Sustainability: Lessons learned from literature and the bow and arrow

Sustainability: Lessons learned from literature and the bow and arrow
Sustainability: Lessons learned from literature and the bow and arrow

Sustainability: Lessons learned from literature and the bow and arrow

Media swarm several times per year to press conferences featuring Apple’s new releases like the iPhone or iPad. Mark Zuckerberg’s press conference announcements have reporters tweeting in speculation and anticipation for days before. Yet, in this tech-driven world, the most revealing and iconic image of recent years–inspiring a new take on sustainability models–might not be the iPhone or Twitter symbol, but the bow and arrow.

How can a prehistoric instrument be the iconic image of the most tech-savvy moment in history and inspire our approach to sustainability?

If you watch television you will see several previews and commercials featuring the bow and arrow. Why has this item grown in popularity? The bow and arrow is the unofficially recognized symbol for the current rise of dystopian literature and art. The bow and arrow has spawned a new crop of entrepreneurs, looking to develop products and services that meet anxieties revealed by dystopian art.

What is dystopian literature? Dystopian literature is the opposite of utopian literature. Utopias feature ideal societies; dystopia features societies, often apocalyptic, that are destroyed and in conflict. Several bestselling books of recent years are dystopian, including “The Hunger Games” and “The Road.” In their wake, several movies and television shows have spun-off, notably NBC’s “Revolution.” At the forefront of this movement is the bow and arrow and its allusion to Katniss Everdeen, hero of “The Hunger Games.”

“The Hunger Games” is the classic and riveting book series created by Suzanne Collins where the heroic Katniss Everdeen uses her archery talents in a battle to free her world from slavery. These books have influenced young adult trends in dystopian publishing perhaps more than any other recent works. Dystopian literature is an important topic currently, comprising debate and discussion over its role and future in literature and society.

Is the bow and arrow’s iconic image and the rise of dystopia the result of angst in society over the role of technology and the growing distance between ourselves and the ability to cultivate what sustains us? We repeatedly engage and adapt technology and industry to do everything for us to make our lives easier, and are advised, “There’s an app for that.” Are people really hungry for more traditional physical engagement like farming and gardening, survival training, defeating learned helplessness wrought by social media reliance, and empowerment? Many girls are more attracted to archery and the bow and arrow than they are to the iPhone or Instagram as a result of these books. An important lesson is to be learned here about infusing projects with sustainability models.

While I love dystopian books, (I frequently recommend “the Hunger Games” to friends) dystopian literature and art leaves me searching for books that offer pre-dystopian, realistic models of sustainability that spark morale for individual and community empowerment. As a volunteer for the American Red Cross, I felt empowered and inspired by this community of responders and seek to enrich my fiction writing with their ethics and goals. This is why I describe my theme on my website as: “Young people seeking the morale to thrive in a future of unprecedented challenge and opportunity.”

No one can guarantee what our current crisis in wars or climate change might bring to our planet, but they can guarantee that the lessons and skills taught by the American Red Cross and similar organizations will improve our world in any scenario.

As a writer, I would love to see more middle grade and young adult literature that features young people learning the skills and or passion for survival, sustainability, and disaster response in pre-dystopian societies while considering current economic issues, young people developing tools and abilities that will prevent the development of the type of world we see dramatized in books like “The Hunger Games.” This is part of the ethics of my books “The Home Run That Tours America” and “How to Build An Impossible Bottle.”

While I look for stories that meet these goals, I recognize that a key component is morale. What role does morale have in inspiring these pre-dystopian sustainability roles? And how can entrepreneurs adapt these ideas to their creative endeavors?


    • Are you creating solutions within your business or project that looks at a total physical and spiritual primal approach as well as technical?


    • Looking for iconography in the media, art and literature can reveal important trends, problems, ideals and opportunities.


    • What iconography does your project appeal to? (For me, I would say mine refers to the life preserver and compass.)


    • How much emphasis do you place on morale within your project and among your clients and coworkers?


    • Does your project recognize sustainability models?
    • Are your coworkers or team empowered with disaster response training in the event of a hurricane, power outage, or other natural event? Organizing Red Cross training for you and your coworkers might spark more morale among your team.


 Marie tweets as @longesthomerun. Learn more about her books and work at .

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