Your task: Create and publish one or more pieces of writing or creative media that explore why you engage in the movements for climate justice

Welcome to the first round of our SustainUS COP23 Creative Challenge! This first wave focuses on the “why” stories, the stories that come from within us. These are our personal stories, the ones that offer up a part of our own journey to capture both hearts and minds and motivate others to join and stay with our movements.

The (soft) deadline for this first round of the Creative Challenge is April 24, at 11:59pm ET. (We will accept submissions for Round One until the entire Challenge window closes on May 22nd, but encourage people to submit early to this first deadline.) You are welcome to submit one or more pieces between now and then. You should submit links to your published work via this submission form. You must take part in this first round of the challenge in order to be considered for our youth delegation to COP23.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” – Erin Morgenstern

“This work is always, first and last, storytelling work, or what some of my friends call ‘the battle of the story.’ Building, remembering, retelling, celebrating our own stories is all part of our work.” – Rebecca Solnit

What are you looking for? Where should I publish my work?

You might choose to publish “Why I work for climate justice” in your campus  or statewide newspaper. You might put together a photo essay on “Why I believe in a just and sustainable future” for a movement blog, or create a series of memes for your campaign’s social media channel on “Why I chose to take non violent direct action.” You may wish to explain “Why I’m working to decolonize the climate movement” through artwork or songwriting. Maybe you’ll have a friend interview you for a podcast on “Why I joined the fossil fuel divestment movement”, or you’ll share a video on social media that explains “Why I am researching solar energy technology”. Maybe your story of “Why I see climate change as an issue of racial justice” will make it into a nationwide outlet — surprise us!

What if I’ve never done something like this before?

You don’t need to identify as a strong writer or deeply creative to excel in this challenge. Maybe your most public writing has only ever been in the form of Facebook posts — that’s OK. Whether you’re a grad school policy wonk, a seasoned activist, or new to this movement entirely — everyone has a story to tell about why they are here – and sharing those stories are exactly how the movement will grow. We’re looking for risk-takers. For young people who are not afraid to push themselves. This challenge isn’t based on your resumé, but on your willingness to dive deeply in to your story of self, whatever it may be.

How do I begin?

See below for a step-by-step guide to publishing your creative piece. You should also be sure to utilize our storytelling resources (top tip for this first round: don’t miss Marshall Ganz’s phenomenal worksheet on exploring your “Story of Self”). 

Last year’s Creative Challenge brought forth a dozen webinars on various topics, all aiming to support applicants to this process. They’re too good not to share! Here are some that can support you in Round One:

  1. Why do we tell stories?
  2. How to contact the media and pitch your story
  3. Mobilization media: integrating storytelling into action planning

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our COP23 Delegation Leaders, Dineen & Karina, with questions at any time. Do look through our FAQ first, just in case your question has been answered before.