Young Writers Project and the ECOS Project of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission congratulate the top three submissions to the 2035 Writing Challenge!
Evan Wing, of Milton, a 2012 graduate of Rice Memorial High School for his piece, "2035: Samples from a Vermonter's Journal." Evan will be attending Norwich University in the fall.
Leah Kelleher, who is entering 8th grade at Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School in her hometown of Essex Junction, for her essay, "Dearest Fellow Vermonters."
Lexie Shaw, of Westford, who is entering 9th grade, for her poem, "2035."
(Hear the writers' podcasts: click on the buttons above.)
Honorable mention and congratulations also go to Ariel Salmon of Essex Junction and Jonathan Merchant of Johnson!
The writing prompt: What will Vermont be like in the year 2035? How will it change? What should change? What should be preserved? The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission predicts that Chittenden County alone will have 50,000 more people -- which means more traffic, more development, but it could also mean more jobs, more diversity, more culture. Read more »
By Evan Wing
Today I woke up to a new year. Actually, that’s not true; seeing as I slipped into a roast beef- and beer-induced torpor well past two-thirty in the morning, I have woken up in precisely the same year that I fell asleep in. 2035 doesn’t feel any different, and aside from the ominous gurgling coming from my protesting stomach, neither do I. Looking across the flat, snow-laden field, grey in the dim morning light, I can still see the bright flickering of Burlington, calmer now at five in the morning than the bright, sprawling, pulsating spiderweb of colored light of the midnight hour, punching defiantly through the New Year’s Eve darkness.
I used to have the family over for brunch on New Year’s Day, but now they all go to restaurants in town. I’ll probably get an earful over the phone about being the only member of the family who hasn’t moved into the city. Oh well; I like having more space anyway. At the very least, I don’t need to compete for wood!
February 25 Read more »
Camilla rapped twice on the door to the basement. From below, she could hear the crackling of an arc welder. “I’m back,” she called down.
The crackling stopped. A rusty voice came back. “What’d we get?”
She hopped down the stairs two at a time. Kyle flipped up his welding mask. He had a rough face, red and bearded, with wrinkles just starting to creep in.
“Two heads of cabbage,” she said, slinging off her pack. “Some carrots. And…” she dug into the bag, grinning. “Two chicken breasts.”
He smiled broad. “Well done.”
“It’s your stuff I’m selling.” She nodded to his welding project. It was a metal box on wheels, about three feet tall. Kyle had opened it up, and the inside was all tubes and dials. “What’s this one?”
“It’s a generator. Must be one of the last ones that got made, because I haven’t seen anything like it. Useless unless you’ve got gas for it, obviously, but valuable if you do.”
Camilla took a closer look. “I’ll go make some soup,” said Kyle, taking off the welding mask and scooping up the food she’d brought. Read more »
Still no flying cars. I know, this was promised to us by 1990, but alas - cars are still firmly planted on the ground. That's not to say we haven't advanced, of course. I'm pretty sure there are only three or four petroleum fuel stations still up and running in Chittenden County, the rest were replaced with solar powered Quik-Charge stations a couple years back.
Anyway, I knew you were wondering what this mystical future would hold, and so here I am to tell you: Vermont hasn't really changed. We still hold the record for largest cowbell performance, still call them 'creemees', and still march along to our own eco-friendly drum. And we still haven't built a Target. (What a disappointment.)
That aside, there is one major thing we've discovered (which I'm sure you've realized at this point). A woman in Winooski invented time-traveling postage! It's really expensive to go too far back, but I figured that you might want to know that even though we were supposed to live on Mars and have flying cars by now, we don't. So don't get your hopes too far up.
PS: Cabot did eventually change their label back. Yay!
