I attended a workshop on climate change yesterday held by the Bristol Climate Writers as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature.
As part of the course the group was asked to write two short pieces, one dystopian, one utopian. Afterward, it was generally agreed that dystopia was a lot easier to portray. Not surprising as we are surrounded daily by suffering and injustices.
Member of Bristol Climate Writers, Emma Turnbull, argued that “when we feel threatened with no perceived possibility of escape, we are at risk of experiencing trauma and developing PTSD”. With this in mind, maybe a prevalence of dystopian themes can be damaging.
If we begin to imagine utopias more, bring them into debate and discuss the possibilities, is that not positive thinking? And might that not bring about change? It’s hard to imagine in a race so scared living on a world so depleted, but it’s worth a shot. Start a conversation today.
My two workshop pieces:
Outside my window the last tree stands. The July sky is dappled by crisp dead leaves.
I am the only one who still comes to the office on Narrow Quay.
I am the only one.
I do no work as there is no work to be done.
Sweat replaces the tears that used to moisten the brittle rubber seal of my oxygen mask. They continued to manufacture rubber and plastics until the end because the masses continued to buy them; only the rich could afford the sustainable alternatives and they were the ones who made the plastic.
The cylinder by my legs is finally empty. A voice doesn’t need breath, just somebody to hear it.
Their fingers pressed those buttons years back and dystopia died along with the many.
I may not have mastered utopias yet, but I’m going to keep trying.