The My Future Town project is getting kids to reimagine the future of their rural communities across the Western Downs. 

Story Kate Newsome

The town’s buildings are stark white against the desert of dirt and stones. There are no trees to mitigate the stifling heat or freshen the stale air. 

In this apocalyptic version of the future, humans have failed to care for the environment. But in a science fiction story imagined by a 14-year-old resident of Jandowae, Qld, humans have adjusted by evolving a mystical ability to create nature out of their hands. 

The story written by Ophelia* was part of the My Future Town project that conducted workshops for 46 secondary students in Dalby, Chinchilla, Tara and Jandowae. “It’s a few months ago now but still, when I remember it, I get really excited,” Ophelia says. 

Jointly run by the Western Downs Regional Council and the University of Queensland, the creative workshops were designed to get young people between the ages of 14 and 18 to think about their rural home towns through the lens of speculative fiction. Professor Kim Wilkins and Dr Natalie Collie, who co-led the project, explain that thinking about the future is an effective way to engage with issues of the present.  

“The people who have the least power but who are going to inhabit the future are young people,” Kim says. By conducting creative workshops that would contribute to actual feedback for local councils, the My Future Town project could strengthen students’ sense of connection to these country towns.

This story excerpt is from Issue #146

Outback Magazine: December/January 2023