Winners:

Adult Fiction - CLEOME'S WEDDING - M.Z. McDonnel & Janice Walrafen
Youth Fiction - CHANGE - Lorenza Fechter
Adult Essay - HERE ON THE FARM - Sarah L. Seidman
Youth/Young Adult Essay - A STORY OF SOUND NATURE - Anne Beach

Adult Fiction Runners Up:

AFTER JESS - Cynthia Bogard
TAVIA'S QUESTION - Paul Daniel Ash

The contest was designed to encourage creative and innovative thinking about what a future Central Vermont might be. We were curious to see what tools Vermonters would employ to build a vision of a promising future, rising from the chaos of the climate, economic, health and social challenges of today.

Vermonters will one way or another, through thoughtful creativity, shape the future of this state. How we do that is the subject of these thoughtful stories. What we have learned is that it is possible, and necessary to rethink and rebuild our relationships with each other, our ecosystems and our economy.

The four winning entries and two runners up here offer a vision of innovations and responses that might emerge between now and 2047. These creative solutions serve as inspiration to people here in Central Vermont and beyond. Rickey Gard Diamond, one of the project's jurors, reviewed the youth fiction entries. She writes: "This piece provides a gorgeous vision of how sustainable and progressive Montpelier and Vermont could be in the future. I was impressed by the big and quite detailed thoughts of all these young minds, hopeful for what I heard of public banking, awareness of climate problems and solutions both original and potential, and all referred to women in leadership."

What is noteworthy and persistent in these stories is that the strength and flexibility of the social network is key to survival. Bill McKibben, one of our wise What Comes Next? advisors puts it this way, "When survival depends on an ability to handle chaos, the damage that comes from rising temperatures will ultimately be less telling than our collective capacity to respond."

Whether the What Comes Next? Contestants chose to use a wedding, a farm, an urgent question, a walk in the woods, or a permaculture garden to highlight the need for community, respect for the natural world and each other, the results are clear and uplifting. Building community and collective capacity is certainly at the core of surviving the future.

Thank you sponsors, advisors and judges, funders and the staff and board of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition. And a special thanks to the 19 contributors to the What Comes Next? writers' contest. Due to our contest's sponsors, a total of $2,000 has been awarded to these talented local writers!