Yellowstone in 100 Years? Help me Imagine it.
By Gregory Zeigler
I'm trying something a little different this post. Something that we authors—so accustomed to toiling alone—rarely do. I'm asking for your help. Think of it as creative crowd-sourcing. I'm working on a short story about Yellowstone National Park on its 250th anniversary—100 years from now. And I want your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This sign commemorating the establishment of Yellowstone, the world's first national park, sits at the head of a serene and beautiful valley containing the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers forming the Madison River. Photos by the author.
What will Yellowstone look like a century from now? Now wait, please don't allow your thoughts to trend toward the dark and dystopian. Hard not too, I realize. Things do look and feel a little grim don't they? But then again, they have many times in world history. Think about the challenges we as a nation have faced and overcome in the 150 years since Yellowstone, founded as the world's first national park in 1872, was established: ending slavery (abolished just before the park was established), two world wars, ending Jim Crow and legislating school integration, space exploration, curtailing tobacco and fossil fuel use, developing alternate sources for energy and vaccinations for controlling pandemics, and the defeat of Russia in Ukraine without ever firing a single shot (a guy can dream).
As a climate fiction author, I fervently believe mankind will reverse climate change. Obviously not without a huge cost, but short of total destruction. And within that fervent belief is the fervent hope that wild and wonderful places like Yellowstone will survive.
That brings me back to my request for your help. I will inform any judges and or/editors who consider this piece that we have created it together with the following disclaimer. (My working title is "Old Faithful.")
"Old Faithful" by Gregory Zeigler has been creatively crowd-sourced. If mankind is ever going to reverse climate change it will require collaboration on a world scale. The author felt asking his friends and writer contacts to contribute ideas about what Yellowstone might look like in 2122 could reflect that ethos. Only creative “ideas” have been contributed. All curating, writing, editing and mistakes are the author's.
Spoiler alert, "Old Faithful" refers to the park, not the iconic geyser, because in my piece one of the events that galvanized people to save Yellowstone was when extractive industries working too close to the park undermined the park's plumbing and all iconic geysers fizzled out. Okay, that is sad and dark but the rest of the piece, now partially in draft form, is upbeat. I promise.
So please send your ideas to email@example.com. I won't be able to credit you individually, but it might be fun for you to read "Old Faithful," which will be published here in the future and see if your idea made the story.
Thanks in advance for creatively collaborating.
Update: I tossed this idea out at a cocktail party recently and my friend K. sent me the following idea. Edited here for brevity and clarity, which, of course, in all cases, I reserve the right to do.
How about this? An American Indian man from a reservation in the midwest with the help of a medicine man comes to grips with his anger and resentment about his ancestors being forced off their land. He is told to travel to Yellowstone where the white man first showed respect for nature. There he not only finds harmony and peace but learns from a vision quest how to unlock the secrets of snow and water. His knowledge makes it possible to produce much more water from snow than the one-to-ten ratio (maximum) that is common. The enlightened man then joins forces with a wealthy white businessman who has also come to Yellowstone for spiritual renewal and the two men decide to work together. Thus the powerful combination of the natural beauty and serenity of Yellowstone, forgiving, healing, and collaboration solves many of the climate change related water shortages in the West.
So, come on folks! Have at it!
Young grizzly in Yellowstone photographed by Dimmie Zeigler.
Harlequin ducks riding the rapids in
Yellowstone National Park.
Photo by Paul Sihler