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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

15 March 2022

Posted by Tabby Hayward


12 attending

This week, we looked back at the Orwell Youth Prize, and began by looking at some positive headlines about the environment (seeing as it's easy to get bogged down in the doom and gloom!) Headlines included sea turtles being returned to the oceans, a rare orchid being found on the roof of an office building in London, and scientists turning microbes from recycled plastic waste into vanilla flavouring!

Inspired by this, the young writers were challenged to imagine they were a journalist from the future, and to come up with their own good news headline about the climate - which could be based on fact/realistic, or entirely imaginary!  They were then challenged to come up with the 'lead' - a one sentence summary/introduction to the story - and then to continue with the report, if they wanted to. Here are some examples:


Ancient oceanic god kind enough to solve climate change?
More likely than you think!

This morning a member of the previously thought extinct
species of anomalocaris emerged from the sea near Lebanon, announcing that the
5000 year old deal it made with Ancient Sumer was now coming into effect and it
would be reverting the climate to a healthy state and dissolving all
governmental and corporate assets responsible for the climate crisis.


Happy days for the animals of Serpant island

The dodo, thought to be extinct has been found by travellers
on a island, Serpant Island (near Mauritius (look it up on google maps)).
Serpant island is near the original home of the dodo and is a remote island
with no permanent settlements. Home to beautiful water falls and exotic trees
and animals it is the perfect home for this bird. Lucy and max were on holiday
on the island, in the Premier in, located on the south, less exotic part of the
island.  Exploration was one of there
hobbies at home as they lived on the edge of São Sebastião in the amazon

And this laugh-out-loud piece from Leo:

Daily Maily

Breakthrough Research in Conversion of Cows to Blobfish

Scholars at Oxford University have recently made
breakthrough research in multiple subjects concerning the rise of carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases due to the overdemand of livestock. Over the
past years many have theorised that if even only 50% of the world’s cow
population was to be converted to blobfish, then greenhouse gases would
decrease by over 80%, while demand would miraculously be satisfied due to the
enormity of the blobfish flesh. To undergo the process of conversion from cow
to blobfish, the cows must walk into a specialised chamber where their
molecules are rearranged to form the blobfish. Currently, this is very
expensive and only a small number of subjects have been successfully converted,
but those scientists who have been 
working on the project say that these “converting chambers,” may be
commercially available from 2040.

 Next, we read an extract from George Orwell's 1939 novel, 'Coming Up For Air' - after which this year's Orwell Youth Prize theme is named! In Coming Up For Air, the protagonist, George Bowling, is a middle-aged man who's fed up with his life, his job, his family, and where he lives - and decides to return home to the village of his childhood, to try to recapture the innocence and happiness he's lost. However, on returning to this village, he finds it's terribly changed - with woodland chopped down, new houses built up, and the beloved pool he used to fish in turned into a rubbish tip!

We read the extract together where George Bowling finds out the terrible truth about his old fishing pond - and how angry and despairing this makes him. Inspired by this, the young writers were challenged to think of a place they know really well/go to a lot (e.g. somewhere in their home/garden/school/local shop/park etc) and then to imagine they've grown up, left home, and now returned, 30 years in the future, to find this place changed. The change could be either positive or negative, but needed to relate to the environment (e.g. it could be something like an insect/plant dying out, a rubbish tip where a pond used to be, etc, or a more positive change - we looked at eco homes as an example! - such as solar panels/wind turbines/an inventive new form of eco energy supply being created, or a living wall/rehabilitated plant life being established, etc).

Here are some examples:

From Leo:

What a monday.

That was a very… interesting monday.

I am both mad and yet thankful at the same time.

I came to school at 07:58, right before the gates opened (I
was worried I wouldn’t arrive on time like usually). The first thing I saw was
our field, our big beautiful field, where we always have lunch by the oak tree.
Except it wasn’t a field. I don’t think it even was a thing. An abomination,
that is how I would put it.

A slab of concrete. That is it. How is this even allowed?
Well technically it was asphalt but my point still stands. And our oak tree, on
friday it was there and now God knows where it is. They also fenced the area
off. Apparently it’s meant to keep us safe, and it is, although only because
we’re not even allowed in there.

The only thing the school managed to get right was they
added like two solar panels to the roof, oh, and also a blobfish tank.

From Zoe:

Dear Citizens of Hampshire and surrounding areas,

We have noticed a considerable amount of ash trees dying. We
are currently investigating the situation and we advise you not to touch trees
or collect sticks when going on walks, to try and reduce the spreading. Also,
if you spot any trees with this condition please automatically, inform us.
Signs of Ash dieback include:

Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.

Black leaves.

Purple tint to branches.

There is no cure and if the virus could spread and we might
lose over 80 percent of our trees. Because of this please contact us at:

Thank you for your time:

From Gene:

Right now we’re focusing on doomsdays wars and the nature,
But I think with 8 billion people we’re bound to be bright for the future.
have these gadgets and robotics to think that is just the start,
Why be
negative when over half the world is smart.
People having fears of climate
change and future as a phobia,
But with 100’s of years ahead of us we can
create our own utopia!
We can get all hi-tech and plant more trees all by
learning new information,
All from staying positive we can go beyond our
So to all those who say we’re scuppered when you know that isn’t
By keeping a positive attitude the future will be bright!


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