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Tecumseh Land Trust’s language of the land

“On motionless wing they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun on the crane marsh.”

So writes Aldo Leopold in “A Sand County Almanac,” his 1949 conservation classic inspired by observations of nature on his Wisconsin farm.

Whereas Leopold’s treatise was 240 pages, area writers have only 250 words to capture the essence of their relationship with the land.

The Tecumseh Land Trust and WYSO–FM essay contest “Home on Earth: Living on the Land” will award winners for personal nonfiction essays on what home and land mean to them.

Awards will be given in categories of middle school youth (sixth to eighth grade), high school (ninth through 12th grade) and adult. Winning entries will be recorded by WYSO and published in the Yellow Springs News. Winners get $100 or other prizes.

All entries must be received by Dec. 15. Winners will be announced in mid-February. The contest is open to anyone in eight counties — Greene, Clark, Champaign, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Miami and Montgomery.

Writers can reflect on anything from a tree in their backyard to a memorable experience in nature, according to local author and poet Ed Davis, who is also a land trust board member. To him, the prompt would bring up “experiences on the land that deeply moved me.”

“I could write about how holy Glen Helen is, or my experiences living on land where I learned a lot despite my incompetence of being a good steward,” Davis said. The contest is open to any approach, from the romantic to abstract to comedic, as long as it’s nonfiction.

According to a press release, winning essays need to be written in first person, be no longer than 250 words, stay on theme, be personal, specific and focused, include dramatic stories or memorable moments, and be concise, grammatically correct and well organized. Essays will be judged by area writing professionals.

To help writers start or hone their pieces, the land trust and WYSO are hosting one-hour writing workshops through November. The brief workshops include an explanation of the prompt, 20 minutes of writing and 20 minutes of sharing.

Upcoming workshops are at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1 at WYSO studios in Yellow Springs, and at 2 p.m. on several Saturdays — Oct. 18 at Blue Jacket Books at 30 S. Detroit St., Xenia, Oct. 25 at the Xenia Public Library, 76 E. Market St., Nov. 1 at Antioch Coretta Scott King Center on Livermore Street in Yellow Springs and Nov. 8 at the Clark County Public Library, 201 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield.

The essay contest is being organized as part of the Tecumseh Land Trust’s 25th anniversary. The local nonprofit has preserved more than 22,000 acres of farmland and natural lands in Greene, Clark and surrounding counties since 1990.

For more information, visit tecumsehlandtrust.org .

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Tecumseh Land Trust’s language of the land

by Megan Bachman