In the year 2035
If any of us are still alive
Mayan calendar so contrived
That no one would survive
Our current year of 2012
Later it will be on history shelves
So into our future I'm going to delve
In and of itself
Over the next 23 years
We overcome many of our fears
With a lot of hard work and repairs
A place so much better for all of our heirs
Our county has made many changes
Some were unavoidable alterations
Like solar powered stove ranges
And better wireless communications
From the traffic problem at the 5 Corners
And more energy efficient living quarters
To educating an influx of even more foreigners
That came in from every border
Because of true equal opportunity
We've built even stronger communities
All our efforts to recycle weren't a waste
New items are made and old replaced
Cars no longer use gasoline
And our air quality is purer and clean
We have set a standard to be highly proficient
Instead of doing nothing and being insufficient
We ended hunger and starvation
And even water fluoridation
So much more socially connected
It's amazing who got elected
How did that happen, who was confused?
But overall, things have greatly improved
I take pictures of trash. Things I stumble across on walks—an abandoned mattress, a dumped stove, old tires and carelessly disposed beer bottles. I’ve found cans that must have been rusting as long as I’ve been alive, clothes left to mold, old cellar holes filled with soggy cardboard boxes and plastic bags and even the front of a red 50’s era truck deserted deep in the woods. There’s something sad, exciting, and almost haunting about these abandoned things. How did the truck get to be so far away from reality? What caused the owner of that mattress to leave it by the side of the road?
I don’t clean up most of the trash I find. Some things I don’t want to touch, some things I can’t carry, but mostly I find, when seen through the lens of a camera, there’s a disgusting beauty in thrown out things. They dot the woody roadside near my house and creep just a little ways into the woods, a throw’s length away from the real world.
Where I live used to be more developed than it is now—there are stone walls that have been taken over by lichen and ferns, and the cellar holes have become vernal pools for frogs and salamanders. In the summers I have my own little part of the world to explore, with enough bug spray and sun block. It’s on my explorations I discover just how much unnoticed trash is all around us. Read more »
I'm standing on hot asphalt at the edge of the Connecticut River, testing my balance on one old railroad tie, waiting in line to cross the border into Vermont. I can see the trees from here—a line of dense, deep green bleeding into the deep green shadows of the water. The leaves ripple in the breeze like scuffed carpet.
I haven’t been to Vermont since I left for college in 2015. I’m nearing forty now, and I’ve been dreaming of home for months now. When I close my eyes, I see forest shadows patterned on the inside of my eyelids. I doodle cornfields and dandelion leaves on my legal pads at work. I painted my apartment green, but the flat pale planes of Forest Moss only mock the vibrant memories of my childhood. My houseplants’ plastic leaves gather dust.
It’s my turn. A man in a gray uniform is holding out a hand. I pull a bundle of envelopes from my backpack and he sorts through them.
Mine is dark green. It has a moose stamped on the front. He flips the pages, examining the various states’ emblems, and finally presses a smudgy NEW HAMPSHIRE BORDER onto the soft paper. “You’re clear.” Read more »
Can be good
But most often
A growth in society
Leads to new people
With new ideas
It also leads
To more crime
A growth of population
Requires more houses
That cut away
At the flaming mountains
Of the fall.
There could be apartments
All wanting to live here.
Means more demand
Will want to be able
To visit huge malls
And shopping centers
With hundreds of stores
The new buildings
Will cut away
At the landscape.
In Twenty-three years
Will be forced to become
Forced to create more jobs
For more people
From Their lively summer green
To the forbidding winter white
Will they be
What will Vermont be like
Will it be like Georgia too,
Will our climate stay the same
It is up to you
Will there be butterflies
Who flutter in the breeze,
Will there be snow capped mountains
And frost coated trees
Will we regret what we have done
Or will we rejoice,
Will we have saved Vermont
I wonder what our choice
What will we say
When that year does arrive,
What will Vermont be like, In 2035?
