Resilience Perspectives: A storytelling competition for young people

GRP, in collaboration with CDKN, is hosting a storytelling contest to bring young voices in resilience to the forefront.

Written by: Vilina Engeepi and June Kimaiyo
GRP Areas of work: Innovation Knowledge Theme: Climate change Gender, youth and marginalized groups

In order to do what the climate crisis demands of us, we have to find stories of a livable future, stories of popular power, stories that motivate people to do what it takes to make the world we need. Perhaps we also need to become better critics and listeners, more careful about what we take in and who’s telling it, and what we believe and repeat, because stories can give power – or they can take it away.

-Rebecca Solnit in “If you win the popular imagination, you change the game’: why we need new stories on climate”, The Guardian, Published on 12 Jan 2023

As young people are key actors when it comes to nurturing resilient futures, their voices are essential for breaking barriers and developing innovative solutions. With an estimated 75% of young people globally who deem the future frightening because of the unforeseen changes in the world, combined with a severe lack of representation of young people in formal decision-making processes, there is need to amplify their voices and stories to ensure their experiences, opinions, innovations and solutions are heard everywhere and involved in decisions that will influence their lives. To create a platform to support young people to connect, share and advance resilience insights and knowledge, we are launching the Resilience Perspectives: A storytelling competition for young people.

We are hosting this contest in collaboration with Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) to bring young voices to the forefront of stories from lived experiences of resilience.  

The current scenario in the world is one of compound crises – extreme weather events, a global pandemic, economic slumps and stresses on health infrastructure in a span of three years. However, along with these challenges, there has been an outpouring of young people leading the fight to change collective opinions and dominant narratives on these challenges. 

We believe that more individuals will be inspired to act and push for transformation if we tell new stories of hopestories that depict a brighter future. 

As young professionals who work on these issues, we know you have many such stories waiting to be told. We want to hear compelling stories from you. We are looking for stories of action, stories that challenge power, dreams of new futures of justice and agency. We are looking for stories of art, science and technology that enable action and create lasting change.

What kind of stories would be potentially prize-winning?

A prize-winning story will be an engaging non-fiction piece. It will speak to us as readers about personal histories, experiences, social networks and systems in ways that we haven’t been engaged before. Give us a clear narrative arc, with a compelling beginning, middle and an end. It should be authentic with verifiable facts. Tell us about the dilemmas and trade-offs that decisions about resilience bring, but also the synergies and epiphanies that occur in process. We want to hear about serendipities and unintended consequences too. Good stories focus on key characters, include their perspectives and quotes at key junctures as well. 

In all, we are looking for well-written, well-told stories with narrative arcs that are accessible and easy to follow, and which illustrate some relatable human experience readers will identify with, even if their own experiences in life have been quite different. We are interested in hearing from a wide range of voices from all backgrounds, genders, abilities, experiences, and perspectives. Applicants do not need to have been previously published.

 Submitted stories should be backed by evidence, like local newspaper reports, websites, local NGO reports, blogs, videos, or other stories. 

Submission process 

Before submitting a story, we ask you to submit a pitch. The pitch should be a 500-word narrative on the proposed content of the story. We would love to read a few lines about what the core premise would be, how you would construct the beginning, middle and end of the story and who the main characters are. In the next few lines, tell us about yourself – who you are as a writer, where you are from and how this story is connected to you as an individual. Finally, give us a line or two about what kind of evidence you intend to use for your story (provide links to videos, reports, other blogs or stories, etc.). We are keen to read new and original voices, and would love to read unpublished, fresh takes on situations. 

Contest stages

We are running this contest in a two stage process where we will first shortlist the top pitches. The shortlisted applicants will gain experience in storytelling through a workshop and further editorial support to hone their stories and publish them on the Resilience Platform.

The five top stories will be awarded $1000 USD each, and be featured on GRP’s website and social media.

The winners will be announced during the Evidence Forum 2023 and winners may be invited (online) to share their stories. 

All awardees will receive certificates.  

Submission and Deadlines: 

Submit a 500 word maximum short pitch that adheres to the instructions above in this google form by 30 March 2023

After the first stage of the competition, the selected participants will be asked to submit a 1500-2000 word story for the final stage by the end of April 2023. All these stories will undergo a curatorial process to be published on the Resilience Platform.

The final winners will be announced in June during the Evidence Forum.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  1. This competition is open to young professionals of 18-35 years of age.
  2. Applicants from OECD DAC list of ODA recipient countries are eligible to apply. Please refer here to see if you are eligible to apply. 

Terms and conditions:

  1. The story must be a narrative that captures real events with clear reference to real time, location and community in the region you are writing about
  2. The story should be the author’s original, unaltered work
  3. Initial entry pitch should be of no more than 500 words in length to be submitted in this google form by 30 March 11:59 CEST. Any submissions after the deadline will not be accepted for evaluation. 
  4. Only (1) one entry may be submitted per contestant
  5. Please include contextual material like photos, videos, maps, graphs, name, location, time, and date to help your audiences locate and understand your story. Up to three contextual materials may be submitted in the final story in the formats described above. These are not needed for the pitch.
  6. We strongly recommend that the entrant informs and obtains consent from any third party who are included in their stories, including subjects in photos.

Judging Criteria:

The pitches will be judged by a panel consisting of experts. All decisions will be  final and not appealable. The entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Originality and creativity – How unique is your voice? How well does your pitch stand out from others?
  2. Communication and clarity – Are you succinct and clear in your pitch? Does it have a clear narrative arc, with a compelling beginning, middle and end?
  3. Evidence – Have you given an idea of the kind of evidence you will quote in your story?  
  4. Relevance – Is the story relevant to the description of the theme above? How does it relate to the crises of climate change, the pandemic, economic and health system slumps, etc? Does it describe novel or different ways that have emerged as people learn to deal with these crises? 
  5. Inclusivity  – Have you been inclusive in presenting your resilience perspective? Does it take into account narratives from marginalized groups who may not otherwise have a voice? Does it present a perspective beyond the dominant narratives of resilience?

General Liability Release :

By participating in this contest, each entrant agrees that:

  1. The submission is the entrant’s own original, previously unpublished, and previously unproduced work; any entrant who incorporates any intellectual property or material owned by a third party into his or her submission does so at his or her own risk.
  2. They irrevocably grant GRP, CDKN, ICCCAD a non-exclusive, limited license (but not the obligation) to display, distribute, reproduce, and create derivative works of the texts, in whole or in part, in any media currently existing or subsequently developed, for any educational, promotional, publicity, exhibition, archival, scholarly, or all other standard purposes.
  3. GRP will provide a digital copy to the entrant (upon request) of any publication that includes their work. Due credit will be given to the entrant each time their story is used, wherever feasible. 
  4. By submitting an entry for consideration in the contest, the entrant agrees to be bound by the contest’s participation guidelines and GRP’s Privacy Policy.