of coral restoration.

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The hermetic woman echoes Elzeard Bouffier in The Man Who Planted Trees  (Jean  Giono,  1953) and throughout she is elusive and private, until at the end the story twists and reveals her haunting and poetic secret.  This secret is the final motivation for our hero’s change.  Our story glories in the natural world, accounts for its deprivation by war and profit and shows a path forward if we can change how we think,  feel and behave.

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2nd prize What on Earth by Susan Cope

In the not-far future, in a small neighborhood of clapboard beach houses, climate change is increasingly felt, though there may still be time.  Merry (13), is obsessed but paralyzed by two things: global ecological danger and her crush on a new classmate, an immigrant from Somalia.  Her brother Max (10), oblivious to both world threat and his sister, is engrossed in computer games and techno-toys.  A sibling squabble gets them shut out of the house for an hour, apathetic and exiled.

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Banished from the beach by a sewage spill, Merry and Max head for their Secret Place, a shack high in a massive tree in the last vacant lot in the neighborhood.  There they encounter a developer about to chop down the tree and displace Owliver, a crusty owl they’ve befriended.  Max, outraged, taunts the developer.  As he and Merry run from the developer’s henchman, they find themselves in the realm of the mysterious woman who lives next to the lot. She may be an artist, witch, or both.  Her art involves glass globes, each containing a vision of the past, present, or future.

Max and Merry are first transported to a future imagined by Max: a life-sized version of the digital wonderland he already inhabits. Max is in his element and thinks he’s in control until he and Merry encounter the desolation of this place. They are taken in by a rich couple (the husband a doppelganger for the developer) who live in a tower encased by a dome. Their old neighborhood, outside the dome settlement, is barren, uninhabitable. No owl could survive. The beach has been replaced by bulwarks and hydraulics.

Lured to an amusement park named “Wilderness World” Max and Merry find themselves trapped and terrified. They are helped by school kids on a field trip (one, a double for Merry’s crush). Their unlikely savior is an outlaw, an eco-warrior who is unkempt, but otherwise resembles Merry’s science teacher.

In company with their new friend’s small band of eco-revolutionaries, Max and Merry break into a barbed-wire compound where those too old or infirm to be productive are warehoused.  They bring food and comfort, until they are surrounded by police.  Cornered, Merry and Max seize their only hope–another vision, this one inside the globe grasped by Merry.

In Merry’s future, the world has recovered much of its wonder after surviving near annihilation. Their guide is a local boy, another iteration of Merry’s crush. He leads them through a forest, along the seashore, and finally to a village in which a very few remaining humans live simply but well. Owliver, still sleepy, survives in his tree.  But people are people.  Greed and ambition, as well as violence, have survived in this world too.  Merry and Max blow the whistle on the villains, but in peril for their lives, must flee, this time for home.

Infused with passion from their adventures, Merry and Max incite their schoolmates, kids from kindergarten through middle school.  Together, they halt the bulldozer and save the tree.  Kids with a cause? The media have a feeding frenzy, the developer is thwarted, the teachers are proud, the kids are triumphant, and Owliver…blinks his bleary eyes.

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3rd prize Hope and the Magic Martian a children’s novel by Helen Moore

This modern fable about climate change for children aged 7-10 (in just under 20,000 words) centres on a young girl called Hope MacGregor and her inspirational friendship with Martin Love, a Martian boy.  Despite Hope’s fears that she’s too small to make a difference, the pair finds the courage to help the Arctic animals and people, who are being affected by the melting polar ice.

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At a time when many children are feeling disturbed about the future, this story offers a loving vision of a way forward.  Having just received a telescope for her 10th birthday, Hope is in the garden with her father, looking at Mars for the first time.  In her excitement, she makes a strong wish to meet a Martian.  The scene then shifts to the Red Planet where Martin Love and his father hear someone calling and come up to the top of their ice tower.  Risking the poor air quality outside their home, these rare Martians look through their telescope towards the Blue Planet.  Seeing the melting polar caps, Martin Love decides to help.  Travelling through Space on his magic snowball, Martin Love lands at Hope’s school.  Hope is delighted to meet a Martian, but when the school bully-boys approach, Hope is forced to hide the small Martian boy in her pocket.