These green hills will never fade
Every spring, they will radiate to life
They stand true to Vermont’s Name
Every summer these fields will grow
Wheat and corn for you and me
And the unrecognized farms
While pasteurize their milk
For the world to drink
In the autumn the hills will burn
Their fire will rage across the mountains
With their leaves glowing
With yellows, oranges, reds, and browns
By winter, Vermont is a snowy wonder
Winter will lay its blanket across the land
With the purest snow
The hills will be painted
With majestic colors of whites and blues
As in the past
And for what it shall be
Vermont will never leave its harmony
Everyone that has taken
This land as its home
Feels its strength
Feels its beauty
No matter what
Time may come and time may go Read more »
In tenth grade my friend's father was giving me a ride home, both hands pressed tight to the steering wheel of his SUV. The car pulled over dirt hills and into unnavigable tree pockets and he laughed. Laughed with his nerves and his reverence or whatever else one faces with clean and full and boundless scenery, fields that rubber-stretched their way to sky and seventeen acres of forest that make up my home. Seventeen acres that I have to leave. "I feel like we're about to drive off the edge of the earth," he said.
That's how I know Vermont. The edge of the earth. The best, the most absolute and last thing around. In the year 2035 I think much of what we have today will still be present. I think Vermonters are immensely, alarmingly proud and protective of everything surrounding them. Nothing will be taken or poorly altered without a fight.
I am not from Chittenden County, but a soon-to-be home is currently secured for me near Dorset Street. I also haven't always loved this state; only in the last year has its splendor dawned on me. I believe that the greater Burlington area is the hub, the centerfold, the root for culture and opportunities of this entire state. I believe that it needs to and can still grow. I believe that we can moniter these changes and allow them, nurture them. As for the rest of the Green Mountains, I have this theory that only the kindest and most level-headed people will dare to move into its depths. I think our greenery and landscapes will be preserved. Enhanced, hopefully. Read more »
How will it be, when the future is here
will it be fun, or is it something to fear?
will we smile at flowers, or whither and tear?
will the sidewalks be covered in discarded beers?
twenty five years through the nonstopping time
and will life be cleaner or covered with grime?
if nothing is done will more turn to crime?
they all want to help, but not on their dime.
so what can we do with the future so near?
encourage the youngins to brush up on cheer
and use that youthful energy, kick it in gear
believe me my friends, it starts peer-to-peer.
What will be the future of our little Vermont? Here we sit doing our everyday lives, but will that change? Some say that the future holds nothing, but destruction. In some ways they are right. I mean when you think about, it’s what humans do. Tell me, when you think of Vermont what do you see? I tell you what I see. I see green, trees, farms, growth, and life. In twenty-five years we may not have that if we don't control our growth in population. Vermont as it is has too many people; limited resources too. If Vermont were cut off right now from all imports, it wouldn't be able to provide enough for its people for even a day. That is if it came to that. Now imagine fifty-thousand more people. That is only in Chittenden County. That is an estimate of over two-thousand more people. Vermont can only sustain so many human beings. Ask yourself, what does this do to the environment? We already have quite a bit of water pollution and waste in our atmosphere. We have to face the fact that more people will lead Vermont into chaos. Vermont is known for its beauty. Just ask any of the people living here. As we know, more people equal more houses. The more houses built means losing what Vermont is known for; its gorgeous trees. Imagine this, Vermonters, a fall without the lovely oranges, reds, and yellows. No more clean crisp September air. Instead the smell of gasoline and burning rubbish fills your nostrils. Do we want that? Of course not! Read more »
Time marches on
The inevitable future
Only seconds away
Barricades put up
But only in our hearts
We don’t want to change
But if we don’t bend
Then surely we shall break
And be overwhelmed by the tides
Trying to preserve
And our homes
Who seek to infiltrate
But it’s only us
Seeking a scapegoat
From the tides we let in
It’s up to ourselves
To save ourselves
Change isn’t bad
But only if we let the tides flow
And we will fall
Let them through
And we shall be strong
We can shape our future
But only if we learn
To bend a little