Seeing the boys smile at her, Hope wonders if her new Martian friend is magic.  Eager to escape the school day, Hope wishes they could go somewhere else.  She touches the magic snowball and shrinks in size, imagining they’re about to travel to Mars. In fact they land up in the Arctic.  There they meet a Polar Bear cub, hungrily waiting for his mother.  The cub is surprised to discover that the Martian boy knows next to nothing about life on Earth and brings them both to a meeting of all the Arctic animals.  They hear the animals’ stories – from Seals and Collared Lemmings to a Snowy Owl, a grumpy Walrus and the amazing Arctic Tern – each species mysteriously affected by the changes that are occurring in the Arctic.

At a loss as to why this warming is taking place, the animals call the Arctic people. Busy herding their Reindeer, they respond and join the meeting.  To Hope’s surprise, the Arctic people report that the warming is being caused by human activity.  The animals are delighted – now they must tell all the other humans what’s happening. But the Arctic people point out that most people have forgotten how to listen to animals, and Hope realises she’s the only other human who’s heard them.  What can a little girl like Hope do?

Back at school, Hope is restored to her normal size.  Later she and Martin Love discuss the Arctic animals’ plight, and despite Hope’s protestation that she’s too insignificant to help, the Martian boy’s warm heart and seemingly magical abilities soon convince her to try.  Introducing him to her family causes a humorous situation, but before long family and friends support Hope’s new ecological sensitivity and this gives her the courage to start an Energy Action team, with inspiring results.

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Winners of the Short Story Competition – ended April 2018

The short story competition of 2018 was very successful and out of around 200 entries, 50 were excellent quality and the top 20 have now been published in an anthology which is now available to buy ‘Resurrection Trust’ – a collection of funny, dark, mad, bad, upbeat, downbeat and fantastical short stories about living sustainably. From eco communities to singing buildings, and sharing economies, these stories showcase a myriad of different ideas about how humans can live more harmoniously with nature and each other. It has a foreword by Caroline Lucas and review by Jonathan Porritt. It is £3.99/£7.99 online from Amazon, or even better https://www.hive.co.uk/ which allows you to support your local bookshop. Teachers, students and writers may find ‘Resurrection Trust’ a useful source of ideas if they plan on entering any of our future competitions.

1st prize Come Help Me’ by Nancy Lord

Nancy is a former Alaska Writer Laureate and the author or editor of ten books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her writing is largely about the environment and the north. Nancy holds an MFA degree from Vermont College and teaches as an adjunct in two graduate-level programs.

This is a multidimensional story with a breadth of language that revels in differences in idioms across two very different cultures. It is a love story at its core, not just between a man and a woman but a people and their environment. What we liked about this especially was the activism angle that comes in right at the end. The key character is inspirational and proactive: he spots a tension between the scientists concerned with sustainability issues and the fisherman who need to make a living and finds a way to help them work together. The author writes beautifully and captures both the relationship between the two key characters and the beauty and complexity of the ocean.

2nd prize The Buildings are Singing’by Adrian Ellis

Adrian is a full-time writer and illustrator, focussing on science-fiction, comedy and non-fiction popular science.

This short story imagines a future world where buildings are alive covered with photosynthesising plants to create energy, light and shade for the occupants. The flora is tied into artificial intelligence systems which help occupants live sustainably. Insects drawn to the foliage become nourishing protein bars and life is low carbon and almost utopian – unless you do something wrong! Good points were made through humour, and made us laugh out loud in parts. The story integrates lots of potentially transformative solutions, yet at the heart is a lonely woman who just wanted a little company.

Best student entryThe Return’ by Meg Smith

Meg is a postgraduate student at Bath Spa University studying Environmental Humanities. During her studies she has become increasingly worried and intrigued about creating and sharing environmentally-friendly narratives for an Anthropocene world. Meg is passionate about encouraging sustainable, cultural change that promotes rethinking current lifestyles.

The Return’ is a sci-fi fantasy with an interesting premise: the idea that the Earth has a reset button so we can start over and go back to an earlier age. The story moves between the two time periods with ease, the juxtapositioning makes the reader more aware of the excesses of today’s world.